So we saw the new Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie. At the time, I thought it was all right, but on reflection, it’s really kind of a terrible mess. Spoilers here, but honestly if you care about Harry Potter spoilers, you’ve read all the books already and therefore can’t be spoiled anyway.
So, the main problem we anticipated going in was that this book is all about Professor Snape. You learn all about his past and childhood and motivations and it really plays up the “Is he just pretending to be a bad guy for the benefit of the good guys, or is he really a bad guy who’s gonna double-cross the good guys?” angle. But, you see, all the bits from the previous books that set all this up did not make it into the previous movies. “How,” we wondered, “will they do a movie about Snape when Snape is of little importance in the movies?”
Answer: they removed all the Snape bits from this one, too. I wonder if Alan Rickman was pissed?
Seriously. It’s called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and yet the titular Half-Blood Prince is of zero significance. In the book, it’s everything. Who is this mysterious Half-Blood Prince? Nobody cares. No attempt was even made to trick you into thinking maybe it was Tom Riddle, so the revelation that it’s Snape would be surprising (thought it would still have been unimportant, because, you see, Snape is not important). They very easily could have done it — there are plenty of Tom Riddle flashbacks (and he’s so hilariously eeeevil that it’s a wonder they didn’t simply kill him back in the day and save themselves a lot of trouble) but they simply didn’t bother. If they had, the movie would have actually kind of worked. Or at least worked better. But no.
Here is how the Half-Blood Prince subplot goes down:
Harry: I found a really awesome potions book!
Herm.: Who wrote it?
Ginny: It says “The Half-Blood Prince”.
Herm.: Who the hell is that? There’s nothing about him in the library.
Harry: Whatever. There’s an awesome-sounding attack spell in here.
Malfoy: Ow, that almost killed me.
Harry: That’s bad-ass. I will continue to use this whenever there’s an action scene.
Ginny: That’s some dark shit, Harry. We need to get rid of that book.
Harry: Since half the movie is about my boner for you and the other half is about Hermoine’s boner for Ron… okay.
Harry: Hey Snape, eat death!
Snape: Get bent, Potter, I invented that fucking spell. Yes, I am the Half-Blood Prince.
Harry: Oh. Gosh.
Seriously. That’s it. The revelation that Snape is the HBP (I can’t be arsed to type that out any more) is totally meaningless, because the HBP is given no significance to the plot, despite the fact that Harry’s carrying the book around in every single scene.
What does Snape do in this movie? He promises (super-promises) to help Malfoy out with his mission, shows up once in a while to highlight the fact that he’s following Malfoy around, complains to Dumbledore that he’s tired of doing… whatever it is he’s doing, and shows up at the end to kill Dumbledore when Malfoy falters. That’s it.
So that’s my main complaint.
Here’s another: What, exactly, are the Death-Eaters meant to be doing in this movie? They:
- Blow up the wand shop for no reason
- Kill a load of civvies for no reason
- Blow up Ron’s house for no reason
Draco spends most of the movie getting them into Hogwarts, so that they can:
- Smash the dining-room windows and some plates
- Sneer at Malfoy as he’s trying to work up the courage to kill Dumbledore
- Set fire to some stone outbuilding (was that Hagrid’s house? I don’t know what that was. If that was Hagrid’s house, I’d’ve thought someone would say something or act concerned.)
Seriously, was that it? Was that the entirety of their mission? I will grant you, though, that Helena Bonham Carter makes a kick-ass Death-Eater. She was in fact one of the only good things about this movie.
Other good things: The “memory-view” special effects, Ron hopped up on love potion, Luna Lovegood (funny and well-cast, although much cuter than I imagined when reading the books; inevitable really), Draco Malfoy (well-acted — his inner conflict was quite believable and I wish they’d focused on him a bit more in fact) and two quiddich scenes (which have absolutely nothing to do with anything at all, but are fun to watch).
Oh, sorry, actually, the quiddich scenes are important, because they tie into the Actual Plot of this movie. And that plot is:
- Ron is sucking face with a dopey NPC when he’s supposed to be sucking face with Hermoine
- The rich jock asshole is trying to get into Hermoine’s knickers, and she uses him to try and make Ron jealous
- Harry is slightly, though not overtly, mopey about Ron’s sister making out with some other random NPC instead of him
- Ron’s sister has an off-screen fight with her boyfriend and decides it’s Harry she really likes after all.
I am not kidding. The romantic sub-plots were elevated to the main theme of the movie. Tremendous amounts of time and detail were spent on them, while the important stuff was sketched in just enough to carry the plot along to the next movie.
In the books, this one was my favorite. In the movies, it is the very definition of a tweener*. Very disappointing.*It turns out that my usage of this word is non-standard, since neither TVTropes, Wikipedia, or Urban Dictionary knows about it. Weird. It means “An episode in which nothing significant happens but that is necessary to bridge the gap between the episodes that come before and after it”. One of my friends back in the day must’ve coined it and I never realized it wasn’t standard usage, since everyone always seems to know what I mean when I say it. Huh.