Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Film Review: Harry Potter 6

I went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last night and was utterly disappointed with the film. On reflection, that analysis was maybe somewhat harsh, but I still think there was plenty more which could have been done with the film. Let me explain. (There may be spoilers ahead).

I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise. I've read all the books. I queued (with a chatty Irish rugby player) for the seventh one until the midnight opening of Waterstones in Aberystwyth. I've started reading the first one in Spanish. And I've seen (and enjoyed) almost all of the films up to this point. So I do have a handle on what the series is about and what to expect from the films.

David Yates - who directed the previous film - returns to direct this one, and it is much darker than anything before in the series. There are a few lighthearted moments of humour - but those are almost always followed by scenes of the (excellent) Tom Felton's anguish as the tortured Draco Malfoy, drawing a contrast between the light (Harry) and the darkness. That contrast is well utilised throughout the film.

But for me, while I understand the plot of the book is extensive and works, in essence, as a bridge to the final installment, the film doesn't. Too much of the plot is left out. The film has stripped out all of the "unnecessary" plotlines in favour of simplicity - Malfoy's mission to take kill Dumbledore and Harry's attempts to prise a memory from new Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn (the rather good Jim Broadbent). That's really it. And even the second one lacks in detail, failing to establish the problems facing Harry and friends in locating and destroying the Horcruxes in the following films.

The adolescent relationships between Harry, Ron and Hermione (and I guess, Ginny Weasley too) have developed as the series has gone on, and are a strength of the franchise. And, knowing the plot of the following novel, I expect this will be a strength of the final two films also. But even that could not, in my mind at least, save the film from the lack of storytelling. Some crucial elements were missing in the condensing of the plot

This 15-year-old's review sums it best up for me:
The Half-Blood Prince is frightening, funny, romantic and entertaining but as the end credits rolled, I still felt disappointed. I had waited all year to see my second-favourite Potter book brought to life. If I wasn't a die-hard fan, I'm sure I would have loved it. My gripe is that the film was simply too different from the book - the writers inserted pointless scenes and took out others crucial to the narrative.

All in all, not quite the epic failure I had proclaimed it last night but not the masterpiece I'd been hoping for. 2/5. (Maybe slightly harsh).


Holyrood Patter 21 July 2009 at 17:18  

i am still with your original review. continuity errors everywhere, from mr weasley saying voldemort, to hagrid having a wand, to the lack of explanantion of apparation and inferi. so little forward planning in all the films, so much so that despite winching constantly, ginny looks about 11. radcliffe, as i have said for years, simply cannot act, he has one facial expression. i could go on, and i might do later!

Jeff 22 July 2009 at 13:05  

Jim Broadbent made the whole thing. Awesome performance from Bridget Jones' old man.

The rest of it? Bit slow in places and not enough action but still one of the best ones going of the Series.

Una,  23 July 2009 at 00:10  

I think you're all taking this way too seriously - but perhaps, like me, the director remembered hee-haw of the silly plot anyway

Jeff 26 July 2009 at 22:18  

Una, I have one word for you.

*points mouse* Stupefy!

(Ok, NOW I'm taking it too far...)

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