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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: My Review

July 18, 2009

Luna The Half Blood Prince PosterWarning: This is a spoilery review!  Also, I am a crazy  passionate HP book-fan and tend to be harsh  am super-harsh on the movies (yes, I know that is unfair, and the movies should be judged on their own merits, blah blah blah … ).

          Well, I finally got to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Thursday, and I have mixed reactions.  Overall, I enjoyed the film.  I loved the opening shot with Harry and Dumbledore (despite the fact that there was no press there that night in the Ministry).  I also loved the depiction of the Death Eaters terrorizing the Muggle world and destroying the bridge in London (Although I thought that they were dementors until I saw one of those pillars of black smoke turn into Bellatrix Lestrange–what was with that? Death Eaters don’t turn into black smoke and fly around.  Seriously?!).  It really conveyed that the impact of Voldemort’s return was not just in the magical world.  I did miss the events in "The Other Minister" chapter (perhaps one of my favorite opening chapters of the HP books), and meeting Rufus Scrimgeour, but I understand why it was cut.  Sadly, however, Scrimgeour was cut from the entire movie, and there was little reference to the Ministry of Magic.  The cut of Dumbledore’s visit to the Dursleys makes even less sense.  There was nothing about Sirius’ will, and Kreacher, or the fabulous floating glasses of mead. Sad.  Instead, Dumbledore takes Harry to Budleigh Babberton without any notice, or even asking him first … and deposits Harry at the Weasleys without even letting the family know.  Book-Dumbledore is much more polite.  Movie-Dumbledore is rude and pushy.  Also, the blackened hand? For the first half of the movie it just looked he rubbed his hand in newspaper.  Later it looked more realistic.  I expected grosser.  The meeting with Slughorn was depicted pretty well, particularly the armchair scene.  Jim Broadbent makes a good Slughorn, albeit less slick, pompous, and collector-y than I imagined.  The quick persuasion of Slughorn made no sense, as the screenwriter forgot to include the actual reason Harry was able to convince Slughorn to come back to Hogwarts–for his own safety from the Death Eaters. Oh well.
          Moving on, lets talk about romance.  I think the Hermione-Ron stuff was handled well.  Emma Watson is adorable as always, and Rupert Grint does a fabulous job of acting like an idiot boy.  Lavender Brown was perfect –oh so Lavender-y!  Sadly, we didn’t get to see Hermione’s charmed canaries actually peck and claw Ron’s face–they underplayed that scene, I guess so as to not make Hermione appear so vindictive.  Ah, well.  The Ginny-Harry stuff sucked.  No offense to either actor or actress, but they had no chemistry.  Also, where is the sparkly, energetic, talented and athletic Ginny from the books?  During the whole movie Ginny mooned over Harry with this creepy expression on her face.  The audience doesn’t really get to see why Harry falls in love with Ginny at all.  No bat-bogey hex, and no awesome quidditch skills depicted … she just stands around.  Boo.  The film pretty much skipped over the Tonks-Lupin romance.  It was established that they are together, but nothing more.  Also, there was absolutely no Fleur and Bill.  Sadly, no phlegm-hating, which would have been fun to witness.  I loved phlegm-hating Molly, Ginny, and Hermione!  In fact, no Bill Weasley at all, and I’ve been dying to see how he would be depicted in the films.  Plus, Greyback’s attack on Bill at the school, and Fleur’s reaction afterwards, was one of the more moving storylines in the book.  Too bad they cut it. 
          The memories?  Well, the film only included two.  One, the first meeting between Dumbledore and Tom Riddle.  It was handled very well, although we couldn’t really see the joy of Dumbledore’s purple velvet suit and red hair.  But good scene nonetheless.  The young actor who portrayed Tom Riddle was very creepy–bravo!  The only other memory explored was Slughorn’s infamous horcrux memory, in doctored and original form.  This was also handled well, albeit with some idiocy on Dumbledore’s part.  No depiction of the Gaunts–not even Voldemort’s mom!  No depiction of Riddle’s seduction of poor Hepzibah Smith and her Hufflepuff cup.  No memory of Riddle’s attempt to get the post of Defense against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts.  Sad.
