Starting on the homestretch now, with the sixth instalment in the HP franchise. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have any strong feelings over the book. Slughorn was a bit of a boring character to me and the whole Dumbledore-Harry thing was slowly paced. In fact, I can’t really remember much of what happens at all. I do know the one thing I like is the whole Draco plot, and the Hogwarts battle at the end was one of my favourite book scenes… so to say I haven’t looked favourably on the movie in the past is an understatement.
I’m not going to lie, while watching this movie I made a looooooooong list of things I didn’t like, a lot of it based around editing and directing decisions, as well as special effects. But I’m not going to repeat it here because A) it wouldn’t be very interesting to read, and B) I typed it on my phone so between auto-correct and my inability to type on a touch screen, I don’t even know what I’m saying half the time, and C) some of it is really petty. Instead, I’ll first comment on casting, things I liked, things I had mixed feelings about, and finally, what I really, really didn’t like.
Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn was an alright casting, considering his character is pretty much a one-off. I liked the way he talked about the students, it really highlighted his personality. In this sixth movie we again see Helena Bonham Carter reprising her role of Bellatrix, and I will not stop commenting on how much I hate the way she portrays the character. We’re treated to her sister in this movie, played by Helen McCrory. I also feel this casting is wrong. Bellatrix and Narcissa are meant to be near-identical in appearance, and they are so different in the casting. I wasn’t expecting the two actresses to be twins, but Carter and McCrory are so different! Also, what is going on with Narcissa’s hair? She’s supposed to be bright blonde, in fact, it’s the only real difference between her and Bellatrix that is emphasised. I still wish that Christian Coulson had reprised his role as Tom Riddle, but the director felt he was too old at the time. Makeup, people, makeup.
On to what I think the movie did really well, and the first thing that pops to mind is developing Dumbledore’s character. We start to really see just manipulative he actually is towards Harry, and just how much he is willing to use him for the “greater good”. This obviously becomes important later on in the series, but I think all involved really highlighted this aspect of Dumbledore’s character throughout this movie.
There were some other scenes that really stood out to me as well. Firstly, I think they got the twins’ joke shop perfect. It has the bright, care-free atmosphere that contrasts so dramatically with the rest of the shops on Diagon Alley, and indeed, the wizarding world at this point. I also liked the whole first lesson of potions, with Slughorn talking about the potions and then all the students trying to make the Draught of Living Death. I also liked the Quidditch try-out scenes (although, randomly including Ginny on the team was a bit rich guys, considering we haven’t seen Quidditch since the third movie). I also liked the whole not-quite-drunk Harry once he’s taken the Felix Felicis potion. Although I wish it was gold, instead of just looking like water.
Now, something that plays a big role in this movie, but I have mixed feelings about; the romance. I’ve always felt that, although done very well, it’s a little too heavy. Ron and Hermione are sweet throughout the whole movie. Their feelings for each other have been implied for a while, and it’s nice to see it start to come out into the open. I also really liked Ron once he’d had the love potion, and Lavender and Hermione’s face off in the hospital wing, with the amused professors watching on. My main issue is with Ginny and Harry. They feel forced in the book, and they just look completely awkward on screen. I’m convinced the two actors have zero chemistry with each other. Although I’ve previously mentioned Bonnie Wright is an okay Ginny, but she either hasn’t matured into the role, or, what I think is more likely, the character is just handled so badly in the film. I still think of her as a little kid admiring her childhood hero, rather than a maturing, intelligent young witch. She’s just, well… boring. And I hate the scene with Hermione questioning Harry about his feelings for Ginny, because there’s is really little to no indication that he’s got any feelings towards her, he just doesn’t seem interested. We never see the full relationship we get in the book, but I’m sort of glad about this, because it would be incredibly dull without any chemistry.
Onto grievances, and something I’ve mentioned before; editing. My goodness, it is so hard to figure out just what is happening in some of the scenes of this movie. One that comes to mind is when Harry gets pulled into the lake by the Inferius towards the end. I get you want to create the dark atmosphere, but come on! I also found a lot of the transitions between scenes to be really choppy.
Now. Consistency. Look, I get it, there were so many different directors that worked on the HP movies, and they all want to put their own personal touch to the movies. But would it really hurt their pride to keep some things the same as previous directors, for the sake of consistency? Small set issues are irritating; for example the Room of Requirement seems to have both a tapestry and no tapestry in front of it, and is inconsistent with the fifth movie. Hagrid’s hut is almost completely exiled out of the grounds of Hogwarts. Magic duels, which were looking pretty cool in the second movie, are just reduced to flashes and bangs. Instead of hearing the spells getting called out and seeing our wizards and witches think intelligently about what they’re doing, magic warfare is reduced to pretend guns. Boring.
And finally, the point of this whole movie. What exactly was it? The movie is titled the “Half-Blood Prince”, but the gang’s attempts to discover who exactly he is is half-hearted at best. And when Snape finally does reveal that he is the Half-Blood Prince, there’s no explanation about it at all. Hmmmm. So if the movie isn’t about figuring out who the Half-Blood Prince is, surely it serves the same purpose at the book in terms of explaining things we’ve only assumed so far, and setting everything up for the final movies? Sure, we do have Harry spending the majority of the movie trying to get one of Slughorn’s memories. And yet, we get so very little of Voldemort’s back story. And more than that, Dumbeldore’s reckoning about the Horcruxes is very bizarre; he goes from literally not suspecting them, to having found one in a cave… in the same scene. Okay, so the movie’s not about the Half-Blood Prince, not about learning more about Voldemort, so is Draco Malfoy and his attempts to kill Dumbledore the focus? This certainly seems to be the case, with Draco’s attempts to fix the Vanishing Cabinet occurring throughout the movie. But… the trio don’t seem too concerned about the possibility that he’s a Death Eater. Sure, Harry acts like a dick, but he doesn’t try to uncover more evidence about it. Then you have Draco’s final attempt to kill Dumbledore, and I’m left wondering what the point was to have all the other Death Eaters enter the castle? To prove he could do it? To target Hagrid for some weird reason? Because literally all they do can be reversed by magic.
Finally, I want to quickly comment on the lack of the fight at the school. I do get it; we’re going to have another battle at Hogwarts in the next year of school, so it makes sense to cut out the one from the sixth instalment for a more spectacular one later on. But why, why, did they feel the need to add in the stupid attack on the Burrow scene? It is the most pointless series of events in the movie so far. It suggests that the Weasley’s house can be easily breached, when it must be a safe place to stay, otherwise why would Dumbledore be okay with leaving Harry there? Harry does pretty much nothing in the scene and has to get saved by others. Ginny attempts to be interesting, but really, the whole thing is just stupid, wasted screen time, that would have been better used for, I dunno, another Penseive visit involving Voldemort’s past?
As you can probably see, I’m not the biggest fan of the sixth movie. And after watching it again, it further cements my belief that, so far, this is the weakest of the instalments. A lot of it is really enjoyable, but the lack of direction in the plot just makes it really, really bland and pointless. Perhaps they should have renamed it “Harry Potter and the Teenage Romance”, because honestly, that seems to be what has been prioritised.