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"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is worst of the series

by Eric Melin on July 14, 2009

in Print Reviews

The sixth filmic adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s enormously popular book series arrives in theaters with an inordinate amount of baggage from five movies of myth-building and expectations, so it almost seems set up to fail.

While “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is only the second film (along with “Prisoner of Azkaban”) to deliver a visually stirring package, it is the first to drop the ball so completely in the storytelling department.

harry potter half blood princeDirector David Yates returns to Hogwarts for his second “Potter” film (he’ll also helm the two-part finale “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) and with director-of-photography Bruno Delbonnel, he brings some impressively atmospheric cinematography to the table. It foretells a sense of impending doom that is welcome, albeit never quite explained in the bleary-eyed screenplay by “Potter” veteran Steve Kloves.

In Rowling’s rich fantasy world, the themes are embedded deep in the details, and “Half-Blood Prince” has none of them. It’s like a rough sketch that the filmmakers are hoping Potter fans will fill in with memories from the novel.

Two budding romances—between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) and also between Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint)—are badly mishandled. Although a significant amount of screen time is spent on them, the relationships are vague and forced, more in line with the kind of puppy love you might expect from one of the earlier films.

harry potter slughornHarry finds an old textbook once owned by the “half-blood prince” and the request of Dumbledore (Richard Gambon), Harry must get Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to come clean about an old secret. The importance of the textbook, however, is barely touched on. By the time the identity of the half-blood prince is revealed, its only significance is that it’s the title of the film.

Plot holes abound. At the beginning of the movie, death eaters are raining down on the Muggle world, but are never mentioned again. The supposedly questionable loyalty of Snape (Alan Rickman) is obvious from a maddening amount of foreshadowing.

Many of the film’s “mysteries” don’t work because their central conceit is that we aren’t supposed to be sure what’s really happening. Yet each one of these plot points are robbed of their inherent drama because they are all too obvious. If the series is supposed to mature and be about becoming an adult, Kloves would be smart to start treating the viewer like one.

dumbledore half-princeAnother problem is that Gambon, who took over when Richard Harris passed away, has never really connected with Radcliffe. As a result, the pupil/mentor relationship between Harry and Dumbledore seems distant and amorphous. The final showdown with Harry and the wizard is unforgivably bungled, as Harry’s courage is held in check in the most contrived way possible.

If you want to see a well-done supernatural story as a metaphor for growing up, watch the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” At least its writers had seven seasons to sort out the messy teen-to-adult transition.

For more: Here is a print review from an obsessed Harry Potter fan, contributor Whitney Mathews, and my on-camera video review with J.D. is below.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Reed July 14, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Wow. I can’t believe they made a Harry Potter movie worse than the first one. That’s as far as I got (and plan to get). Thanks for taking another one for the team, Eric.

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2 Reed July 14, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Wow. I can’t believe they made a Harry Potter movie worse than the first one. That’s as far as I got (and plan to get). Thanks for taking another one for the team, Eric.

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3 Elliot July 14, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Fair, balanced, and honest. Well done, sir. And way to throw a bone to the Whedonites out in the ‘verse. I can only hope they smooth out all the wrinkles before the finale.

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4 Elliot July 14, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Fair, balanced, and honest. Well done, sir. And way to throw a bone to the Whedonites out in the ‘verse. I can only hope they smooth out all the wrinkles before the finale.

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5 RCM July 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Him being one of my favorite writers, I love when you reference Whedonesque meterial, still that’s a pretty harsh review. I think I will have check this one out before I comment.

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6 RCM July 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Him being one of my favorite writers, I love when you reference Whedonesque meterial, still that’s a pretty harsh review. I think I will have check this one out before I comment.

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7 Dan July 15, 2009 at 3:40 am

Agreed.

I just got out of it and while, as you said, it was one of the most visually stunning films in the series, it wasn’t really enough to make the movie live up to the expectations of its title. To be fair, Half-Blood Prince is probably the least filmable of the books. It consists mostly of flashbacks and set up for 7. But that doesn’t let them off the hook. There was PLENTY of great dramatic material in the book that the movie left out and replaced with gag after gag in an attempt to, I can only assume, lighten the mood because of the extremely dark content within the book. The final result was confused and not well mixed, and while at times funny, it left out a lot of interesting and vital plot. It wasn’t my least favorite but its not getting anywhere near the top.

And god yes, watch Buffy. It’s really one of the best series ever made. The world would be a much better place if the Harry Potter films were put in Joss Whedon’s hands.

Ok, I think posting about Harry Potter 20 minutes after I saw it and then figuring out how to talk about Buffy finally secured my place in Nerd heaven.

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8 Dan July 15, 2009 at 3:40 am

Agreed.

I just got out of it and while, as you said, it was one of the most visually stunning films in the series, it wasn’t really enough to make the movie live up to the expectations of its title. To be fair, Half-Blood Prince is probably the least filmable of the books. It consists mostly of flashbacks and set up for 7. But that doesn’t let them off the hook. There was PLENTY of great dramatic material in the book that the movie left out and replaced with gag after gag in an attempt to, I can only assume, lighten the mood because of the extremely dark content within the book. The final result was confused and not well mixed, and while at times funny, it left out a lot of interesting and vital plot. It wasn’t my least favorite but its not getting anywhere near the top.

And god yes, watch Buffy. It’s really one of the best series ever made. The world would be a much better place if the Harry Potter films were put in Joss Whedon’s hands.

Ok, I think posting about Harry Potter 20 minutes after I saw it and then figuring out how to talk about Buffy finally secured my place in Nerd heaven.

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9 Nathaniel R July 15, 2009 at 7:44 am

I liked it more than you but agree that it’s nowhere close to the marvel people are proclaiming it to be. I’d place it somewhere in the middle (definitely has storytelling problems) but it’s REALLY hard not to be better than the plodding paintbynumbers adaptations of the first two books.

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10 Nathaniel R July 15, 2009 at 7:44 am

I liked it more than you but agree that it’s nowhere close to the marvel people are proclaiming it to be. I’d place it somewhere in the middle (definitely has storytelling problems) but it’s REALLY hard not to be better than the plodding paintbynumbers adaptations of the first two books.

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11 Eric Melin July 15, 2009 at 7:54 am

You know, they WERE paint-by-numbers, I agree. But I think I gave them a pass because they were introducing an unfamiliar universe that was deep and rich. That carried them a ways. Now that the characters have lived in that universe for so long, it becomes more about plot and character.

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12 Eric Melin July 15, 2009 at 7:54 am

You know, they WERE paint-by-numbers, I agree. But I think I gave them a pass because they were introducing an unfamiliar universe that was deep and rich. That carried them a ways. Now that the characters have lived in that universe for so long, it becomes more about plot and character.

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13 Rich July 15, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Just finished watching the movie with my gf who’s a huge HP franchise fan – what a let down for the both of us.

I’ve never read the books so I can’t comment on how true the movies are to them (although I overheard an audio book about Dumbledore’s last moments prior and know the movie does not follow) but I can comment about its merits as a movie.

As a movie it was horrible; Anyone who disagrees likes bad movies! It lacked focus and a naturally flowing plotline not to mention good dialog. Halfway through I was yawning and 20 mins from the end my body ached to get up and do something other than sit and watch. Sure my gf cried when Dumbledore said his goodbyes but to me the rushed choppiness of the scene lacked any power that conveyed the importance of the departure of a major character and ergo plot redirection.

Overall, too many unnecessary scenes were added and necessary scenes should’ve been trimmed. And since they obviously took license to make changes from the books, then it would’ve been wise to modifiy some timelines so that events which otherwise wouldn’t coincide do for the sake of moving things along in an exciting way.

I believe had the director been able to begin the horcrux adventure in the middle of the movie, the movie would’ve moved faster (more exicting) and given more screen time to the scenes that directly relate to the plot of defeating Valdemort. (the movies prolly wouldn’t have been so long either)

So here I sit, disappointed. I had hoped this movie was going to be the best to date but instead I’m compelled to say it’s the worst. Let’s hope the next one is able to find a more exciting pace and completeness of plot.

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14 Rich July 15, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Just finished watching the movie with my gf who’s a huge HP franchise fan – what a let down for the both of us.

I’ve never read the books so I can’t comment on how true the movies are to them (although I overheard an audio book about Dumbledore’s last moments prior and know the movie does not follow) but I can comment about its merits as a movie.

As a movie it was horrible; Anyone who disagrees likes bad movies! It lacked focus and a naturally flowing plotline not to mention good dialog. Halfway through I was yawning and 20 mins from the end my body ached to get up and do something other than sit and watch. Sure my gf cried when Dumbledore said his goodbyes but to me the rushed choppiness of the scene lacked any power that conveyed the importance of the departure of a major character and ergo plot redirection.

Overall, too many unnecessary scenes were added and necessary scenes should’ve been trimmed. And since they obviously took license to make changes from the books, then it would’ve been wise to modifiy some timelines so that events which otherwise wouldn’t coincide do for the sake of moving things along in an exciting way.

I believe had the director been able to begin the horcrux adventure in the middle of the movie, the movie would’ve moved faster (more exicting) and given more screen time to the scenes that directly relate to the plot of defeating Valdemort. (the movies prolly wouldn’t have been so long either)

So here I sit, disappointed. I had hoped this movie was going to be the best to date but instead I’m compelled to say it’s the worst. Let’s hope the next one is able to find a more exciting pace and completeness of plot.

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15 Matt July 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Cannot say much about the film as I have still not seen it. However, I have liked all the films in the series, with Prisoner of Azkaban being my favorite. Having said that I have to say to JD that to say the film is not good and basically only reference missing material from the books as the reason is the ultimate way for a film critic to shoot himself in the foot. I have read all the books as well and love them, but I understand, as you do, that film and books are two different medias and as such should not be used to criticize why an adaptation was good or not. The most important thing in any adaptation is to be able to get the essence of a novel across on film, which I believe all the films have done (they have progressively gotten better in this way). Perhaps this is the true issue? I would love to hear a bit more from you on why you were so disappointed, which came as a true shock to me!

