Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

by Ryan on July 20, 2009

in Pop Culture

No one can doubt the popularity and impact of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.  I personally think they’re great — fantasy, but very real and very well-written.  The movie adaptations, however, are a different story.  There have been four different directors throughout the six movies.  Cutting the book’s content into the movies has been the biggest rub.  My least favorite adaptation was the fifth movie, The Order of the Phoenix.  Here’s my review of that one.   That movie’s director, David Yates, stayed on for the sixth movie, The Half-Blood Prince.  I was hoping, perhaps, his second try would be more coherent and true to the book than his first one.

The HBP is my sentimental-favorite Harry Potter book, and it is clearly the best movie.  It’s also the funniest movie, dealing with a bunch of hormonal teenage wizards on top of a world crumbling into chaos outside the walls of the school.  Our heroes finally hook-up with the right people (Lavender Brown was “brilliant”), Slughorn came off great, Harry’s nemesis Draco Malfoy actually gets to show some depth and internal complexity, and we finally get a direction as to how this whole story is to wrap up in the final two movies (they’re splitting book seven, the Deathly Hallows, into two films).  It was well-paced, but I could see where a young kid might be bored or overly embarrassed by all the snogging, but to an adult who remembers the awkward craziness of being a teenager, I had a great time!

[MILD SPOILER ALERT]  However, though it’s an easy A on the surface for entertainment, teen-fun, and great special effects (especially Quidditch and the Cave), I have some gripes with the film and they all have to do with missing scenes.  If you read the book, here’s what they lifted — Rufus Scrimgeour is completely gone (as is the very fun ”The Other Minister” scene), Fleur’s sumptuous French accent and Bill Weasley are AWOL, all of the Riddle/Gaunt flashbacks are gone (even the one where Voldemort asks Dumbledore for a job), the Dursleys are absent, Tonks on the train is replaced by Luna, and the big funeral scene is gone.  While those scenes were either cut or altered, a scene was added at the Burrow during Christmas, which Rowling took out of the book — with good reason: while an exciting scene, it really does nothing to enhance the plot.  Other missing parts were understandable for time purposes. 

While less is missing than OOTP, the true fans want it all!  So, as a stubborn fan of the books and one who understands that movie adaptations can only be so true at points (I forgave much in the Lord of the Rings), I think it was nonetheless a fun film (to watch, to laugh at, and to squirm at times) and a markedly better adaptation than OOTP.  We’ll also fly into the seventh film without too too much missing.  Go see it and enjoy… or read the books and enjoy it more!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lilah January 7, 2010 at 3:28 am

I think you’re being very forgiving, considering that the most important scenes were left out. They spend too much time on boring pointless stuff that isn’t even in the books, instead of showing the incredibly dynamic (and in my eyes, genius) parts that *were* in the books. It’s not even remotely the same story.

It bothered me so much that Dumbledore did not show up at the Dursleys to finally stand up for Harry. For me, that was the turning point in the entire series. Rufus Scrimgeour’s absence and the missing Riddle/Gaunt scenes make the changes to the story unforgivable for me, make it completely unrecognizable, and the magic is lost, so to speak.

The things that made the story DEEP are gone. They’d rather show a bunch of drawn-out fluff than actual events that are so necessary to the plot. Well, I guess our deleted scenes aren’t necessary to *this* plot (the new story that was written up to replace “Harry Potter”).


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