I feel like there’s no way a review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HBP) can be completely objective. The reaction to this movie depends on many factors: Your level of love (or hate) for the book series, the specificity of your knowledge about this sixth book, the amount to which you understand why the filmmakers included or ignored certain aspects of the books, etc. One person could have no knowledge of the books and be completely confused. One person could love the books and love the movies just for having the Harry Potter name. The bottom line is that this review is coming from my own personal perspective—one that you should have in mind as you read this.
I am a huge fan of the books and movies. As the books became darker and more mature, the movies corresponded in both plot (clearly) and aesthetics, something that I’ve greatly enjoyed. I feel like HBP is no exception to this. It’s a visually stunning and dark film that explores both the major plot points of the books and takes a good deal of time to further develop the characters we’ve come to know and love.
However, I do have one qualm. Perhaps my memory is not serving me correctly, but I seem to remember the book having a darker feel than the movie. There is a great deal of levity in many scenes of the movie—particularly those involving Lavender Brown (coincidentally, this is the one performance that I did not like. I felt that she was too over-the-top from the onset). Now, as I mentioned before, this reaction is a byproduct of my love for the books. Looking at the movie as an entity, I felt the added scenes of banter between our protagonists (and supporting characters, particularly the delightfully dreamy Luna Lovegood) were enjoyable and meaningful. I only felt like they were more prevalent than I remember them being on paper. In essence, my criticism is with how the movie upholds the book. I’m not going to let this affect my judgment of the movie as an independent entity.
Another aspect of this movie I really loved was the art direction. Many of the scenes were staged with such beauty and grandeur that I was breath-taken. The cold, dreary initial scene in London with the death eater’s attack; the dreamy, murky recollections of the Penseive; the epic and chilling scene in the underground lake—all strong examples of the creative vision planned into each shot. The cinematographers also did a great job using the camera to highlight the art director’s work. There were a number of swooping pan shots that captures the scale of these scenes. Overall, the film was very majestic.
The actors seemed to be very comfortable with their roles. One thing I did notice is that the producers have realized that Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson are much bigger stars than Rupert Grint. Ron seemed to have a slightly lesser role than Hermione and (clearly) Harry in this film. Although he was present for much of the movie, Hermione had more speaking scenes with our hero. Again, this is more of an observation because this change did not have an effect on the quality of the film. I was just a bit put out because I am a fan of Grint’s portrayal of Ron. As far as the supporting characters go, Helena Bonham Carter stands out as the deliciously evil as Bellatrix Lestrange. Granted, that could be because she’s a newer addition to the series and I now take more established characters for granted. (Don’t worry, Alan Rickman, I still think you’re great). Either way, her giddy chant of, “I killed Sirius Black” will ring in your ears after you leave the theater.
The bottom line is this is a fantastic film. I sincerely hope that those who do not read the books appreciate this movie as much as I did. It’s extremely well made and, mostly, is faithful to the original text.
Rating: 4/5 stars
5 years ago