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16 Matt July 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Cannot say much about the film as I have still not seen it. However, I have liked all the films in the series, with Prisoner of Azkaban being my favorite. Having said that I have to say to JD that to say the film is not good and basically only reference missing material from the books as the reason is the ultimate way for a film critic to shoot himself in the foot. I have read all the books as well and love them, but I understand, as you do, that film and books are two different medias and as such should not be used to criticize why an adaptation was good or not. The most important thing in any adaptation is to be able to get the essence of a novel across on film, which I believe all the films have done (they have progressively gotten better in this way). Perhaps this is the true issue? I would love to hear a bit more from you on why you were so disappointed, which came as a true shock to me!

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17 alex July 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm

i have got to disagree with all of you, in my view the half blood prince was the best potter movie to date, surpassing the goblet of fire and chamber of secrets by miles.

it had alot of action, tons of special effects and beats terminator salvation and star trek, but not transformers 2, harry potter 6 is without doubt the best movie of the summer, but with film critics like you people it’s hard to think why they bother.

for instance, you all complain all the time to try to get the people thinking it’s a really bad movie, when it is the best of the 6.

it was long, 2 hours 23 minutes by my watch, but it was still a great movie, if you all read the book (which none of you did) you will see that dumbledore’s end was perfect in the way it was shot, if i should say so myself i would be proud if i was yates to see that the most unfilmable book become the best adaptation of the series, but now the tough part begins, the end of the series.

my review on HP&THBP 10/10

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18 alex July 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm

i have got to disagree with all of you, in my view the half blood prince was the best potter movie to date, surpassing the goblet of fire and chamber of secrets by miles.

it had alot of action, tons of special effects and beats terminator salvation and star trek, but not transformers 2, harry potter 6 is without doubt the best movie of the summer, but with film critics like you people it’s hard to think why they bother.

for instance, you all complain all the time to try to get the people thinking it’s a really bad movie, when it is the best of the 6.

it was long, 2 hours 23 minutes by my watch, but it was still a great movie, if you all read the book (which none of you did) you will see that dumbledore’s end was perfect in the way it was shot, if i should say so myself i would be proud if i was yates to see that the most unfilmable book become the best adaptation of the series, but now the tough part begins, the end of the series.

my review on HP&THBP 10/10

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19 Tricia July 15, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Golly gosh, I saw the Half Blood Prince last night with sadly too high an expectation. I absolutely love the series, I watch the movies over and over with my kids, we even dress up and I have read the books, etc. I wanted to be transported, moved and impressed, but instead I kept looking at my watch. I wanted to love it and rave to all my friends that it is a must see. It was visually dark, too dim, too grey, I felt I was watching a black and white movie and I understand why they have done this, but I felt the visual presentation needed variation, light as well as dark. I loved the journey the main characters were on, Daniel, Rupert and Emma were spot on, but the story line did not compel, engross, capture and direct our minds through this riveting story. Malfoy’s character was overly withdrawn and shaky, more depth and soul searching would have assisted our understanding of him, Snape’s soul is so integral to the plot line and it was glossed over. God bless Aragon, but less screen time devoted to a stiff and fake looking spider could have been used to explore some of these crucial characters and their motivation. Why do the Weasley boys suddenly have brown hair, while standing in the field of their burning home? Please film makers be reminded that an intact and directional story line is the most important driving force, please get it right for the final installments. Harry Potter Fan.

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20 Tricia July 15, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Golly gosh, I saw the Half Blood Prince last night with sadly too high an expectation. I absolutely love the series, I watch the movies over and over with my kids, we even dress up and I have read the books, etc. I wanted to be transported, moved and impressed, but instead I kept looking at my watch. I wanted to love it and rave to all my friends that it is a must see. It was visually dark, too dim, too grey, I felt I was watching a black and white movie and I understand why they have done this, but I felt the visual presentation needed variation, light as well as dark. I loved the journey the main characters were on, Daniel, Rupert and Emma were spot on, but the story line did not compel, engross, capture and direct our minds through this riveting story. Malfoy’s character was overly withdrawn and shaky, more depth and soul searching would have assisted our understanding of him, Snape’s soul is so integral to the plot line and it was glossed over. God bless Aragon, but less screen time devoted to a stiff and fake looking spider could have been used to explore some of these crucial characters and their motivation. Why do the Weasley boys suddenly have brown hair, while standing in the field of their burning home? Please film makers be reminded that an intact and directional story line is the most important driving force, please get it right for the final installments. Harry Potter Fan.

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21 Ryan July 16, 2009 at 12:02 am

Ok, I was very disappointed with this film. I just didn’t feel right to me. I mean I didn’t get the sense of magic and wonder from this film until the very end which had amazing special effects, but rushed. Like there a school for witch craft and wizardry and they have 1 potions class??? And then Snape finally gets the job he’s always wanted(defense against the dark arts)but they don’t show Harry having 1 class with him. The film was very funny, but a bit over done and the teenager relationships was for some reason the focal point of the movie. And then most of the main supporting characters have 2 min grace periods on the screen and we don’t see them again….like molly, arthur,HAGRID!?
Then I don’t understand why some scenes made the cut from the book and others didn’t. I was extremely disappointed that the battle scene at the end was cut. I mean thats one of the most exciting parts in the books and you cut it. OH but wait they made up for it by the burrow getting randomly attacked by fenrir greyback and bellatrix lestrange which makes no sense at all…Idk just big plot holes with the memories and the horocruxes playing a minor role in this film when it should have been the focal point. but oh well i guess i’ll just have to pray for the next 2 too be better….

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22 Ryan July 16, 2009 at 12:02 am

Ok, I was very disappointed with this film. I just didn’t feel right to me. I mean I didn’t get the sense of magic and wonder from this film until the very end which had amazing special effects, but rushed. Like there a school for witch craft and wizardry and they have 1 potions class??? And then Snape finally gets the job he’s always wanted(defense against the dark arts)but they don’t show Harry having 1 class with him. The film was very funny, but a bit over done and the teenager relationships was for some reason the focal point of the movie. And then most of the main supporting characters have 2 min grace periods on the screen and we don’t see them again….like molly, arthur,HAGRID!?
Then I don’t understand why some scenes made the cut from the book and others didn’t. I was extremely disappointed that the battle scene at the end was cut. I mean thats one of the most exciting parts in the books and you cut it. OH but wait they made up for it by the burrow getting randomly attacked by fenrir greyback and bellatrix lestrange which makes no sense at all…Idk just big plot holes with the memories and the horocruxes playing a minor role in this film when it should have been the focal point. but oh well i guess i’ll just have to pray for the next 2 too be better….

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23 Peter July 16, 2009 at 12:23 am

Unfortunately, I agree with Eric. The plot feels totally contrived, and while the entire film does as he says, carry an air of impending doom, it is never realized in the director’s desperation to keep a PG rating.

I found myself bored.

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24 Peter July 16, 2009 at 12:23 am

Unfortunately, I agree with Eric. The plot feels totally contrived, and while the entire film does as he says, carry an air of impending doom, it is never realized in the director’s desperation to keep a PG rating.

I found myself bored.

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25 Sharpe July 16, 2009 at 12:29 am

In Response to Alex’s & Matt’s post:

I admit that going into this film I had high expectations, but that is not to say I didn’t expect cuts from the book. This movie had great potential, but the reason why I think everyone here is disappointed is because it missed the essence of the book (And yes Alex I have read all of the books multiple times). You will find out when you watch this movie Matt, that it isn’t the comparison to the book, it’s the fact that the story in the movie moves away from where the first 5 movies were taking us. This movie should have focused on Harry Dumbledore, Voldemort & Snape with everything else coming second to them. The whole point of the “Half Blood Prince” is for us to learn how and why Voldemort is what he is, so that Harry has the knowledge on how to destroy him. I think we can all agree that the Horcruxes are essential (nay the basis for) the entire series and they were barely given more than a moments thought. I thought the flashbacks to Voldemorts past were all un-cutable but they were regarded as fat!? This is essential information to the story. The fact that it has been left out is mind boggling. Also Gambon has no idea how to portray Dumbledore. Dumbledore is supposed to be an all knowing genius who leads Harry down a path so that Harry works the answers he needs out for himself. Gabon does not seem to get this, the dialogue that should be compelling between Harry & Dumbledore falls short. They lack a chemistry which is no fault of Radcliffe’s due to his great portrail of Harry. The fault must lie with Gambon who portray’s a tired sometimes cranky Dumbledore. The end scene is ridiculous in how Harry’s normal characteristics are completely ignored (You would know this from reading the books Alex) and we all know what I’m talking about. As for the Transformers special effects defense, I would have to assume that explosions make a movie for you Alex. The effects I agree are some of the best (better than Transfomers because they can actually be viewed without risk of seizure) I have ever seen but they can’t make this movie good. All in all the characters (minus Gambon) did great jobs but they can’t make up for a useless plotline.

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26 Sharpe July 16, 2009 at 12:29 am

In Response to Alex’s & Matt’s post:

I admit that going into this film I had high expectations, but that is not to say I didn’t expect cuts from the book. This movie had great potential, but the reason why I think everyone here is disappointed is because it missed the essence of the book (And yes Alex I have read all of the books multiple times). You will find out when you watch this movie Matt, that it isn’t the comparison to the book, it’s the fact that the story in the movie moves away from where the first 5 movies were taking us. This movie should have focused on Harry Dumbledore, Voldemort & Snape with everything else coming second to them. The whole point of the “Half Blood Prince” is for us to learn how and why Voldemort is what he is, so that Harry has the knowledge on how to destroy him. I think we can all agree that the Horcruxes are essential (nay the basis for) the entire series and they were barely given more than a moments thought. I thought the flashbacks to Voldemorts past were all un-cutable but they were regarded as fat!? This is essential information to the story. The fact that it has been left out is mind boggling. Also Gambon has no idea how to portray Dumbledore. Dumbledore is supposed to be an all knowing genius who leads Harry down a path so that Harry works the answers he needs out for himself. Gabon does not seem to get this, the dialogue that should be compelling between Harry & Dumbledore falls short. They lack a chemistry which is no fault of Radcliffe’s due to his great portrail of Harry. The fault must lie with Gambon who portray’s a tired sometimes cranky Dumbledore. The end scene is ridiculous in how Harry’s normal characteristics are completely ignored (You would know this from reading the books Alex) and we all know what I’m talking about. As for the Transformers special effects defense, I would have to assume that explosions make a movie for you Alex. The effects I agree are some of the best (better than Transfomers because they can actually be viewed without risk of seizure) I have ever seen but they can’t make this movie good. All in all the characters (minus Gambon) did great jobs but they can’t make up for a useless plotline.

