I made it home at 3:30 this morning, my head buzzing. Did I like the “Half-Blood Prince” film? Absolutely! I loved it! I think this film captures more detail of the original book than any other of the films have managed to do. It’s what the film of “Prisoner of Azkaban” could have been if they’d included the parts of the book which actually mattered instead of replacing them with a frog-toting choir and talking shrunken heads.
Specifics … let me see. It’s always hard to come up with a definitive and detailed list after seeing a film of this complexity and scope just once and in the middle of the night.
I loved the humour (and romantic entanglements) which permeate the story. The Quidditch is spectacular and brutal and exciting — and played in the snow, which is totally cool. Thanks to a few well-placed moments between Harry and Ginny, I could almost believe that he was actually interested in the her when she’s been almost completely erased from the other films. I’m afraid Bonnie still looks like an eleven-year-old girl, and I just don’t think she captures any of the brash, daring, flirtatious Ginny of the books. But Yates and Kloves managed to give Harry and Ginny opportunities to connect as the film went along. Do I believe it? Well, almost.
The kids’ acting has really taken off. Remember when they could barely utter a line? Compare Emma’s wooden attempt at tears in Hagrid’s hut in the second film or Dan’s painful-to-watch crying scene in the third to the wonderful scene in this film with the two of them sitting on the stairs with her heart broken and his all twisted up and confused. Dan’s portrayal of Harry’s budding confidence works extremely well, particularly in counterpoint with his confusion over Ginny. He’s hilarious as he wanders the castle grounds giddy from Luck Potion. Rupert’s Ron is wonderful as well, from showing off at Quidditch to stumbling around under the influence of love potion. The kids have come a long way indeed.
Jim Broadbent is a perfect Slughorn, in my opinion — and that man can arch his eyebrows and look befuddled better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Maggie Smith is in great form. Other characters are almost non-existent, however, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider the vast scope of the story being told. They just can’t include everything. But someone please tell me why, then, they added a whole scene of the Death Eaters attacking the Burrow? And for that we lost the entire Battle of the Tower. Luna was great with her weird glasses and lion hat, Lupin’s heated conversation with Harry gave us brief but important insight into that complicated and troubled character, and Lavender Brown was hilarious. Poor Neville, however, only gets one tiny line. At least Dean gets a kiss.
So okay, was it perfect? Clearly not. After we got past the surprisingly dull battle between Harry and Snape, the requisite Very Serious Talk at the end was almost as lame as the ending of the second film. I was about ready to push them all off the astronomy tower by the end of it. And please tell me why Ron was just looking pensive and sitting fifteen feet away from his best friends while they discussed the most important decisions of their lives, to go after Horcruxes. I was also annoyed by the lighting of the film … or rather, the lack of lighting. I know it’s a “dark film” and that it takes place in a dark and draughty old castle, but still. This is the magical world! It should be colourful and animated and alive, not black and white and dark blue.
All quibbling aside, I did love the film. It was exciting and funny, easily one of the best of the series. It did a remarkable job of capturing not only the major plot points of the book but also the nuances and delightful subplots. I can’t wait to see it again. I might have to wait until after Azkatraz, though! I fly out Friday morning!