Re: Half-Blood Prince Movie Reviews
Saw a screening of it this afternoon. There were four reasons to watch it. Michael Gambon, Tom Felton, Stuart Craig and Bruno Delbonnel gave 110%. Other than their contributions, it was pretty awful, as I expected, but for very different reasons than I was anticipating.
I thought the romance was going to totally stifle the darker content, but that turned out not to be the case. Obviously, those elements weren't very good, Ginny in particular was handled dreadfully, but they were at least tolerable (just). The big problem was that there was too much material. Too many characters and not enough decent roles to go around. Too much plot to get through and not enough time for it to mean anything. Too much trivial tripe like Quidditch, the twins shop, and the Burrow attack.
I can honestly say I thought the movie was paced worse than all the previous movies. It just went totally bananas once we got to Hogwarts. Just a long line of well-shot scenes strung together with no real forward momentum and no real tension. The movie became totally breathless and didn't manage to build to a proper climax, it was just a straight line of rather rapid, dull events and then a sudden spike when they went to the cave.
The lack of a proper villain also hamstrung the movie, OOTP at least had Umbrige constantly in conflict with Harry, but where was the equivalent here? It needed something to be driving Harry on, and I suppose Malfoy sort of did, but it was all innuendo and shadowy conversation with Snape, no direct conflict until the end of the movie. That would have been fine if Voldemort had had the same kind of constant presence that say, Sirius did in POA, but where was the atmosphere? Did it really feel like there was a war going on outside Hogwarts? Yates totally fumbled the ball after having a good start with the bridge attack sequence. It seemed like Draco was the only Death Eaters who could be bothered to do anything.
Kloves also ruined the Riddle backstory. Yeah, the basic events were there. But what did we learn about Riddle? Oh, he was a creepy little kid. What about his fear of death? His blood prejudice? His behaviour towards others? Yeah, we saw some very succint snapshots of him, but Kloves/Yates never tried to juxtapose his character with Harry. That was the biggest failing of the movie for me. That they've spent so much time wittering on about how Harry and Voldemort are two similar people who've made very different choices, but when it came to showing Voldemort's side, they didn't bother, they were content to show him as a little creep and nothing more. Really, really lame.
I'll be seeing it again tomorrow (once with friends, once with family), and I'll be able to expand more after that, but I'll just say what I thought the standout good/bad parts were.
-Michael Gambon. He was wonderful. At times playful, at times serious, but what he really nailed was the polite yet manipulative side of Dumbledore. That moment where Harry asks if he wants to let Slughorn collect him, he gave the most brilliant reaction, and his acting in the cave scene was probably the best 'proper' acting there has been in all 6 movies. It was nice to hear a bit of camp from him too after the often po-faced DD of OOTP. Pip pip!
-Tom Felton. I was surprised how good he was. He was by far the best of the young actors, managed to make Draco likeably pathetic by the end of the film and was a very credible opposite to Harry.
-The cave scene. Yeah it wasn't the climax it could have been, but it was still damn good, mainly because of Gambon.
-The little Umbridge toy in the joke shop, "I will have order! I will have order!", nice touch.
-Jim Broadbent was alright, not much like I imagined him, much less camp and much less pathetic in terms of standing up to Harry and Dumbledore, he did have some good moments.
-The scene with Harry and McGonagall in Dumbledore's office. I thought some people said this was cut, so I was glad to see it. Seeing the wand, the book with the half moon specs on and finally the portrait was moving. I would have liked some kind of set-up for the portrait though, perhaps have Dumbledore mention that he can't protect Harry forever, that one day he'll be hanging on the wall with all the other Headmasters.
-Cinematography was really good. Yeah, it relied too heavily on dreamlike filters and washed out colours, but the camera work was often stunning.
-Harry. I felt like Radcliffe really phoned it in. I know he wasn't given much to work with, but I expected more. He was really funny after he drank the luck potion though, that sequence got the biggest laughs in the cinema.
-Snape was totally wasted. The HBP sub-plot was throwaway and he never felt like a real threat to Dumbledore or Harry. Rickman was lackluster, I thought. It never felt like he deviated from the reluctant good guy he's always played him as. Did it really feel like he was one of them when he escaped with the other Death Eaters?
-Too many minor characters. Far too many names being thrown around and far too many excellent actors wasted. Hagrid particularly felt tacked on.
-No focus on a central plot that drives the story forward. The movie spent most of it's time plate spinning, lurching from one plot to another, often having some fall off the map completely before suddenly going back to them (see Riddle history, HBP book).
-Ginny/Harry was never properly set-up and never moving. It was totally arbitrary.
-Horcruxes were mishandled. Dumbledore's explanation was literally breathless and again, there was no emotion from me when Harry got the locket, it was just a trinket. We needed to see it before. Whatever happened to hanging guns on the wall?
-What I honestly think is the worst score of all the films. Not only was the majority of it forgettable and dreary, but the blatant recycling of old tracks was shameful. Fireworks from OOTP was re-used, as were several other cues from that movie, and Hooper even slapped on a track directly from POA when the train was going to Hogwarts the first time. It had absolutely no personality, no identity of it's own. I'd be stunned if WB let Yates bring him back again, it's clear he just doesn't have the talent for these big movies.
All in all, I'd give it a 4/10. It was an aimless trudge saved only by the sky-high production value and a couple of standout performances.
Last edited by yoshi2542; July 15th, 2009 at 10:21 pm.