Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Cole and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yesterday. I have been so psyched for this movie, essentially since the book came out in 2005. This is, bar none, my favorite book of the series, so I was excited to see cinematic life breathed into it.

As with all movie adaptations of novels, I was aware that not everything from the book could be crammed into the 2 hour, 20 minute running time, and I think, overall, it was an excellent adaptation. The producers took creative liberties with the plot, which differed a fair amount from that in the book, but the result was still spectacular. However, as with past Harry Potter movies, I feel like they missed the mark on several important details that will be hard to resolve in the final movies.


First, let's talk about some things I liked about the movie.

1. I LOVED the increased role Ginny had. I was worried how they would develop the relationship between Harry and Ginny in this movie, since she's been relegated to a much smaller role in movies past. She almost felt like part of the trio, and she got just as much screen time as either Hermione or Ron. I love Ginny, so I was thrilled to see so much of her.

2. Jim Broadbent played an almost spot-on, name-dropping, favorite-collecting Horace Slughorn. he was fabulously eccentric, and his transformation from squishy armchair to plump human was extremely captivating.

3. Harry's Felix Felicis scene was wonderful. It was light-hearted and jovial, almost as though he had just spent hours inhaling happy gas at the dentist. One word to describe what was great about this scene? "Pincers."

4. Ron Weasley. I heart Ron Weasley. Particularly in the scene where he's eaten Harry's chocolates that have been doused in a love potion by Romilda Vane. Also in any scene with Lavender Brown. Hilarious.

5. On a related note, QUIDDITCH!!! I can't believe how much I missed quidditch in the last two movies. There was only one match shown, and it was focused mainly on Ron (who thought he was under the influence of Felix Felicis). They also showed quidditch tryouts and the Confundus Charm cast by Hermione to throw Cormac McLaggen off his game. Amazing.

6. I loved the teenage relationships and angst. While they were incredibly overdone, almost maudlin, in the last two movies, they were refreshingly realistic in this movie. Hermione's heart-breaking tears after seeing Ron and Lavender kissing were so honest that it made me recall any and all of my past heartbreaks. Every part of the romantic ties between the characters rang true for me.

7. If I had to pick a "Best Actor" award for the movie, it would go to Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. He was exquisite at displaying Malfoy's fierce determination and chilling fear while attempting to complete the deadly task assigned to him by Lord Voldemort. He fleshed out the character, once only seen as Harry's archnemesis and foil, and gave the audience a reason to finally relate to him and feel for him. Bravo, Mr. Felton.

8. During this movie, I FINALLY got on board with Dumbledore. I took such issue with him in the last three movies because he always seemed so harsh and unfeeling. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore finally became the warm, caring, almost batty headmaster that he is in the books. I finally felt like he actually cared about Harry as a person rather than just as a tool to fight Lord Voldemort. The cave scene and his final tower scene were absolutely wonderful, and Dumbledore was dignified even in his final moments.

9. Fred and George's shop. It was just like I imagined it: colorful, cacophonous, and outrageous...even though one of the twins appears noticeably plumper than the other. Strange.

Now to my gripes and concerns.

1. Very little of the Order of the Phoenix. You only really see them at the Weasleys' house for Christmas, and then it's only Tonks and Lupin (who apparently are already together in the movie. Weird.). This means no battle between the Death Eaters and the Order in the castle after Snape kills Dumbledore. That whole scene was pretty uneventful without the battle.

2. Very little use of the invisibility cloak. We only see it once—during Harry’s “espionage” in the Slytherin compartment on the Hogwarts Express (which was rather well done, actually).

3. Snape. I usually love Alan Rickman, but at the end of the movie, I was less than pleased that he showed no passion or anger when Harry called him a coward like he did in the book. He didn't even fly into a rage when Harry mutilated Malfoy, his supposed favorite student, in the bathroom. This installation of the series was supposed to show the audience just how many layers Snape has, but it didn't seem like he had more than one dimension: flat, monotone, sardonic, sneering. I also would have liked to see what his Defense Against the Dark Arts classes were like.

4. Very little elaboration on the significance of the "Half-Blood Prince". Yes, Snape told Harry it was he when he was running away from Hogwarts at the end, but it seemed anti-climactic. It was supposed to be a revelation to Harry about how he views people. Throughout the whole story, Harry has admired and emulated the Half-Blood Prince, so it should be a complete blow to Harry when he found out his idol turned out to be the one person he loathed above all.

