2009-08-03

Movie Review 11: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Half Blood Prince is a good, solid movie. My perceptions of it may be impacted by some distractions I had in the last 45 minutes, but for fans of the series, it is definitely worth seeing.

I saw it in 3D at the local Imax. Only the first 10 minutes or so of the movie was in 3D so it seemed more gimmicky than anything else. The effects were technically well done, but they didn't add anything to the movie (unlike the effective use of the 3D in The Order of the Phoenix).

Before I go, let me warn you that there will be spoilers here. The book has been out for years, and the movie out for weeks, so if you are trying to avoid spoilers, you probably aren't reading reviews, anyway.

The movie stays faithful to book, but does make some changes. The opening sequence is actually something that happens in the next book, but it works. In fact, most of the changes they make really do make the story better -- at least for this format.

The movie spends more time on Draco and the vanishing cabinet as he experiments with it. I don't recall so much attention on it in the book. For a key plot element, the visual story telling works out well.

The confrontation in the clock tower where Snape kills Dumbledore works better, too. It seems less contrived than the book version (which involved a paralyzing spell and a invisibility cloak) and just feels like it works better. It plays well to Snape's "betrayal."

The do cut nearly all of Tom Riddle's back story. We don't see anything about his family. We just get to see him in the orphanage briefly. It's an important and lengthy aspect of the book, and it really helps us learn more about the path to Voldemort and what is involved in becoming truly evil. And those elements are important to the Horcrux strories in this book and the next. Without the indepth stories, why does Dumbledore take Harry to the cave?

At the same time, I'm not sure how they could have covered all that material and still made a compelling movie.

The movie (like the book) is filled with teen romance and angst. I'm torn about its role here. After all, we are dealing with teenagers (even if they are are fighting for the fate of the world) and problems they have do ring true. Of course they handle these matters immaturely, but in an age appropriate manner, especially given their romantic experiences.

It also takes up a larger portion of the movie than it does the book, but that's largely because so much of the exposition and history in the book distracts from this stuff. But in the movie, the romance is right up front.

They actors do a good job with their role. After all these years, they should. Jim Broadbent is new to the series in his role as Professor Slughorn and humanizes him well as a man trying to deal with his past shame. Broadbent makes Slughorn a real person.

Evanna Lynch does an amazing job with her role as Luna Lovegood, and is sadly underutilized in this movie. She brings the subtle insanity to the screen that the role demands, playing a character that seems perfectly harmless, while at the same time being that last person you want to encounter in a bar fight.

Overall, this is a worthy addition to the franchise. It takes a different path from the book because it is a different medium and the changes work. The movie is not as strong at The Order of the Phoenix, but I attribute that to its role in the broader story arc.

Harry Potter fans should definitely see this movie. Those new to the franchise may want to start elsewhere.

You can find more of my Movie Reviews here.

8 comments:

Vera said...

In the book though, weren't the students (DA) up guarding Hogwarts and fought off some of the Deatheaters? I was looking for that in the movie

The GF said...

There was a lot of snogging, wasn't there? From what I saw, anyway. I'm sorry my situation kept you distracted for the last half. :( Bad timing to get sick!

boyz said...

very interested movie

Dwacon® said...

I'm still waiting for the Colonel Sherman Potter movie...

kittykat said...

got a few not so good reviews of this movie..can't say though if it really is the worst HP movie ever..still have to watch it myself..

Mikes said...

I didn't like it. I felt like there was no climax whatsoever. I agree with you, one must watch other Harry Potter movies to hook up. coz if this was the first franchise, i won't be hooked.

MommaDJane said...

Although we own all the Harry Potter movies out so far and we did go see this one, we are huge fans... BUT I have to say I was a little disappointed with the end. It was like it just stopped, not real ending to the story or should I say to this chapter. I thought the other movies had a great beginning, middle and end (or leave off place for next movie). Did you not feel this way at all? My oldest DD loved it!

Cromely said...

@Vera: It's been a while, but I do recall more of a battle at Hogwarts in the book. The DA plays a pivotal role in the last book. But i think there was some of it in Half Blood Prince, too. In the movie, the invasion is really all about the assassination of Dumbledore, whereas in the book I recall it being more a of side mission.

@The GF: Meh. Stuff happens.

@boys: Yes it is.

@Dwacon: That would be awesom. "Acio RADAR!"

@kittykat: It's very good. Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire were the worst as far as I'm concerned.

@Mikes: I can see that. The movie does just sort of end, but that's pretty much what happens in the book. In that respect it's like "The Fellowship of the Ring." This movie might not stand completely on it's own, but it can be an okay place to start, but you really need to look at it as Part 1 of 3 (the last book is being made into 2 movies) and form that perspective I think it sets up things okay. There was a lot missing from the movie, but I don't think they could have included much more without adding another hour+ to the movie and bogging down the pacing. Ragardless, that still wouldn't have addressed the climax issue.

@MommaDJane: I agree that it had no real ending, but I'm okay with that due to its place in the narrative. I'm not sure what they could do differently. Maybe add Dumbledore's funeral? The book doesn't really close out the story much better. It's definitely part 1 of 3.