tongue-tied lightning

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Yates, 2009)
July 15, 2009, 6:49 PM
Filed under: film


Nearly two hours into Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince I thought I was watching the best Harry Potter film yet.  The pacing felt very natural to me, never rushing anything and spending time with the characters.  David Yates has kicked his directing up a notch, there were a few shot compositions I really loved.  It’s funny, touching and has a sense of peril greater than anything in the previous installments.  Unfortunately, the last half hour abandons several of these traits leading to a climax that feels rushed, incomplete and unsatisfying.

I’m quite sure had I not read the books I would’ve had no idea what was going on at that point.  The horcruxes are not explained very well, and the film not explaining Dumbledore’s journeys and cutting out much of Tom Riddle’s backstory made the cave scene seem abrupt and a bit out of left field.  For it being the title of the film the Half-Blood Prince plotline is given very little weight and resolved in a sentence.   The biggest change, and the one that confused me the most is that Harry is mobile during the final scene, in the book he was paralyzed and thus his inaction was comprehensible.

There is still alot to love here.  It’s been great watching the actors and actresses grow up in these roles, and while the adult cast has always been stellar there have been some weak spots amongst the students.  Rupert Grint and Tom Felton are two who irked me in earlier installments, but both were particularly impressive this time around.   I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter in her first scene and Jim Broadbent is a wonderful addition to the cast.

Alot of the first two hours focuses on relationships and these scenes were excellent.  Lots of humor, mostly involving Ron, naturally.  The dynamics of the Ron/Hermione relationship and the Harry/Ginny relationship were finely tuned and felt very real to me.  These were my favorite moments of the film, the humor, the snogging, the intentional and unintentional intoxications.

I liked the way many of the action sequences were shot like a horror film.  I’m thinking particularly of the necklace scene and the fight in the wheatfield outside the Weasley’s house, though there were more.  The latter scene was particularly effective even though it ended up being more or less inconsequential, but it evoked a greater feeling of terror than either the cave scene or the attack on Hogwarts.

It’s hard to coalesce my feelings as I was greatly enjoying most of it, and then it has such an unsatisfying end.  I really loved the subtle way the director got across Malfoy attempting to fine tune his vanishing cabinet, but then there are scenes like when the student body point their wands to the sky over a dramatic bit of score.   It has many of my favorite scenes in the entire series, but is ultimately a disappointing film.


2 Comments so far
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I agree with your point about the scene involving The Burrow, it was suspenseful and well-shot but entirely useless to the plot itself. I didn’t particularly enjoy the cave scene either, which seemed rather severely edited. The best part about it was that one moment that caused my entire audience jump about foot in the air.

Comment by jedimoonshyne

Yeah, I jumped too, but otherwise that scene did not work for me. It’s when I began to turn on the film.

Comment by justin

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