Smuggler Specialties YA Appreciation Month

Young Adult Appreciation Month – Movie Review: Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

We are Harry Potter fangirls. The sort of fans that stand in line at midnight for the last book (that would be Thea) or who stand by the window from 6am to wait for the delivery from the postman (that would be Ana). We love, LOVE the books and we think the movies are not bad either.

It comes as no surprise that would be watching the movie this weekend. And what better way to start our YA Appreciation Month than to have a review/ discussion about the movie?

So here it goes. Our thoughts on Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

Beware, Spoilers abound!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Ana’s Take:

So…the main question here is: did I like it? Yes and no.

For the first ¾ of the movie, I thought it was pretty good. I can even say that the word “brilliant” may have crossed my mind once or twice. I mean, all was as it should be: dark and emotional.

The Half Blood Prince is a book of emotions – of the deeply established friendship between Harry, Hermione and Ron. It is also romantic: most of the relationships in the novels (Ron and Hermione, Harry and Ginny, Tonks and Remus) reach a point of no return in this book. But this is to me, above all, a book about Severus Snape. Who he is and what he does in the end have serious repercussions in the final book. His arc may well be one of my favourites in the entire series. It is also a book that sets things for the grand finale – in a way, Half Blood Prince is part one of a two part finale. The way it ends, it is heart wrenching. Ominous. There are great things in the book – Draco Malfoy finally gets a bit of a gray area in which to shine. There is also Dobby and Kreature. The grief for the death of Sirius Black. The book…it is amazing, as all Harry Potter books are.

But going back to the movie….yeah, the first 2 hours were pretty good. I liked the directing – although not as much as the previous 3 movies. The photography was pretty awesome though. The movie was atmospheric. The scene where the Death Eaters attack the Weasley’s house was super cool – and to see Lupin and Tonks like that was a gift, albeit a short lived one. (Even though the whole scene is a complete fabrication – it doesn’t happen in the book and it is completely pointless. Plus Tonks calls Lupin sweetheart and I was both all like “awww” and “WHAT?”. Yeah, bipolar is the key word here)

As for the acting: the kids are getting better but let’s face it , they are not getting acting awards any time soon. I am immensely fond of them though, every time I watch one of the movies for the first time, it’s like visiting old friends. I have seen them grow up and OMG how they have grown, especially Rupert (who plays Ron – please pay special attention to his arms, you will see what I mean). Once more, the casting for another adult character is spot on: Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn? Was all.kinds.of.awesome. That man can act! Loved it. I also totally love Helena Bonhan- Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. And the kid that played Young!Voldermort! was appropriately creepy. And dear lord, Draco, I loved Draco here. (is he hot? Or is it just me?). I thought his rendering of a tormented kid was spot on.

So yeah, basically I was enjoying it very much. The romantic scenes, the poignant sequence between Hermione and Harry as she cries, Dumbledore and the pensieve, Slughorn tea party, the Quidditch, Fred and George’s shop , were all very good and amusing…. it was a (very) slowly build- up for the climax.

But then the final part happened.

I am entirely conscious of the fact that all of the movies had to cut things off from the novels and I am usually a-okay with that but what they did to the final half an hour of The Half Blood Prince was heartless butchering.

It starts with the LAME kiss between Ginny and Harry (in the book it is so cool! I remember jumping up and down when I read it) then it’s downhill from there.

The scene at the cave when they final hocrux is good. It’s very good. But oh so short! Then, they go back to Hogwarts and the Death Eaters are attacking and and and. Nothing. There is no battle. No kick-ass defense of the school. There is NO ACTION in this movie. The Death Eaters just waltz into the school with nary a teacher, an auror in sight. And that kick-ass scene with Dumbledore’s Army? Not here.

The scene where Draco is attacking Dumbledore is very different from the book with Harry just standing there listening to it. What happened to the spell that left him paralyzed? Because you see : Harry Potter would never, in a million years stand idly by whilst Dumbledore is attacked! Hence the need to  stop him with a paralising  spell – a spell that cost Dumbledore precious minutes. The spell? Not here. Plus, to have Harry paralised and horrified would have been a wicked way of connecting with the audience as we all watch Dumbledore getting killed. But because there is none of that, his death was sort of…meh. It lacked in the emotional department even though I did get goose bumps, as  I always do, whenever I hear the “Avada Kedavra” Curse.

