Summary: Harry Potter returns for his penultimate year at Hogwarts, but this year is much darker than previous ones now that Voldemort has gathered enough followers to make even the normal world feel the danger. But all is not lost as Harry juggles being a teenager and finding out the secret to Voldemort’s undoing.
Thoughts: I don’t remember much of the book having read it only once a long time ago, so the movie can be mostly judged on its own merits. For being what might have been one of the darkest (and probably boring) movies in the saga, there is enough romance and humor found during the school year to balance everything out, making this movie one of the most cheerful since the first one. By adding a battle scene in the middle of the movie and taking away the one at the end, I think that a pretty good balance is found between light and dark. The movie is much less frustrating than any of the others due to the fact that Dumbledore doesn’t ignore Harry and actually keeps him informed about what is going on, and Harry doesn’t spend the whole time fighting with Ron and Hermione.
The acting is top notch. Chris Columbus (the director of the first two) got really lucky when he found the main three actors when they were only children. They’ve really grown as actors and can no longer be classified as “child actors”. The same goes for Tom Felton as Draco, who is great at the conflicted evil he needs to be in this film. This must be a rarity, because sadly I feel that poor Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley has been passed up, having not grown as an actor as much as everyone around her. She starts the movie alright, but as it progresses it seems she gets more wooden the more emotional she needs to be. The only new student this year to get much focus (even though theoretically none of them are “new” students, they just haven’t been brought the foreground yet) is Lavender Brown, played by new actress Jessie Cave. Sadly, her acting and character are pretty terrible and made me cringe. Every scene she was in she looked like a crazed fangirl who had broken onto the set. It would have to be hard to come into this series so late and NOT be a fangirl, but come on, show some restraint. This was especially disappointing to me as for the last movie the producers found Luna Lovegood who had come to life and changed her name to Evanna Lynch. Every scene with Luna this movie was brilliant.
The adults, being the all-star British actors that they are, are all brilliant. Alan Rickman is awesome as he is no matter what he does, and the “new” addition of Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn is just as good. He steals the show even, I would say. Michael Gambon gets to finally do things as Dumbledore, showing that he actually was a really good replacement for the late Richard Harris.
Sure the movie ends on a slightly different note than the book, but being a slave to the book is what makes the first two movies so much less enjoyable than these more recent ones. These last few stand as really good movies, this one probably the most so. Personally, my top is still Prisoner of Azkaban mostly due to the fact that it was the last one I saw before I started reading the books and I was completely caught on every twist and turn. Thankfully I read the books really fast so only Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix were “ruined” by my book knowledge. I think Half-Blood Prince stands as a good movie, not just a good adaptation.
Overall: Goes to show what a good adaptation can do to a decent book.