MOVIE: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

hphalfbloodI finally set aside the requisite 8 million hours (feels like!) it takes to watch a Harry Potter movie and got my butt to a theater seat for this one at long last Monday.  Now, before you get my tone wrong, it should be noted that I’m a big fan of the books, even the ones that sucked, and I’ve also really enjoyed all the movies so far, even the ones that sucked.  So, I was excited to see it; it’s just a big time commitment.  A two-and-a-half hour movie means no Diet Coke, after all, otherwise there will have to be a pee break.  And a movie without a Diet Coke is always a challenge for me, because those are two great tastes that just go so great together.  Kind of like peanut butter and cheese (hi, Dad!).

In any case, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe are absolutely incredible in this.  I thought I couldn’t get enough Hermione before, but after this movie, I want to move her into my spare room so I can hang out with her all the time.  There is a scene in which Herm (I can call her Herm now that she’s my roommate) and Harry sit on a step together while she cries about feeling unseen by the boy she loves (Ron, for the uninitiated) as Harry sits next to her and just exudes this insane amount of caring-for-her coupled with the sort of awkwardness that hits you when you get to be an older teenager and realize your best friend is someone of the opposite sex.  It’s everything you could ever want in a friendship – that expression on his face.  It’s perfection.  You two crazy kids — you killed me with that, srsly.

Now the bad news: the rest of this movie tooootally sucked.  I was stunned, actually, by how incredibly bad it truly was.  And I’m not referring to plot cuts — I’m one of the rare book lovers who doesn’t get all het up about movies in which half the content of the story is axed.  It has to be done, and I recognize that, even while I don’t always agree with the choices.  Tell your story — I’ll listen.  What I feel like you missed, I can always remind myself of with a reread of the (tome!) instead.

No, my problem wasn’t really with what got left out in terms of actual plot points.  Instead, it was about what got left out in terms of theme, and what wasn’t there at all in terms of inspiration or creativity.  First of all, it has some of the most subpar special effects I’ve ever seen, especially for a movie I know had a budget bigger than the GNP of half the world’s nations.  I could practically see the green screen this time, not to mention that stupid fake-looking bridge in the beginning that looked SO FAKE, MY GOD!  Plus, the scene with the horcrux necklace in the cave — what was up with the set for that?  It starts out like the Holy Grail cave in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade coupled with Superman’s 1978 movie version of the Fortress of Solitude (cheesy crystals and all), and then there’s this sudden influx of Gollums slithering around looking for their Precious.  What the. . .?  That was just bad, Mr. Yates.  BAD.  So bad.

But theme, lordy, theme.  The point of this installment in the series was to look at the impact or difficulty of making choices, right?  Harry is suddenly thrust into the same dilemma that wracked poor Spiderman — he’s got a lot of power and with that comes a lot of responsibility.  But at the same time, he’s just a kid, and he’s in love, and he’s confused, and everything he’s “supposed” to do as “the chosen one” seems to interfere with everything he wants to do as a kid.  The whole movie should’ve been framed around this central concept.

Instead, it all comes out completely disjointed and untethered, like everybody was working from an outline that only had Roman numerals.  It felt like they were trying to hit the parts they knew they had to hit to set up the next movie, bam bam bam check!, and then just threw in other stuff at random to fill the thing out.  But “setting it up for the ending” is not an acceptable excuse for sucking.  And this movie ended up having no emotional weight to it whatsoever, even when one of the most beloved characters in the series gets killed at the end.  Which, lame.

Also, where was Hagrid?  MORE HAGRID.

In any case, if you haven’t gotten your hiney in a movie theater seat for this one yet, I strenuously recommend waiting for DVD.  Now that I know the same director is in charge of the final two movies (they’re splitting the last book into two pictures, in case you hadn’t heard), waiting for DVD will also be my plan unless both films get a ridiculous amount of enthusiastically positive reviews that manage to convince me it’s worth the big screen committment and unpausable pee breaks.

Between now and then, though, let’s hope director David Yates is paying attention to the criticisms about this installment and taking them to heart.  Pay attention, Yates.  Pay it.  I beg you.

(Incidentally, this just in:  for 99 cents, you can download an iPhone application called RunPee that will tell you the best scenes during which to hit the loo in the most popular films playing in theaters.  It tells you what you missed when you get back, and also has a countdown feature that lets you know how much time you have to wait in line for a stall with a lock on it before you start to miss out on something important.  BRILLIANT!  Downloaded and installed, and Diet Coke, here I come!)

[Prequeue me at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Drama, Fantasy
Cast:  Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Helene Bonham Carter (HATE!), Jim Broadbent (LOVE!), David Thewlis

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6 Responses to “MOVIE: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)”

  1. Melinda Says:

    I pretty much gave up on the HP movies after the third one (WHY did they change the castle???)…. but I still keep watching them. It’s like a sick addiction, really. Anyway, thank you for the review, I won’t feel as guilty now about not watching it in the theater. Instead, I think I will make a sincere effort to go watch GI Joe, because… GI Joe! Bad plotlines, potential bad acting, COBRA, Christopher Eccleston for heaven’s sake!!

  2. alisa Says:

    I soooooo wanted to like this movie. I got hyped up for it (I hate going to the movies) and I was bitterly disapointed.

    I felt like they left huge chunks out of the movie and for the people that hadn’t read the books (like my husband). I had to explain to him why the muggles were being killed, and bridges were calapsing. I agree w/you about the whole necklace scene.

    We only have one more movie, and it’s the best part of the last book, I pray that they don’t F*c* this one up too.

  3. Liz Says:

    Wow! I’m so glad that you guys agree with me. I was really excited about this movie, having seen the bit with the orphan, Tom Riddle, and thinking the kid was phenominal. I was also really psyched about Jim Broadbent playing Slughorn. But all the stuff they cut out! I was devestated! Boy, did I want to see Marvolo Gaunt et al (wouldn’t Simon Pegg, or Christopher Eccelsten have been great?).

    And the scene with the locket in the basin, where Dumbledore had to keep drinking the “water?” What a waste! I kept thinking that if you weren’t up on the book, you couldn’t possibly understand the movie. And do you think the point of how the horcruxes worked was clear enough? I doubt it – and that should have been one of the most devastating themes in the movie.

    But the weakest characters, IMHO, were the three kids. Harry was little more than an observer, Hermione was reduced to the spunky platonic friend, or the pining ignored girl, and Ron…Ron! was the love interest!

    And don’t get me started on Aragog, or Quidditch, or Snape vs. Dumbledore! I so agree with you, Meg – I hope David Yates gets a taste of some of the disappointment he has spawned. I’ll watch the last two, but I don’t think my hopes will be as high.

  4. megwood Says:

    Oh gosh, I forgot to mention the horcruxes, Liz, but YES! They barely were featured at all in this movie and they are the most important (and fun!) part of the whole tailend of the story!

    Alisa, two more movies, though! They are splitting the last book into two full-length pictures, so as to be able to avoid leaving so much stuff out. But I’m sure both will pretty much suck. In all honesty, the last book was my least favorite, and the one I think could’ve most easily been edited down to a 2.5 hour feature film. But, we’ll see what happens!

    In any case, whew — I’m glad I wasn’t alone in my opinion on this one!

  5. moviecutonline Says:

    great post dude, i love every part of it. thanks for sharing

  6. harry potter and the half blood prince trailer Says:

    harry potter and the half blood prince trailer

    MOVIE: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) |

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