But the worst crime against the series was the half-assed revelation that Snape is the half-blood prince and because there is absolutely ZERO build-up to it with no investigating of who he was, the revelation is all like, pointless. It infuriates me that they have chosen this path because it takes away the background of one of the major players in this whole story. I would also like to point out that THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE ARE CALLED HALF-BLOOD PRINCE so to just dismiss this storyline is frankly, moronic.

I am pretty worked up about it. The more I think about it, the more I get disappointed, especially because the beginning of the movie was so promising and I loved the first part. Still, I left the theatre suitably depressed: the good guys have lost one of their most important weapons and things are not looking good. It is also so very sad that said weapon is one of the most important and adored characters in the series. I always admired the way Rowling wrote this demise and the way she did it. For daring to go there.

Now, I remain hopeful for the Deathly Hollows, especially because they decided to split the book into two movies. Hopefully this will allow for them not cut any important scenes.

DO YOU HEAR ME, TPTB? OK, as long as it is clear. Ta muchly.

The final question is : should you watch it? Well, if you are here , asking yourself this question, it is because you are a fan of the books or have watched the other movies , possibly both, so the answer is hell yes, course you have to watch it. It is Harry Potter!!!!

Thea’s Take:

Wow, frankly Ana I’m surprised at your reaction! I think some of the disappointment on your (and other fans’) end stems from a very basic divergence. And here I go (please, hardcore Potter fans, don’t crucify me):

I really don’t care that much about Severus Snape.


There. It’s out in the universe. Before the hardcore Snape fans (and Ana) come to clobber me, let me clarify. I really do like Snape as a character, but I didn’t get heavy into the whole “is Snape a FRIEND OR FOE!?” debate. I actually was rooting for foe. Sometimes, I prefer it when the bad guys are simply bad guys. That said, I am totally cool with the way Rowling takes his story in Deathly Hallows – truly, I liked it. But the magic, the wonder of Harry Potter for me has always lain with Harry, Hermione and Ron. The magic is in the relationships between the characters – Harry’s struggle for normalcy and acceptance; his friendships; the unassuming familial embrace and shelter the Weasleys provide; the trials and tribulations of three best friends as they grow into strong, brave adults.

In Half-Blood Prince, I felt like the director did a sufficient job with the Snape = Half-Blood Prince reveal. That wasn’t what bothered me, not at all. The last scene between Harry and Snape was amply moving, in my opinion (but I think this is more to do with Alan Rickman’s ability to act his freaking face off, as opposed to any true skill of the screenplay writer or director)!

My main gripe with the film was how understated the entire thing felt. And in this sense, I can FULLY agree with Ana. I know this is director David Yates’s shtick – smaller scale British director, keeping things subtle, downplaying and pulling away from sensationalized scenes. Though I think this worked well in the last film (especially in contrast to Mike Newell’s Hollywood-y take in Goblet of Fire), it was too muted here. Dumbledore’s death and the Death Eaters’s desecration of Hogwarts were moving scenes, but they weren’t nearly enough. The music, the mood, even the cinematography lacked the emotional gravitas that the film required – doing Rowling’s novel (tied with Azkaban for my favorite book in the series) a grave disservice. I mean, it’s the freaking death of Dumbledore! I should have been bawling! Similarly, the zombie cave scene was sadly truncated and underplayed as well – Dumbledore drinking the poison should have been much more emotional. The burning of the Burrows was a powerful scene but frankly unnecessary (seeing as TPTB have cut Mrs. Weasley’s deathly fear for her family and Harry and Hermione from the films entirely! Hmph). Also, I was very disappointed that Ginny’s whole motivation for getting Harry to get rid of the textbook was completely glossed over – HELLO? The girl was possessed by a book. She could have at least mentioned that in passing. Instead, her whole “let’s get rid of the book” thing was seemingly fueled by her crush on Harry.

Besides the muted nature of the direction, my other major gripe with the film concerns the lopsided screenplay. At 2.5 hours long, I expected a more even spread of teenage angst, comedy, action, and tragedy. Unfortunately, the movie dwells far too long on teenage angst. The love stories are hilarious – Ron is freaking awesome – but in comparison to the lack of action in the film and the rushed nature of the last few scenes, it’s awfully disproportionate. I wanted more memories of young Tom Riddle. I wanted more of the Weasleys (what happened to the whole Fleur Delacour marriage to Bill thing?). I wanted the apparating lessons, I wanted the Gaunt storyline, I wanted the house elves, etc. I know that all of this isn’t possible, but if we’re at 3 hours long, I want a more even spread of angst and action. I’m just sayin’.

