Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I’m starting to see an emerging pattern here. You see, I liked Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a lot, but other people hated it. And, now I like Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince a lot – and yes! There is a lot of hate once more. Why the hate, people, why the hate? This movie does the thing a penultimate movie ought to do, and it’s the one movie to stay – in my opinion – closest to the book in style and substance (and if it does stray, I think it’s justified).

Lookit the pretty pictures!

Let me say this first: for me, this is without a doubt the prettiest Harry Potter movie to date. Yes, I consider it to be even prettier than the much lauded Prisoner of Azkaban. Yes, that movie was the best and it was the greatest and so on, but in all fairness it did notlook as good as this one. Obviously, this one builds rather heavily on Azkaban in art style – moreso than the two previous ones. There are some shots in here that are almost art.

Oh, but dear writer, we know you know nothing of art! Well, you’ve got me there. But when I looked at certain shots, I saw a fan of surrealism – of Magritte. Most of these shots revolved around Draco Malfoy – more on him later – or his immediate surroundings. His black suit, the houses his mother was running through on her way to a certain someone, the vanishing cabinet… they all looked nightmarish and absurd. And unbelievably pretty. It gives me hope that David Yates could actually save the last book. But then I remember a thing called “wand lore”.

And it has to be said: Nicholas Hooper did a great job composing the music for this film. It fits the mood perfectly. Some other movies had great soundtracks as well (I’m thinking Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire), but this one was a lot better than all the others. It has something magical – just like the movie has something magical, something indescribable that the other movies don’t have. The magic feels more… fresh and new – but ancient at the same time. As if it were a character on its own, symbolized into Dumbledore (this you can see clearly in the first scene, when he appears in front of “Magic” billboard).

Snogging! Snogging!

I remember watching “The Life Aquatic” a while ago and feeling like a little boy watching National Geographic again. The Half Blood Prince made me feel like I was 16 again and in the prime of my hormonal youth. For me, this movie re
ected the book perfectly – I remember feeling like that as well when reading it. Lads and lasses, you have to admit one thing: these books are littered with useless but funny little tidbits. If you’re complaining nothing’s happening, then you haven’t read this book right. It is a book about snogging. It’s one of the things Rowling used to mask the fact that the end is highly dramatic. Don’t blame the movie for staying close to the book.

That’s what this movie does: it stays very, very close but looks for artistic freedom elsewhere (design, composition…). There is – as far as I can remember – only one scene that is truly added, and it occurs near Christmas day at the Weasly’s house. I thought it was pretty. And it’s obvious they want to give the wonderful, wonderful actress Helena Bonham-Carter a bit more screentime. She is one of the only stars that is left in this series who is not either in diapers or wrinkled and old.

Speaking of stars: the indeniable acting hero in this movie is Tom Felton, playing Draco Malfoy.
It’s like the story gave him a little more leeway and he shoved everything he could into that. He plays the tormented killer role wonderfully: he’s jumpy, eager, anxious and also a frightened little boy. In the final battle, I couldn’t help feeling more pity for him than the actual victim. It sets up the final book perfectly, and I can’t wait to see Felton playing what’s still in store for his character. But by that time I’ll probably be too busy cheering Neville on.

The person I was slightly disappointed in was Snape. Alan Rickman was great – as per usual, as per usual – but he’s gotten way too little screentime. I have no problem with the added scenes, but Bonham-Carter’s additions might have been better used as Snape time. It was as if the first half of the movie was trying so hard to set him up as a vilain and the second movie the exact opposite. That just didn’t work for me. I guess they’re trying to form a bridge, some sort of an actor generation pact thing: the older actors are passing the torch on to the new ones. Quite a burden to bear – these movies have showcased some of Britain’s most gifted actors.

In All…

This movie nails it. It’s the part in the series that’s come closest to the feeling of the book. The humour makes you laugh out loud, the drama makes you fight the tears. At times, it shocks you; at times, it warms your heart. Just like the book, really. But it triomphs in one place the book fails: execution. Rowling might have designed great characters and a truly magical story, she’s simply not the best writer out there. Why should eyes always be raven black? This is where The half-blood Prince succeeds: it’s a truly stunning visual feast. And I don’t mean the special effects. Although those are obviously nice too. Hum.

It just goes to show what poor initial reviews from the test audience can do to a movie: six months more development, and there you have a well-polished piece of art. If only this were standard…

Favourite Quote:
Hermione: Hey, she’s only interested in you because she thinks you’re the Chosen One.
Harry: But I am the Chosen One!