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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009)Not bad, but not the best

A Dude's Review
Not bad, but not the best


After 6 years, our favorite trio of children wizards have grown up. I say this not only plot wise, but in terms of acting as well. One of the great aspects of the newest installment of the Harry Potter franchise is that the children have really come into their own as actors and are really selling their parts. This talent is necessary to make the semi-'love story' plot of the 'Half Blood Prince' compelling enough to watch for two hours. However, the acting isn't the only highlight of the movie; the special effects are great, the score is wonderful, and the new characters are a delight. But with little action and literally only half of the plot from the book, the story feels incomplete and may have trouble holding the attention of children. Definitely not the best installment in the 'Potter' series, but worth a look if you know what you're getting into.


Though I hate the Harry Potter franchise, the last two installments have been very enjoyable for me, primaily due to the talent of director Yates. But unlike the last movie which really got my attention, this one fails for quite a few reasons. 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' does so many things right that I have trouble holding what will likely be an unpopular opinion; it wasn’t that good. Since movies are always going to be worse than the books, there is no point in going down that road of criticism. For Harry Potter fans, the book is obviously better and this movie is nothing compared to it. However, when rating this movie relative to other movies and the previous members of the franchise, there are still a lot of things that are done poorly.

The plot

Harry Potter and his friends have returned to Hogwarts for what will be another year of adventure and near death experiences. With the Death Eaters on the loose, and Voldemort returning to power, security at the school is high. But not high enough. As Harry and Dumbledore search for secrets of Tom Riddles past, the school is infiltrated by an agent of the Dark Lord. Will the children wizard be able to save Hogwarts again, or will disaster finally strike?

Reasons to see it

The acting of Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint are simply great. The young adults have really grown as actors and are really convincing in thier roles. Every joke, tear, and facial expression can be interpreted by the audience without a word. That's something kid actors don't often get right (though I guess they really aren't kids anymore...)

Another character that cannot go without mention is Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Though he is the bad guy and does nothing to deserve your love, he truly shines in this film as a multi-dimensional character that you can feel for. Being transformed from his one dimensional villain character of the past, we see Malfoy express an array of emotions and actually have a large amount of screen time with his own plot arc. The exchanges with Harry are chilling, and his inner battle for acceptance is heart breaking. Overall, a gem in the new film.

Along these lines, the love stories told in this film are really enjoyable. After all, they have to be; the relationship forming between students is 3/4 of the story here (though this is not the case for the book). You truly are transported to your young, innocent days of early ‘snugging’ as these kids portray the adolescent drama of teenage love. And for those of us who are Ron Weasley fans, prepare to have a stupid smirk put on your face multiple times throughout the film.

Another major factor to mention with any 'Potter' film is the visual effects. Let me reassure you, they are superb. From small spells to ginormous magic, the visuals of the film are awe inspiring. Though magic in general has a tendency to remind audiences that they are watching a movie, the CGI does not contribute to this. I could almost believe what I was seeing was real. Along the lines of effects, the score of the film was fantastic as well. Though the music has been pretty solid from film to film, composer Nicholas Hooper really takes the familiar melodies and amps them up for this new installment, giving everything a fresh feel (though I do not want to take too much of this credit from Yates).

The Negatives

First and foremost, the film was…boring. Don’t get me wrong, if this was set up as a romantic comedy, the movie would likely harbor a different opinion from me. But the fact that it is not only 'Harry Potter', but 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' made me expect a great deal more action. I tell you now, there was literally only one scene that I could call full fledged action (longer than 40 seconds). There are two shorter scenes that could be seen as action, but really only account for 2 minutes collectively in a 2 hour film. Every previous film has had its action sequences, especially the climactic ones. I really felt the lack of action by the end during the climax scene. Though the most important events occur by the fanale (book readers know what I refer to), there is no climactic battle. Was one necessary? Yes! Not only is there a giant wizard battle in the book, but the movie needed it to help explain the final events more clearly. I'm not a warmonger, if you watch the movie, you'll see what I mean.

Along these lines, the movie fails multiple times to make certain situations clear. You are often left asking, 'why don’t they do this', 'why did they do that', 'where did this character go', 'should I have read the book?' Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Do you know why we have these questions? Because half of the story is missing. Namely…Voldemort. For a character who has so much verbal presence in this film and half of the chapters written about him in the book (in fact I think the “Half-Blood Prince” is often referred to as 'Voldemort's Book'), he does not make a single appearance in this movie. I know, bull! Well don’t believe me and see the movie for yourself.

But on an understanding note, we all have to accept that the movie would have been 12 hours long if everything was included from the book and may have been 3 hours long if they added the necessary action sequences; however, there are still things that the movie fails to do that any responsible movie must. This is beyond the book and beyond what I would like to see, this is about proper story telling. There are many aspects of the story (almost everything outside of the love) that the film fails to make me concerned about. This wouldn’t be so bad if the details weren’t crucial to the plot.
One, the Half-Blood Prince. The name is in the title and is mentioned a hand full of times in the film, but never once does the audience realize that it is relevant. The fact that the novel exists is no excuse for a director as talented as Yates to take for granted that the audience understands. We don’t, you have to tell us if something is important and if we should give two ‘bleeps’. Again, since the story is mainly about the love, I guess this is’nt too detracting, but it is a pretty critical part of what makes 'The Half-Blood Prince about the Half-Blood Prince.
Two, death. When death occurs in a movie, the audience should care. If Harry dies, children should be racking with tears in their seats (P.S. Harry doesn’t die). But this movie fails to make us care about the demise of pretty important characters. That is bad story telling.

In summary…

...Though the movie excels at telling the story that it wants to tell, the love story, it fails at telling the story that the audience needs to hear, the rise of the Dark Lord. Despite great acting, great visuals, and great characters, it lacks for better action, more drama, and a proper ending. Regardless of what I’ve said, you will see 'Harry Potter' if you want to see it. But if you are on the fence, go see it with my criticisms in mind, and you will likely enjoy it. I personally think this is a movie best watched with expectations defined.
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