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BY Steven D. Greydanus
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Spectacular Spider-Man, Vol. 5 (2009)
Public Enemies (2009)
New this week
on DVD, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is
the big-screen version of the penultimate book in J.K. Rowling’s series, but
there are still two movies to go, since the last book, Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be split up (like the coming
film adaptation of The Hobbit) into two
Continuing the series’ trajectory, Half-Blood
Prince is darker, more tragic and more romantic than its
predecessors, as it sets the stage for the final confrontation between the
wizarding world’s forces of good and evil.
Two-time director David Yates does
the best job by the characters of any film since The
Prisoner of Azkaban, though with less magical eye candy. Bottom
line: As with all the HP films, I enjoyed watching it once.
Spider-Man — now that’s
family entertainment I’ll watch again and again with my kids. The well-done
animated series has completed two seasons; Season 1 was a “DVD Pick” in July,
and Volume 5 is the first installment of Season 2.
wait, maybe, for the whole second season in one package — but I couldn’t!
Volume 5 offers four seasonal episodes our family will enjoy over Christmas and
New Year’s, including Spidey’s latest rematch with a rejiggered Sinister Six —
scored to “The Nutcracker Suite” (ha!) — and a New Year’s episode featuring the
return of Doctor Octopus.
series is just plain smart. Never before has physics been so key in a
super-hero series as when Spidey battles Electro in a used tire lot (rubber
melts, but it’s sticky — and nonconductive!).
dialogue is witty, the characterizations sharp, and Peter’s relationships with
his friends and Aunt May continue to ground the series emotionally. Good stuff.
new on DVD this week, Public
Enemies stars Johnny Depp as John
Dillinger in Michael Mann’s critically respected but elusively unsatisfying
adaptation of Bryan Burrough’s 2004 book.
the problem is partly that while Burrough wrote about two
rosters of very public enemies — his book was as much about J. Edgar Hoover and
the incipient FBI as Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and their ilk — Mann’s film is
really only about Dillinger.
Nor is there much insight into
Dillinger, his times or his celebrity. The film seems all surface — a glossy
updating of 1930s’ Hollywood gangster melodrama without much commentary or
CONTENT ADVISORY: Harry Potter and
the Half-Blood Prince: Scary images, fantasy menace and violent magical
battles; passionate kissing and a few suggestive references; the death of an
important supporting character under morally ambiguous circumstances. Teens and
fast-paced animated action violence, menace and scary images; romantic
complications. Fine for all but very sensitive kids. Public Enemies: Much gangland gunplay,
sometimes bloody and/or deadly; violent police interrogation of a female
suspect; depiction of nonmarital sexual activity (no explicit nudity) and
cohabitation; profanity, crude language and an instance of obscenity. Mature