Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'Harry Potter' category

Movie review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

August 2, 2009 1:42 am

hp6-posterBy the time I saw the latest Harry Potter flick last weekend, I had already heard mutters of disappointment from various friends and other reviewers, so I went in forewarned and had a good time. But the mutters were right: Like the previous Potter movies, this one moved retained the least possible amount of detail in order to tell the story. Not only were some favorite scenes cut, but it was only several days later before I remembered that yes, some of those moments were from this book.

What I’m really referring to is Harry’s chat with new Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, in which he calmly gets to the heart of what Scrimgeour is slyly asking for, responding that he is “Dumbledore’s man, through and through.” (It’s a very adult moment, especially compared to the throes of teenage angst we see in the previous book.)

The gradual development of wizard politics throughout the book is a strength of Rowling’s storytelling. The reader’s understanding of what’s going on outside Hogwarts follows that of Harry and his friends as they begin to pay closer attention to politics — which I think is an honest depiction of being a teenager. But like many subplots, wizard politics don’t show up on the big screen.

Half-Blood Prince sticks to the bare bones of the Dumbledore plot, the Draco acting suspiciously plot, and the romance plot; one we see pretty much in full, one is severely cut, and one is actually expanded past what we get in the book.

Not surprisingly (since it involves a great deal of exposition), Harry and Dumbledore’s exploration of Voldemort’s past gets chopped down to two memories: the one at the orphanage that was in all the previews, and the vital but edited memory of Slughorn’s. I also say “not surprisingly” because many of their other excursions down memory lane serve not to further the plot of this book so much as to set up the next one: what sort of objects would Voldemort turn into Horcruxes? Presumably this knowledge will be hand-wavingly imparted to our protagonists in the next movie.

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Rapidly aging nerd news

August 31, 2008 5:30 pm

That’s the news doing the rapid aging, not the nerds, in case you were wondering.

Harry Potter is also aging, though — the first book came out in the States ten years ago this September.  To wring a few more rubles out of the franchise celebrate, Scholastic is issuing an anniversary edition with a new cover.

UK bookstore Waterstones has been putting together a book of stories so short, they can fit on a large index card.  Most entries, apparently were gathered through a competition, but they also invited entries from well-known authors — including J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Tom Stoppard, and Margaret Atwood.  The JKR card was a snippet of a story about James and Sirius.  As the original has now been sold (proceeds to charity) for massive amounts of money, you can read the text here.

Warner Bros. continues to be over-protective of HP.  Seriously, guys.

Another story with castles (but no wizards):  California man from the Netherlands builds his own.

Four (maybe five) unrelated topics

August 4, 2008 4:17 pm

Some can almost be called news!  All things I’ve found interesting in the past week.

— Impressive, disturbing, and a dark sort of tribute to American capitalism:  we present the Wal-Mart virus.

— By this point, I think most of you have seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  (And if not, it’s still available on iTunes; DVD to come out sometime soon.)  Shockingly, Pug and I thought it was fantastic, and still go about humming about freeze rays and Bad Horse.  Goodness knows it got a ton of media coverage, but I offer a couple of my favorites:  The Dr. Horrible oral history, because it amuses me, and the NPR piece, because I’m impressed that they picked it up.

— The fourth book in the Twilight series, which has been enjoying popularity among those inclined towards YA vampire-romances, came out this weekend to Potter-like midnight release parties.  I know that at least a couple of you have read the books and enjoyed them — and that at least a couple of you have read the books and offered your critiques on them.  I haven’t read any of them, but I thought this Salon article offered what seems to me like some particularly insightful commentary on them.  (And while we’re at Salon, the same writer had some worthwhile notes on Harry Potter 7.  Naturally, it’s an article from a year ago, but I just finished re-reading Deathly Hallows, so I enjoyed that one as well.  I think she’s pretty fair about Rowling’s strengths and weaknesses.)

— And Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (remember A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich ?) passed away this weekend.

Later: Woah!  They’re making a Gatchaman movie?  Carmen, did we know about this?  I don’t really expect this to be what you would call… good, but Cartoon Network ran a dubbed version called G-Force that my brothers and I enjoyed when I was nine or ten, so it might get a few nostalgia points.

