Magic, Spells & Potions

Harry Potter Half Blood Prince Movie Review

Harry Potter Half Blood Prince Movie Review

Went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie yesterday with another person. How was the 6th installment of the Harry Potter saga on the big screen?

Well, it was long. That's immediately a bad sign because as you know time flies when you're having fun, and time didn't fly for me on this occasion. What went wrong with this movie?

That is a difficult question to answer.

One of the things that I found particularly irritating about the Harry Potter Half Blood Prince movie was the choice of depressing colours throughout, made worse by the choice of depressing lighting throughout, apart from a few snow scenes which nearly gave me snow blindness by comparison.

I think I'm going to start a "BRING BACK TECHNICOLOR!!!" campaign.

Harry Potter is a fairy tale of MAGIC. Why can't it be ALIVE with colour, even when bad things are happening?

At least then the human neurology doesn't turn towards depression and misery - without a single word being spoken.

On the same front, I truly DEPLORE the choice of modern film directors to "turn out the lights". I can understand that if your props suck and your stages are badly constructed, if we turn out the lights, then nobody notices. It was this that made me start to think this was a credit crunch edition of a Harry Potter film.

They were trying to save money.

That made sense; and it would explain the total absence of interesting mystical creatures, for example.

I really missed them, for me, having the mystical creatures about was a really important part of the whole Harry Potter experience.

There weren't even any of the weird things that pull the carts on the way to the school - Harry Potter and the Luna girl arrived "too late and had to walk to the school".

Aha! I thought. Credit crunch edition ... no money for the carts and the animations ...

Luna says, "I hope there's pudding ..." and instead of the usual amazing feast presented on the tables of Hogwarts, there were lame dishes with jelly and such, looking very bedraggled.

Credit crunch, I guess ... in the movie, and out of it ...

The next absence that I really noticed was that of funny things and incidents. Harry Potter is as good as it is because it has a core of cool humor even in the dark days (as in the insane house elf of the Black family going round abusing everyone!). In The Half Blood Prince, I couldn't tell you where there was anything remotely funny. The best I can remember is a bit of a blob during the potion making class but it was as though people weren't really trying to achieve something sparkling here.

The content was fair and I understood the story as it went along (but then, I have read the book, and I'd feel sorry for anyone who hadn't, wandered into the cinema by accident and had to figure out what was going on there!) waiting for things I liked from previous Harry Potter movies, such as the mystical creatures, the house elves, the jokes, the little surprises that are around the corner, or something really impressive, like the Ministry of Magic sets and scenes from The Order of the Phoenix.

I waited in vain ...

As we were walking out of the cinema, my companion complained bitterly about the absence of any kind of battle scene with the death eaters and Draco at the end, where Dumbledore dies.

I had forgotten about that but I thought that tower confrontation was as lame as the puddings, as though people really didn't try very hard at all to make something happen here.

Dumbledore was a main character after all, father figure to Harry Potter, I should have felt something when he snuffed it or when his body was found.

And wasn't there a funeral in the book? I ask confusedly.

I put it down to spending cuts and the credit crunch. Run out of money at the end, nothing left for a funeral, for a fight on the tower.

So we get home and companion looks up the budget for the Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince on the internet.

And it is HIGHER than the previous films?



Apparently, heaps of it were spent on developing new software for the flames in the island scene, and on the opening sequence where a bridge in London falls down.

I don't know who makes the decisions on what to include, and how to spend the money.

With this movie I felt they had the lost the complete Harry Potter plot with a vengeance.

Do Harry Potter fans CARE about a bridge falling down?

About animated flames?

Or do they like THE MAGIC (!) the strange creatures, the humour, the terror, the otherness of the wizard's world which is at least as important as the events that take place within it?

Of course, no movie can compare to the world the reader creates inside their own person when they read a good book. That's always a given, and I always give a lot of room for that simple fact when I watch any movie.

But I do feel that whatever went on in the production, there were people making decisions about what to include, and what to spend the money on, that didn't really understand the heart of Harry Potter, nor that of the Half Blood Prince for that matter, and who didn't care that much.

I think there were people getting too involved with some aspect of the production - such as making animations of flames! - and whoever was in charge, didn't manage to pull it back to say, "Look, when it is revealed that Snape is the Half Blood Prince, people should jump from their seats with astonishment and shock! When Dumbledore dies, there isn't a dry eye in the house! Let's save some money and keep it for the funeral at the end as the final BANG on which to end the movie and make people really WANT to come back for the next one!"

It's a huge project, I appreciate that, to make these movies. But it always helps, with the biggest projects especially, if those who are to hold it all together once in a while re-visit the heart of the story, the reason everyone is here and doing all of that, spending all that money, all that time. In this case, it is the unique and magical world of Harry Potter that embraces friendship, laughter and comedy on the one hand, and high fear, challenge and terror on the other hand.

These movies should be sparkling with magic - good or bad! - dancing with life, being full of emotions, full of colour.

At the very least, and for the next Harry Potter movie, PLEASE turn the lights back on ...

SFX 2009

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