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27 Gerard July 16, 2009 at 1:39 am

If you’ve read the book, as I did, the movie is bit of a letdown of sorts. I mean nothing can really beat the book, which uses important plot devices like the Invisible Cloak and concludes with Dumbledore’s funeral.

Still, if I never read the book, I am certain I would fully enjoy the movie. That said, it is a well-made film. You could do only so much to put what we love in the book into the movie.

And this film is NOT supposed to be about adults. The main characters are 16 year olds experiencing pangs of romance.

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28 Gerard July 16, 2009 at 1:39 am

If you’ve read the book, as I did, the movie is bit of a letdown of sorts. I mean nothing can really beat the book, which uses important plot devices like the Invisible Cloak and concludes with Dumbledore’s funeral.

Still, if I never read the book, I am certain I would fully enjoy the movie. That said, it is a well-made film. You could do only so much to put what we love in the book into the movie.

And this film is NOT supposed to be about adults. The main characters are 16 year olds experiencing pangs of romance.

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29 Susan July 16, 2009 at 1:56 am

One word……Awful…

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30 Susan July 16, 2009 at 1:56 am

One word……Awful…

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31 Eric Melin July 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

Gerard, I agree that the film isn’t about adults, but it IS about impending adulthood and making choices and growing up, yes? My point (one that seems to be echoed by many commenters also) is that the screenwriter is leaving out essential details needed to make the mystery (and the relationship with Dumbledore) compelling. As a result, he has to foreshadow and simplify what’s left. It doesn’t make sense and it’s insulting to the audience. The book may have been aimed at young adults, but I guarantee they are smarter than this movie gives them credit for being.

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32 Eric Melin July 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

Gerard, I agree that the film isn’t about adults, but it IS about impending adulthood and making choices and growing up, yes? My point (one that seems to be echoed by many commenters also) is that the screenwriter is leaving out essential details needed to make the mystery (and the relationship with Dumbledore) compelling. As a result, he has to foreshadow and simplify what’s left. It doesn’t make sense and it’s insulting to the audience. The book may have been aimed at young adults, but I guarantee they are smarter than this movie gives them credit for being.

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33 Eric Melin July 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

That said, there are some really insightful comments here. The overwhelmingly positive critical response to this film in my mind is due mainly to the expressive cinematography. All opinions are valid, however. What nobody seems to be talking about is that the scripts in this series are starting to lose all context, stranding their characters along the way.

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34 Eric Melin July 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

That said, there are some really insightful comments here. The overwhelmingly positive critical response to this film in my mind is due mainly to the expressive cinematography. All opinions are valid, however. What nobody seems to be talking about is that the scripts in this series are starting to lose all context, stranding their characters along the way.

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35 Matt G July 16, 2009 at 11:20 am

Wow. I was expecting a decently good movie going into this–what I got did not even meet that expectation. The sheer number of awkward “teen” moments was enough to make me want to smash my head against a window multiple times. Halfway through I was already checking my watch and wanting to leave. So much stuff seemed awkward and forced–such as most of Dumbledore’s dialogue with Harry, the moments when Ron would point out that Hermione had something on her cheek (what the heck??), and the fact that many characters only received brief screentime. Overall, I think Slughorn did a great job. I personally found him to be hilarious and probably the best part of the movie.

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36 Matt G July 16, 2009 at 11:20 am

Wow. I was expecting a decently good movie going into this–what I got did not even meet that expectation. The sheer number of awkward “teen” moments was enough to make me want to smash my head against a window multiple times. Halfway through I was already checking my watch and wanting to leave. So much stuff seemed awkward and forced–such as most of Dumbledore’s dialogue with Harry, the moments when Ron would point out that Hermione had something on her cheek (what the heck??), and the fact that many characters only received brief screentime. Overall, I think Slughorn did a great job. I personally found him to be hilarious and probably the best part of the movie.

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37 Jean K. July 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Big Letdown! Nothing compared to past Harry Potter movies. As a viewer who has not read the books, only tags along with my kids to the movies, the movie was very confusing. Just little snippets of stuff here and there that didn’t relate or flow together at all. And I agree with others that major plot lines were fuzzed over. If i hadn’t been paying attention I would have missed the significance of that soul splitting stuff altogether. Seemed pretty important info to me, but then it just kind of fell flat. Then Harry and Dumbledoor just go find one, but wait, in the end it wasn’t even a real one?? How did they know where to find it? Was that in the book? Dumbledore’s death was so briefly covered that I thought there must be some twist coming where he really didn’t die, but there wasn’t. I thought that the big scene wtih the death of the spider–who I do remember from another movie–would play into the plot. That the venom they collected was an important fact, but then nothing ever came of that so why was it in there? Then when they burned Hagrid’s house at the end I wondered if Hagrid was killed, too. But nobody ever mentioned if he was in there or not. My kids liked it, as they’ve read the books tons of times and could fill in the missing pieces in ther minds, but I was lost most of the time and kept waiting for the big climatic scenes like the other movies had, but they never really came.

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38 Jean K. July 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Big Letdown! Nothing compared to past Harry Potter movies. As a viewer who has not read the books, only tags along with my kids to the movies, the movie was very confusing. Just little snippets of stuff here and there that didn’t relate or flow together at all. And I agree with others that major plot lines were fuzzed over. If i hadn’t been paying attention I would have missed the significance of that soul splitting stuff altogether. Seemed pretty important info to me, but then it just kind of fell flat. Then Harry and Dumbledoor just go find one, but wait, in the end it wasn’t even a real one?? How did they know where to find it? Was that in the book? Dumbledore’s death was so briefly covered that I thought there must be some twist coming where he really didn’t die, but there wasn’t. I thought that the big scene wtih the death of the spider–who I do remember from another movie–would play into the plot. That the venom they collected was an important fact, but then nothing ever came of that so why was it in there? Then when they burned Hagrid’s house at the end I wondered if Hagrid was killed, too. But nobody ever mentioned if he was in there or not. My kids liked it, as they’ve read the books tons of times and could fill in the missing pieces in ther minds, but I was lost most of the time and kept waiting for the big climatic scenes like the other movies had, but they never really came.

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39 Rad July 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I have read the books multiple times as well and I completely understand that a 900+ page book cannot be translated word for word to film while still appealing to the masses which is required to turn a profit (the movie would be about 6-7 hours long). But why would you add scenes that are not in the book if time is a major concern? Why leave out so many great parts of the original book if you have space for original script pages and CGI effects?

I have no idea how or why they could leave out the final battle scene. Without this there is basically no point to the vanishing cabinets or for the Death Eaters to be in the castle at all other than to burn Hagrid’s cabin and break some glass. All you really needed was Draco and Snape since they just walked out after killing Dumbledore with no resistance. The entire school watched Harry chasing known Death Eaters and just stood by?? Really?? I could have done with leaving everything out, but this is basically the climax of the book along with Dumbledore’s death. I understand why you can’t have all the flashback scenes but we sat through all the talking and romance (really overemphasized), now give us our battle. When Snape announces “I am the Half Blood Prince” is was such a letdown, how does he even know Harry has the book if they’ve never spoken about it? His duel with Harry was so powerful in the book as he tells Harry “I am not a coward!!” and we got none of that in the movie. Again, if you can add a diner scene to open the movie, you can add 5 minutes for some extra dialogue to portray the severity of the events that just happened.

This movie reminded me a lot of Spider Man 3, just a mish mosh of plotlines that never really come together to tell a story. They should have focused on a few things, namely the Half Blood Prince’s book, the Horcrux’s and Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship and go from there, everything else could have been given minimal screen time and influence(a simple montage of Harry and Ginny dating would have done that portion justice).

Another thing that irked me was when Harry hits Draco with Sectumsempra and there is no punishment for it, nothing happens. He leaves Malfoy all bloody and maimed on the bathroom floor due to his using some powerful dark magic and nothing happens to him, not even a sit with Snape. Really bad story telling.

On a good note, Tom Felton was great as Draco Malfoy. He pretty much stole every scene he was in and portrayed a troubled and confused Malfoy very well. The actor who played Slughorn was excellent as well. I thought it done very well visually, the special effects we cool and clean, not overdone.

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40 Rad July 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I have read the books multiple times as well and I completely understand that a 900+ page book cannot be translated word for word to film while still appealing to the masses which is required to turn a profit (the movie would be about 6-7 hours long). But why would you add scenes that are not in the book if time is a major concern? Why leave out so many great parts of the original book if you have space for original script pages and CGI effects?

I have no idea how or why they could leave out the final battle scene. Without this there is basically no point to the vanishing cabinets or for the Death Eaters to be in the castle at all other than to burn Hagrid’s cabin and break some glass. All you really needed was Draco and Snape since they just walked out after killing Dumbledore with no resistance. The entire school watched Harry chasing known Death Eaters and just stood by?? Really?? I could have done with leaving everything out, but this is basically the climax of the book along with Dumbledore’s death. I understand why you can’t have all the flashback scenes but we sat through all the talking and romance (really overemphasized), now give us our battle. When Snape announces “I am the Half Blood Prince” is was such a letdown, how does he even know Harry has the book if they’ve never spoken about it? His duel with Harry was so powerful in the book as he tells Harry “I am not a coward!!” and we got none of that in the movie. Again, if you can add a diner scene to open the movie, you can add 5 minutes for some extra dialogue to portray the severity of the events that just happened.

This movie reminded me a lot of Spider Man 3, just a mish mosh of plotlines that never really come together to tell a story. They should have focused on a few things, namely the Half Blood Prince’s book, the Horcrux’s and Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship and go from there, everything else could have been given minimal screen time and influence(a simple montage of Harry and Ginny dating would have done that portion justice).

Another thing that irked me was when Harry hits Draco with Sectumsempra and there is no punishment for it, nothing happens. He leaves Malfoy all bloody and maimed on the bathroom floor due to his using some powerful dark magic and nothing happens to him, not even a sit with Snape. Really bad story telling.

