(*This review DOES, in fact, contain spoilers of the filmÂ and the seventh book*)
UPDATE: “A Severe Severusly Amendment” at bottom July 16, 2009 – Why the Half-Blood Prince was not full of the Half-Blood Prince.
A ‘trio’ set of reviews for Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince film: to love, to hate and to amuse.
It is called the Half-Blood Prince for a reason. Not that anyone should ever doubt Alan Rickmanâ€™s acting ability, but good grief he was fantastic!
From the digital facelift, to the new wig, to Alan Rickman shedding some pounds recently â€“ not only does Snape get a more featured role in this film (though in comparison to the novel it should have been greater) but Rickman really brings the character to life like no other could. J.K Rowling and I definitely agree on this, as I would imagine most people do.
What I especially love about this film, in comparison to say The Chamber of Secrets film, is that the costuming department really out did themselves. This time around, Rickman is much closer to resembling how I originally pictured Severus Snape in my head.
Itâ€™s one thing to be able to act out a role flawlessly, but to now look the part â€“ well now, that IS something.
Featured more in this film (though, again, not as much in comparison to the book) Tom Felton really did well. I was worried about the Sectumsempra scenes. Would he be able to pull of the tears? Would this be a repeat of Kristen Stewart butchering Bella Swan in the hospital scenes of Twilight? Would I laugh instead of â€˜feelingâ€™ the moment? Well, no, thank goodness.
Tom Felton can act.
Iâ€™ve always loved him as Draco Malfoy since the very first film. He had a great way of portraying a sniveling, snotty little brat that has now grown into an aggressive, tempered, but genuine man. He has grown with the character and into the character.
Two scenes really stood out to me â€“ the train, where Malfoy beats up Harry (as payback for Lucius in Azkaban) and Draco prepping to kill Dumbledore.
I really enjoyed Tom Feltonâ€™s portrayal of a spiteful Draco Malfoy on the Hogwarts Express â€“ he was snooty, he was aggressive, he was brooding, he was angry, he was vindictive and he was perfect.
For the Dumbledore death scene, he acted like any 16-year old (character’s age)Â would in that position. I wasnâ€™t expecting anything more or less and Iâ€™m really glad, as loyal Harry Potter fan, Felton did not overact.
Yes, yes, I know sheâ€™s insaneâ€¦but sheâ€™s brilliantly acted out. Helena Bonham-Carter, like Alan Rickman, is the definitive, in her role. Period.
From the beginning where she taunts Harry with a resurgence of â€œI Killed Sirius Black,â€ to her assault on Hogwarts, dancing down the dinner tables shredding The Great Hall to pieces, to how she teases and taunts Severus at Spinnerâ€™s End, to how she kisses Draco and congratulates him on a semi-job well done cornering Dumbledore â€“ Bellatrix, for all that she is, is enjoyable. She sings, she dances and shes hexes things!
Sectumsempra and the Prince
The book is called the Half-Blood Prince for a reason. This was never clarified, nor elaborated upon in the film, and that irks me.
The story of the Prince is so vital to the Deathly Hallows that leaving so much information out is blasphemous! I would have personally rather have seen more time dedicated to Severus Snapeâ€™s side story with Dumbledore, Draco’s struggles and/or the story behind the Princeâ€™s book, than to see Lavender fawn over Ron as many times as she did. It was beyond annoying by the fourth time.
As for Sectumsempra â€“ it was no where nearly as good as in the book, nor was it nearly as powerful when Harry hits Draco with it. This is a big deal in the novel, it came across as a mere boys fight with wands in the movie.
On a side note, as we are talking about the Malfoys â€“ Narcissa looks like a bloody skunk, and she never grabbed on to Snapeâ€™s robes as she was supposed to, nor was she anything like the book, except possibly in demeanor. As for the Unbreakable Vow — I was expecting something…bigger.
Dumbledore & the funeral
I cried when I read Dumbledoreâ€™s death in the original book. I was in literary shock and I couldnâ€™t believe it: J.K. Rowling just killed off one of her main characters; a character everyone thought was going to be there until the end.
This was a point of change and growth in the books. It is where Harry realizes he must now fully grow up and not only go after Voldemort, but really stand ‘alone.’ You don’t get any of that from the movie.
This is Dumbledore we are talking about and his death IS a huge deal!
No such luck with the film. No tears, I felt some emotion, but not enough. I half expected my entire theatre to be tears as well â€“ again, no such luck. It just didnâ€™t happen.
