Friday, July 17, 2009

Half Blood Prince

[Warning! If you haven't seen the movie yet, spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution!]

We went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (a.k.a. the 6th movie) tonight. I was really excited as I am for every Harry Potter movie, despite hearing that some people were disappointed with the movie. Funny how it's only the second full day the movie is open, but it felt like we were late to the party because it's been open for two "nights" already (counting the opening midnight showing).

Overall, I liked the movie itself but had many issues with the story. The acting was good, the cinematography was good, the effects were good, the love stories were good and really funny, but the story... well, that was questionable.

My main issues with the movie:

1. It felt rushed.

Partway through the movie, I started thinking about how it felt like they were rushing through lots of important storyline. The story just felt rushed through and a lot of nuance was missing. It's always very difficult for movies to live up to the books they're based on, but here the book was worlds better because the story had time to develop. Here, it just felt like we were racing through it. Which also meant many casualties, leading to my next point.

2. It was missing an exposition scene explaining why we should care about Tom's history.

I haven't read the book in quite awhile (almost 2 years) and only picked it up again a couple of days ago. But I remember quite clearly that Dumbledore explains to Harry that the key to defeating Voldemort is by understanding who Voldemort is. His formative moments, what was important to him, about his family, etc. We see a scene in the movie about Tom at the orphanage and the first time Dumbledore met him, but the movie fails to explain why this is important and why we should care. If someone hadn't read the book and only saw the movie, they might wonder why this is even important. Why was the choice of the caves important? What about the ring? We were deprived of any insight into Voldemort's thought processes, and I think that is a serious flaw.

3. I hated the ending.

At first, I just didn't like the ending as much as in the book. Then, I just didn't like it very much. Now, I kind of hate it. (And remember, I still like the movie!) I loved the ending of book 6. I loved the battle between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix + the kids. But that didn't happen in the movie! At all! And the part of the ending that was filled with so much anguish was that Dumbledore was killed while Harry was utterly helpless. Sure, Harry made a promise to Dumbledore to follow his orders, but the movie gave him free will. Although he promised to follow orders, he could have done something (probably useless, but still) to try to stop it. The book was so heartbreaking because Dumbledore's dying act was to protect Harry, and it made him unable to act to stop someone from dying right in front of him. That emotional anguish was gone from this movie. I don't know whose creative decision it was to allow Harry to move or why the ending battle was eliminated, but I think they really cut out the emotional heart of the ending of the book, and that was unfortunate. It also eliminated the battle, and the seeds of the upcoming war, and that was unfortunate, and leads me to my last point.

4. This movie, unlike the book, does not set up the (double) finale, and I don't know what they're going to do with the storyline in the next 2 movies.

The elimination of several important parts of the book makes me wonder how they're going to do the story in the next 2 movies. It's going to be really challenging! By not telling us that the key to beating Voldemort is understanding his history, and by not showing us the memory of Tom Riddle and the heirlooms, how are they going to explain how they figure out what items are horcruxes? As Harry said, they could be anywhere. How are they going to explain the significance? Are Bill and Fleur getting married? I think that whole storyline is gone, since they can't have Bill injured by a werewolf, because there was no Order at Hogwarts when Dumbledore was killed. Kreacher was missing too. How are they going to set up the resistance when it looked like none of the students were trained or fighting back here? So many questions. The sixth book set up the last book SO well, and the movie series just feels like it now has so many holes. It's like how I felt about movie 3 not explaining the whole Lupin knows about the map because he helped make it and they could all transform and those are their names on the map thing, but on a much larger and more important scale.

In the end...

I liked the movie. I will watch it again on DVD. I still love Harry Potter. I still can't wait for the next 2 movies. But the story choices in this movie were disappointing. I would love to hear more about why they made them, because the choices with respect to the ending and the omitted scenes are really baffling to me. I know there's time constraints and they can't make a 4 hour movie, but it just seems like so many essential things were missing. This book was packed full of substance, and I just wish more of it had made it into the movie.

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