          Horcruxes?  Hmmm.  Where to start.  I went to see the film with a friend who hasn’t read the books and she was thoroughly confused.  You end the film with Harry, and the audience, having no clue about the identity of the horcruxes.  In the books, at least there was a plan: book, locket, ring, something of Gryffindor’s, something of Hufflepuff’s, something of Ravenclaw’s, and possibly Nagini.  Also, the pain of Harry’s scar, and his visions resulting from it, are glazed over.  My friend had no idea what was going on when Harry had that flash from seeing the ring (and it took me a moment to figure out what was supposed to be happening in that scene too).  As Harry’s connection to Voldemort through the scar is uber-important (as in ESSENTIAL), it makes no sense to ignore it.  Whatever. Also, Movie-Dumbledore is kind of dumb.  In the books, he needs Slughorn’s memory to figure out HOW MANY horcruxes Voldemort made; while in the movies, Dumbledore needs the memory to even know Voldemort made any horcruxes (after he already destroyed a horcrux, and figured out that Harry destroyed one too!).  Knowing how the books turn out, and the extreme importance of Dumbledore and his ENTIRE orchestration of the ENTIRE PLOT, and needless to say, EVERYONE’S LIVES, it seems amiss.  Which leads me to complain yet again about non-sparkling-eyed-Dumbledore with his harsh ways and severe expressions.  Movie-Dumbledore is just not Dumbledore.  The most egregious casting in the films. 
          On the opposite front, the best casting in the film is Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood.  She’s amazing, and was the best part of the movie.  Loved her spectre-scopes, lion head-dress, and Christmas party outfit.  Hee hee.  Fabulous.  I would have enjoyed a little more nargyle discussion, but oh well.  Also, I missed her quidditch commentary, as it is one ofmy favorite parts of the book.  In case you forgot her brilliant commentary, here’s a reminder: "’And that’s Smith of Hufflepuff with the Quaffle […]  He did the commentary last time, of course, and Ginny Weasley flew into him, I think probably on purpose, it looked like it.  Smith was being quite rude about Gryffindor, I expect he regrets it now that he’s playing them–oh, look, he’s lost the Quaffle, Ginny took it from him, I do like her, she’s very nice […] but now that big Hufflepuff player’s got the Quaffle from her, I can’t remember his name, it’s something like Bibble–no, Buggins–‘ ‘It’s Cadwallader!’ said Professor McGonagall loudly from beside Luna.  The crowd laughed. […] ‘And Harry Potter’s now having an argument with his Keeper. […] I don’t think that’ll help him find the Snitch, but maybe it’s a clever ruse …’" (p. 413-414 in the American edition). Hee.
          My other favorite part of the film was Harry drunk on felix felicis.  While I didn’t picture the reaction to the potion quite like that, it was a brilliant directorial and acting choice.  Harry was just hilarious in his interactions with Slughorn and Hagrid.  "Also, the pincers."  Hee.  Brilliant.
          Other things I liked?  The cave scene.  It was very intense and the ring of fire was awesome.  Hmm … that’s it for things I like in the film.  Moving on … things I hated? The entire rest of the movie from the end of the cave scene on.  Boo for ruining one of the most intense moments in the entire series: Dumbledore’s death at the hands of Snape.  Also, the reaction of all towards it, and the entire lack of the battle between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, and the lack of DUMBLEDORE’S FRAKIN’ FUNERAL?  Just, no.  Really, you’re all just gonna hold your wands up and call it a day?!?!  "Yeah, he was a pretty good wizard.  Guess we’ll miss him."  Is a funeral too much to ask for … for the most important wizard of the entire generation!!!???!!!???!!!???!!!  For shame!  Well, they have two movies to make it up to me.  Next up in the HP films: hunting for horcruxes with Ron acting like an ass.  Oh joy!  Also, is Snape good or evil (not like it wasn’t completely obvious in the movie)?  And, can Harry defeat Voldemort with expelliarmus and the power of love?
           Oh, I almost forgot my HP movie fashion report!  The costuming theme in The Order of the Phoenix was "STRIPES!"  All viewers of the fifth movie could not help but notice that multiple people were wearing stripes in almost every scene of that movie (or was it only me who noticed?).  For the sixth film, the costume department expanded its horizons and added "PLAID!"  Plaid replaces about 3/4 of the previous striped wardrobes, with the remaining quarter of stripes remaining … often layered with the plaid, with more plaid on top.  I don’t recommend plaid sightings as a drinking game, as you will pass out early on. 
          Please comment on your reactions to the movie below! I love comments!  Was I too harsh?  Did I forget the most important thing? Let me know.

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