On a good note, Tom Felton was great as Draco Malfoy. He pretty much stole every scene he was in and portrayed a troubled and confused Malfoy very well. The actor who played Slughorn was excellent as well. I thought it done very well visually, the special effects we cool and clean, not overdone.

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41 Melinda C. July 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm

I agree with both Eric Melin and Rad. I am in my 30′s and have been a long-time fan of the books and film series. I am fully aware that it is not possible to retell a book word for word on a movie screen. I have learned to accept this since the Prisoner of Azkaban days. But what I do not, and will not accept is when a director and screenwriter choose to basically change the essence of a main character’s personality. Leaving out Dumbledore’s petrificus totalus, in the final watchtower scene was unforgivable. Harry would’ve never, ever, stood there motionless, ie, helpless if he had any say in the matter. And he damn sure wouldn’t have listened to Snape and simply remained silent because Snape shh’d him. By leaving that small, tiny fact out, moviegoers completely missed out on the opportunity to really feel the anguish that Harry must’ve felt, being forced to stand there motionless to watch his mentor be murdered, hope it was somehow all a big mistake, but realize that when the freezing charm lifts, the one who cast the spell must indeed be dead. This simple thing could’ve done so much to make the scene much more poignant.

As for the battle of Hogwarts at the end, I too was shocked to find they did not include it. As someone pointed out before, as the movie stands now, Draco’s deed could’ve easily been accomplished without the death eaters entering Hogwarts at all. Even just a hint of a skirmish with the other DA members would’ve sufficed. Maybe have dumbledore and harry arrive on the watchtower with the dark mark already looming in the sky overhead, with the sound of a battle raging on below. Perhaps a quick cut to a scene where the gryffindor hourglass gets smashed in the great hall with some random students cowering nearby – just something to show that everyone was aware that something horrible was happening.

And lastly (well, not really, I can go on for ages about what was wrong with this movie, as my poor husband can attest), why leave out Snape’s response to being called a coward? Alan Rickman could’ve acted that scene out beautifully. That whole scene between Harry and Snape speaks volumes of what’s to come in the next book. And if you haven’t read the next book, to see Snape become slightly unhinged at being called a coward, you would certainly be convinced that not only was he the villain all along, but maybe a bit of a psycho too.

I’m very worried for the last films. Very worried indeed. I don’t know if I can bare two whole movies of newly invented scenarios and complete reworkings of the main characters.

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42 Melinda C. July 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm

I agree with both Eric Melin and Rad. I am in my 30′s and have been a long-time fan of the books and film series. I am fully aware that it is not possible to retell a book word for word on a movie screen. I have learned to accept this since the Prisoner of Azkaban days. But what I do not, and will not accept is when a director and screenwriter choose to basically change the essence of a main character’s personality. Leaving out Dumbledore’s petrificus totalus, in the final watchtower scene was unforgivable. Harry would’ve never, ever, stood there motionless, ie, helpless if he had any say in the matter. And he damn sure wouldn’t have listened to Snape and simply remained silent because Snape shh’d him. By leaving that small, tiny fact out, moviegoers completely missed out on the opportunity to really feel the anguish that Harry must’ve felt, being forced to stand there motionless to watch his mentor be murdered, hope it was somehow all a big mistake, but realize that when the freezing charm lifts, the one who cast the spell must indeed be dead. This simple thing could’ve done so much to make the scene much more poignant.

As for the battle of Hogwarts at the end, I too was shocked to find they did not include it. As someone pointed out before, as the movie stands now, Draco’s deed could’ve easily been accomplished without the death eaters entering Hogwarts at all. Even just a hint of a skirmish with the other DA members would’ve sufficed. Maybe have dumbledore and harry arrive on the watchtower with the dark mark already looming in the sky overhead, with the sound of a battle raging on below. Perhaps a quick cut to a scene where the gryffindor hourglass gets smashed in the great hall with some random students cowering nearby – just something to show that everyone was aware that something horrible was happening.

And lastly (well, not really, I can go on for ages about what was wrong with this movie, as my poor husband can attest), why leave out Snape’s response to being called a coward? Alan Rickman could’ve acted that scene out beautifully. That whole scene between Harry and Snape speaks volumes of what’s to come in the next book. And if you haven’t read the next book, to see Snape become slightly unhinged at being called a coward, you would certainly be convinced that not only was he the villain all along, but maybe a bit of a psycho too.

I’m very worried for the last films. Very worried indeed. I don’t know if I can bare two whole movies of newly invented scenarios and complete reworkings of the main characters.

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43 Ian July 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm

I agree with most here that the movie falls well short of delivering essential plot developments. It also fails to deliver good entertainment in the strict Hollywood sense.
what a letdown!

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44 Ian July 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm

I agree with most here that the movie falls well short of delivering essential plot developments. It also fails to deliver good entertainment in the strict Hollywood sense.
what a letdown!

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45 Wolfsnight July 17, 2009 at 12:22 am

I liked this movie a lot, but it really only works as a setup film to the next two movies. It’s very interesting to see how different the film was to the book, and some of the character development was a little different. I actually liked the scene were Snape tells Harry to shush, because it showed how willing Harry was to trust Dumbledore’s judgment. It also creates an even stronger reason for Harry to seek revenge against Snape-he feels betrayed by someone he chose to put his trust in. I think that Snape’s character development, which happened in the sixth book, is being saved for the next film.

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46 Wolfsnight July 17, 2009 at 12:22 am

I liked this movie a lot, but it really only works as a setup film to the next two movies. It’s very interesting to see how different the film was to the book, and some of the character development was a little different. I actually liked the scene were Snape tells Harry to shush, because it showed how willing Harry was to trust Dumbledore’s judgment. It also creates an even stronger reason for Harry to seek revenge against Snape-he feels betrayed by someone he chose to put his trust in. I think that Snape’s character development, which happened in the sixth book, is being saved for the next film.

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47 luca July 17, 2009 at 1:55 am

Just got home after watching the halfblood prince with a girl i like and 3 friends. The girl and a friend were like “seriously?” when i invited them to see harry potter. The other 2 fans of the movies, but they’ve never read the books (i did 3 times in 3 different languages).
Ok, let’s beggin… the firts scene, with the death eaters taking down a bridge, and killing Amelia Bones, i was like “Wow, amazin effects, now it’s time for Fudge and Scrimgeour to appear” but they didn’t, this made me think… If you’re not gonna put the ministers, why the hell did you showed this “totally random” scene?…
Next is the scene with harry reading the Daily Prophet… in a coffe shop??, and about to ask a girl out?? what the bloody hell??? and the Dumbledore appears… and Harry doesn’t know a thing why is he there… ok stop!, i remember Harry asleep on his window holding a letter from dumbledore saying he will pick him up to go to the Burrow… at that same moment I thought… this is not gonna be ok at all…So I watched the rest of the movie thinking “ah, now “this” is gonna happen” i actually told my girl a few times “oh, next scene is gonna be cool”… no it was not… so i stopped “predicting” scenes.
They missed a lot of importan parts, especially about Voldemort, i mean, come on, he is one of the most evil villains in history because of this book! and only did appear twice! that sucks!

In my opinion this was aim to a 17 year old public, wich was 10 when SAW the first movie, but most of us are over 21 and READ the first book when we we’re 11, or so. This is a very dark book, and they made a very PINK movie. I mean, who cares if a teen came out of nowhere (Lavender Brown, I bet no one who didn’t read the book knows the name of Ron’s gf) is in love with Ron when the most evil dude ever is out there killing ppl and Dumbledore is figuring out how to kill him??

Even the “love” between Giny and Harry is almost invisible, i was hopping the girl i invited would “Jump into my arms” when Giny kissed harry, but i bet she didn’t even noticed they kissed.

I’m also sure no one noticed the importance of Horcruxes or Dumbledore’s death.

i was expecting much more, this director really sucks, much before watching this movie i was imagining wich parts would be cutted and wich would be kept, and in my mind the movie was 20 minutes shorter and more interesting.

As an extra, I live in mexico, and in my city the english spoken version was available only in 2 theaters, wich are too far from my place, so I saw it in spanish… and it sucks even more.

The worst part is that this girl won’t go see The Deathly Hallows with me… it’s the third movie we watch together, it was “Parpados azules” (mexican movie, chosen by me, the most boring movie ever), Twilight (Chosen by her, she totally loved it, it was a “great night”) and “The Half Blood Prince” (chosen by me, … we’ll never watch a movie I chose again)

In my opinion, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince: 7/10, if you read the book first 6/10 (one point less for every time you’ve read the books)

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48 luca July 17, 2009 at 1:55 am

Just got home after watching the halfblood prince with a girl i like and 3 friends. The girl and a friend were like “seriously?” when i invited them to see harry potter. The other 2 fans of the movies, but they’ve never read the books (i did 3 times in 3 different languages).
Ok, let’s beggin… the firts scene, with the death eaters taking down a bridge, and killing Amelia Bones, i was like “Wow, amazin effects, now it’s time for Fudge and Scrimgeour to appear” but they didn’t, this made me think… If you’re not gonna put the ministers, why the hell did you showed this “totally random” scene?…
Next is the scene with harry reading the Daily Prophet… in a coffe shop??, and about to ask a girl out?? what the bloody hell??? and the Dumbledore appears… and Harry doesn’t know a thing why is he there… ok stop!, i remember Harry asleep on his window holding a letter from dumbledore saying he will pick him up to go to the Burrow… at that same moment I thought… this is not gonna be ok at all…So I watched the rest of the movie thinking “ah, now “this” is gonna happen” i actually told my girl a few times “oh, next scene is gonna be cool”… no it was not… so i stopped “predicting” scenes.
They missed a lot of importan parts, especially about Voldemort, i mean, come on, he is one of the most evil villains in history because of this book! and only did appear twice! that sucks!

In my opinion this was aim to a 17 year old public, wich was 10 when SAW the first movie, but most of us are over 21 and READ the first book when we we’re 11, or so. This is a very dark book, and they made a very PINK movie. I mean, who cares if a teen came out of nowhere (Lavender Brown, I bet no one who didn’t read the book knows the name of Ron’s gf) is in love with Ron when the most evil dude ever is out there killing ppl and Dumbledore is figuring out how to kill him??

