Movie Reviews

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: A Die-hard’s Review

Get excited for Harry Potter World. I snapped this shot of the construction in Florida.

Get excited for Harry Potter World. I snapped this shot of the construction in Florida.

[my own photo]

If you haven’t seen Harry Potter 6 yet, don’t bother covering your eyes and ears for this article, because in reality you aren’t even a fan. So read on about my thoughts and opinions on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because of course I viewed it at midnight and of course it is worth the hype and the attention. It’s at least literary-based unlike many other dumb and unworthy summer blockbusters.

Thanks to Irish relatives, I have been keyed into the Harry Potter obsession for about two years longer than the rest of the US. This is not intended to sounds patronizing, because this fact only makes me that much more the embarrassing super fan. I cannot even count how many long-winded conversations I have participated in regarding a whole host of wizarding topics. Embarrassing? Perhaps. Going to cease? Most likely not. The people that boggle my mind are those who actually read the books and came out unscathed. By unscathed I mean that they were able to resist the ensnaring charm of JK Rowling’s masterpieces. “Yeah, the books are OK and I usually try to see the movies or whatever.” No. This. does. not. fly. with. me.

If most of the following content sounds snarky and negative it is only because I love the series so dearly. Just because I found a lot of flaws in the adaptation does not mean I didn’t spend every viewing minute hoping that my acceptance to Hogwarts is still lost in the mail.

So let’s begin.

I found a lot of the plot to be a bit underdeveloped. It almost felt like those rides at theme parks like Disney World where they show you haphazardly selected scenes because they know you know the gaps in the story that they don’t fill in. This is fine and great for die-hards like myself, and hell no I am not trying to cater to fair weather fans;  I merely felt that many non-essential parts were overplayed whereas some of the much more important bits were cruised by or left out.

In other news, who forgot to tell me that Hogwarts became a fraternity house? From the opening scene with Harry’s interest in the waitress to the sexy new actor who plays Cormac licking his lips at the dinner table, I began to wonder why everybody’s love lives were dominating the film. Did I mistakenly by a ticket to a midnight showing of Gossip Girl? Yes, the romantic interests of our favorite characters are endearingly amusing, but enough is enough, give me some good old Horcrux Pensieve flashbacks, dammit. Hermione reminded me a bit of Ginnifer Goodwin in He’s Just Not That Into You, except of course for the fact that we omnisciently are aware of the mutual attraction. Did she even pick up a book or a quill for the duration of the film? They made her frivolous and a bit too out of character, in an actually quite debasing manner.

What the heck happened to some of my favorites? Hagrid got about one scene and Neville, as a server no less, got one as well. Although, I think that Luna very well may be one of the best-casted characters. She is flawless. Two words: lion headdress. Oh, and Bellatrix. Enough said because only someone as wonderfully tapped as Helena Bonham Carter could do her justice. Yay! Daniel Radcliffe is becoming a non-sucky actor! The scenes where DR was on Felix Felicis were authentically hilarious: his all-time best. Let’s try to keep Harry under some sort of influence from now on for the sake of Danny’s humor level.

Back to the lack of flashbacks; that was a major disappointment for me. I know screenplays should be active and first person because this is always more compelling and forward-moving, but who is this movie aiming to thrill and engage mostly? Those who live and breathe the books! We want the small gruesome details not the distant and casual movie-goer friendly style summary version. Donde estan my Horcrux stories? This was the chance for an HP movie with just a little bit less glitz and glam and with a lot more facts and thinking. It obviously shouldn’t have bordered on LOST style, leaving you with a veritable Sudoko of a problem to finagle. But some reader-directed details would have been nice.

As I discussed this the other day with my friend, she interjected that maybe the raging hormones were just one medium through which Hogwarts could seem more like the real world. This valid point got me thinking about the earlier Chris Columbus films which more most definitely less relateable, full of prim little wizards and witches going about their studies with ardor. The movies showed the wizarding world as a stark contrast to our own. The beauty of the past few films including those of Mike Newell and Alfonso Cuarón lies in the fact that they are much more inclusive and connecting to real life. Think of the sweeping shots in the Half Blood‘s opening scene of famous British landmarks. Then the whole teenage wizards acting like teenage Muggles, ahem people, makes a lot of sense. The fact that David Yates chose to open the blockbuster with the bridge showing how non-magic folk are being affected reveals that the director knows how charming a relateable fantasy world is to an audience. We’re all egocentric, let’s face it.

And on a final Pottery note, let me simply express the utter letdown that was the end of the movie. Please stop ending the films with a corny little scene of the Three Amigos saying sappy things to one another about friendship. That’s lame. This movie should have ended with Dumbledore’s epic funeral by the lake with Fawkes crying and soaring around and everyone gathered together. Then the cinematography should have changed to dramatic swooping scenes of the castle and the grounds as a tribute to the fact that this is the last Hogwarts-based chapter of the saga. It would be a much more resolute denouement than the little Three Musketeers pep talk.


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