Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Unlike a good number of Harry Potter fans, I did not read the sixth book before watching this movie. I did, however, watch the fifth movie, which I think got me more on track than I would have had I read the book.

I saw the movie today with my sister, and I remembered the parts of the book as they came up on screen: what part was different from the book, what was left out, etc. although some parts from other books had a tendency to run together for me. I was getting mad at some part I thought they left out, only to find out later (through Wikipedia) that it's actually a part of the seventh book. Heee.

Anyway, like I've been doing, I'm going to detail my thoughts on the movie below the cut!


The Plot
First, let me get out of the way my thoughts of the movie plot as it stands alone, with no reference to the book.

I thought it was pretty good, I like how it didn't start off with Harry at Privet Drive like always. That little bit with the cute girl at the café was a nice detail, sort of reminding us all of his 'teenage-ness'.

Altogether it was a bit slow-moving, like someone creeping through a hallway and peeking through every door. I liked how they put some emphasis on the 'they're just normal teenagers, too' aspect, while still managing to plug in all the dangerous and mysterious stuff that went on (most of which ended up being Draco's doing).

The transitioning was smooth, so Harry's accompanying Dumbledore to the cave of the climax seemed natural, if not totally like a climax. The scene seemed to go by rather quickly, and I did feel disheartened when Harry found out that the Horcrux wasn't even the real one.

I'm gonna say this a lot more, but it seemed just like one big buildup.

In reference to the book...
The Harry/Ginny parts were sort of lame! I mean, they kiss in the Room of Requirement? I liked the big deal they made of it in the book, when they just spontaneously kiss after a Quidditch match right in front of Ron, who's just like, "WhatEVER man, go ahead!" I mean, they spent such a long time building it up, and they don't even acknowledge it after they kiss. They do at the end, which is when Harry is actually supposed to break up with Ginny. Details details, I suppose.

Speaking of lack of climaxes, no epic wizard battle.
And Bellatrix stomping around Hogwarts like a crazy bitch does not make up for it.

I suppose it could just be because they didn't want it to get repetitive, after the climactic wizard battle at the end of the fifth movie and the many wizard battles to come in the next movies. So without that sort of climax, we just walked down this long corridor, peeking into every door only to come to the final one, which just leads to open air. I suppose the cave scene could be considered the climax, but it didn't feel like it, especially since the Horcrux was revealed to be fake.

I also didn't like how they just let Harry simply obey Dumbledore as he stood below them and watched everything happen. In the book, Dumbledore immobilized him while he had the invisibility cloak on, so he was physically unable to do anything. I felt like that could have been done, and that it would have been much better.

They also left out a LOT of memories that Harry and Dumbledore were supposed to look through, memories that hinted at what the Horcruxes were supposed to be. But again, I can understand that, they probably wanted to save that kind of action for the 7th movies.

This movie, like the book, was clearly made to build straight up to the seventh.
I got that feeling from the book, and now from the movie, too.

Oh, I did like the inclusion of the Sectum Sempra curse, though.
Don't ask me why. Hee.

The Characters
Last night I watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, just to get myself nice and updated for today's film, and I've got to say, I'm (for the most part) loving the difference in performance. Snape was, for one, more understandable (despite the mumbling), and Dumbledore was better than ever. I recall people saying that in the fourth movie Dumbledore sort of overacts, but he's totally boss here. You know, the movie where he dies.

Harry is a little boring, I'll admit to that. He had a lot more going for him in the fifth movie, where he seemed to be PMSing at every turn. Is The Boy Who Lived getting tired? Hopefully not, because the fun's just beginning.

I don't know if I could love Ron and Ginny more!
Ginny plays a strong character, one certainly worthy of Harry's affections. She's so badass as Quidditch, and pretty assertive everywhere else. I loved Ron acting all dopey and stupid when he was under Romilda's spell. Just excellent.

The Art Design & Cinematography

I have to say, this was beautifully filmed. The camera angles make sense to the movie and really give a strong sense of magic and reality to the wizarding world in which the story is set. One of my favorite scenes was right after the Quidditch match, when Ron and Lavender are shown, through the windows of the tower, climbing up and kissing—and then the camera swoops over to reveal Draco brooding at the balcony. That was fantastic.

The chase-and-battle scene just outside the Weasley's home in the field was very well filmed, too. It felt very handheld-camera, but it was only for that part, and it actually fit. Many filmers tend to abuse this effect (lik in Transformers 2), turning it into a horrible cliché, but it was used properly here: it conveyed a sense of danger close by, a sense of urgency and terror. I'm not sure if it was made clear, but Fenrir Greyback is a werewolf who likes to eat children. Eep.

Other Stuff
I don't have much to say about most of the other parts of the movie, such as the acting or the soundtrack—they were fine, they carried the story just fine (although Draco's body language could have been as good as his facial expressions as he faced down Dumbledore). There was one thing that I remember José telling me, though, after he saw the movie, and it was that a lot of parts (if you're gutter-minded) were unintentionally funny, if you remember the fact that J.K. Rowling intended for Dumbledore to be gay.

"I''ll show it to you, if you'd like."

In Conclusion

Despite missing parts, I think the movie did well to convey just what the book did: suspense. An ominous atmosphere. A sense of doom. They're just teenagers, hormones a-rage and everything, and yet all these things are falling upon them, and the whole world has to deal with it along with them. A storm's a-comin', and it'll be split into two movies.

I never really like to call these reviews because I don't think I'm very consistent. They're just thoughts on the movie is all, and especially with a movie like this where I've read the book, a lot of it is going to be me comparing it to the book. And unless things like the soundtrack SERIOUSLY blew me away, I'm not going to say much about it.

I've never been one to reread books, but I think I'll reread the seventh one just for kicks before the movie comes out. Probably not right before it, as I might get too blinded by what they cut out (they're going to cut out a lot, to be sure), but we'll see.

Roger Ebert's Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rotten Tomatoes: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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