Harry Potter and the Half-way Decent Movie


So it’s like 3:30 a.m., and I just got home from the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  I could go to bed, but I had to get a few things off my mind first while my memories are still fresh.  Legilimens!

First, the good.  This movie was a LOT of fun.  As one of my Twitter pals put it, Half-Blood Prince felt like returning to high school and seeing all of your old friends.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione have always been at the heart of every Potter film, and HBP doesn’t deviate from this winning formula.  The film doesn’t waste any time getting right down to business, and it’s action-packed from start to finish.  From a plot standpoint, it had a lot of ground to cover (as all the Potter films do) and those two and a half hours just seem to fly by.  Overall it was a solid Potter film, and I’m sure it will hold up to many subsequent viewings, which are no doubt necessary to catch all the things you might have missed.  There was just so much going on in this movie it was almost overwhelming.

harry-ron-hermione-hbpAnd now the not-so-good.  I don’t know if this is a byproduct of having been forced to wait an extra 9 months for its release and having inflated expectations or what, but HBP definitely had its shortcomings.  The downside to cramming so much stuff in is that there’s quite a bit left out.  And I’m not even one of those book Nazis that insists all movies must be 100% faithful to the book; not even close.  I just didn’t understand some of the logic behind the decisions made in this film’s case.  They had time to throw in a bunch of lengthy scenes that never happened, but they didn’t have time to include the ones that actually did?  I would rather see a film where they’re forced to leave things out due to time constraints versus just making up whatever the hell they want to.  Without giving anything away, the first 10 minutes of this film is a prime example.

Many parts of this film just didn’t feel like a Harry Potter movie at all when compared to the previous five.  I think a little too much liberty was taken, to the point that some of the things that make Potter movies feel like Potter movies was lost–which is really surprising, because I felt Yates did such a fantastic job with Order of the Phoenix.  Maybe I’m expecting too much; it’s just Harry Potter after all.  Or maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit.  I certainly felt old during the romcom-y bits when 90% of the theater was squealing like giddy schoolgirls.  It could not have been more apparent who this film’s target audience was.

Speaking of getting old, when did the students of Hogwarts all turn 30?  I realize Daniel Radcliffe and company have aged quite a bit since the first film, but I don’t think I saw any younger students at all in HBP.  You know what else I didn’t see?  Any information about the Half-Blood Prince whatsoever.  I feel bad for anyone who has never read the books that tries to watch this film; you will be hopelessly lost.

For the rest of you–the ones who’ve read the books–despite my pithy complaints, there’s a lot to love about the film version of Half-Blood Prince:

(Warning: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.  Beware!)

Things I liked:

  • The bits about Harry & Hermione’s friendship, particularly Dumbledore’s “curiosity.” So cute.
  • Jim Broadbent’s turn as Slughorn; great job!
  • Aragog’s funeral and Hagrid’s subsequent drinking binge.
  • Snape bein’ all Snape-ish as only Snape can.
  • Happy to see Tonks & Lupin together, however brief.
  • Both kids who played Tom Riddle (age 11 & age 16) were fantastic!
  • Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore was much better played this time around.

…And of course,  there were some things that needed improvement:

Things I could have done without:

  • Jessie Cave as Lavender Brown.
  • Pandering to the HP fangirl set.  Yes I realize HBP is the “O.C.” of all the Potter books, but the teen romance portrayed in this film was just over the top, to the point where I felt like the romantic subplots overshadowed the main one.
  • Random black woman who comes on to Harry in a cafe.  Seriously, what is up with random black characters appearing in the Potter films?  It’s almost like the directors throw them in there for diversity’s sake.
  • The heavy-handed direction.  I swear in some shots you could almost feel Yates thinking “Hmm, what crazy camera wizardry can I do to make this scene look cooler?”
  • The Weasley’s house burning down.  Um, WTF??
  • Fenrir Greyback.  Although an important character in the book, his presence added nothing to this movie.

Things I missed:

  • The “feel” and spirit of Hogwarts just wasn’t there for me this time around.
  • Did they even bother to put the main characters in uniforms during classes?
  • Where the hell were all the younger students?  I don’t think I saw even one.
  • Dumbledore’s funeral.  I wonder if we’ll see it in the beginning of Deathly Hallows? I felt the ending in general was kind of a cop-out.
  • Cho Chang. I thought we’d at least see her in the background or something.
  • Any background information whatsoever about the Half-Blood Prince.

P.S.  Did anyone else almost pee a little bit when Dumbledore (whom J.K. Rowling professes to be gay) starts telling Harry how he’s been fond of him since he was a little boy, and that they need to figure out the deal with the closet??  Unintentional hilarity FTW.

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