Thursday, July 16, 2009

Half-Blood Prince Movie

I just saw the new Harry Potter movie last night. I had not planned to go on opening night, but I wound up with a free ticket and went on a whim. While it was pretty good, it wasn't quite what I expected. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that my expectations were sky-high given the early Tomatometer ratings in the astronomic range of 98%.

Additionally, book 6 was probably my favorite of the series (a close call with book 3, Prisoner of Azkaban). Unlike the previous two books which were high on the action and thrills, book 6 slowed down and spent more time on character development. Also, it helped that book 6 also had a very poignant cliff-hanger of an ending. I'd thought the death at the end of Order of the Phoenix had been sad, but it hardly compared to how I felt about the death at the end of Half-Blood Prince (in contrast, I wasn't really as deeply impacted by any of the deaths in the last book).

That said, the ending of the movie wasn't able to evoke quite the same feeling for me; indeed it was over quite quickly and the effect didn't linger. Though, perhaps, it wasn't realistic for me to expect the same reaction given that the end was now longer a surprise or such a shock. There's also the knowledge of what happens in the last book which probably factors into the experience too. Maybe the death would have hit me just as hard in the movie if I were watching it before reading the last book.

The ending aside, the movie had tons of excellent scenes. The opening attack on the Muggle world was a good touch. Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn was quite good and the memories of Lord Voldemort were chilling. Even the romance wasn't overly sappy; I particularly liked the scene where Harry and Hermione comfort each other after she's saddened to see Ron snogging Lavender. I must note, however, that the Harry/Ginny kiss was quite weak and didn't have any of the spontaneity or passion that was evoked in the book; it was especially disappointing given how much they kept hinting at the relationship.

But my biggest gripe was that the film often appeared to be a string of scenes rather than a cohesive story. This was probably a casualty of the fact that there was no single large plot thread, but several subtle ones. While it worked fine in the book, it may have been less appetizing for movie audiences.

Nonetheless, I can't complain too much about a free show. And I'll still probably go see it again when it finally comes out on IMAX.


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