Friday, July 17, 2009


To satisfy the curiosity of a certain friend, I gave Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 8/10 because...well its difficult to explain. Maybe I'd better just evaluate it as is.

The plot is not strictly according to the book. In the way that film 3 was condensed, with scenes from the book taken slightly out of sequence, or rolled into one for brevity. This film does the same, and it works and removes some of the tedious repetition. There are also completely new scenes and dialogue not from the book. Mostly these work, but one or two give away bits of the plot that one does not come to understand until later. There is a particularly menacing scene set at Xmas. Some characters don't appear at all. Some lose their lines to a different character in one scene then regain them later.

Snape and Draco Malfoy are both played with much more sympathy than previously seen. Some of the Draco stuff is touching. Dumbledore is really good in this, his scenes at the end moving but understated -just the way he would like them, really. Michael Gambon is terrific this time, he approaches Richard Harris for gravitas at last.

The main trio are all really good, and growing up beautifully. They each carry their scenes without too much mawkishness for a change, although Ron Weasley is a bit of a dope. He also has some funny scenes, with Harry, who has a delightful scene alone while under the influence. Teen hormones are raging! And boy, does that Ginny Weasley know what she wants.

Cinematography was good. The mood was amazing, no sweetness and light here. And the scenes in the cave were well realised. Great tension towards the end of the film. Slightly disappointed to have no funeral to sob over further, with a strangely awkward bit of editing that shifts the mood a bit prematurely for me, ending with a very obvious ribbon tying class for loose ends and demonstrating the way forward. If it had gone a bit harder with the grief work I may have been more satisfied, but the romance and comedy was great. Luna Lovegood was delightful.

It didn't drag in the slightest, in fact I would have been happy to sit for another 10-15 minutes to include a scene or two more. I especially missed one of the opening scenes from the book involving Fudge and the muggle Prime Minister, although the atmosphere was well and truly established by brief scenes of London under attack.

Once again I was frustrated by how much Dumbledore knew and didn't teach Harry. What a waste!

Maybe eight is a bit mean. Its possibly a nine. I can't wait to see it again!


Natalie said...

My boys are looking forward to it... their interest has ebbed and flowed. Like you, they make objective critics.

Lesley said...

I am, as always, absolutely amazed at your memory of the book, and who actually said what lines!
I'm glad you loved it, after longing so heartily to see it!

Debby said...

Cara's friends drove across the state so that they could all see it together, just as they had all the others. They were not disappointed in it at all. They thought it was the best one.

Side note: I remember when the first movies came out, and I was driving them to the midnight openings, and they'd be in costume, etc. Now they are driving themselves 300+ miles. Doesn't seem right.

Stomper Girl said...

I thought it was very good too, some very judicious selection of what to change and what to ignore. I do see why they let Dumbledore apparate out of Hogwarts to save on the Hogsmeade stuff but Hogsmeade gets very important in the next book/film...

I thought Jim Broadbent was absolutely MAGNIFICENT as Slughorn!
And agree with all you said, the Draco stuff was VERY well done.