Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guest review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Thanks Cam for this guest review:

I just got back from watching "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and I thought I'd write down my thoughts. I'll keep this review brief, so if you're looking for an in-depth analysis, you'll have to look elsewhere. This movie, the sixth in the series, was without a doubt the best of them all. I've already gotten in several facebook arguments with people who disagree, but my opinion has not changed.

Reason one, the style of this movie is very visual and efficient without disrupting the flow of the story. There are never special effects for the sake of special effects, and the focus is always on the characters and plot instead of visually stunning or amusing magic. The third movie's major downfall was it's overreaching representation of Hogwarts. They had an enormous pendulum swinging in the doorway of the great hall in that movie, for pete's sake. The sixth movie cuts away all unnecessary special effects, such as moving staircases and talking paintings. We were done being wowed by those things halfway through the first movie. We don't need to be reminded of them in each subsequent movie.

Reason two, the acting is immensely better. I won't deny that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint aren't the best actors, but I will submit that their acting has vastly improved since the beginning. I think they have also been assisted by better dialogue (the funny lines are actually funny in this one). There are also not as many characters straining to get lines in. We see a lot of Harry, Ron, and Hermione (of course), a lot of Dumbledore (as it should be), a lot of Horace Slughorn, and just the right amount of everyone else (I'm so glad we got to see some good bits of Prof. McGonagall too. You can never have too much Maggie Smith. Some of the other movies have definitely been lacking her presence).

There were a few faults I would have liked to have been fixed. First being the scene where Bellatrix and Greyback come to the Burrow and set it on fire. I didn't see any reason why that needed to be in the movie. I'm not one who feels that adaptations need to follow the book too closely, but I didn't see any reason for this departure. Especially considering that many scenes in the beginning of "The Deathly Hallows" need to take place at the Burrow. Maybe this will be cleared up in the next movie, but overall I thought this scene was time wasted.

Second, I didn't like that Snape and the death eaters got out of Hogwarts at the end without a fight. Snape blasts one auror out of the way and they don't see a single other person. I wouldn't even care if we had key characters fighting the death eaters at the end (I can see how having Bill Weasley get attacked by Greyback would eat into the time), just as long as it showed SOMEONE putting up a fight. A friend of mine felt like there was no climax to the movie and I partially agree. A bit more of a fight at Hogwarts would fix that problem.

Like I said, I firmly believe that this is the best movie so far and I hope the next two movies (apparently they're splitting book 7 into two movies) will follow the same style as this one. In conclusion I'll leave you with my favorite trailer for "The Half-Blood Prince." I couldn't find that good of a copy of it, but I think this is the most chilling trailer they released.

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