I finally saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I wrote earlier that I had high expectations for this movie, and I’m happy to say that I was completely right. With Half-Blood Prince, David Yates proves once again that he is the man. The new Potter film is as good to the story as it is to the eyes, adapting the core story elements of its novel into a form more suitable for a visual medium. The film feels like a perfect continuation from Order of the Phoenix, which is to be expected given the director, but also manages to come across as the logical maturation of Prisoner of Azkaban.
I complained in my previous post that Alfonso Cuarón cut too much story from Azkaban to make way for its visuals, but this film makes me reflect on his job more fondly. Something about the vague mystery of Malfoy in this film makes me remember the vague mystery of Sirius Black in that one. It also helps that this film contains several crying scenes, the Marauder’s Map, and a fake climax — all things that Prisoner of Azkaban had. And since the first two films transition with relative grace into the third one, this almost makes all of the movies transition into each other. Newell’s horrendous attempt at Goblet of Fire and the bland art direction from Columbus are the only things holding the Potter series back from being, in my eyes, thematically consistent.
What I mean to say is, David Yates is actually succeeding in fixing the damage done by inferior directors. Somebody give this man a trophy. As for the film itself, there isn’t a lot I can say. As long as you’re not one of those fans that wants an exact 1:1 videobook of the novel, you’ll love this movie. It’s funny, interesting, and emotional, just like a Harry Potter movie should be. It’s great to note that Radcliffe has improved immeasurably since his crying scene in Prisoner of Azkaban: he does a perfect job in this one. Michael Gambon does another great job as Dumbledore, proving once again that his performance in the fourth movie is entirely Mike Newell’s fault.
With the Harry Potter series, I can’t help but be a little bit sour — it’s so close to being perfect! But I know that, no matter how hard they try, no one will ever be able to undo Goblet of Fire. However, if Yates can figure out a way to incorporate some of that childish optimism from the first two movies into his Deathly Hallows film, I think we can call that a success. (One obvious way to do this would be to make the terrible epilogue from the book look like Philosopher’s Stone, then leave out the cheesy fanfic names to stop it from being too cheesy. It could work!)
This review is short because I honestly have nothing to complain about. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an incredible movie.