So, first off I have to apologize for my extended absence. We have been on “vacation” for over a month; back visiting family, 2 weddings, a 65th anniversary party, & just an overall lack of movie watching!! But I am back home & couldn’t miss opening night of the newest Harry Potter movie. As an aside, it was really nice of the people at Warner Bros. to release the movie to coincide with my hubby’s 40th birthday. What a great present for
me him! But enough about me, you want to know about the movie.
Well, for those of you who haven’t read the books (or it has just been so darn long since the last movie that your brain can’t possibly remember that far back….don’t worry that’s me too), we pick up weeks after we left our fav
boy man wizard, Harry, with a literal & figurative cloud over his head because of Voldemort’s return. The Death Eaters are wreaking havoc on both the wizarding & muggle worlds, but, worst of all, teenage hormones are in full swing. Yes, Hogwarts is a veritable Animal House. Okay so I exaggerate just a wee bit, but there is no doubt that this is the overall theme of the movie. Our main characters are sixteen, & they are dealing with some average, everday, teenage problems. Oh ya, & death plots, soul-splitting, & memory-retrieval. Like I said average, everyday, teenage problems.
I should tell you that Half-Blood Prince was my favourite of all of the books. I found it to be a breath of fresh air after the “whiny”, “self-doubt” of Order of The Phoenix. I loved that the characters came into their own as far as self-esteem & confidence. I also found it to be the funniest book, with many laugh-out-loud moments. The movie captured all of these aspects superbly. I loved that Harry, Ron & Hermione laughed so often, their different senses of humour really showing through. And really, when it comes to awkward teenage romance, there is a veritable treasure trove of laughable occasions that the movie was able mine.
In previous Harry Potter movies our main trio of actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, & Emma Watson) have often been overshadowed by their absolutely outstanding supporting cast. It is hard not to be overshadowed when that cast includes Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith & Julie Walters. But in this movie the acting by our main three was superb, a step above anything they have done previously. I don’t know if it is a comfort level with returning director David Yates, or maybe even an increase in acting experience by all three, but they were all solid. I’ve always felt these three supplied a few cringeworthy acting moments in previous Harry Potter installments, but there were not only none in this movie, all actually excelled in their roles. The big standout though for me was Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley. Bonnie plays Ginny with such confidence, just as the character is written, & even better just as I pictured her.
Okay, so here’s the thing. The movie is good. It just felt like a bit of a placeholder to me. As a stand-alone movie it is well done, but it has been pared down so much from the book that it feels like everyone is just biding their time to get to the last movie (or two movies as it is now). The last time I read Half-Blood Prince was over two years ago, so much of the intracacy of the story has faded for me, but there were some things that just stood out as glaring omitions. Particularly, much of the story building up to the reveal of the Half-Blood Prince is eliminated. It makes for a slightly less than climactic climax. Also, the Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort) backstory is painfully reduced, which means missing out on much of Riddle’s mother’s story as well as Dumbledore’s search for the horcruxes. It was almost like they just had touchpoints they wanted to fulfill for the movie. Introduce horcruxes. Check. Build foundation for Ron/Hermione & Harry/Ginny relationships. Check. Establish Snape’s (apparent) role in the good/evil struggle. Check. Unfortunately, when you boil the movie down that’s pretty much all you get. As a stand-alone movie it was solid. Good acting, visually stunning, fast enough pace. But if you go in comparing it to the book & expect it to be as rich on film as it is on the page, you will no doubt be disappointed.
Regardless, when you see it (it really isn’t an if…you just should see it) enjoy the last shot in the movie of our beloved trio, as it is the last shot we will see of them as Hogwarts students. They really are growing up, but lucky for us we have two more chances to enjoy them on the big screen. 2010 & 2011 can’t come soon enough.
As a little aside, Half Blood Prince is rated PG (the previous two were rated PG-13 in the US), and although the movie continues the trend of each installment getting darker, it is nowhere near as scary as the last movie, so it may be appropriate for some children under 10.