Very anti-climatic and itâ€™s only saving attribute? â€œSeverus, please.â€ Michael Gambon finally learned how to play Albus Dumbledore. Said well, done well â€“ the rest hacked by the Killing Curse.
No Dumbledoreâ€™s funeral? Bad.
I read previously in 2008 that this was going to be the case, and I thought maybe without it, it wouldnâ€™t make a difference. Well, Iâ€™m wrong and so are the filmmakers for leaving it out!
Mini-battle and PG-13
Why wasnâ€™t this film rated PG-13? I could understand why it wasnâ€™t rated R, (though I feel it needs to be in order to get the point of the books across.) But not even PG-13? If it had been it would have been so much better.
From Sectumsempra to the mini-battle that never happened, this film was very, very tame in contrast to what it should have been or could have been.
I didnâ€™t like that one bit.
There was also a mini-battle of sorts in the sixth book, I personally call it the March of the Death Eaters â€“ again, it never happened.
One of the biggest problems with this film was that itÂ was just so disgustingly anti-climatic.
For your amusement:-
Won-Won and some Teenage Romance
Oh goodness. The movie was hilarious. A bit over the top with the teenage romance and snogging â€“ but it was hilarious nonetheless…with love potions.
Speaking of the utterly hilarious — Harry Potter gets a dose of a Felix Felicis, a good luck potion. It’s like watching a child go on a happy Charlie the Unicorn sorta trip. Cannot be missed!
Lavender Brown is played by Jessica Cave and she did her job very well. Sheâ€™s over the top, saccharine-sticky and highly entertaining. From her whispers, to her squeaks of â€œWon-Wonâ€ â€“ sheâ€™s is thoroughly amusing.
There is also a great scene in the film between Hermione and Harry â€“ where Hermione is in tears because she likes Ron. I donâ€™t think at this points she loves him as yet, but she certainly likes him a lot. Harry finds her crying at the bottom of one of the stairwells and the two share a moment.
Emma Watson was good, and Daniel Radcliffe surprised me. After his stints in the Prisoner of Azkaban film with the â€œHe was their friend!â€ moments â€“ I wasnâ€™t expecting anything too spectacular out of him. But he did well. If you are like me, you will appreciate this too.
Emma Watson is on target as sheÂ depicts Hermione sobbing to Harry, asking him, how he does it â€“ how does he deal with liking Ginny Weasley and not being able to do anything about it?
Finally, after not answering her the first time, and watching Ron run off with Lavender a second time, when Harry holds Hermione as she cries, he simply tells her, â€œJust like this.â€
It was not corny, it was not over done, it was simple and it was sweet. I liked it a lot.
The Millennium Bridge
Loved it. Itâ€™s just are good as you see it in the previews and the digital arts and the special effects departments really outdid themselves with this scene.
The bridge twists, and turns, bends and stretches, before it pummels â€“ looks fantastic.
Especially, I loved the mirror reflection from the glass windows of the office building you are shown, before the bridge begins to collapse. It is hereÂ where you can see the Girkin and other buildings in London.
A little tidbit, something small on the side â€“ but for the keen eye, you can appreciate this too.
The only real piece of action in the entire film. Visually attractive, digitally amazing and all around superb. Loved it.
If Sectumsempra, the March of the Death EatersÂ and the fire at The Burrow had been anywhere near as exciting as this â€“ well, then we would have a PG-13 and far better film on our hands I think.
If I had never read the books, this film would have been utterly fantastic in every way, shape and form. I would have been a bit confused by a lot of holes in the storyline, but I really would have loved it.
As someone who is a major fan of the books and knows the stories inside out, unlike with Lord of the Rings (especially The Return of the King,) I was left heavily disappointed.
Like some before me, maybe I had high expectations for the film. Maybe these expectations were set too high in terms of what I wanted and what I was expecting. Therefore, I was left disappointed.
But at the end of the day, it was not a bad film and is worth watching — especially at a “midnight release” party at your local cinema
Visuals 5 of 5
Book to Screen 3 of 5
Overall film (4) of 5
**Amendment to original review:-
â€œWhy the Half-Blood Prince, wasnâ€™t full of the Half-Blood Prince.â€
I recently got into two discussions with two separate people about why (or why not) we are (or are not) angry about the Severus Snape scenes in the Half-Blood Prince film.
One person tried to justify the two-liner Snape delivers at the end of the film â€“ â€œYou cannot use my own spells against me, Potter. I am the Half-Blood Princeâ€ (something like that) â€“ as a proper announcement for the Half-Blood Prince, the person, in a film/novel named after him. Myself (and the second person I had this discussion with) â€“ well, I disagree.
