Baltimore Sun: ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ casts a spell in IMAX

July 30, 2009 – 1:40 pm

The Baltimore Sun checks out the IMAX version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the Maryland Science Center:

“See more, hear more, feel more!” goes the IMAX motto, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which opened Wednesday at the Maryland Science Center, fulfills that promise on every score. For once with a live-action blockbuster, the super-sharp imagery and engulfing sound of this deluxe form of presentation (short for MAXIMUM IMAGE, but with equally enhanced audio) proves just as effective at immersing viewers in an experience as at popping their eyes with spectacle.

The Half-Blood Prince does both. The IMAX version starts with a digital 3-D rendering of the opening reel, in which Death Eaters take the form of swooping jets of black smoke and destroy London’s Millennium Bridge. Their attack in 3-D is so immediate you imagine that you’re feeling the turbulence on your skin as they whoosh by. In several quieter scenes, some of the 3-D pictures looked soft or marred by photographic halos. But these flaws pale before the thrilling virtues of seeing the Weasley Brothers’ Joke and Novelty Shop in Diagon Alley come off as a three-ring circus squeezed into one brick building.

When the 3-D went away, the IMAX format proved ideal for fulfilling the desire of director David Yates to make Potter’s alternate universe richer and even more magical by rooting every wonder in character. The film is chock-full of special effects that enhance personality and further the plot. They make you feel part of what passes for the everyday at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This saga brilliantly revives elemental images of death’s head clouds and unholy combinations of fire and water. But it also uses exquisite and funny grace notes to externalize the giddiness, sadness and risk of acquiring wisdom and growing up. A sculptured owl spreads its wings at a lectern. A severed rat’s tail moves with startling vitality at the close of a potions class. A tiny Frosty the Snowman skates over a white cake at the Weasleys’ house — and teens and adults alike are too mired in worry to notice.

Article >>