Even the “love” between Giny and Harry is almost invisible, i was hopping the girl i invited would “Jump into my arms” when Giny kissed harry, but i bet she didn’t even noticed they kissed.

I’m also sure no one noticed the importance of Horcruxes or Dumbledore’s death.

i was expecting much more, this director really sucks, much before watching this movie i was imagining wich parts would be cutted and wich would be kept, and in my mind the movie was 20 minutes shorter and more interesting.

As an extra, I live in mexico, and in my city the english spoken version was available only in 2 theaters, wich are too far from my place, so I saw it in spanish… and it sucks even more.

The worst part is that this girl won’t go see The Deathly Hallows with me… it’s the third movie we watch together, it was “Parpados azules” (mexican movie, chosen by me, the most boring movie ever), Twilight (Chosen by her, she totally loved it, it was a “great night”) and “The Half Blood Prince” (chosen by me, … we’ll never watch a movie I chose again)

In my opinion, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince: 7/10, if you read the book first 6/10 (one point less for every time you’ve read the books)

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49 Chris July 17, 2009 at 2:01 am

I agree with your review… This movie left out alot and did not tell the story that needed to be told. It was a hard book to convert to a movie but it had to be the worst adaptation to date. I just want to comment on those who are saying the first two movies were terrible. Sure they were not as visually entertaining and they were “Paintbynumbers” as one person added. However, Those two books were only 200-300 pages? It was a lot easier to convert into movies and get it right. Atleast those two movies were true to the books. Other than that I agree. It is the first movie I can honestly say I was so upset with. I want my money back. Seeing it in IMAX was def not worth it.

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50 Chris July 17, 2009 at 2:01 am

I agree with your review… This movie left out alot and did not tell the story that needed to be told. It was a hard book to convert to a movie but it had to be the worst adaptation to date. I just want to comment on those who are saying the first two movies were terrible. Sure they were not as visually entertaining and they were “Paintbynumbers” as one person added. However, Those two books were only 200-300 pages? It was a lot easier to convert into movies and get it right. Atleast those two movies were true to the books. Other than that I agree. It is the first movie I can honestly say I was so upset with. I want my money back. Seeing it in IMAX was def not worth it.

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51 Sarel July 17, 2009 at 8:21 am

I was disappointed. Having read the books, I guess I was expecting more. But like JD, I was emotionally unattached to the movie. And I guess the main reasons for that were acting that sometimes looked very forced and also the poor music composition in the movie. While no music expert, movies such as Braveheart, The Rock, Bourne trilogy, even Transformers and Titanic have excellent scoring that draws the viewer emotionally into the movie. HP6 simply did not have that.

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52 Sarel July 17, 2009 at 8:21 am

I was disappointed. Having read the books, I guess I was expecting more. But like JD, I was emotionally unattached to the movie. And I guess the main reasons for that were acting that sometimes looked very forced and also the poor music composition in the movie. While no music expert, movies such as Braveheart, The Rock, Bourne trilogy, even Transformers and Titanic have excellent scoring that draws the viewer emotionally into the movie. HP6 simply did not have that.

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53 Kyle July 17, 2009 at 8:29 am

Took the words right out of my mouth. My girlfriend, who has never read the books but has seen all of the movies, was utterly lost the entire time and didn’t get the end of the film whatsoever. The movie was basically small clips of the book that the director thought the readers would like to see cinemized.

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54 Kyle July 17, 2009 at 8:29 am

Took the words right out of my mouth. My girlfriend, who has never read the books but has seen all of the movies, was utterly lost the entire time and didn’t get the end of the film whatsoever. The movie was basically small clips of the book that the director thought the readers would like to see cinemized.

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55 Merylw. July 17, 2009 at 8:37 am

Melinda – Thank you for your remarks and I couldn’t agree with you more. I took my 11 year old son to see it last night. What we were both most excited about was seeing young Tom Riddle’s life brought to life on the screen – and then it never happened! I just couldn’t belive they left out all those interesting and important trips into the pensive, where Morfin, Marvolo, and Merope are so richly introduced in the book. Those secnes were the very heart and soul of the book and so important to the story. A movie made up of the pensive trips would have been facinating. The budding love between the characters was also important, but should not have been made the main focus of the movie, and a badly handled focus at that.

I remember when the first movie came out, and the director said in an interivew that they took great pains to make sure the movie was as close to the book as possible, because the fans of the book were so discerning. What has happened, I believe, is that there are now many, many fans of the movies who have never read the books. Clearly, the movie makers just don’t care anymore about the true Potter fans: the fans of the books. The liberties (battle at the, not using petrificus totalus at the end…) taken in this movie are so uncecessary and could have easily been handled on film. I understand that changes must be made for the book to be brought to the screen, but this film just went too far.

I’m not sure I can sit through 2 more movies like this. I simply encourage EVERYONE to READ the books – what happens in your imagination is so much richer that what you will see on the screen. I’m sure JKR would agree.

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56 Merylw. July 17, 2009 at 8:37 am

Melinda – Thank you for your remarks and I couldn’t agree with you more. I took my 11 year old son to see it last night. What we were both most excited about was seeing young Tom Riddle’s life brought to life on the screen – and then it never happened! I just couldn’t belive they left out all those interesting and important trips into the pensive, where Morfin, Marvolo, and Merope are so richly introduced in the book. Those secnes were the very heart and soul of the book and so important to the story. A movie made up of the pensive trips would have been facinating. The budding love between the characters was also important, but should not have been made the main focus of the movie, and a badly handled focus at that.

I remember when the first movie came out, and the director said in an interivew that they took great pains to make sure the movie was as close to the book as possible, because the fans of the book were so discerning. What has happened, I believe, is that there are now many, many fans of the movies who have never read the books. Clearly, the movie makers just don’t care anymore about the true Potter fans: the fans of the books. The liberties (battle at the, not using petrificus totalus at the end…) taken in this movie are so uncecessary and could have easily been handled on film. I understand that changes must be made for the book to be brought to the screen, but this film just went too far.

I’m not sure I can sit through 2 more movies like this. I simply encourage EVERYONE to READ the books – what happens in your imagination is so much richer that what you will see on the screen. I’m sure JKR would agree.

Reply

57 Kelly July 17, 2009 at 12:44 pm

While the visual appeal of the movie was vastly improved, it hardly makes up for the screen play being terrible. Well, what were we to expect after how bad the fifth movie was? I can only think to describe my disappointment this way: the movie was truly Harry Potter in the age of ‘Twilight’ – a sappy, pupple-love story with no real focus nor attention paid to the themes, plot, or character developments presented by the source material.

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58 Kelly July 17, 2009 at 12:44 pm

While the visual appeal of the movie was vastly improved, it hardly makes up for the screen play being terrible. Well, what were we to expect after how bad the fifth movie was? I can only think to describe my disappointment this way: the movie was truly Harry Potter in the age of ‘Twilight’ – a sappy, pupple-love story with no real focus nor attention paid to the themes, plot, or character developments presented by the source material.

Reply

59 crystal July 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm

i went to watch the film, i’m a big harry potter fan, i love the books and am always excited to see the movies…i really enjoyed this one up til the ending which was crap! they did not stick to the book at all, it was HARRY who gets them out of the cave not dumbledore! And they arrive at the three broom sticks before hogwarts and see the dark mark when they arrive at the school theres a hug battle bewteen death eaters and hogwarts staff and the order…they even missed out the fact that bill weasley gets his face ripped up by fenir greyback, i mean what are they going to do in HP7? missed out the scene where bill and fleur get married? gobsmacked and hugely disappointed but left totally macking on rupert grint who has got lush!

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60 crystal July 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm

i went to watch the film, i’m a big harry potter fan, i love the books and am always excited to see the movies…i really enjoyed this one up til the ending which was crap! they did not stick to the book at all, it was HARRY who gets them out of the cave not dumbledore! And they arrive at the three broom sticks before hogwarts and see the dark mark when they arrive at the school theres a hug battle bewteen death eaters and hogwarts staff and the order…they even missed out the fact that bill weasley gets his face ripped up by fenir greyback, i mean what are they going to do in HP7? missed out the scene where bill and fleur get married? gobsmacked and hugely disappointed but left totally macking on rupert grint who has got lush!

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61 Tbags July 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Dear PottHeads,
There is one thing that no one is saying and I am unsure why.
Did anyone see this as a wanna be teen- high school- drinking- party -road trip kind of movie except that it was Halloween and all characters were dressed like those that would be in Harry Potter?!!?
Every other scene was something about being under the influence or a party where there would be drinking, or a pub where Hermoine would get a little buzzed. Give me a break!?
Doesn’t our drinking culture affect me enough on a Friday/ Saturday night, but to wanna escape and enjoy a movie, a feeling, and characters that I have come to love so much and feel as though I am being tricked. When did Hogwarts become PhiBetaKai?
This was so lame.
I wanted nothing more than to soak up Alan Rickman and I was robbed.
There was nothing dark, mysterious, fun, or exciting about this film.
Thanks to Hermoine for her dedication. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t have stayed for the entire film.

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62 Tbags July 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Dear PottHeads,
There is one thing that no one is saying and I am unsure why.
Did anyone see this as a wanna be teen- high school- drinking- party -road trip kind of movie except that it was Halloween and all characters were dressed like those that would be in Harry Potter?!!?
Every other scene was something about being under the influence or a party where there would be drinking, or a pub where Hermoine would get a little buzzed. Give me a break!?
Doesn’t our drinking culture affect me enough on a Friday/ Saturday night, but to wanna escape and enjoy a movie, a feeling, and characters that I have come to love so much and feel as though I am being tricked. When did Hogwarts become PhiBetaKai?
This was so lame.
I wanted nothing more than to soak up Alan Rickman and I was robbed.
There was nothing dark, mysterious, fun, or exciting about this film.
Thanks to Hermoine for her dedication. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t have stayed for the entire film.

