Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Note: I believe this post to be spoiler-free. Yes, it hints at things, but nothing is stated outright and, if anything, it might just make you curious enough to go read the books (if you haven’t already).
I have a hard time reading reviews of things I’m as personally, emotionally, mentally, and academically invested in as the Harry Potter series. I read a bunch this morning that all basically bemoaned that the movie isn’t an exact replication of the book. Well, duh. You cannot expect a book as complicated and detailed as HBP to translate literally into a movie; it’s just not possible based on our current movie constructs (i.e. people need constant entertainment and don’t want to sit there for five hours).
I totally LOVED the movie. I think the screenwriter and director did an amazing job of translating the story to film. Yes, they added things and subtracted things. I knew ahead of time what most of the additions and subtractions were and, I’ll admit, I had my concerns. However, all of those concerns were completely assuaged by how well-crafted the film is.
The young cast really stepped up their acting this time around, especially Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy). Most of his role is actually unspoken, as is a lot of the film, and he does a fine job (not Oscar worthy or anything, but it shows he’s an actor with some promise if he can reign in a bit of the over-acting). I think the film Slughorn was even better than the book Slughorn – really, really terrific acting on the part of Jim Broadbent.
I do wish they had done more with Tonks and Lupin, especially regarding the Fenrir Greyback storyline. I also dislike that they left out the entire Gaunt storyline. I feel like the “movie only” people are missing out on a key backstory, not knowing more about Voldemort’s parentage (or maybe I just think that since it was one of the key ideas in my thesis).
The scene I was most interested in seeing was the cave scene because I think it’s one of the most (if not the most) disturbing scene in all of the books. They didn’t fully do it justice, but I’d say they did a B+ level job with it.
Because I know the ending (and won’t fully spoil it here), I will say that I did not expect to be upset at it. However, when Dumbledore and Harry are standing in the tower and Dumbledore says to Harry, “Trust me. Trust me.” right before Harry goes below, I started crying. (Note: wear waterproof mascara to Deathly Hallows Part II.)
The following scenes were okay – a bit teary, but not much… until Fawkes’ song. I had forgotten about that part (since I didn’t get to finish re-reading the book this week) and it hit me hard… and then the lights came up and the eight-year-old boy next to me looked at me like, “Seriously? Can you let me out of this row now?”
I feel that the added scenes do an amazingly generous job of summing up all of the text from the missing scenes and I don’t have any quibble with them – at least not today; I can’t say this won’t change as the film sinks in more and I see it again at the IMAX theater in two weeks… but for now, I am so very, totally content with this film.
One note of warning, however: do NOT – DO NOT – offer to walk your dog when you get home after 11pm if you are ordinarily scared walking your dog late at night and have just seen this film. The man in all black and with a beard at the gas station, who appears to have apparated there because you swear (swear!) he wasn’t there just a second ago, has to be a Death Eater. And that guy standing on the corner, waiting for the bus? Totally suspicious. And that guy that looks like your brother-in-law, riding up on his motorcycle – that’s some fancy Polyjuice Potion work there. Oh no, wait, he just needs his TomTom mount. Well, nevermind, that other guy – totally a Death Eater.