The long-awaited sixth installment of the Harry Potter movies has finally arrived. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hit the theaters this Wednesday, July 15, 2009, to the relief of thousands of fans. The release date of this movie was changed so often that fans were starting to wonder if it would ever come out. Well, it has and it may just be both the best and the worst Harry Potter movie yet.
When it came to cinematography, special effects and acting, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince performed rather well. There is one particular scene in which the Millennium Bridge in London is destroyed by death eaters that despite being obviously CG, was actually really exciting. There were also some new and improved special effects when it came to quiddage, disaparating and of course spells.
The cast of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince did a great job acting out the film, as usual. Some of the best actors in film have joined up to do the Harry Potter movies and they have done just as good of a job with this one as they have done in previous films. Alan Rickman, as Snape, continues to do an excellent job of making audiences hate him, but he also manages to get in subtle expressions that are portentous of what is to come in the last two films. I am also a fan of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, despite critical reviews of his portrayal of the headmaster. And, of course there was never a better matched role than Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall.
The young actors that are the central figures in this film also did a particularly good job with this one. As Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Tom Felton grow older their acting chops are getting better and better. Tom Felton is a leading figure in this film in his role as Draco Malfoy. He has to play through a number of emotions in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that we haven’t seen from him before and he pulls them off well. Rupert and Daniel, as Ron and Harry, have two scenes involving some potions that are played really well with a very funny effect. And of course there is Emma Watson, who has to pull off some emotional and funny scenes as her character Hermione realizes that she is in love with Ron.
Now for the not so great aspects of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This film has taken much more liberty with the novel than its predecessors. A scene that takes place outside of the Burrow is most decidedly not in the book. The death eaters attack the Weasley’s home and set it on fire after a battle in the fields nearby. This is not only a huge break from the novel, but it is completely unexplained. There are several references in the book to spells that wizards use to protect their homes, no mention of them here. There is also the fact that the Weasley’s home is burned to the ground and there is no mention of it whatsoever following the scene.
Another huge disappointment is the missing funeral for Albus Dumbledore. In the novel there is a very poignant scene where the revered headmaster is buried on the grounds of Hogwarts. Nope, it is not in the movie. All we get is a really lame scene where all the teachers and students raise their wands in the air to remove the symbol of the death eaters from over the school. There are several other instances where the movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince butchers the book it is named for, but these are the most notable.
In summation, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is worth seeing. The action sequences and funny moments provoked good reactions from the audience. However, do not go expecting to see the story that you already know because you’ll be disappointed. I admit that it was somewhat cool to see some things I didn’t expect, but when they were left unexplained or were completely unnecessary, the story just got more confusing.