I liked Yates’s direction for Order of the Phoenix but as underwhelmed here. I simply don’t think that he has the chops to handle the incredible emotional turmoil of the final book. Can we have Cuaron back, pretty pretty please?

(On a random note, was it just me or was Riddle’s orphanage scene filmed on the same set as the Department of Mysteries from Order of the Phoenix? Hmph. Come on dudes.)

Enough of the grumpy-gills talk – how about the stuff I LOVED? Because I left the theater exhilarated and entertained. If you are a Potter fan, or a moviegoer at all, you should see this movie. NOW. Here’s my list:

1. DRACO MALFOY – Rocks my effing socks. Easily the best actor of the kids in the flick, the one thing that translated beautifully from page to screen was how conflicted poor Draco is as a character. BRILLIANT.

2. Quidditch – Since Azkaban, Quidditch has been sadly missing from the Potter films, and it’s a damned shame. Quidditch is back in Half-Blood Prince, and the trial between Ron and douchebag guy is freaking AWESOME. Hilarious. And I always love seeing Ginny kick ass.

3. Sluggy! – I echo Ana’s sentiments: Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn is perfection. His pettiness and vulnerability are flawlessly conveyed. The Slug Club, etc…just perfect.

4. Douchebag Guy – from the Quidditch trials had me LAUGHING MY ASS OFF. He’s like James Spader from Pretty In Pink – the superdouche that drives a BMW and wears white keds with a sweater tied around his shoulders and blow dries his hair. His leering at Hermione (OMG at the Slug Club dinner with the ice cream licking!) is priceless.

5. Bellatrix – OOOOO how I loathe her! Helena Bonham Carter has been one of my favorite actresses since A Room With A View, and Harry Potter would not be the same without her. She’s demented and evil and cruel and her “I killed Sirius Black!” singsong makes me want to Crucio her ass. She’s brilliant.

6. Tonks and Lupin – YEAH, I know the “Sweetheart” line was out of left field and completely fabricated – but dammit I LOVE their tortured love story. Guh.

7. Loony Luna – as in the last film, she’s perfect. Completely spacey and absolutely perfect.

Final verdict? This movie was not without its flaws, but still a necessary in-theater watch. I highly enjoyed it.

What about you dear reader? Have you watched the movie? What did you think?




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  • Ana
    July 19, 2009 at 2:58 am

    *is in shock* 😯

    What do you mean, you don’t care for Snape? *gasp* *thud* *dies*

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  • Stacy ~
    July 19, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Brilliant recap ladies, and I love the fiesty ‘tudes about what you loved/hated. I am only now reading book 2, so I don’t know what I’m missing, which is both good and bad. I did se HP6 twice, because I felt a bit lost the first time around, yet there’s much I don’t know is missing. Echoing Ana, I totally wanted more Snape. I wanted more Ron/Hermione – and yeah, Ron’s grown up quite nicely. Tom Riddle was incredibly creepy, which I loved, but I thought Draco was a bit dull. Literally he’s so black and white, but his personality for me was lacking. I didn’t care that he was conflicted. I felt he was more sniveling coward when he wasn’t acting all deadened. Maybe I have to read the book to appreciate his struggle, no?

    Thanx for your thoughts. I enjoyed reading them 🙂

  • Jeff
    July 19, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I think the lack of attention paid to Snape bugs me more than the lack of the final action set piece (though that does annoy me a great deal). It’s as if, in The Prisoner of Azkaban, you never actually see Sirius Black, just hear about him at the end.

    Is it just me, or does Harry stand around ineffectually a lot more in the movies than he does in the books?

    I will say this in the film’s defense. I thought they were going to bowdlerize the scene between Harry and Draco in the men’s room, but I was actually impressed that they showed the amount of blood they did.

  • Memory
    July 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Awesome review. I’m with Ana: the end didn’t do so much for me, largely because of how Harry was unfrozen. He would NEVER have let that happen to Dumbledore unless he was petrified. NEVER. I also felt like the whole HBP thing was underplayed.

    And I’m with Thea, too: a lot of the movie was just too understated. I mean, it was good, and I got a big kick out of it, but I sometimes felt that the oomph was missing. I felt like some of the changes took away from the connections between the characters, too, and that was a sad thing to see.

    All in all, though, I liked it. The casting is absolutely amazing, and the visuals! Don’t even get me started on the visuals.

