Don't you love going to a hyped-up film, just wondering whether or not it's going to live up to all of the hype. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was hyped on beyond belief, with it's pushed-back released date, incredible trailers, and fantastic source material. Did the film live up to it's build up? Well, lets take a look from a self admitted Potter maniac.
Oh, FYI, I'm going to skip over the whole "I tell you the plot of the film thing." If you want plot, go see the movie!
Let me start out my review by saying: How the hell did this film get a PG rating? Half Blood Prince deals with some really dark stuff, and is most certainly the darkest of the series thus far. The Potter series has been in the hands of many people, from Christopher Columbus, to Alfonso Cuaron, to Mike Newell (why, Warner Brothers, why?). But, the series has never been in better hands than it is now with David Yates (Order of the Phoenix). He's taken a novel that needed a certain kind of.. "it," and gives it just that. The atmosphere he creates in this film is perfect, creation such incredible tension at points, with some great comedy in others.
Daniel Radcliffe stars as Harry Potter, who to be quite frank, I've never been too impressed with. Now, I wasn't expecting too much out of him in the first two films, cause he was really young.. but in the third and fourth installment, I certainly expected more than I was delivered. In the last film (Order of the Phoenix), he was better than he had been.. but still not where he needed to be. Well, welcome to where you need to be, Mr. Radcliffe. His performance here is most certainly his most impressive to date. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's going to be preparing his Oscar acceptance speech anytime soon.. because he's not that good. But, he's very servicable in the role.
The supporting cast is just.. outstanding. To start with, Michael Gambon as Prof. Albus Dumbledore took his acting level to a whole new level here. He has much more to do here than he has in the past, and he makes the most of it, giving Dumbledore a real personallity. He's got his little natural humor, but always being on a pedistal we can't quite reach.. but we never know exactly why. In the cave scene, as he's drinking and drinking the potion (I won't say too much, cause I don't want to give away plot) he's just totally convincing in everything he does. Jim Broadbent as Slughorn is an absolutely fantastic addition, bringing the most of the the character as Broadbent always does. Other outstanding performances from the usuals include Rickman (Snape), Carter (Bellatrix), Walters (Mrs. Weasley), Lewis (Lupin). The other kids really kick it into another gear here too. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) has a lot to do in this installment (unlike most of the previous ones), and he makes the most out of it, being the aarogant kid that he is, but showing us the real, scared, vunerable side of Malfoy as well. Rupert Grint shows us his comedic charm as Ron Weasly, and the talented Emma Watson played Hermionie just like she always does.. perfectly.
Now, here's what we're going to hear about non-stop. "THIS MOVIE WASN'T ANYTHING LIKE THE BOOK. WHAT THE HELL!" You know what? Suck it up. I'm a die hard fan of the novels, and I really don't have a problem with the cuts and changes the screenplay made. This is what you have to keep in mind: They're not trying to copy the novel word for word, but trying to create a cinematic experience of Harry Potter, and it most certainly does that. Sometimes, the screenplay gets a little muttled down in the whole teenage romance thing, but it works because it adds a new touch of comedy, and a realness to it. While it doesn't always stay faithful to it's source material.. it hits all of the major plot points, and nothing cruital is left out.. so why are all of you complaining? The ending wasn't as good as it could have been (the Snape/Potter confrentation, and the lack of "Battle of Hogwarts), but it was a fitting ending to the rest of the novel. Who cares that Luna finds Harry on the bus instead of Tonks, or Ginny and Harry's kiss is in a different spot. They're small details, and the screeplay isn't trying to mirror, so stop expecting that.
On a technical level, the film is nearly perfect. The special effects are obviously fantastic. They aren't over-used, which is exactly what I was hoping. The cinematography was so perfect. Every camera shot, every angle, every lighting choice.. just magnificant. Never self indlugent, but so much variety. Same goes with the score.. so lush, and gorgeous, and never hits a false note, nor is it ever out of place. As in all Harry Potter films, the rest of the technicals are great. We've come to expect that.
All in all, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was certainly an experience. If you're a huge fan of the books, and are expecting a page by page copy of the novel.. then yeah, you're going to be disappointed. You have to go in and judge the film as what it is.. A FILM. And if I'm judging it like that, it's fantastic. It's not flawless, nor am I claiming that.. but it's the best Potter film so far, and I can't wait to see what Yates does with Deathly Hallows.