Well, now that’s six unrelated topics.  Or five.  Oh well; the title sounds better as it is.

Pi Day nerd fest

March 14, 2008 4:56 pm

In honor of Pi Day, let’s be unabashedly nerdy.

First, an editorial I particularly enjoyed about NASA, Star Trek, and the presidential campaign: The Next Space Frontier. While exploring the final frontier is hardly a high priority for our next president, it’s nice to see that the three front-runners all express support for the space program. (There are links to specifics within the editorial.)

And a few items that make you feel good about the Star Trek movie due out in summer 2009:

  • In an interview with the Australian Herald-Sun, Simon Pegg (cast as Scotty) said with regard to whether the film will be “serious science-fiction”:

    Very much so. It’s not at all ironic. It’s not a jokey take on the original series. It’s a faithful and loving installment in the ongoing mythology of the show.

  • Leonard Nimoy (who will be in it) seems to be very pleased about it. So does Nichelle Nichols (who is not).
  • And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the trailer (fyi, video begins when the page loads). It makes me happy.

And hey, look what happens when I ignore the Harry Potter news sites…the seventh movie is actually going to be the seventh and eighth movies: they’re splitting Deathly Hallows into two films. This means that Half-Blood Prince will be released next Christmas, Deathly Hallows, part I a year later, and Deathly Hallows, part II the following summer.

Now go eat some pie! I plan to!

Honeydukes Butterscotch Pudding

August 22, 2007 11:39 am

Because there haven’t been enough Harry Potter posts around here lately…

Cambridge restaurant offers an HP inspired pudding.

Pug and I went to Upstairs on the Square once and it was very nice — if rather more up-scale than we were expecting (slightly awkward, but like I said, it was very nice). I can’t vouch for this dish myself, but I think the story is awesome.

The article gives their recipe, but I have no idea what the non-dairy substitute for heavy cream would be. It also looks like a lot of work and suggests the use of a blowtorch.

Called it at Leaky

July 26, 2007 9:31 pm


I only took part of The Leaky Cauldron’s massive prediction quiz, but I looked back today at what I had guessed. Of minor interest, but I thought I’d stick it up for the heck of it. The link isn’t working anymore, so don’t click there, click here:

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Wait Til You Read Book Seven

July 25, 2007 9:35 pm

Ohhh, I cried.

And laughed. And cheered. And loved every minute of it.

What a fantastic send-off for Harry Potter. I found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows entirely satisfactory and continue to be completely in love with all my favorite characters. Ms. Rowling has my heartfelt respect.

But following this cut lies a discussion of the people and plot of Deathly Hallows. If you don’t want to be spoiled, read no further!

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Dedicated to the friendly folks at B. Dalton

July 24, 2007 12:34 am

Why yes, I was at a bookstore at midnight last Friday. (Again.) How did you guess?

My dad and I had been planning to find a release party of some kind since I decided when I was going to come home this summer, so the only question (and not one we were quick to answer) was which bookstore to go to. We learned that B. Dalton in the mall would open at midnight only to sell the book; that all Books-a-Millionses were opening at 9p.m. with various festivities, etc. So we picked a Books-a-Million in town. At the last minute, Middle Brother decided he wanted to come too, and Youngest Brother suddenly caved in to peer pressure. We all caved a little more when my mother (who was not going) suggested that we should go in costume. I hadn’t been planning to, but we pulled out gowns from a couple of college graduations (mine and my cousin’s) and the accessories from a Harry Potter costume Mom made for one of the boys sometime in the last decade. We looked quite fetching.

HP7midnight1.jpg Youngest Brother’s choice of headgear reflects his personality and the back of his shirt has a Dumbledore quote about how music is a magic greater than anything taught at Hogwarts.

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Potter week continues

July 19, 2007 11:49 pm

with date

Image credit: LJ user atellix.

Harry-related tidbits

July 18, 2007 4:30 pm

How to Spell the Spells. NPR’s Talk of the Nation interviews the Cheryl Klein, continuity editor for the American editions of Harry Potter. I think that would have been an amazing job! (I also offer this as a little look into the editorial world I’m hoping to join.)

The Voice of Harry Potter Knows All. The New York Times talks to Jim Dale, the actor who has done all of the HP audio books.