Saturday, July 18, 2009


Whenever you see a movie that's based on a book -- especially if said movie is based on one of your most favorite books -- you almost have to detach yourself from that book in order to enjoy the movie.

I feel that I did just that successfully with the motion picture adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The result? I love love love love loovvvvvved it (It kinda annoys me when people do that – it's not something I do lightly; yeah, it was that good).

If you haven't seen it yet, then don't read the comments because that's where I'll be posting my thoughts.


  1. Right from the start you could tell that movie had a completely different tone from the book, which is why detaching yourself from the book is so important.

    In writing this, I don't want it to be a compare and contrast with the book, though this will be inevitable at times. Anyway, I’m definitely not a movie critic (nor do I claim to be anything else), but I want to share my thoughts nonetheless.

    I really enjoyed Draco Malfoy. The unwitting participant of a scheme far larger and far more evil than he was, you really felt sorry for the guy, like when Harry rips him apart with Sectumsempra in the bathroom or during the tower scene.

    Bellatrix Lestrange? Helena Bonham Carter is always awesome, especially as a crazy lady.

    Harry’s showdown with Snape as the Death Eaters were leaving Hogwarts could have been better. I liked the fact that Snape turned around and faced Harry but was ultimately anticlimactic. In the movie, Harry never called Snape a coward, which enrages Snape in the book, and rightly so, since we learn later that he is anything but. I guess that’s my biggest complaint with the movie but its many other redeeming features make this trivial.

    Any scene where Dumbledore unleashes his raw power – Dumbledore vs. Voldemort in HP5, for example – is bound to be spectacular, which is why I loved the cave scene. Watching Big D – even in his weakened state – blast the Inferi (sp?) off Harry’s back was quite the treat.

    Slughorn was pretty tight.

    I was slightly bummed they left out three of the pensieve scenes, the one where Harry first meets Tom Riddle’s mother, uncle, and grandfather especially. I can see how they weren’t necessarily needed for the movie though.

    Hermione. What a babe. Even without Felix Felicis, Ron is one lucky dude. Speaking of all that, I thought the ‘love’ element of this movie was going to bug me but it really didn’t (although Harry and Ginny’s scene in the Room of Requirement was a bit over the top).

    I won’t lie, I got a little choked up when McGonagal raised her wand into the air to clear the Dark Mark while the students followed suit. And the camera work showing a prostrate Dumbledore’s closed eyes in one corner and an anguished Harry in the other was poignantly dramatic. So good.

    Also, I think seeing it at a time when I was wide awake as opposed to seeing it at midnight helped. And my friends I saw it with aren’t huge Harry friends so I felt, as a lover of all things Harry Potter, that it was my sworn duty to defend and explain this movie, even if I didn’t end up liking it. Gratefully I did, so defending it and explaining it came easy.

    I’m really glad they didn’t try to follow the book note for note because having done so would have been a complete let-down. This and the fifth movie are so good because they attempt to portray the book but not as the book portrays itself. In other words, these movies don’t claim to be anything more than what they are and it’s this lack of pretense that makes them great.

    Finally, without reason, without explanation, I just loved it.

  2. Ashlyn and I had a good long talk (well about 10 minutes) about the movie after French on Thursday. We basically picked the entire thing apart.

    She has been sharing her disappointment of the movie with everyone who has yet to see it. This is in hopes to help them enjoy the movie more. You know, the old “have low expectations so you will be happily surprised by how good it is” trick.

    I’m not saying I will be cured of all the “disenchantments” I had with the movie. However, because of the discussions I’ve had and I’m sure partly due to this post, I have a pretty good feeling I will enjoy it 10 times better the second time.

  3. It's David Yates man. They had skipped around with directors and when they got David Yates to do Order of the Phoenix, they signed him to keep directing the rest of them. So after seeing 5 and loving it, I'm pretty confident about the remaining ones if that guy is directing.

    I really liked the tone of this new one. It had the ability to be disturbing and dark (like when Katie whats her nose gets that curse) but I also thought the funny parts were actually funnier than the previous movies. Maybe partly because the kids are getting better at acting? I don't know, but Harry's scene when he drinks the Felix Felicis is hilarious. I think it's just that the movies are maturing along with the characters.

  4. Leah -- I actually chatted online with Ashlyn about what she thought and she did 'warn' me, so to speak. At the same time, though, I don't think it was a matter of lowering my expectations that really allowed to enjoy this movie; it was more of a matter of dispassionately approaching this movie and seeing it as an adaptation of the book and not as a strict re-telling.

    It's true that this movie is somewhat 'disenchanting,' but only in the sense that it lacks the whimsical element more prevalent in the other movies. But I think that this is where the fourth movie failed, by trying portray a more serious and maturing world of wizardry while still trying to maintain a great deal of whimsy. HP4 is still enjoyable but it's my least favorite of the last four movies. Me, I'm totally fine with the lack of 'disenchantment,' though I can see why other fans could be disappointed over this.

    Trev -- Yeah man, I'm excited that Yates is working on the next two (and I'm equally glad that they're making the seventh book into two movies; I wouldn't have minded had they done that for this one as well). But I agree, the actors have definitely come a long way, and they've had some really fabulous actors playing the non-student roles, i.e., Alan Rickman (he is just too legit) and Gary Oldman.

