Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The penultimate novel in the Harry Potter series hits the big screen in the US. The kids are older, the stakes are higher.

Does the movie live up to the hype?

 

Summary

(Official Summary from Warner Brothers) Emboldened by the return of Lord Voldemort, the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that new dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. He needs Harry to help him uncover a vital key to unlocking Voldemort’s defenses critical information known only to Hogwarts’ former Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn. With that in mind, Dumbledore manipulates his old colleague into returning to his previous post with promises of more money, a bigger office and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter. Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry’s long friendship with Ginny Weasley is growing into something deeper, but standing in the way is Ginny’s boyfriend, Dean Thomas, not to mention her big brother Ron. But Ron’s got romantic entanglements of his own to worry about, with Lavender Brown lavishing her affections on him, leaving Hermione simmering with jealousy yet determined not to show her feelings. And then a box of love potion-laced chocolates ends up in the wrong hands and changes everything. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof with far more important matters on his mind. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

Review

Taken on its own, this is a fun movie that is well-done and enjoyable. Coupled with the book, the movie is disappointing. So much material had been dropped or changed, die-hard fans will find a lot to nitpick on. Some of the changes I can understand, some left me a little bewildered. If you can separate your knowledge of the Harry Potter books from the movie, you’ll enjoy yourself immensely.

This film is rife with humor, something that’s needed to offset the doom-and-gloom that pervades every other minute of it. The actors have hit their stride and really capture their characters (and after 6 films, we really don’t expect anything less).

Ultimately, the film is good and fun to watch. Just chant to yourself “This is not the book, this is not the book, this is not the book.” There, all better.

High Points

  • The Felix Felicis sequence.
  • Quidditch is back! And it’s fun!
  • Luna Lovegood. Priceless.
  • The betrayal in the Astronomy tower. Different than the book, but it works, possibly even more powerful than the book’s version.
  • End of the movie. Bottom of the Astronomy tower. I shall say no more.

Low Points

  • Too much dropped from the book.
  • The attack over Christmas break. Not in the book and not really necessary for the overall plot. The time would have been better spent elsewhere.
  • The final fight scene seemed too short, too rushed. I wanted to see the full-on fight from the book.
  • Attention teenagers: When the movie starts; shut up, turn your phones off, and sit your asses down. OK, so that had nothing to do with the movie itself, but dang it, can’t we get a little respect around here for others?

Scores

Originality – Obviously, being an adaptation of a book means it’s not totally original, but it feels new and interesting. 4/6.

Story – Despite having a lot of the “extras” trimmed from the story, it still holds up well. 5/6

Characterization – The actors have it down. Both young and old, and both old-timers and new-comers. Jim Broadbent’s Slughorn is spot-on, right out of the gate. 5/6

Effects – I wanted to say this is an effects light film, but there were effects EVERYWHERE, they just seemed so seamless they don’t scream “look at me, I’m an effect” they were just part of the world. 6/6

Emotional Response – This movie is brimming with comedy. You feel what the kids are going through. They are genuine in their fears and their desires. 6/6

Production – Hogwarts, with every passing film, looks better and better. You can’t help but feel the school is real and believable.  6/6

Overall – Like I said before, die-hards will likely be a little disappointed, but that won’t hit until a few hours after the credits roll. The film is fun and enjoyable from start to finish. 5/6

Total: 37 out of 42

6 replies on “Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

  1. vanyel says:

    I’ve given up and specifically avoid reading/re-reading a book within 6 months of seeing the movie. It’s just going to ruin it. I *am* rewatching the last few HP movies before going to see this one though, just to get back up to speed…

  2. Matt says:

    You had the same teenagers as I did! And I was on the other side of the Atlantic!

    I basically agree with you. For a fan of the books, this was a disappointment. Deathly Hallows is being made in two parts – perhaps they should have done this for Half-Blood Prince too. I think the omission of the growing parental relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is a great shame, because it removes a lot of the impact of Dumbledore’s demise, and leaves you with almost no justification for Harry’s complete faith in Dumbledore’s plan.

    • lost says:

      I got the feeling there were some scenes dropped from the final theatrical release that might address Harry’s trust in Dumbledore. I can sort of understand why such scenes might have been dropped for pacing reasons although it is disappointing that they didn’t spend even five minutes on that. Still, taken in combination with all the previous movies, the growing relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is believable.

      There’s also the possibility that they plan to throw a few bits at is in Deathly Hallows in the form of flashbacks, too. True, that can be done very badly but it could also work quite well.

  3. […] Bureau 42 | Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceDeathly Hallows is being made in two parts – perhaps they should have done this for Half-Blood Prince too. I think the omission of the growing parental relationship between Harry and Dumbledore is a great shame, because it removes a lot …Read More […]

  4. Abednigo says:

    My biggest complaint isn’t really that they added unnecessary stuff or left stuff out, but WHAT they left out. What happened to the giant battle scene at the end between the Order and the Death Eaters? When Harry and Dumbledore arrive back at Hogsmeade (in the book) they find out there is a battle going on already. But in the movie Snape and the Death Eaters just walk out of the school without any resistance from students (who are just standing around) OR teachers!! That made the entire movie, which I thought was excellent, extremely anticlimactic.

    I actually thought they put a ton of little stuff from the books in the movie. But the leaving out big important stuff (my spoiler above) to put in a couple of major scenes that were not in the book at all was disappointing and made no sense to me.

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