Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince Review (B)
With just three movies left until the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise and with some pretty important plot elements coming into play the makers had a lot to do this round, of which they were mostly successful. I will always be of the opinion that the books far surpass the movies- almost every movie simplifies the plot and this is no exception. Whilst the movie is faithful, perhaps the most faithful of the adaptations, it still takes many deviations from the novel.
Our first scene with Harry has him chatting up a local muggle waitress before being whisked away by Dumbledore with very little explanation given. Where’s the distraught Harry who, just a few months earlier, had not only discovered that he was “the chosen one” but also had the only family he had ever really known (the Dursley’s hardly count) killed right before his eyes? Meanwhile Voldermort’s dramatic journey from orphan boy to the most feared wizard of all time is summed in just two scenes.
Halfway through the movie we’re treated to a Christmas at the Weasley’s that bares no resemblance to the novel, but more importantly, makes little plot sense except to “look cool.” However, fans of the book’s biggest quibble will surely be the ending, which is a little lackluster. From the sequence with Harry and the inferi all the way to the demise of the greatest wizard of all time, everything is a little rushed. Where is the huge showdown with teachers, auror’s and D.A. members against Death Eaters and werewolves? The penultimate scene has also strangely been altered with rather than having a stupefied Harry watch helplessly on the astronomy tower, instead he is told to keep quiet and hide. It doesn’t really follow his character to be honest, especially since just earlier the movie showed him charging into a cornfield to go after Sirius’ killer.
This isn’t to say that the movie is bad however. In fact, this is perhaps my favourite adaptation so far, and for a long time I preferred Cuaron’s adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban (though that too suffered from serious alterations). The cast are top notch, as are the FX. Jim Broadbent is Hogwart’s newest teacher and he is just about perfect as Professor Slughorn. Unfortunately, Harry Potter is filled with so many wonderful characters and in such a short movie, some of them only make very brief appearances; Tonks and Neville, for instance, both have only cameo roles.
Whilst this is a very dark movie, it has an awful lot of romance. Whilst it’s true that the books also dealt with that romance, they seemed better balanced somehow, giving equal weight to the humorous love scenarios and the darker times. Where, for instance, are the scenes where students are being pulled out of school, after Katie Bell was attacked at Hogwarts?
It’s a shame that so much was cut out of such a fantastic book. As with most of the Harry Potter movies, I find myself wishing that they had turned this book into two movies just so the audience would get the full effect of the story. But overall, it really is an excellent movie and leaves me anxiously (and a little wistfully) awaiting the final two
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