My response to a two-liner justifying the Prince? Well having those lines at the end, well, THAT is not the point. The focus of the entire film is wrong with emphasis in all the wrong parts. Thatâ€™s the problem. There is no real Half-Blood Prince emphasis in the Half-Blood Prince, amongst other thingsâ€¦
As, I said previously, had I NOT read the books, I would have absolutely loved this film without any doubts. But in comparison to the books â€“ something they should have copied from the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy films â€“ the movie fell short massively.
It really irks me that the Half-Blood Prince is indirectly (until the end of the book when it is directly revealed) about Severus Snape. Yes, there are other story lines going on, but make no mistake in thinking that one of those other storylines included the teenage romance-drama-comedy as one of the main points as the film misleads.
Other and very important primary story lines include:
a) Horcruxes â€“ what they are, where to find them.
b) Dumbledore and Severus Snape â€“ briefly mentioned, and a little more seen in the HBP film that previous ones. But in the words of Remus Lupin, â€œNot nearly enough.â€
c) Draco Malfoy â€“ yes, finally given more coverage in the film, but IS a big deal in this book. Yes, you can get some of that from this filmâ€¦but again, as Remus says, â€œNot nearly enough.â€
d) Speaking of Remus Lupin â€“ The Order of the Phoenix is not seen at all in this film. There is no Severus taunting Tonks, and Tonks and Remusâ€¦well they are not really â€˜togetherâ€™ as yet.
e) Percy Weasley â€“ it is understood that he WILL appear in the seventh movie. But he also needed to appear in the sixth movie to set up the seventh movie. May I remind you, that the last time Percy Weasley was in a film was the Chamber of Secrets – not just a scene, like the Order of the Phoenix film. Percy integratedÂ into the actual plot. Â If I were a film maker â€“ I would try to make my films 1) better than the previous 2) follow some symmetry to the book and c) FLOW into the next one.
f) Hermione and Ron â€“ there was MORE Ron and Lavender in the film, than how Ronâ€™s relationship with Hermione develops and changes. This is a BIG deal in this book because it sets up why, and more specifically HOW, Hermione and Ron end up â€˜togetherâ€™ in the first few chapters of the Deathly Hallows.
The Half-Blood Prince is indirectly, until the end of the book, about the Half-Blood Prince aka Severus Snape. In the book, Hermione actually researches and finds out that there WAS in fact, something the movie says she DID NOT find, a â€˜Princeâ€™ who intended Hogwarts: a Slytherin girl named Eileen â€˜Prince.â€™
One of the things J.K. Rowling has always said previously, was that the Potter films, will always have clues to the next book/film. Therefore, there should have been a bigger emphasis on the Half-Blood Prince himself, as he IS a major, defining, factor in the Deathly Hallows.
This is again, where the movie version of the Half-Blood Prince fell short, massively. I wondered if this was because the seventh book has already been released and the filmmakers took those â€˜cluesâ€™ for granted this time around?
To a certain extent, Severus Snape IS the Harry Potter novels:
1) Had he not been so tragically in love with Lily Evans-Potter, â€˜tragicâ€™ being the key word, he would not have told Lord Voldemort the prophecy that led Voldemort to kill the Potters in the first place. It is quite possible Voldemort would have gone after Neville Longbottom and killed his parents instead.
2) Had Severus not been so tragically in love with Lily Evans, he would not have â€˜snubbedâ€™ her, throwing her, in one last straw, into the arms of James Potter. It is quite probable and very possible Lily Evans would have married Severus Snape.
3) Had Severus not vowed to Dumbledore to honor Lily by protecting her son, Harry, a lot of the circumstances in the seven books would NOT have occurred. Especially, in book seven where Severus sends his Patronus, the doe, the same as Lilyâ€™s, to Harry in the middle of the forest, to help Harry find the sword of Godric Gryffindor.
Severus Snape IS a big deal. But he was NOT made, such a big deal in the sixth film.
This is a huge problem. One of the things that Rowling did in the sixth book, that was attempted in the sixth film, were many subtle hints, and clues about not only Severus â€“ but Dumbledore, the Horcruxes, Draco etc.,
The most important facets, were clearly overlooked in the film, and the filmâ€™s emphasis, as a book adaptation, was in the WRONG place.
End of Amendment.**
Sasha Muradali runs the â€˜Little Pink Bookâ€™ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (â€™07)Â and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(â€™08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.