Reply

63 john July 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm

this film was not bad at all but had me very agitated when it came to certain scenes that shouldnt have been in the movie and should have been in the movie, for example the weasleys house was never burnt down by death eaters, and also dumbledore and harry never met in a subway in the beginning of the book , little scenes like that bring the story of harry potter to life connecting the viewer in a way all viewers love to be connected, and one more thing if im not mistaken when draco was sent to kill dumbledore i could of sworn after he was killed a battle struck out in hogwarts between the order and the death eaters (never happened in the movie) which makes me very displeased, hopefully they can shake up the finale and make up for this pity excuse for a movie for it was a waste of time and left me dumbstruck when i left the theatre, and no im not a harry potter geek i just know my books when i read them

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64 john July 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm

this film was not bad at all but had me very agitated when it came to certain scenes that shouldnt have been in the movie and should have been in the movie, for example the weasleys house was never burnt down by death eaters, and also dumbledore and harry never met in a subway in the beginning of the book , little scenes like that bring the story of harry potter to life connecting the viewer in a way all viewers love to be connected, and one more thing if im not mistaken when draco was sent to kill dumbledore i could of sworn after he was killed a battle struck out in hogwarts between the order and the death eaters (never happened in the movie) which makes me very displeased, hopefully they can shake up the finale and make up for this pity excuse for a movie for it was a waste of time and left me dumbstruck when i left the theatre, and no im not a harry potter geek i just know my books when i read them

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65 theo July 18, 2009 at 1:20 am

I am not a real HP fan but enjoyed the previous movies. This movie however is really the worst movie I have seen in a long time. Go 3 to 4 times a month.
The whole film looks more like ‘oh lets make another HP movie, we don’t haven’t made enough money yet!’

shame shame shame

Reply

66 theo July 18, 2009 at 1:20 am

I am not a real HP fan but enjoyed the previous movies. This movie however is really the worst movie I have seen in a long time. Go 3 to 4 times a month.
The whole film looks more like ‘oh lets make another HP movie, we don’t haven’t made enough money yet!’

shame shame shame

Reply

67 Jakub July 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I think that comments by Melinda C. and Sharpe are spot on. Very disappointing experience.

Reply

68 Jakub July 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I think that comments by Melinda C. and Sharpe are spot on. Very disappointing experience.

Reply

69 Kenny July 19, 2009 at 12:08 am

As a big Potter fan, I would have to say I am somewhat disappointed. My only frustration of the film stems from the inadequate storytelling. Scenes were most defintely and dumbfoundedly cut out and changed. Out of habit I enjoyed watching the film, but was particularly let down by the ending for obvious reasons. Like your video review says, one should expect more from their movies (especially franchise films). Yet, most big franchise films pander to the masses and not to the individual.

The acting and visuals to this film are better than ever. The technical side of the film is amazing (as so many critics have pointed out), but the story is incoherent to casual followers and must be distressing to avid fans. Ironically, they didn’t need to make a film as scrambled as this one, but just a logical and thorough lead up to the final two installments. However, I admit I will probably end up seeing it again in theaters.

Reply

70 Kenny July 19, 2009 at 12:08 am

As a big Potter fan, I would have to say I am somewhat disappointed. My only frustration of the film stems from the inadequate storytelling. Scenes were most defintely and dumbfoundedly cut out and changed. Out of habit I enjoyed watching the film, but was particularly let down by the ending for obvious reasons. Like your video review says, one should expect more from their movies (especially franchise films). Yet, most big franchise films pander to the masses and not to the individual.

The acting and visuals to this film are better than ever. The technical side of the film is amazing (as so many critics have pointed out), but the story is incoherent to casual followers and must be distressing to avid fans. Ironically, they didn’t need to make a film as scrambled as this one, but just a logical and thorough lead up to the final two installments. However, I admit I will probably end up seeing it again in theaters.

Reply

71 Jerry July 19, 2009 at 7:58 am

I have read the books and seen the movies, both several times, and I did enjoy this film because it begins to show Harry accepting who he is rather than run from it. The book has far too many scenes that could no way be adapted to the big screen and stay within a reasonable time frame. The movie was entertaining and had several funny moments in it that helped lighten the mood before Dumbeldore is killed. I liked the movie!

Reply

72 Jerry July 19, 2009 at 7:58 am

I have read the books and seen the movies, both several times, and I did enjoy this film because it begins to show Harry accepting who he is rather than run from it. The book has far too many scenes that could no way be adapted to the big screen and stay within a reasonable time frame. The movie was entertaining and had several funny moments in it that helped lighten the mood before Dumbeldore is killed. I liked the movie!

Reply

73 Trey July 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Eric (and JD),

I have to take some issue with your critique. I must preface this response with a few admissions. First, I have read the books and enjoyed the series. Second, I am in no way a fan boy of the HP series, or any series for that matter. To prove this I will make this statement. I drank the kool-aid on Buffy, but think Angel became tired, and believe that Firefly was an overly clever and all-too-self-aware live action version of Cowboy BeBop. I won’t talk about Dollhouse. Third, I have been largely disappointed in the Harry Potter films. I do not expect a strict and faithful adaptation to film. Instead I hope for a fresh or clever take and well constructed film that should have its necessary differences from the book. Other than Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film, the series have been mediocre and mildly entertaining. Finally, I as both a former Lit grad and current film maker have a real understanding that the differing forms have different strengths, and in order for a film to be successful in its own right, it must at times diverge from what makes the written form so powerful. I will quote from your article so that I can keep my response tethered to it’s antecedent.

“While “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is only the second film (along with “Prisoner of Azkaban”) to deliver a visually stirring package, it is the first to drop the ball so completely in the storytelling department.”

There really are two things that are at work here. One, this is not the second of the six films to offer a stirring visual package. Though I did not like the fifth film, it was at times visually impressive. In fact, I would say that all of the films have at times offered the viewers stunning visuals. I will address the story telling comment as we go on.

“In Rowling’s rich fantasy world, the themes are embedded deep in the details, and “Half-Blood Prince” has none of them. It’s like a rough sketch that the filmmakers are hoping Potter fans will fill in with memories from the novel.”

I did not reread, the novel for the film. The last time I did so was over two years ago, and I only had a vague recollection of the story. That said I was never confused during the film and don’t think the film was a rough sketch. Instead it made decisive choices about what to focus on and what to omit. In large part JD’s rant was that of a blind fan of Rowling moaning over what specifics were not present in the movie, and fretting over all of the work the next films have to fill in any perceived gaps. The same people would occasionally grumble about the items not present in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (I will admit that I would have like to have seen Galadriel more, but it was the correct decision to cut her down for the film). What was left out of the book were the digressions, minor plot points and additional ephemera that make a novel a novel. What the film does is focus on the few characters and plot points that it has time to develop, and will push the viewer towards the final film.

“Two budding romances—between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) and also between Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint)—are badly mishandled. Although a significant amount of screen time is spent on them, the relationships are vague and forced, more in line with the kind of puppy love you might expect from one of the earlier films.”

I will concede that Radcliffe and Grint are often stiff, which lead most of their on screen relationships to come off a bit awkward. That said, if you watch the film again, I believe you will see some real poignancy at times to both Wright’s and Watson’s performances. These are the darker more brooding longings of late adolescence.

“Harry finds an old textbook once owned by the “half-blood prince” and the request of Dumbledore (Richard Gambon), Harry must get Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to come clean about an old secret. The importance of the textbook, however, is barely touched on. By the time the identity of the half-blood prince is revealed, its only significance is that it’s the title of the film.”

The book is a prop that is largely unimportant. What is important is Harry’s trust in Dumbeldore (check), suspicion of Malfoy and Snape (Yep), his manipulation of Slughorn (Sure), and continued friendship with the Scoobies (Yeah I can roll with the Whedon references).

“Plot holes abound. At the beginning of the movie, death eaters are raining down on the Muggle world, but are never mentioned again. The supposedly questionable loyalty of Snape (Alan Rickman) is obvious from a maddening amount of foreshadowing.”

These same three death eaters are the ones at the end of the film. They also make appearances on a couple of other occasions, the Weasley residence for example. There is a masked death eater, who works in much the same way as the red suited Star Trek away team member. He’s fodder, but inoffensive.

The foreshadowing was in the book, and it is necessary to a large extent to allow for the shifts that will come later. It may have been a bit heavy handed, but not maddeningly so.

“Many of the film’s “mysteries” don’t work because their central conceit is that we aren’t supposed to be sure what’s really happening. Yet each one of these plot points are robbed of their inherent drama because they are all too obvious. If the series is supposed to mature and be about becoming an adult, Kloves would be smart to start treating the viewer like one.”

I don’t know that there is any mystery here at all. There are simply things we and the characters are aware of, but don’t know fully. Even the identity of the Half-blood prince, and the reveal doesn’t work like a mystery since no one is actively pursuing the answer.

“Another problem is that Gambon, who took over when Richard Harris passed away, has never really connected with Radcliffe. As a result, the pupil/mentor relationship between Harry and Dumbledore seems distant and amorphous. The final showdown with Harry and the wizard is unforgivably bungled, as Harry’s courage is held in check in the most contrived way possible.”

Gambon has done a largely strong job in the role of Dumbledore. Harris died before the demands of the role really exerted itself. Gambon took on the role at a time in the story, when Dumbledore was much more dominant.

The same contrivance of the final duel is used in the book, and also, I might add, in the 1977 Star Wars film (think Luke watching Ben and Vader’s saber duel). There has to be a mentor/student relationship and at the point when the student has matured enough to follow the teacher quietly and patiently then the story loses the teacher witin sight of the student. That is the only thing that can allow for the continued growth of the student character. It follows the same structure that so many other stories have used without such a scathing review.

“If you want to see a well-done supernatural story as a metaphor for growing up, watch the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” At least its writers had seven seasons to sort out the messy teen-to-adult transition.”

You’re right Buffy is this, but it is first adolescent drama and second fantasy/scifi action show. That’s why it works. The relationships and characters lead and the genre is simply a back drop. This is the second Harry Potter film to do just this, the first being The Prisoner of Azkaban. Because the handful of characters and their relationships are given time on screen, we as viewers can become involved with them emotionally. Ultimately this is a teen drama about the coming trials of adulthood, and those that want it to be something other than that will be disappointed.

