Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I won’t say this movie was perfect, but it’s about as perfect as a movie of a very long book can be. In other words, it was great.
Yes, the hard-core Potter fans are going to complain about the number of memories Dumbledore shows Harry, or that there wasn’t enough time to really follow Ron’s Quidditch plot-arc, but I say – the movie was good enough. Harry’s evolving relationship with Dumbledore was spot-on, and Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy surpassed even the books as he showed us a desperate young man beyond what words alone can express. And Snape – I won’t say much about Snape for those few of you who haven’t read the books or had it spoiled for you already – but let’s just say that you won’t want to miss Alan Rickman’s portrayal of “the moment.”
Originally, the movie was supposed to have a very artsy color pallet, and you can still see a nod in that direction – somewhat desaturated colors and a great amount of chiaroscuro contrast with the happy-go-lucky colors of the earlier films. If David Yates’s original cinematographic look hadn’t been nixed by Warner Bros., I’m thinking the film would’ve played out more like a Tim Burton creation – perhaps something like “Corpse Bride”? That would’ve been cool, but then again, it might have proved too distracting for what is still, at heart, a sword-and-sorcery romp, not a horror tale or piece of edgy dark fantasy.
And I can see why everyone loves Emma Watson (Hermione) these days. She appeals to the girl with brains; she appeals to the girl who loves fashion; she appeals to the girl who wants to be a movie star; she appeals to every child or adult who wishes magic was real. She has two of the best friends ever written into literature, and your heart beats with hers through her first realizations of love. And, of course, as Ron Weasley so aptly puts it, she has nice skin. For once in the series, Hermione gets the most light-hearted part of the plot as she’s deep in the tangled webs of teen romance, trying to keep both a measured mind and an open heart.
The other two stars – Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint – are also brilliant. Rupert is coming into his own just as much Ron is in the movie, and Daniel Radcliffe of course is still the star of the show, very serious – but then, so is Harry. I hope both of them succeed in the transition to being adult stars.
In the end, this movie captures the heart we all loved from the books – and that’s friendship. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are there for each other, through the ups and downs, the mysteries, the horrors and the wonders, and the twitterpatedness of rushing hormones and emotions. Even more than wanting magic to be real and to be whisked off to the wonderful school of Hogwarts, what we all want is a good friend, and this movie lets us experience both vicariously for an hour or two.