Half of the Half Blood Prince
Alright, if you’re reading this I expect you to have read the Half Blood Prince and have seen the movie. This is full of spoilers. So off you go to read and then to the movies if you haven’t yet … go on. This will be here when you get back. The rest of you, follow me (swirls cape and swooshes down to the below….)
We went to see the Half Blood Prince yesterday, my comadres and two of their little ones who are now of an age to be able to watch the movies. And as we left the movie I decided that this was probably going to be my number two most favorite of the Potter movies (Number one of course being Prisoner of Azkaban which was brilliantly directed by Alfonso Cuarón). But as we sat outside the movie theater and discussed what was missing and what issues we had with the film, I started to think about what I had just seen. The movie is not faithful to the book which I expected but what I consider major scenes were left out and scenes were included whose inclusion I question. Characters were dropped (Bill and Fleur for example) and others who hold prominence in this book were reduced to serving drinks (poor Neville). But still I liked the movie. I will tell you first why I liked the film and then I will expound on what I found to be missing, wrong, not acceptable, etc. (You’d better get comfortable ‘cause I tend to be long-winded – get yourself a beverage and a blankie if you’re going to be in this for the long haul).
What I enjoyed about the film is the same thing I enjoy about the books – the characters. This time around I think all the kids in the movie have made a great stride forward in showcasing their acting abilities. I was most pleasantly surprised with Daniel Radcliffe. I’ve always felt he was a bit wooden in the role (I can hear the gasps from the Dan-Fans – sorry but its true). In this film he comes across as much more natural, looser, more at ease in the role. Frankly, I’ve always wondered if he only had one setting on his acting abilities (the Potter Channel – all Potter all the time) but his little stretch into “Happy Harry” when he takes the good luck potion (Felix Felicis) was so well done it made me think he has potential to go beyond Potter once this is all done. (Perhaps his theater stint helped broaden his range). Tom Felton, as well, has grown into his role, imbuing Draco, as the anti-Potter, with the necessary pathos of someone trapped into doing something he does not want to. And of course, Rupert has always been a natural at playing Ron (as has Emma at playing Hermione) and I enjoyed the easy interactions between the three characters – they have grown into the parts extremely well.
The changes the characters are going through as they grow into young adults is well handled. I’ve read other reviewers lament that there is too much “love struck teen age angst” in this film but really, the movie is about these kids and their growth, and love-struck angst is part of the growth process. Although, I will admit to having the same reaction as Snape did watching Lavender, Hermione and Ron in the hospital scene. And there it is – look at how long I was able to go without mentioning Snape and Alan Rickman! It took a lot of self control but I did it. Alright, well having mentioned Snape, I will now place him in reserve for a later, very in depth analysis (prepare yourself Professor) and go on to some other highlights of the film.
The production design, set dressing and costuming of the film was extremely well done. I want to get the DVD as soon as it’s out so I can pause and inspect Spinners’ End and the Potions classroom and Slughorn’s quarters. Someone had a marvelous time providing us with details. This is the stuff I used to love to do way, way back in the day when I was doing set design – finding just the book to put on the bookshelf that no one may notice but will add to the whole scene if they do, positioning papers and knickknacks and pictures to delienate the character and tell the his or her story in images.. It is a form of acting in a way … whoops but I digress….
Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore was actually likeable this time around. Perhaps “likeable” is too strong of a word. Let’s say I pleasantly tolerated him in this movie and didn’t sit there mumbling “Richard Harris would have been so much better” under my breath. Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore was a kinder, gentler version of what we’ve seen in the past three movies. Although I found his asking Potter about his love life just a tad bit creepy.
Jim Broadbent was perfectly cast as Slughorn. He hit every beat and revealed every folly of the man while keeping him sympathetic and likeable. And then there’s Snape, stern, mysterious, cape-swirling Snape. Alan Rickman as Snape embodies everything I liked about the film but also what I what I didn’t like – And with that I will leave the rest for the next post ‘cause this is already way, way too long and I fear there is no one reading at this point except maybe one of my comadres.