Friends, I hope you’ve had a good fortnight. I’ve been busy with work and the usual games. On Saturday, 18 July 2009, Janice and I had brunch at Fresco in Needham, Mass., and met Thomas K.Y. at the AMC Burlington cinemas for Harry Potter  and the Half-Blood Prince.
We enjoyed the movie, mainly because it was nice to see the maturing actors and characters
and to return to a familiar fantasy setting. Young wizards in training Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are a joy
to watch as they continue their studies, fall in and out of love, and respond to the threats posed by followers of the evil Lord Voldemort.
This time, the faculty at Hogwart’s (led by Michael Gambon as Prof. Albus Dumbledore,
continuing the series’ commitment to casting every actor in the U.K.) is joined by Jim
Broadbent’s Prof. Horace Slughorn. The professor is hiding some secrets related to Tom Riddle (Hero Feinnes-Tiffin and Frank Dillane), as Voldemort was once known.
I wouldn’t say that Half-Blood Prince is my favorite of the series, since some choppy
transitions reflected the difficulty of adapting J.K. Rowling’s lengthening popular novels to screen. However, I liked seeing the female characters developed, including brainy Hermione, fey Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), and sensible Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright).
Even the sneering Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and Prof. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman,
again stealing every scene he’s in) became more sympathetic amid the murderous intrigues surrounding Harry. To say anything more would spoil the plot for those few who
haven’t yet read the books or seen the movie.
Other than the Star Trek and Star Wars space operas, I can’t recall going to theaters to see this many installments of any film franchise. I’d give Half-Blood Prince, which was rated PG-13, a 7 or 8 out of 10, or a B+. Despite the trendiness of the Twilight teenaged vampire soap opera, I think it will be a while before another franchise can claim the quality or fan base of Harry Potter.
Of the trailers we saw, Guy Ritchie’s action-oriented take on Sherlock Holmes looks like a guilty pleasure rather than a good adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s seminal sleuth. Coudy With a Chance of Meatballs could be amusing, but most of the other previews were dross.
After the movie, we went to Romano’s Macaroni Grill, which was pretty good. I may have been influenced by watching an episode of Phantom Gourmet, a local food program, focusing on Italian cuisine that morning, though.