    And yeah, I didn't realize how much I had laughed (probably more than my friends I saw it with who haven't read the books) until after the movie when one of my friends said, "I liked the funny parts."

  5. Wow, I wish I could have offered my thoughts before expounded so much because you nailed everything I liked about it.
    One thing that prepared me for this was seeing Angels & Demons earlier in the summer and being disappointed with how far they strayed from the book. I can understand cutting out the scene where Robert Langdon jumps out of a helicopter, but I was really let down on some other things.
    The other thing was watch the first 5 movies in the days leading up to seeing the 6th one.
    I noticed that I strongly dislike the first movie because I feel like they are trying to hard to re-create the book and it's so long because of all the insignificant scenes that didn't need to be written into the movie.
    It made me realize that I needed to detach myself from the book because 1)it is nearly impossible for a movie to re-create a book, 2) it can be really annoying if they try. (Lord of the Rings may qualify as the closest exception to these rules)
    I know it's been stated and repeated, but the actors playing Ron, Hermione (honk honk), and Harry really have made enormous strides in making both the funny and the dramatic scenes more enjoyable.
    I always felt attached to them when reading the books, but this is the first movie that I honestly felt like laughing when they laughed, hurting when they hurt, and crying when they cried. I really didn't think I would be as entrenched in the Ron/Hermione relationship as I was.
    Also, I really struggle with the actor who played Dumbledore in the first couple of movies. He seemed way to feeble to be considered the most powerful wizard alive.
    I can't imagine the cave scene from this movie or Dumbledore v. Voldemort at the end of the fifth movie being believable if they had the guy from the first movie around. Btw those are two of my favorite scenes as well. (No disrespect meant to the dead)
    Ditto on Helena Bonham Carter and the clearing of the dark mark scene.
    I also agree that going on a Friday night at 7 pm is infinitely better that hyped up midnight showings now that I have a job I have to show up for every morning.
    Great review Myke

  6. By disenchantment I didn't really mean disenchantment. I was just choosing what I felt was a fun synonym for disappointment. I put it in quotes because I felt I was being silly by using a magic related term. But I wasn't really talking about a lack of whimsy or magical quality or that I wanted more of this in the movie or anything. Haha. Sorry, I realize now how that probably wasn’t the best word choice.

  7. P.S. I am really happy for you boys, that it's now totally safe to express what you think of Hermione (Emma Watson). Now that she's at least 18. Also, in case you hadn't heard, she's coming to the states for college. Just thought you guys might like to know.

  8. myke. i of course have had some thoughts on this movie and even though i read your blog the night you wrote it (i had just returned from viewing the movie for the second time) i wanted to wait to comment for when i wasn't beyond tired and could get it right.

    first, it makes me beyond happy that you LOVED the movie! i have heard from so many people that the "hardcore" harry fans were the ones who were disappointed. so if i actually liked the movie apparently i'm not a hardcore fan?? definitely not. i'm just capable of taking it for what it is. a movie. and a movie done very, very well actually. i had the same feelings as you. "without reason, without explanation, I just loved it." you couldn't have said it better!

    second, i enjoyed the last probably 20 or so minutes of the movie more than anything else. and the thing is during the first half i had no bad feelings at all. i was actually loving every moment of it but during those last 20 minutes i was on a complete high. my heart was in a knot just waiting for the death of dumbledore and i was completely sucked in even though i already knew what was going to happen! my one complaint also comes in here. in the book dumbledore curses harry so he can't move (and you'll remember he's under the invisibility cloak at this time) right before snape comes through the door to kill him. but in the movie dumbledore just tells him to go down the stairs and trust him. well i don't think it's true to harry's character to just sit back and watch when he could tell exactly what snape was about to do. kill dumbledore. harry has always thought that maybe this was the one thing dumbledore got wrong, believing in snape and i think he would have stormed up there and done something. anyway... just a small thing but honestly the only thing i even thought they might have gotten wrong. one of my favorite moments is when harry is in dumbledore's office and professor mcgonagall tells him that dumbledore always cared so much about him. i just love the relationship between harry and dumbledore.

    third, draco? so good in this. you could feel his pain just looking at his face. he was truly scared.

    fourth, slughorn was amazing! he's facial expressions were killing me through the whole thing! too, too perfect.

    fifth, i watched it for the second time on friday and fatcat was seeing it for the first time and kept pointing out all of the awkwardness between all the kids. like he was truly uncomfortable watching them interact. like between harry, hermione, ron, ginny. i didn't notice it at first or if i did it didn't bother me. they're teenagers and really awkward teenagers at that. i loved it and laughed through any sort of interaction they had because the thing is harry is not some smooth talking socialite. he grew up in a cupboard for most his life, that's got to make the guy kinda behind in the talking to girls department. anyway, i like that he's nervous around ginny and that it's totally nerdy and funny at times.

    sixth, ginny. oh my girl ginny! i've always been a fan of her and even though she's super awkward with harry (tying his shoe? room of requirement scene?) i just love it. she's totally endearing. and dare i say i love her more than hermione?

    okay, i think that's all i've got for now. i really just loved it. i was totally pumped up for it, had super high expectations, watched it at midnight and still came home with a smile on my face. these movies will never be what the books are to me but i definitely loved this one.