Reply

74 Trey July 19, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Eric (and JD),

I have to take some issue with your critique. I must preface this response with a few admissions. First, I have read the books and enjoyed the series. Second, I am in no way a fan boy of the HP series, or any series for that matter. To prove this I will make this statement. I drank the kool-aid on Buffy, but think Angel became tired, and believe that Firefly was an overly clever and all-too-self-aware live action version of Cowboy BeBop. I won’t talk about Dollhouse. Third, I have been largely disappointed in the Harry Potter films. I do not expect a strict and faithful adaptation to film. Instead I hope for a fresh or clever take and well constructed film that should have its necessary differences from the book. Other than Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film, the series have been mediocre and mildly entertaining. Finally, I as both a former Lit grad and current film maker have a real understanding that the differing forms have different strengths, and in order for a film to be successful in its own right, it must at times diverge from what makes the written form so powerful. I will quote from your article so that I can keep my response tethered to it’s antecedent.

“While “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is only the second film (along with “Prisoner of Azkaban”) to deliver a visually stirring package, it is the first to drop the ball so completely in the storytelling department.”

There really are two things that are at work here. One, this is not the second of the six films to offer a stirring visual package. Though I did not like the fifth film, it was at times visually impressive. In fact, I would say that all of the films have at times offered the viewers stunning visuals. I will address the story telling comment as we go on.

“In Rowling’s rich fantasy world, the themes are embedded deep in the details, and “Half-Blood Prince” has none of them. It’s like a rough sketch that the filmmakers are hoping Potter fans will fill in with memories from the novel.”

I did not reread, the novel for the film. The last time I did so was over two years ago, and I only had a vague recollection of the story. That said I was never confused during the film and don’t think the film was a rough sketch. Instead it made decisive choices about what to focus on and what to omit. In large part JD’s rant was that of a blind fan of Rowling moaning over what specifics were not present in the movie, and fretting over all of the work the next films have to fill in any perceived gaps. The same people would occasionally grumble about the items not present in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (I will admit that I would have like to have seen Galadriel more, but it was the correct decision to cut her down for the film). What was left out of the book were the digressions, minor plot points and additional ephemera that make a novel a novel. What the film does is focus on the few characters and plot points that it has time to develop, and will push the viewer towards the final film.

“Two budding romances—between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) and also between Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint)—are badly mishandled. Although a significant amount of screen time is spent on them, the relationships are vague and forced, more in line with the kind of puppy love you might expect from one of the earlier films.”

I will concede that Radcliffe and Grint are often stiff, which lead most of their on screen relationships to come off a bit awkward. That said, if you watch the film again, I believe you will see some real poignancy at times to both Wright’s and Watson’s performances. These are the darker more brooding longings of late adolescence.

“Harry finds an old textbook once owned by the “half-blood prince” and the request of Dumbledore (Richard Gambon), Harry must get Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to come clean about an old secret. The importance of the textbook, however, is barely touched on. By the time the identity of the half-blood prince is revealed, its only significance is that it’s the title of the film.”

The book is a prop that is largely unimportant. What is important is Harry’s trust in Dumbeldore (check), suspicion of Malfoy and Snape (Yep), his manipulation of Slughorn (Sure), and continued friendship with the Scoobies (Yeah I can roll with the Whedon references).

“Plot holes abound. At the beginning of the movie, death eaters are raining down on the Muggle world, but are never mentioned again. The supposedly questionable loyalty of Snape (Alan Rickman) is obvious from a maddening amount of foreshadowing.”

These same three death eaters are the ones at the end of the film. They also make appearances on a couple of other occasions, the Weasley residence for example. There is a masked death eater, who works in much the same way as the red suited Star Trek away team member. He’s fodder, but inoffensive.

The foreshadowing was in the book, and it is necessary to a large extent to allow for the shifts that will come later. It may have been a bit heavy handed, but not maddeningly so.

“Many of the film’s “mysteries” don’t work because their central conceit is that we aren’t supposed to be sure what’s really happening. Yet each one of these plot points are robbed of their inherent drama because they are all too obvious. If the series is supposed to mature and be about becoming an adult, Kloves would be smart to start treating the viewer like one.”

I don’t know that there is any mystery here at all. There are simply things we and the characters are aware of, but don’t know fully. Even the identity of the Half-blood prince, and the reveal doesn’t work like a mystery since no one is actively pursuing the answer.

“Another problem is that Gambon, who took over when Richard Harris passed away, has never really connected with Radcliffe. As a result, the pupil/mentor relationship between Harry and Dumbledore seems distant and amorphous. The final showdown with Harry and the wizard is unforgivably bungled, as Harry’s courage is held in check in the most contrived way possible.”

Gambon has done a largely strong job in the role of Dumbledore. Harris died before the demands of the role really exerted itself. Gambon took on the role at a time in the story, when Dumbledore was much more dominant.

The same contrivance of the final duel is used in the book, and also, I might add, in the 1977 Star Wars film (think Luke watching Ben and Vader’s saber duel). There has to be a mentor/student relationship and at the point when the student has matured enough to follow the teacher quietly and patiently then the story loses the teacher witin sight of the student. That is the only thing that can allow for the continued growth of the student character. It follows the same structure that so many other stories have used without such a scathing review.

“If you want to see a well-done supernatural story as a metaphor for growing up, watch the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” At least its writers had seven seasons to sort out the messy teen-to-adult transition.”

You’re right Buffy is this, but it is first adolescent drama and second fantasy/scifi action show. That’s why it works. The relationships and characters lead and the genre is simply a back drop. This is the second Harry Potter film to do just this, the first being The Prisoner of Azkaban. Because the handful of characters and their relationships are given time on screen, we as viewers can become involved with them emotionally. Ultimately this is a teen drama about the coming trials of adulthood, and those that want it to be something other than that will be disappointed.

Reply

75 Kenny July 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

No other series in history has had as much controversy over being faithful to the original souces such as the Harry Potter series. Star Wars followed needed no guidelines. LOTR does not have quite the following that these Harry Potters possess and there is no other series that matches the popularity of Rowling’s works.

I do agree with many points that you have made Trey, but must ask one question: did you actually enjoy watching the film? I for one, did, but the end is just too disappointing for a Harry Potter fan like myself to ignore and must be a little more than perplexing for a regular viewer. I must admit, I feel really mixed about the whole movie.

Reply

76 Kenny July 19, 2009 at 10:25 pm

No other series in history has had as much controversy over being faithful to the original souces such as the Harry Potter series. Star Wars followed needed no guidelines. LOTR does not have quite the following that these Harry Potters possess and there is no other series that matches the popularity of Rowling’s works.

I do agree with many points that you have made Trey, but must ask one question: did you actually enjoy watching the film? I for one, did, but the end is just too disappointing for a Harry Potter fan like myself to ignore and must be a little more than perplexing for a regular viewer. I must admit, I feel really mixed about the whole movie.

Reply

77 Trey July 19, 2009 at 10:41 pm

It’s a bit hyperbolic to say that no other series has had as much controversy over being faithful to the books or has been as popular, but your point is taken, Kenny.

I did enjoy watching the film, and I cannot say that about most of the films. I think that the first two are forgettable, the third is well done, and still probably the best of the series, the fourth has some strong moments, but is mediocre, and the fifth was filled with an overwhelming amount of explication, and felt clunky.

My wife has not read beyond book two, and hasn’t seen the last two films, yet she walked out happy about the movie. So I’m not so sure about the “regular viewer” comments that many have made.

Reply

78 Trey July 19, 2009 at 10:41 pm

It’s a bit hyperbolic to say that no other series has had as much controversy over being faithful to the books or has been as popular, but your point is taken, Kenny.

I did enjoy watching the film, and I cannot say that about most of the films. I think that the first two are forgettable, the third is well done, and still probably the best of the series, the fourth has some strong moments, but is mediocre, and the fifth was filled with an overwhelming amount of explication, and felt clunky.

My wife has not read beyond book two, and hasn’t seen the last two films, yet she walked out happy about the movie. So I’m not so sure about the “regular viewer” comments that many have made.

Reply

79 Eric Melin July 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

Trey- You make some good points here and we could argue the merits of the cinematography, art direction, and acting all day, but I can classify many of my main issues under one umbrella–the screenplay: The mounting action and conflict is almost non-existent (leading to no dramatic tension), what is there is too obvious from the get-go, and the characters have spun off into doing things without precedent. This is all coming from someone who isn’t comparing anything to the novel. The movie is simply lacking in these key elements, and the longer the series leaves out the details, the less character motivation will be clear.

Reply

80 Eric Melin July 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

Trey- You make some good points here and we could argue the merits of the cinematography, art direction, and acting all day, but I can classify many of my main issues under one umbrella–the screenplay: The mounting action and conflict is almost non-existent (leading to no dramatic tension), what is there is too obvious from the get-go, and the characters have spun off into doing things without precedent. This is all coming from someone who isn’t comparing anything to the novel. The movie is simply lacking in these key elements, and the longer the series leaves out the details, the less character motivation will be clear.

Reply

81 Trey July 20, 2009 at 9:54 am

Eric,

I agree with much of what you say here. While I feel that the main characters all have precedent for their actions, they may not be super clear within the context of this single film, and that is a failing. I’m not sure that there is no mounting action, but it is subtle and not as perceptible. It is a creepy hum that stems from the last film and points to the next, and again it weakens the single film. I think I want to go and see it again to see if this film works largely as tonal piece instead of a plot driven one. Maybe this is the art film of the series.

I will say that the next two movies have a ton of leg work to do as far as details, and this troubles me. They will probably be train wrecks, which will allow me to turn in my “Unintended Defender of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” credentials.

Reply

82 Trey July 20, 2009 at 9:54 am

Eric,

I agree with much of what you say here. While I feel that the main characters all have precedent for their actions, they may not be super clear within the context of this single film, and that is a failing. I’m not sure that there is no mounting action, but it is subtle and not as perceptible. It is a creepy hum that stems from the last film and points to the next, and again it weakens the single film. I think I want to go and see it again to see if this film works largely as tonal piece instead of a plot driven one. Maybe this is the art film of the series.

I will say that the next two movies have a ton of leg work to do as far as details, and this troubles me. They will probably be train wrecks, which will allow me to turn in my “Unintended Defender of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” credentials.

