Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Full disclosure before I begin – I enjoyed the Potter saga much better at the beginning, when he was a clearly abused boy adopted by his mean Aunt and Uncle and the wizarding world was completely unknown to him.

As the story and the characters mature, and the film posters get darker and have any shred of colour drained out of them, the Harry Potter franchise gets duller. We’re moving now into classic good versus evil storylines with a bit of horny teenage frivolity thrown in to create a romantic sub-plot.

The other problem that the movies now suffer from is that – for all us fans who can read – we all know how the story ends. There’s no ambiguity as to whether Harry will end up with Ginny or Hermione, or indeed how Ron and Hermione’s story will end. And let’s face it, we know who will emerge victorious in the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. We simply have to go through the motions to see how the on-screen adaptations will compare to JK Rowling’s books.

I sometimes feel that the series leans too heavily on special effects, perhaps covering for the younger actors’ inability to emote. As much as I think Dan Radcliffe was perfect for the role, sometimes he’s like a plank of wood. Although I enjoyed his scenes with Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn. Broadbent deserves special mention for brilliantly straddling the roles of comic foil and guilty accessory to Tom Riddle’s enquiries into the dark arts.

Malfoy. Let’s talk about Malfoy. I know he had to be in this movie, but he’s so tiresome. And in Half Blood Prince, he looked for all the world like some mini-me version of a Cockney gangster. Yawn. Part of me felt sorry for him being set up as the patsy who would have to kill Dumbledore, but the boredom I felt at watching Tom Felton playing angsty overcame this. He was brilliantly viscious when he kicked a paralysed Potter in the face at the start of the movie, but spent the rest of it obsessing over how he might kill Dumbledore. If you want to roll with the Death Eaters, at least try and do it without remorse. Wuss.

Moving on to Hogwarts after hours…perhaps areas of the castle need to have red lights erected? Everywhere you looked, pupils were snogging and groping each other on staircases. It was like some kind of bordello. Let’s not forget, that place has dungeons. I just never guessed that they were the S&M kind.

On a related note, I much prefer Bonnie Wright’s plucky, straightforward Ginny Weasley to Emma Watson’s precious Hermione Granger. Hermione gets on my nerves soooo much. Grrr. Ginny just jumps in and gets things done – I loved it when she waded into the swampy fields after Harry, and again when she called the Quidditch team to order at their first practise of the term.

Which reminds me, the saddest moment of the film was not Dumbledore’s death, but the destruction of the Weasley home. The Weasley parents looked suitably devastated as they watched their house go up in flames.

On Dumbledore. I do love Dumbledore, but he’d achieve so much more by not being so cryptic about things. And I’ll never get used to Michael Gambon’s accent. At one point during the movie, I thought Dumbledore looked so much like Gandalf that Ian McKellen could’ve been under that wig and no-one would have known the difference.

The plot point about Dumbledore being dead was that – as with Sirius – Harry had this father figure who he lost prematurely. They didn’t spend enough time reflecting on what this meant for Harry, so soon after the death of Sirius – he just decided to up-sticks and live as a fugitive in search of the rest of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

I know that the Half Blood Prince inches the story along toward its conclusion and that inevitable final battle, but somewhere along the line, this franchise has lost its charm for me.

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5 Comments

  1. RandomEnigma

    Not so much of a review but more of a mini-rant! Still I liked it, you brought up some interesting points.

    I went to see the movie today and I have to say it’s the best Potter film out yet. Still it proved a major disappointment to someone like me, an avid fan of the books. I disagree, I prefer the way the series have become more darker and edgier. Watch the first two movies again, they’re rather cringeworthy. Special effects were used a lot in this film with the collapse of the bridge, the Death Eaters flying everywhere, the Burrow going up in flames and the many wand fights. And while they are undoubtedly impressive, they do take away from the emotional impact of the film.

    Daniel Radcliffe has developed into a terrific actor, capable of doing both drama and comedy so it was criminal that Dumbeledore’s death had only minimal impact. Yes, Ginny is a brilliant charcter but sadly her character was only really developed in this movie and I don’t think movie fans would really get where her and Harry and Ginny’s romance suddenly came from. She should have been developed more over the course of the series especially in the last film where she had a rather big role but remained mute with very few lines. Harry and Ginny’s kiss was all wrong too, not lingering enough and no real reaction from Ron. Jessie Cave who plays Ron’s girlfriend Lavender Brown was also under used and if used more could have really brought more laugh out loud moments.

