The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Harry Potter film franchise has had a rocky existence. Some of the movies have been fantastic, and some of them not so much. The latest installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is an example of a well-crafted adaptation gone wrong.

The sixth movie brings us back to Hogwarts, where extra security measures have been put in place to deal with potential attacks on the school by Voldemort, now fully recognized as “back.” Dumbledore, however, has plans for Harry, and implores the chosen one to help him convince a former professor, one Horace Slughorn, to divulge the information the two of them need to weaken Voldemort. And as Harry works with Dumbledore to press Slughorn for information, teenage life at Hogwarts starts to get a bit…steamy.

One thing that has always stood out in the Harry Potter films is how each director/screenwriter attempts to show how the characters have matured not just in how they act on the screen, but in how the films themselves are designed. These films are quickly becoming “not for kids” movies, growing up with the characters and the viewing audience as the books did all those years ago. The sixth movie is well aware that it is no longer dealing with children characters, but practical adults with emotional and physical desires comparable to everyone else—just because they’re wizards doesn’t mean they don’t have teenage issues. And so the relationships between the characters grows more complex, more emotionally mature, and more powerful, leaving us with high hopes for the duology to come.
But the movie is not without flaws. Unfortunately the sixth film suffers not from being poor as a film, per se, but at being an adaptation. Generally speaking the adaptations for the Harry Potter movies have been imperfect, yet good enough. But here there is a serious flaw: the ending no longer makes sense. For those who have read the books, you’ll understand. There is supposed to be a fight scene at the end of the book that is discussed briefly by Rowling. This scene establishes the basis for the presence of several of the enemy characters, but in the movie, they’ve cut this entire scene, which would not be a problem if they had also cut out everything to do with Draco Malfoy and the heavy hitters of Voldemort’s regime (which would also be impossible, because then the seventh book could never be made into a movie). But those figures are present, and Draco has significantly more screen time than in previous installments.

The result is that the final moments of the movie make no sense. What exactly is the purpose of these other characters being present at the end? They quite literally do nothing to further the plot and their complete lack of involvement in the film means that Malfoy’s entire subplot is meaningless. Why they cut that battle scene is beyond me, because it is integral to the continuity of the series. Maybe they ran out of money to do it, or perhaps they needed to cut five minutes of film, and decided taking out the fight scene and not five minutes of Malfoy’s subplot would be best. Whatever the reason, the decision to leave the battle out drew unnecessary attention to a plot hole that now can never be filled.

What can be said for the emotional maturity of the film franchise and the characters/actors truly falls apart when considering those last few minutes of the movie. What should have been the most impacting ending of the entire series has now become a weak example of wasted space.

But beyond this severe flaw, the film is well-crafted. Brilliant visuals and surprisingly powerful acting show that there is a lot to look forward to in the final two-part installment to come. We can only hope that the writers do the last book justice, because any skimping on the final battle between Harry and Voldemort will likely result in a lot of disappointed fans. For now, we have six movies, of varying degrees of quality, and a lot of anxious fans.

Directing: 3/5
Cast: 4/5
Writing: 2.5/5
Visuals: 4.5/5
Adaptation: 1/5
Overall: 3/5
Value: $6.00

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book


  1. Quietus3:51 PM

    I agree completely. I walked out of the theatre with my friend, both of us complaining about the ending.
    As a movie, it's great; as an HP movie, it isn't that great. So many holes, so many inconsistencies... I think this is one of the worst adaptations of the HP series.

    I'm reminded of the Beowulf cg movie that came out a few years ago... Horrendous adaptation, good movie.

  2. I don't think it's that great as a movie due to its illogical ending. If the ending were changed, it might have worked better as a movie.

    I liked the feel of this movie, though. It wasn't perfect, but I do think they are heading in the right direction with the atmosphere.

    As for the Beowulf thing: as soon as I found out Angelina Jolie was in it, I checked out.