Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

“Why is it, whenever something happens, it is always you three?” 

“Believe me, professor, I’ve been asking myself the same question for six years.”

 –  Professor McGonagall and Ron Weasley

When Warner Bros announced in August 2008 that they were moving the release date of the sixth Harry Potter movie from November to July of the next year, I snapped into a nerd freakout rampage. Pushing back the finished movie by nine months seemed like a betrayal, and filling its slot with Twilight was just insult to injury.

But, it turned out for the best, because the new release date meant I could see the movie with my best friend (who introduced me to the series) on July 16th, the day before he moved away. Then I got to see it again three days later with my closest middle school friends.

Anyway. When I did see the movie, I was blown away. Everything was done right…the effects were their usual greatness, the acting was pristine, and the soundtrack to this particular movie was perfection.

[Spoilers ahead, if you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know the story]

The opening scene (in which Harry is walking past the reporters and hearing Bellatrix’s laugh) is a perfect example of why I think this movie is better than the others: because the filmmakers added their own creative touch to the story, and did a beautiful job with it. The same goes for the next scene, a stunning visual of Death Eaters flying through London and destroying the Millennium Bridge.

There are only a handful of parts I enjoyed more. Snape making the Unbreakable Vow is something I thought they wouldn’t be able to make more perfect than as it was in the books, but they did. Mostly due to the actors, in my opinion…Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter are equally mesmerizing.

Furthermore, this was the first movie featuring a Quidditch match that didn’t give me the urge to take a three hour nap.

Following that is a beautiful scene with beautiful music, a nice bit of dialogue between Harry and Hermione to add to the emotion. Perfect, guys.

Next: I thought the Sectumsempra bit was done really well. The filmmakers turned it into more of an action chase than just a flat-out duel, and it kept the movie exciting. The sight of Malfoy on the floor, covered in blood, was exactly as we’d pictured it.

Speaking of which, the sub-plot with Malfoy’s mission was much better than in the book, in my opinion, because the filmmakers could actually show him working in the Room of Requirement rather than just telling us Harry’s suspicions of what he was doing. And, while we’re mentioning the Room of Requirement, I was actually pleased with how they depicted Harry and Ginny’s kiss. It was a Harry Potter-ish kind of romance, plus it was accompanied (once again) with a perfect soundtrack.

But if none of the above made you love this movie, then the ending is a very good contender for swinging you. The pure epicness of the waves crashing next to the Horcrux Cave, and the brilliant ring of fire, is clockwork.

Yet still none of them top the height of the movie, the moment when Snape says the two words we’ve been waiting for since 2005. Dumbledore’s death is pure essence of the pages brought to life.

Then it wraps up with all the right things. Snape’s walk from Hogwarts is hasty but controlled. His duel with Harry is brief but intense. Bellatrix destroys the Great Hall, a perfect addition to the movie, I think.

I might offend a few diehard fans here, but I believe the filmmakers were wise in leaving out Dumbledore’s funeral. The abrupt ending is just what the movie needed…plus, come on. Who didn’t LOVE the scene where every student and teacher is raising their wands in tribute?

 

In summary, this movie might not have been the strictest adaption from book to screen (I’ll talk about Deathly Hallows soon) but I believe it to be the most enjoyable of the films. The humor really added to the experience, and the emotionally powerful moments carried by brilliant actors round it off as near perfection.

Rate: 9 out of 10.

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