  • heidenkind
    July 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Well, I actually agree with both of you (although, Thea–you don’t love Snape?! O.O *falls over*). I didn’t really remember a lot of the stuff in the book except for when Dumbledore took Harry to find the horcrux in the cave, and that part of the movie was brilliant. But I absolutely agree that the movie was way too light. It was like they took the book and turned it into a romcom. The funny parts were there, but the serious part were totally glossed over. And I barely got misty-eyed at the death of Dumbledore, and you’re right; I should have been bawling.

    That being said, it was 2 1/2 hours, but it didn’t feel that long. It felt like it was on the short side of 2 hours–which for me, who hates to sit for more than hour and doesn’t go to a lot of movies for that very reason, is saying a lot. So I think overall it was successful, even though it could have been better.

  • Bridget Locke
    July 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve heard raves about the kid who plays the young Tom Riddle. Awesome that he’s Ralph Fiennes’ nephew…kind of keeps it all in the family, doesn’t it?

    I haven’t watched any of the movies since 3. I was never a big fan of Order of the Phoenix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book, but it doesn’t have the emotional resonance of the last 2. 🙂

  • April
    July 20, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Ana–your take on the final scene was spot on IMO. My friend and I (and our kids) left the theatre saying: “Harry would NEVER just stand there!!!”

    And that annoys me the absolute most about this movie. You can’t diverge from character that much. JK Rowling is a genius at knowing her characters and their motivations. Harry is impetuous and brave. He LOVES Dumbledore. He wouldn’t have stood there watching Malfoy threaten Dumbledore or for any of the rest.

    The scene at the burrough really bugs me. Harry wouldn’t have run out into that field and Ginny CERTAINLY wouldn’t have chased him. It was just stupid–I don’t get the addition of it.

    ANOTHER thing that bugs me greatly was the lack of the Dursleys at the beginning. I’m sorry, but starting with the Dursleys is TRADITION. It’s as important as Diagon Alley, Christmas and The Burrough. You can’t take that away.

    I also wonder how someone who hasn’t read the books would’ve understood what was going on in the cave. Why did Dumbledore have to drink all that water? It’s not explained in the movie.

    AND I agree that more should’ve been made of the Half-Blood Prince/ Snape connection. It’s integral to the entire series and Snape’s poignant involvement throughout.

  • April
    July 20, 2009 at 5:23 am

    oh, but I still love the movies. The music alone is enough to make me get all fluttery and excited.

  • Adrienne
    July 20, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I have to agree with both of the reviews, ladies, that you presented to us. I loved the movie and thought the film and the wash out look was great. Again, the book is really dark and the screenwriter chose to do the lighter theme of all the snogging. Ron and the match as keeper was awesome! And I love Snape’s characture, that dark horse. I didn’t mind not having the battle since Yates promised us fans the ‘ultimate battle’ in DH but I do wish there was that urgency that I felt when Snape grabbed Malfory and said “it’s time to go!” Reading Harry pour that horrible potion into his friend’s throat was one thing, seeing in the screen was more disturbing. I think it comes down to budget on what they can keep and can’t. It cost out at $235 million I believe (don’t quote me) so that is a ton of scratch to invest.

    P.S.-Malfoy was totally hot 😀
    P.S.S.-(longest post ever!) Katie Bell’s scene with the necklace, totally amazing!

  • NatalieT
    July 21, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Totally agree with you both – except for the no love for Snape – summed up my thoughts perfectly. I’m hoping the next one works better for me, because I left the cinema a bit deflated and disappointed.

  • JJ
    July 23, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Okay so I watched the movie 2 nights ago and I gotta stay I totally agree on almost everything you say. The movie was particularly boring for me and the way they portrayed the romance was so painful. It was like watching a rom com for a 15 year old. I wish they had focused more on the important parts of the storyline such as the Half-Blooded Prince. I totally agree that the point of the book was to focus on the Half-Blooded Prince and this was missing practically from the entire movie!! I felt the movie focused TOO much on the relationships. There were a few entertaining and funny lines here and there but I was also hoping for some more action. I particularly loved the Horcrux scene. Dumbledore’s death was indeed very played down, the only part I liked was when Harry returned to grieve for him.

    I hope the last movie will have lots more action and will not be as disappointing as this one!

    On a side note, you two update so frequently its so hard to keep track of everything haha but keep up the great work =D

  • Brandon
    July 24, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    He may have played Slughorn well, but he didn’t match the books description at all, where was the great big belly and walrus beard?

  • fibo nacci
    December 31, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Harry Potter – “Devil-Worship” “Zionist Plot” – Iran says!!!

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