    Special credit has to go to the two young Voldemorts. And Evanna Lynch as Luna also horribly under-used. And it’s also great to welcome back Helena-Bonham Carter as the demented Bellatrix Lestrange.

    Some plot points and characters weren’t fully developed such as Lupin and Tonks’ romance. That would confuse movie fans. And yes, Dumbledore looks uncanningly like Gandalf in this movie. Surprisingly enough I really enjoyed Gambon’s performance in this movie. He brought a bit or humour and warmth to Dumbledore, something he hasn’t done since taking up the role from the third movie, instead pretending to be all austere and powerful. I enjoyed Malfoy’s performance and I agree with the Weasley’s house going on fire being very emotional. Julie Walters give a short lived but wonderful performance as Molly Weasley.

    Oh man, this is almost like a review in a review itself. I should write one. But honestly I sound like I hate this movie but this is just my general attitude towards the Potter movie franchise, it can’t live up to the wonder of the books. However, it is entertaining enough if not limited, all the actors are strong in their roles and the movie has a nice mixture of comedy, action, drama, fantasy and romance. The cinematography is fantastic and overall it’s above the par of the previous five movies. Entertaining but if you are a die hard book fan like me you may go of feeling a little disappointed but not near as disappointing as the previous five!

  2. CCC1BBB

    *Spoiler Alert*  Wow.  The Half-Blood Prince movie was a disappointment to me, compared to the book.  Obviously, not all story lines can be included in movies, but it didn’t seem like the director David Yates (even though I know he did one before) had read the books, or seen the previous movies!

     

    Why change it to Luna finding Harry on the train, instead of Tonks?  No purpose.  And why on earth would you do it making the wrakspurt (?) of Luna’s imagination real??  Also, leaving out conversations Harry had with Dumbledore about the possible identity of most of the horcruxes seems a crucial error for the set-up of the next story!  Adding things to the story like burning the Burrow is horrendous.  It would better serve the story by including more of the things that actually happened!  Also, yes, Hermione, in the book, is frustrated to tears with Ron’s obtuseness, but she’s not the simpering idiot she had to portray in the movie.

     

    I waited through the movie for at least the climactic ending but they didn’t show the battle!! Unbelievable!  Maybe people who haven’t read the book will think it fine, & others may want to see it for the sake of it.  I fervently hope a different crowd make the movies for the last book.  Thank you.

     

    1. RandomEnigma

      Sorry CCC1BBB but I’m afraid your stuck with the film makers of Half-Blood Prince as they’ve already started working on the Deathly Hallows movie. However, that book is split into two films so they should contain most of the material from the book. Yes, as a fan of the books, I too was somewhat disappointed with the movie although I found it had its good points too.

      I believe the reason they replaced Tonks with Luna in the train scene is because Evanna Lynch who plays Luna was such an instantly popular character in the last movie that they had to include her in more scenes or people would be disappointed. This also applies to Helena Bonham Carter who was also really popular as Bellatrix in the last movie. Note how Bellatrix only appears in Chapter Two of the book but appears much more in the film.

      I have to agree that the Horcrux conversation was awfully excecuted in the film. I had to explain to my cousins, who hadn’t read the book, what the Horcruxes were and what Dumbeldore expected the remaining Horcruxes to be. I didn’t mind the Burrow burning down so much (I thought that scene was dramatic) but I would love to have been told how The Burrow was repaired as it appears in the next book. Hermione was portrayed as a simpering idiot in the movie for dramatic purposes and also because some viewers might be a bit thick so they have to be told directly that Hermione has a thing for Ron.

      The battle at the end of the movie didn’t happy because the film makers wanted to avoid repetition and didn’t want this film to end on a battle in Hogwarts as the final film does that itself.

      I think as fans of the book we’re just going to have to just accept that these films can never live up to the book. We’ll have to just view the movies as a separate medium and enjoy the scenes they do actually include and get to see some of the boo come to life.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m glad Luna founded Harry on the Train. And, ¿everything on Luna’s imagination should be fake? Since I saw Evanna playing Luna on Order of the Phoenix I always wanted that Luna could be different of the book, the loony side of her away and her beautiful and wise side show up. She was wise and beautiful in Pheonix, but in Half Blood Prince she was loony. The train scene make Luna become much more smarter, but the lion hat and the christmas dress make her ridiculous. But, watching her crying at the end of Half Blood Prince was shocking, and the people don’t realise that because they cut off the battle. And it’s obvious that the movies aren’t going to be better than the books but they are amazing.

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