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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Day 57: June 26th, 2010

Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

Pacing issues aside, this film is an improvement.

Harry is in his sixth year at Hogwarts and discovers a book that belongs to someone who called themselves the Half Blood Prince. Dumbledore asks Harry to get closer to the new potions teacher, Slughorn, in order to unlock new mysteries about Voldemort.

To me it seems that the films that have come after The Goblet of Fire are just build up to the finale. The theme, story structure and style are all different and neither film (Order of the Phoenix or Half Blood Prince) seem to have a main antagonist or mission for the kids to do. Instead they are a build up of events that will lead to a destructive and emotional ending for our characters that hit the screen in 2001. Each film prior, in some way, can stand on their own. These films cannot. They rely on the previous material so heavily that people who watch it without prior knowledge of events will most certainly be lost in the vast amount of detail that goes on.

Half Blood Prince is the better film, compared to the boring and uninteresting Order of the Phoenix. This one gives us a little bit more mystery and one of the biggest 'oh my god' moments of the books. The film doesn't have as much emotional weight as the book does, this is due to a lot of the material missing. Specifically the big battle that was suppose to take place at the end. The filmmakers said they left it out because they didn't want to take away from the battle at the end of the next film. I call B.S. The Two Towers had an important battle that was grand, only to be outdone by the next film. Why can't this series do the same?

The film clocks in around 2 and a half hours. It's pretty long and a lot of the scenes drag on. We stay too long on the uninteresting moments and too few minutes are given to the ones that we care about. The filmmakers have a lot to juggle with this series and the decisions made earlier to exclude material might hurt them in the long run. The changes made to the films don't hurt it, only if you are a die hard fan that wants every word translated to the screen. Since the day of adaptations we've seen countless films leave material out. It's expected, so people need to get over it. It's one thing to leave out little details, but for me, it's another to totally ignore the battle sequence.

Harry and the other kids are getting better with every film. I absolutely hated both Harry and Ron in the earlier films. While they can still be irritating, they have improved greatly over the course of the films. The same cannot be said for another book to film adaptation that have teenage girls moist thinking about Vampires and Werewolves. The improvement comes from people who really care about the craft of film-making. Every cast member is British and when you are surrounded by people like Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, to name a few, the pressure to do well is more apparent. As the series goes on, regulars like Hagrid are dumbed down to cameo roles, unfortunate.

The film looks great and the special effects are still strong as is the ability to adapt such a large book. I would personally add more stuff and take away others. The importance of the Half Blood Prince and why/who he is, is left alone. The reveal is there but again, no reason for a why. Each additional character is great, last year we were given the love to hate Dolores Umbridge, this time we get the lovable Horace Slughorn. He has a few comedic scenes and a key moment in the film that helps Harry and Dumbledore with their cause.

The Half Blood Prince seems like a more put together film than Order of the Phoenix. The complaints I've heard are all regarding the material that is missing. Yes, while some of it was indeed needed in the film, it doesn't make it bad. I could do with less Quidditch after seeing it for 9 years, focus more on the emotions of the characters and the weight of their actions and less on the stuff we've seen before a hundred times. If you are going by the movies only, this one is one of the better ones. Despite the film's missed opportunity at the ending, it stands as one of the better additions to the series. Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favourite though.