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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I’ll put it right out there – I thought the movie was great.  Continuing the same theme from the books, it gets darker in tone, while the teen angst increases.  As an adaptation it was very strong, and left the viewer anxious to see what comes next.  The visuals are stunning (loved that Quidditch match!), particularly the countryside, which is right out of a fairy tale.

The acting is also better, as our teenage stars have matured.  Daniel Radcliffe is especially noteworthy – his near-drunken rambling while under the influence of a luck potion was hilarious.  This chapter in the story is as much about relationships as it is about the fate of Hogwarts, so we spend a lot of time watching the various characters thinking about love, falling in and out of it, and of course some good old-fashioned snogging.  The audience is treated to a lot of funny moments (we laughed many times), particularly from over-the-top Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) as she moons over Ron (Rupert Grint).  And who doesn’t love a visit from loony Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch)?  I also enjoyed watching Ginny (the enchanting Bonnie Wright), as she has come into her own and takes the reins in her relationships.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince cast

But overall this movie (and the book it came from) is very much a set-up to prepare for the events of what’s to come.  The shocking denouement is not the end, but in fact the beginning of the story.  If you’ve made it this far, you really need to keep going, because the last two films (book 7 broken up into 2 parts) promise to be fantastic.

Now…let me discuss why people might not like this movie or find it disappointing.  There are really 3 main reasons:

1.  Non-fans of the books think it’s rather dull.

As mentioned above, this movie follows the overall arc of the books – and book 6 was very much a narrative prelude leading up to a smashing ending.  It’s meant to leave you wanting to know what’s next, but without a lot of real action.  Call it the ultimate counterpoint to action-packed book 4.  It’s a quieter and more introspective novel, and the movie matches that very well.

2.  Fans of the book are upset by what was left out.

Most of all I’ve heard people crying out that the final battle was removed, which of all critcisms I think is most valid.  There’s a reason that (SPOILER ALERT!) the baddies invade Hogwarts, and it’s not just to watch what Draco will or won’t do.  The other bits that were left out are indeed crucial plot points, but I’m going to put a little faith in the screenwriter (Steve Kloves) that he’ll resolve things in a satisfactory manner by the time we get to the next film.  The diadem of Ravenclaw is, in particular, a sticky wicket he’s going to have to tackle.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince review3.  Fans of the book are upset by what was put in.

The dramatic scene at the Weasley’s home was definitely not in the book, so it’s understandable that fans find it frustrating.  But I have heard several reports that it was something J.K. Rowling had considered putting in the book, but ultimately left out – and she fed that info to the film’s creators.  Keep in mind she has a lot of creative oversight on these movies, so I think these reports are likely to be true.

Overall I give this movie an A-.  It may not be a thrill a minute, but it’s a strong example of book adaptation, something those Da Vinci Code people need to observe.

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I know what *I* will be doing on Wednesday night:

Harry Potter in two days

How about you?

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