So it will be no shock to anyone that I was eagerly anticipating the release of Half-Blood Prince. I was so excited about finally getting to see it that I couldn’t set to anything today. But, I had to keep reminding myself, the last time I was this excited was when Goblet of Fire was released and that was a disaster. Try as I might though, I succeeded very little in calming myself, and was sure I would be in for a let down when I finally saw the film.
I’ve never been so wrong in my life!
I’ve only seen it once, mind you, but this has instantly become my new favorite Harry Potter movie, surpassing Order of the Phoenix and Prisoner of Azkaban by leaps and bounds. I could write for days on what I loved about this movie, but I don’t think that I can remember it all. I’m going to have a go, though.
First of all, I was a bit skeptical when they said this film was really dark. They’ve been saying that for every film and while it’s undoubtedly true, this one really was quite bleak. But such is the case with war. I really love the way the Death Eaters were interspersed in the story as well. Bellatrix was finally calmed down some – probably because her beloved Dark Lord wasn’t there.
Most, if not all, of the scenes that included the Death Eaters were new as compared to canon. One scene in particular stands out for me was the added scene at the Burrow in which the Death Eaters arrive. It did occur to me that the Burrow, with all the supposed extra security should have been protected from just that sort of thing. What do I say to that? Who cares? I think my absolute favorite scene in a Harry Potter movie, ever, was the scene in which Harry goes running after Bellatrix Lestrange and Ginny follows him. Of course Harry would go running after her – given the fact that she killed Sirius! There’s more that I want to say on the whole Harry/Ginny thing, but we’ll hold off on that for now.
I loved this scene, not only because it was an excellent example of Ginny’s strong character, but because of the final scene. The Burrow was basically destroyed. Molly’s reaction sticks out most vividly for me. Her home was destroyed – literally destroyed – for what? Because the Death Eaters couldn’t get Harry? It was destroyed in an instant, on the whim of a Death Eater. All of the time and effort invested in building that house was destroyed. And, yes, I got all of that from one aerial shot and the expression on Molly’s face.
I would have loved to see the line “There’s no need to call me sir, Professor,” but I can live without it. I did like the fact that students were actually in class for this film. I must say I was really indifferent to Slughorn – he never was my favorite character in the books anyway.
I like the way Draco’s character was developed. We don’t see much of him in the other films, save the first. It is really like they treated Draco as the symbolic representation of everyone who didn’t like Harry. How it went previously was – “Potter, I hate you.” and then we’d move on with the movie and Draco wouldn’t be there anymore. This time though, we get to see so much more of him. Though I don’t think this stuck directly to the book, its wonderful to see the progression from his cocky demeanor to the one who is falling apart.
It will need a second, and probably third, viewing before I can give an accurate judgment, but I’n not sure how I feel about the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes scenes. It was just a blur of colour and sound to me really, and essentially a means to an ends to follow Draco into Knockturn Alley. I really wonder if they would have branded Draco with the Dark Mark so quickly. But that’s really neither here nor there.
I liked the use of the Peruvian Instant Darkness powder. It is a shame that Draco didn’t use it as well, but I suppose that would not have fit with the way the story went in the movie. It also would have required explanation of the Hand of Glory, which I don’t think was really mentioned in the movie, although we might have seen it in Chamber of Secrets. It might have been a nice regression though, seeing as how Tom Riddle’s diary made a reappearance.
Speaking of the diary, I was a little disappointed that Ginny didn’t berate Harry for following instructions from a book, as she did in the novel, but she did get the book from him, I suppose that’s something.
Ah, the Harry / Ginny relationship – the one I was most anxious to see. We didn’t really get a lot of ‘snog’ time, if you will. I’m OK with that though. I much prefer the way it was developed in the movie. I guess it’s my propensity for domesticity making it’s appearance here. I mean, come on, she tied his shoe lace for Merlin’s sake. It was awesome. And it was just after this scene – their almost kiss – that the Death Eaters show up and Harry goes chasing after Bellatrix, Ginny following close behind. It is Ginny who tells Harry he has to hide his potions book after the Sectumsepra incident (where she kisses him), and it is also she who comforts him at the end, after Dumbledore’s death.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a fan of Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore. That is still the case for the middle two movies he was in, but I really think his performance in this movie was spot on. We have the calm manner, a little bit of the facetiousness, the touch of arrogance, and above all, the awesome display of power. Perhaps it was this then that gave me such a strong visceral reaction to his death. I have cried watching movies before, so this was no exception. Never before have I been made phyiscally ill in the manner I was when I watched the scene in which Snape killed Dumbledore.
Two reasons for such a strong reaction come to mind: The first is that Harry let Snape pass only to watch him kill Dumbledore mere seconds later. The second has more to do with knowing why Snape did it. In any case there was a moment there where I really thought I was going to be sick. Even now, almost an hour after the movie let out, I still feel slightly nauseous.
Not only was the story well organized, the acting was phenomenal. I have no compunction in saying that I love Daniel Radcliffe, or at least his acting. Again I will have to watch Half-Blood Prince a few more times before I can make any real comparison, but it almost doesn’t seem like the same person acting in Goblet of Fire as in this movie. The end scene alone, Dumbledore’s death, had me bawling my eyes out. The scene in the cave was almost exactly as I pictured it to be. The dialogue wasn’t exactly the same, but I’m not a stickler for that sort of thing, as long as it meshes with the story. Other little things stick out to me, like the Felix Felicis scene, and the steadying of Slughorn’s hands as the real Horcrux memory was just such a nice, subtle touch.
In the end I have to say that finally, FINALLY, we are given a Harry Potter movie that truly captures the essence of the books. I say thank you to everyone who put in the work to get it there. I know it is hypocrisy to say this, but I think that I like this movie better than the book. It might be to early to say that though.
I want the DVD now! LOL. I guess I’ll be back to see this movie in the theatre at least once more. So much for taking a stand against WB for delaying the movie eight months!