Jinny and I had a rare night out on Friday night and went to see the newly release Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This movie is based on one of my favorites of the 7 book Potter series and so I was curious (though frankly not excited) to see what they’d do with this one. My one word review? Mediocre. This film is more evidence that these kinds of books just don’t translate well to the big screen.
There was, however, a lot to love in the film. Dan Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint (the actors who play Harry, Hermione, and Ron) seem finally to be coming in to their own. Grint’s physical comedy was particularly good, and he and Radcliff had a number of great scenes together. All in all the dynamic between the three friends was very good, much better in fact than in any of the previous five films. Additionally, Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore is a vast improvement over the absurdly intense Dubledore of Goblet of Fire and the ridiculously stoic Dumbledore of Order of the Phoenix. Gambon does a much better job this time out capturing Dumbledore’s odd combination of brilliance, intensity, ferocity, and oddball goofiness. It’s that eclectic nature that people like about Dumbledore, and I think that Gambon’s failure to capture it represents one of the key failures of films 3-5. Here he gets it right.
But those good things are not enough to make this a good film. It is just too choppy, too disjointed to ever be great. This choppiness notwithstanding it may have been a much better movie had it not been for the two worst adaptation decisions I’ve ever seen in a film. You’ll have to watch the movie to know what I mean, but let me just say that for the life of me I don’t understand what the Christmas scene was for, nor why they removed all of the action from the climax of the movie. Those writing/directing decisions were just plain weird.
If you’re a Potter fan by all means go and see the movie. There are enough fun bits to make it worth your money. If you’re not a Potter geek, just wait for the DVD, you’ll be glad you did.