5. Dumbledore seemed sincerely surprised when Harry acquires Slughorn’s unadulterated memory and they find out Lord Voldemort sought to create horcruxes. In the book, Dumbledore already had a shrewd idea about what Lord Voldemort had been up to, and Slughorn’s memory served only to confirm what he already knew. In the movie, it was like a complete shock to him. This was strange, because he already was in possession of Tom Riddle’s diary (which Harry de-commissioned back in Chamber of Secrets) and Marvolo Gaunt’s ring (which Dumbledore had already tried to destroy, as evidenced by his blackened hand). I find it hard to believe that Dumbledore would not have even some idea as to what these objects were, seeing as how he is (was?) one of the greatest wizards of the time. It undermines his authority and his wisdom.

6. Oh, and they never really explained how Dumbledore’s hand got all dead-like…and if they did, it wasn’t clear enough for me to see it.

7. If we were learning about the story only from the movie, all we know at this point is that Lord Voldemort created horcruxes (at least 3, since both the diary and ring have been destroyed and they acquired the locket from the cave) and that they could be any object. Dumbledore and Harry did not discuss how many horcruxes Voldemort most likely made. They did not discuss the fact that Voldemort would have made them using objects that were valuable to him or carried specific importance. They did not discuss how to destroy a horcrux. Harry basically has nothing to go on at this point in the story. I’m not sure how the producers are going to pull off the last two movies. Harry will have to “happen” to come across the remaining horcruxes and then devise a plan to destroy them all by himself.

8. In addition, the movies lack important tying-together elements, like the trio’s discovery of R.A.B’s locket (and the true horcrux) during the cleaning of Sirius Black’s house, and Harry’s use of the diadem (also a horcrux) to help mark the location of his potions book in the Room of Requirement. In the books, these seemingly minor details prove to be extremely important. Without these details in the movies, Harry will, again, have to come across them by accident.

9. Harry was not invisible or immobilized during Dumbledore’s death. He was simply on a lower level of the tower, thereby enabling him to see everything that was going on but not be seen. In my mind, this made Harry seem weak. At least in the book, we know he would have attempted to help Dumbledore if he weren’t frozen. In the movie, Harry was physically able to help, but he did nothing. He looks like a coward. I hated that.

Okay, so the list of gripes made it sound like I hated the movie. I really didn’t. Most of the gripes I had were really very minor. The only thing that even moderately irked me were numbers 7 and 8, and I’m just interested to see how those issues will be handled in the next installment. I guess it’s good that there will be two movies, since there is so much to wrap up.

And why was this movie a whole hour shorter than all of the rest? It just figures that the movie of my favorite book would be the shortest of all.


Rachelle said...

Very good points! That is exactly how I felt too.

Joel said...

All those gripes were very spot on... I liked the movie, but I think it should have said "Inspired by the Book: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." One more to add to your list. Why did Draco even need the Death Eaters in the castle without the battle? There was no point, since Draco went up to Dumbledore alone, and then Snape came and did it. Then they just have a leisurely stroll out of the castle. They played out the Draco torment so well, and for what? There was no pay off, seems like all of what he did was for nothing.

ME said...

I LOVE that you posted your thoughts about the movie. I read your comments before I saw it on Saturday and thought they were a bit nit-picky, but after I saw the movie, you were right on. I do have say that I loved Snape's performance, even though he should have been more emotional in some points. I also Loved Draco's performance in this one.

I'm glad you pointed out the issue with Harry's book because I couldn't remember but I was pretty sure that he needed to know where that book was.

I'm really surprised you didn't mention the scene with The Burrow burning down. The film made me totally question myself. I was just sitting there in the theater thinking "I don't remember that! I must be going crazy" There is so much important stuff that is left out in the movie, why go and add a scene like that in??

Just my thoughts.

Cole, Jessica, and Kyle said...

Joel: Good point! I felt the same way about the ending. ANTI-CLIMACTIC all around.

Jana: I left out the part about the Weasley's house burning down...because I forgot about it.

Seriously. But, I knew this scene was added before I even saw the movie, so that may have been why I wasn't totally appalled that something so completely non-canon (and, like you said, completely unneccesary) was added to the movie. I did roll my eyes, though, because it didn't even seem to have traumatic effects on the Weasleys (as you'd think one's house burning down due to a terroristic act would). That scene only served as a tool to push along the Harry-Ginny storyline. There is plenty of material in the book that the writers could have used to do that.

And don't get me wrong: I love Snape. He's always been my favorite character, even in the novels, simply because he's not easily defined as a "bad guy" or "good guy." His moral ambiguity makes him far more realistic, and I love that about him. Like you said, though, he needed more emotion in several key moments in the movie.

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