The Wan[d] Thrill of Midnight "Harry Potter" Madness [UPDATED]




It must be a breeze to work at Warner Brothers right now. Not only have they won critical acclaim and endless amounts of money from The Dark Knight, but they also control one of the biggest movie franchises in the last decade which, if last night's midnight premiere was any indication, still controls the souls of scores of rabid fans--including many who find happiness dressing up like wizards.

Just before Tuesday's midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the plaza in front of the AMC Theater at the Block at Orange was filled with wizard robes, wand wavers and much anticipation. Most fans started lining around two hours before showtime, but there was also a handful of die-hards who began camping 16 hours before the theater lights dimmed.

Seven of eight theaters screening the movie at midnight at the Block were sold out. It was even crazier over at the Irvine Spectrum, where midnight Tuesday tickets had all been snatched up by the previous weekend.

Film fandom is dead? Nope, it must've been hibernating.    

It's been two years since the final Potter book came out, but not much has changed among fans of the film adaptations. People still dress up. Harry Potter look-a-likes still dot the crowds. The long lines still begin forming early in the day.

Cheryl, 61, her twin sister and her daughter had been waiting at the Block since 7:30 a.m. The upside, they got first dibs on seats. The downside, it was probably not necessary.

To fill the down time, many fans yelled Potter lines to one another or pretended they were wizards by waving wands.

Once the theater lights dimmed, the noise level only increased as the trailers were shown. The one for New Moon, the second entry to the Twilight series, was sufficiently booed. It seems fanatics of Potter and Twilight just don't mix.

Finally, the movie itself came on and, oddly enough, it was almost anti-climactic considering the buildup.       

A quick, post-screening poll produced mixed results. Some hardcore fans--including Cheryl and her gang--thought Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was "the best one yet" and forgave the extraction of certain key scenes from the book. Others who were only familiar with the movies reacted like 22-year-old Karen, who admitted to only reading up to Book 4 before becoming bored. She felt the latest movie was, "Okay but probably unsatisfying for those who've read the books."

And then, there were viewers who did not know anything about Harry Potter coming in, such as Bob, 30, who was unwillingly dragged in by a friend: "It sucked ass," said Bob, who at least got some popcorn and two extra large sodas out of the deal. 

The verdict, according to most of these fans in Orange: the latest installment in the Harry Potter series fails to break new ground. It is long, confusing to newcomers and moderately satisfying for people who've read the books.

While it will no doubt still conjure up loads of money, the advice here is that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is best watched at midnight in a crowded theater where the reactions of fans are more entertaining than the actual movie.

P.S. For those who feel a bit elated or cheated by this latest flick, there is supposed to be a giveaway on for anyone who can catch the Golden Snitch on their website (a golden ball with wings). Just log on and try to click on the snitch and you might win $100-$1,000 gift card at Hot Topic or a snitch signed by one of the Harry Potter cast members. Think how much that thing will fetch on eBay!  


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