Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
When the book came out, I was more excited than I could ever remember being, apart from when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released. I felt myself feeling the same feelings going into the movie, which was a first, since the other movies had never heralded that much expectation.
The fact is, this is an important tale to tell, no matter how slow the story may have been, because without it, the final installment is impossible, and unless done perfectly, that final installment would suffer. I’m afraid to say that the final installment will suffer greatly for what the Half Blood Prince has done, and contrary to what other reviewers have said, this film has been done poorly.
I’m going to assume you have read these books, for the movie follows much of the book, no matter how many necessary plot points are cut out, so if by any chance you have not read the book or do not want the movie spoiled, be warned that this review may very well contain a few spoilers. In a nutshell, Britain is being terrorized by death eaters (I’m afraid the trailer will show you the entirety of that scene) Harry is going back to school, Malfoy is plotting something, Dumbledore has acquired a mysterious ailment to his right hand, and an old ex retiree has returned to Hogwarts to teach, and has something Dumbledore and Harry desperately want.
The three main characters are still played by Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, all of whom are getting rather old to convincingly play sixteen year old students of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Horace Slughorn is played exceedingly well, and Lavender Brown has been acted out spot on, with most of the audience laughs heading in her direction. As usual Alan Rickman does an almost perfect portrayal of the man we love to hate; Snape, and Maggie Smith does a wonderful job of Professor McGonagall.
The main problem with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is that the director; David Yates, focuses on entirely the wrong things, with Quidditch, teenage Romance, a very strange and unneeded attack on the Weasley house and forced, badly acted humor filling the screens for more than 60% of the film. These things by themselves are no problem; in fact I and many other fans would embrace them eagerly as part of the magic of Harry Potter, but the problem is that David Yates replaces many major plot points for these things.
Some of this stems from mistakes in the previous films, when the ending of the series was not known, and so cuts were made that seemed innocent at the time, but which ended up being fatal. The thing is, these problems could very easily have been rectified in this film, even if they had to sway away from the book for only a few minutes, and completely new problems arose, that are made quite clear to be important in the seventh book. For example (Spoiler up ahead) in the beginning of the film, no mention is made whatsoever of Harry’s inheritance from Sirius, Kreacher or Grimauld Place. How then, will Kreacher help the three main characters in finding the real Slytherin locket? And where will they stay while they plan the infiltration of the ministry? This is not the only instance like this, there is no mention of Bill and Fleur (where will Harry, Ron and Hermione go after they escape the Malfoy mansion?).
Things like these missing plot points were the downfall of an otherwise very well done film, and because there had been so much hype and excitement over this film, it made it that much more disappointing. The movie focused too much on the things that should have only taken fifteen minutes screen time at most, but which ended up taking at least an hour. The script writers have trapped themselves in a way that limits what they can do in the next film, and I highly doubt that they will have enough material to make two films when they have cut so much of the book out already!
I must say that I left the theatre with a rather heavy sense of disappointment in my stomach, not only was this film ruined, but the next one was too. Characters that were meant to have larger roles in this film have no chance of having large roles in the next film after what they did to them. On top of this, there was no proper sense of loss when one of the key characters died at the end, it was just over and done with in a flash; and with no mention of their burial, another key plot point in the next film has evaporated…
It is not that the elements they have used in this film are bad, it’s just that the required elements were not included, and so the film as a whole fails.
If you are an avid fan of the series, then chances are you have already seen this film, if not then I’d suggest seeing it anyway, if only to pay tribute to JK Rowling and to relive the magic for just a bit longer. It seems that no matter how bad these films get, record breaking money will always be made, I believe the midnight showing gained $22 million; $4 million higher than The Dark Knight, so no matter what the reviews are, in the financial world, this film is a success.
Over all, focus was placed on all the wrong things, pacing was terrible and any true Harry Potter fan will be disappointed, this movie deserves a 5/10.
Reviewed by Josh Bell (8M)