Posted by: beansai | July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

     My feelings about the sixth installment of the Harry Potter movies are mixed. I try to watch the movies from an objective point of view, or, at the very least, in two minds. One mind focuses on the movie in context of strictly the films and how they have developed – and how the characters have developed – without influence from content within the books. My second mind is from the point of view of someone who has read all the books and notices what is missing, changed, hinted at, and assuming what is to come. Warning! Spoilers (for both book and movie) follow. Read at your own risk ;).

     That being said, both my minds are mixed in regards to the Half-Blood Prince film. In some respects the movie was good. I thought the composition had a nice flow to it, despite the amount of content they have to force into 2.5 hours. It didn’t feel choppy or chaotic. I never felt lost in the story line (though, of course, I have the advantage of reading the books and I tend to automatically fill in the gaps, so I can’t say for sure that the story makes complete sense without having read the books). I thought that the characters were a bit… held back. Snape wasn’t nearly as antagonistic as usual. Ginny wasn’t as fiery as I think she should be, at least not compared to her book counter-part. Harry wasn’t as obsessive or trouble-making like he always is. No insanely risky wandering around at night, no dancing on the line at risk of getting caught or at least not with the threat of punishment that it usually holds – heck, Potter doesn’t even get in trouble after his bathroom brawl with Malfoy.

     Often times throughout the film there was a forced humor to it. I feel like they were trying to ease the heaviness of this installment with humor. Hp6teaserposterIt worked, sometimes, but more often than not it seemed out of place and awkward. This book is not funny. I’m not saying there are never funny moments, but mostly it is just intense, sad, and heavy with fear. Beyond passing mentions of the fear that grips the magic world, it really isn’t present within Hogwarts. Not even after Katie Bell is cursed or Ron Weasley is poisoned. I felt like we were never really allowed to feel the gravity of situation.

      Oddly enough, I think this was the slowest film yet, which strikes me as odd, because in the book there is plenty going on. Even in the film there was plenty going on, and yet there wasn’t the degree of commitment I expect from the film makers. Harry is supposed to be obsessing over Malfoy and his role in the Dark Lord’s regime, but he only half-heartedly obsesses. We’re never shown how he nearly misses a Quidditch match to find out why Draco isn’t playing (we don’t even learn Draco is no longer playing), we don’t see the tension Harry’s suspicions cause between him and Dumbledore, and even between him, Hermoine and Ron. We don’t experience Dumbledore’s disappointment after Harry has failed to retrieve the memory, we don’t even get the back story to the horcruxes (at the very least a point should have been made about Riddle’s trophy collecting habits).

     I think my biggest pet-peeve with the movie though is it’s odd choice to remove some of the scenes, and add others. First off, what the hell is with the whole attack on the Weasley house? It just didn’t make sense to me. This film/book is not about capturing Harry Potter, but about killing Dumbledore, so why this random attempt to draw Harry out? I feel like it takes away the focus, which should be the horcruxes, the Malfoys, and Dumbledore. Two scenes that were completely ignored include the battle that happens after Dumbledore is murdered (the bad guys just run through the castle unchallenged!?!?!?) and Dumbledore’s funeral. Oh, not to mention Harry breaking things off with Ginny. That small scene in the book tells a lot about them and their relationship (which is emphasized way too much in the movie if you ask me. And emphasized too early as well.). Oh! Another thing never mentioned is the change of Minister of Magic. I think that’s important. I think it is important that we know how far Potter is willing to go with Dumbledore, how much he trusts him as well as the extreme dissonance between the magical government and high up figures like Dumbledore.

     While I’ve mentioned mostly what has bothered me, as a whole, I think this movie is probably one of my favorites out of the six. I’ll have to see it again once it comes out on video. I’ll have a Harry Potter marathon and watch all the films in close succession, which will give me a better idea as to how this movie fairs up to the others. I realize that it gets more and more difficult to convey the complex feelings and circumstances of the characters, but I still left the theater in want of something. Like I said, I think my biggest issue is the lack of commitment this film suffered from. It needed more intensity and poignant moments to really convey the severity and difficulties the characters are faced with.

★★★☆☆
Worth seeing if you like the series, whether just books or just movies or both.

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Responses

  1. To say I agree with you is an understatement. The whole Weasley/Christmas scene was ridiculous. Also, when the Death Eaters do come to Hogwarts there was so no reaction to them, weren’t the teachers and various other Order members supposed to be patroling around?

    Overall though, it was my favorite of the movies. Hopefully the seventh will be better (I mean they’re are splitting it into two parts!).

    -MAM


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