"You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."
You guessed it!
Time for my Epic Half-Blood Prince Review!
It is very long.
Also, it is full of spoilers,
Especially if you haven't read the whole series.
You have been warned.
There will be pretty clothes at the end!
Mmmkay. It’s no secret that I am a massive Harry Potter fan. It took my best friend Dena a long time to wear me down, but at the age of 18, I finally broke down and read the first five books (the only ones present at the time). Two things finally pushed me over the edge: 1, I found out that Ralph Fiennes had been cast as Lord Voldemort in the upcoming 4th film, and I adore Ralph Fiennes, not only because he‘s a dishy Brit, but also because he is a fine actor indeed. I wanted to see him play yet another bad guy. And 2, I was told that the books got much darker, much more adult, and in turn, much more human, even in such a fantastical world. I wasn’t disappointed.
Those who’ve read the books know that, starting at around the end of Book 4, things stop being kid-friendly. The moment Cedric Diggory dies, your comfortable, dangerous-but-not-really-dangerous world shatters…delightfully. You’ve spent 3 books getting to know and love these kids, teachers, their families and friends, and then all of a sudden, The Enemy regenerates fully, the war starts, and you are deeply invested in what becomes of them. From Book 4 onward, things get progressively darker, more dangerous, more heart-breaking, but our character’s moral fiber only becomes stronger in contrast.
Which brings us to The Half-Blood Prince! Having enjoyed the book thoroughly, I was wary of the film. Then again, ever since Lord Of The Rings, I have taken a pragmatic view on Books-To-Films. Film is an ENTIRELY different medium than the written word, I think way too many fans of a certain series forget this. Visual story-telling requires a different approach, different ways of keeping the audience stimulated, not to mention the compressed time. With a book, you are able to digest the many emotional threads at your own pace. A movie has 2 and a half hours to get all the important information across. I believe, therefore, that it all depends on how much the filmmakers love the material they’re dealing with. They’ll get the spirit across. That said, I think this was a wonderful telling of the story! I’ve heard some people say it was slower than the others, I think because the drama of the last two stories is much more internal than the previous ones.
Harry Potter has just seen his godfather killed right in front of him, and the 6th film opens with those last few moments of Film 5, a numb 16 year old kid covered in blood, flashbulbs going off in his face as his beloved Headmaster wraps an arm around him, leading him away from the mob of reporters. I know a film is going to be good if I’m on the verge of tears 20 seconds in!
Over the course of the film, Harry & Dumbledore are searching through the memories Dumbledore has collected over the years pertaining to Tom Riddle, the boy/young man who would become Lord Voldemort. There is a gap in the information, however, and it could very well be the proof Dumbledore has been looking for, as to why their enemy has proven seemingly impossible to kill, why he continues to return. This memory resides in the head of Hogwarts’ newest teacher, and Harry is charged with charming it out of the old man.
Meanwhile, there’s humor a’plenty as hormones threaten the structure of our favorite trio, and it’s hilarious. Also, previously one-dimensional and a simple big-talker, Draco Malfoy suddenly finds himself charged with a task by The Dark Lord himself, after the imprisonment of Draco’s father. Draco has to prove himself, to clear the family name…or he will be killed. His mother pleads his case to Severus Snape, who promises to carry out the task if Draco cannot. Throughout the film, Harry witnesses Draco’s slow decay and unraveling.
All culminates with the discovery that Voldemort has split his soul into pieces…this is how he keeps coming back, and Harry and Dumbledore realize that, by finding and destroying all the pieces, they will at last be able to banish the enemy forever. But before this quest can go very far, Draco succeeds in letting Death Eaters into the heavily-guarded school. When faced with his ultimate task, however, Draco falters, unable to kill the man who has been his Headmaster for six years. As he promised, Snape steps in to finish the job.
As many reviewers have said, the acting in this chapter of the saga is beyond superb, each and every cast member brought their best to the party. Daniel Radcliffe has come so far, from being the dazzled little boy in the first film, to now being an older teenager who has seen and survived far more than any kid should have to, with his soul and good heart still in tact. Rupert and Emma are just as good, they know their characters through and through by now. Michael Gambon embodied fully the much more playful, good-humored Dubledore even in this, the darkest time for his character.
Most surprising of all, of course, was Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. As I’ve said, in the books and the films, Draco has been a one-sided, stereotypical bully making up for a lack of confidence in himself, like any bully. In Half Blood Prince, he suddenly has to redeem his family in the eyes of The Dark Lord, or risk his own death, and possibly that of his mother, by killing one of the kindest and most powerful men in the world. The strain visibly wears on him, and Tom played him beautifully.
Now, everyone knows I have an unhealthy crush on Severus Snape, in no small part due to Alan Rickman’s portrayal. Even I was stunned, though, at his Snape in this film. We who’ve read the whole series know, where his loyalties truly lie, that he is Dumbledore’s man to the last, that he also promised Dumbledore that he would kill him, if only to keep an (essentially) innocent boy from having to. That Dumbledore was dying anyway. And you could SEE it! Even if you DIDN’T know the whole story, Severus’ face was an open book, if only for a few short moments. His moments of hesitation, the flashes of regret, his panic when Bellatrix almost killed Harry, it was all there. I overhead one of the Americans in the theater talking to his friend as he left, obviously not having read the books, saying, “But man, he looked like he didn’t WANT to kill him, even after he did it!” Alan Rickman, you are brilliant.
Dumbledore’s death scene on the ground was heart-breaking. I was a sobbing baby, when Harry brushed his mentor’s hair back from his face, while the rest of the school banished the Dark Mark overhead. Brilliant.
There were some things I disliked, of course. While I know ALL of the memories from the book couldn’t be fit in, I think the memories pertaining to Tom Riddle’s mother were essential to Harry’s understanding of his enemy, they should have been there.
The romantic comedy aspect, while really good and funny, could have been cut back a little. It wasn’t so much of a focus in the book, tough I suppose it does keep the hormonal teenagers in the audience happy. Still, a few of those scenes could have been cut, perhaps to make room for the memories of Merope Gaunt? But oh well.
I would have liked to see the Fleur/Bill storyline, and more of Tonks/Remus, but as I understand it such things will be saved for the last two films. As it was, I was pleased with what little, subtle bit we got of Tonks and Remus together. Yes, they were together, when in the book they don’t finally get together until the end (very dramatically). But the urgency of starting a relationship when they both have dangerous jobs and live in a dangerous world was still there. I look forward to the baby-drama.
Overall, I loved it. After two viewings, I’m still not done picking out all the little lovely details. I’ll go again this weekend! Way to go, team. I cannot wait until Deathly Hallows, Part 1.
from the very first film
(Inexplicably with Spanish subtitles!)
I have recently acquired new things,
for almost nothing!
Shirt: Random find at Japanese mall
Tights: Old Navy, ages ago.
Boots: Hot Topic, years ago.