Reply

83 Mike July 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally, a review that points out all the missteps that were taken in this C- adaptation of the sixth book in the Harry Potter series. I was so excited to see this film because of the important and DRAMATIC revelations in the book that lead to the painful-to-read scene in which Harry must force Dumbledore to drink the poison at the cave, followed by the bone-chilling sight of the Death Mark over Hogwarts, building to the first-ever full-scale breach and battle inside Hogwarts, and finally, the “NO THAT CANNOT BE TRUE THAT SNAPE JUST KILLED DUMBLEDORE” scream inside my, and every reader’s head. Just writing that got my adrenaline pumping, but when I left the movie, I was depressed, not because I just watched Dumbledore fall from the clock tower (made me cry when I read the book), but because the tension, raw emotion and sadness was not conveyed or handled properly in this worst installment of the series.
I agree whole-heartedly with your break down of what did, and sadly the greater, did not work in the film. As a die-hard lover of the books, I have enjoyed the movies thus far. Sure there are elements in every one of the films that could have been improved, but overall I feel that, given the immensely rich and DENSE material, each director, and the two separate screenwriters, did a fine job in staying true to the Harry Potter world. Not with the HBP. The fact that Steve Kloves was back writing the screenplay is baffling considering his past success in honoring the source material for the first 4 installments. We can only hope that J.K. Rowling feels the same way and steps up and shouts, “Put away your re-writes, YOU BITCH! You…will…never…mess with my book AGAIN.”

Reply

84 Mike July 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally, a review that points out all the missteps that were taken in this C- adaptation of the sixth book in the Harry Potter series. I was so excited to see this film because of the important and DRAMATIC revelations in the book that lead to the painful-to-read scene in which Harry must force Dumbledore to drink the poison at the cave, followed by the bone-chilling sight of the Death Mark over Hogwarts, building to the first-ever full-scale breach and battle inside Hogwarts, and finally, the “NO THAT CANNOT BE TRUE THAT SNAPE JUST KILLED DUMBLEDORE” scream inside my, and every reader’s head. Just writing that got my adrenaline pumping, but when I left the movie, I was depressed, not because I just watched Dumbledore fall from the clock tower (made me cry when I read the book), but because the tension, raw emotion and sadness was not conveyed or handled properly in this worst installment of the series.
I agree whole-heartedly with your break down of what did, and sadly the greater, did not work in the film. As a die-hard lover of the books, I have enjoyed the movies thus far. Sure there are elements in every one of the films that could have been improved, but overall I feel that, given the immensely rich and DENSE material, each director, and the two separate screenwriters, did a fine job in staying true to the Harry Potter world. Not with the HBP. The fact that Steve Kloves was back writing the screenplay is baffling considering his past success in honoring the source material for the first 4 installments. We can only hope that J.K. Rowling feels the same way and steps up and shouts, “Put away your re-writes, YOU BITCH! You…will…never…mess with my book AGAIN.”

Reply

85 Kenny July 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I must say that as a single film it’s a pleasure to watch. However, when fitting it with the rest of the films it underperforms in its own lack of significance. It also fails when comparing it to the book (which does not bother me as much). It succeeds as a tonal piece, but lacks the importance that the original source is intended to have.

Reply

86 Kenny July 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I must say that as a single film it’s a pleasure to watch. However, when fitting it with the rest of the films it underperforms in its own lack of significance. It also fails when comparing it to the book (which does not bother me as much). It succeeds as a tonal piece, but lacks the importance that the original source is intended to have.

Reply

87 Kenny July 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Another point that I have been pondering is fromt an article I read that Yates and Kloves may include the Battle of Hogwarts, but more likely Dumbledore’s funeral in the next movie (taking the path that Jackson took with showing what happened to Gandalf in the Two Towers). Now if that is the case, then that may change how Potter fans and myself look at the Half-Blood Prince.

Reply

88 Kenny July 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Another point that I have been pondering is fromt an article I read that Yates and Kloves may include the Battle of Hogwarts, but more likely Dumbledore’s funeral in the next movie (taking the path that Jackson took with showing what happened to Gandalf in the Two Towers). Now if that is the case, then that may change how Potter fans and myself look at the Half-Blood Prince.

Reply

89 Matt July 20, 2009 at 11:06 pm

I hated how the filmmakers decided that they could tell the story better than J.K. Rowling.

Reply

90 Matt July 20, 2009 at 11:06 pm

I hated how the filmmakers decided that they could tell the story better than J.K. Rowling.

Reply

91 Gary July 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Reading through the comments, I get the sense that there are other questions at play. Why are movies based on a novel created? Should they cater to fans of the book and bring the story to life as originally written? Or are they intended to expose a new audience to the basic idea behind the novel but have freedom to incorporate current social trends? Does the amount of time that has passed since the story was written dictate public expectations?

I think about films like Romeo + Juliet that are critically acclaimed because they bring an interpretation to the book that is modern and relevant. While movies based on Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Dan Brown, etc are expected to be spot-on (ok, I’m not saying they are classic novels on-par with Shakespeare but the books were at the height of popularity when the movies were made).

With that being said, I think this is a case where the books are still popular and current to where people expect the movie to be true to it’s roots. The fault of this movie seems to be that the director looked around at other franchises that have been successful and wanted to copy their success. Let’s face it, prior to taking the reigns of HP, he was filming made for TV movies. Is it possible he was feeling a bit overwhelmed and wanted to make sure he had box-office success? Instead of concentrating on the ‘good vs. evil’ element of the entire series, he focused on one element – the akward teen phase and assumed everyone already knew what was going to happen with the fight against evil. Other elements needed to be included to keep the entire series moving forward which caused the movie to be clunky and disconnected at times. I’m assuming he and the Warner Bros. execs felt that the teen drama would drive repeat traffic and that the visual effects and cinematography would satisfy the die-hard fans. Let’s face it, we are in a Disney world and this was a couple of song and dance numbers short of High School Musical – Hogwarts.

Reply

92 Gary July 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Reading through the comments, I get the sense that there are other questions at play. Why are movies based on a novel created? Should they cater to fans of the book and bring the story to life as originally written? Or are they intended to expose a new audience to the basic idea behind the novel but have freedom to incorporate current social trends? Does the amount of time that has passed since the story was written dictate public expectations?

I think about films like Romeo + Juliet that are critically acclaimed because they bring an interpretation to the book that is modern and relevant. While movies based on Michael Crichton, John Grisham, Dan Brown, etc are expected to be spot-on (ok, I’m not saying they are classic novels on-par with Shakespeare but the books were at the height of popularity when the movies were made).

With that being said, I think this is a case where the books are still popular and current to where people expect the movie to be true to it’s roots. The fault of this movie seems to be that the director looked around at other franchises that have been successful and wanted to copy their success. Let’s face it, prior to taking the reigns of HP, he was filming made for TV movies. Is it possible he was feeling a bit overwhelmed and wanted to make sure he had box-office success? Instead of concentrating on the ‘good vs. evil’ element of the entire series, he focused on one element – the akward teen phase and assumed everyone already knew what was going to happen with the fight against evil. Other elements needed to be included to keep the entire series moving forward which caused the movie to be clunky and disconnected at times. I’m assuming he and the Warner Bros. execs felt that the teen drama would drive repeat traffic and that the visual effects and cinematography would satisfy the die-hard fans. Let’s face it, we are in a Disney world and this was a couple of song and dance numbers short of High School Musical – Hogwarts.

Reply

93 Trey July 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Gary,

Films based on movies are made for two reasons. One, because someone found the story compelling, and had the vision for a film, and/or (and this is the driving factor for all of the HP movies) to make money. Popular contemporary novels have a built in market. Couple that with a slick add campaign that will bring in a few more folks and POW we’ve got asses in seats.

Your comment on Romeo and Juliet is a little funky because it’s not a novel, it’s a play, which is a performed piece and makes and easier transition to the screen. Well at least much of the production language is the same.

Also this concept of “spot on” or “true to the novel” bugs me a lot. All you have to do is borrow and audio book version of Jurassic Park from your library, get a stop watch, and listen while you time the reading. You’ll see that Jurassic Park, which is a fun popcorn flick and emotionally/intellectually true to the book, is not word for word true to the book at all. But no one cares about scrutinizing the differences between the book and film we’re too into those awesome dinosaurs.

My point is that you can never have a film that take the story in a novel word for word/scene for scene. It would be 10 hours long and bore the pants off of you. You also have the tricky problem of knowing what people are thinking or feeling, which comes through loud and clear in a novel, but must be shown visually in a film. Just go back and watch Lynch’s version of Dune for one of the weirdest ways of tackling this problem. It is burdened with a ton of voice over and gives the viewer no clear narrator to latch on to.

This movie might not make the transition to film well, but one of my gripes with the 5th and 6th books are that Harry and his cohorts are moody brooding angry teenagers. This is explored ad naseum in the those two books in particular, and the struggles toward adulthood are mirrored by the trials and tribulations felt by one engaging in the battle between good versus evil. Again if you hate the fact that we have teens here then the books are condemnable as much as the films.

These movies are dark and scary fare. Not for most adults, but having worked in a toy store, I knew a large number of kids who were genuinely frightend by them. Good and evil are there, so are whiny teens, and thnakfully no musical numbers. Yet.

Oh and for those that don’t think Rowling gets a say in all of this, you are sorely mistaken. I’m sure that with such a massive franchise she gets to sign off on the script before producition moves forward. In addition, she gets huge amounts of cash. If were going to condemn, lets give Rowling her’s as well.

Reply

94 Trey July 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Gary,

Films based on movies are made for two reasons. One, because someone found the story compelling, and had the vision for a film, and/or (and this is the driving factor for all of the HP movies) to make money. Popular contemporary novels have a built in market. Couple that with a slick add campaign that will bring in a few more folks and POW we’ve got asses in seats.

Your comment on Romeo and Juliet is a little funky because it’s not a novel, it’s a play, which is a performed piece and makes and easier transition to the screen. Well at least much of the production language is the same.

Also this concept of “spot on” or “true to the novel” bugs me a lot. All you have to do is borrow and audio book version of Jurassic Park from your library, get a stop watch, and listen while you time the reading. You’ll see that Jurassic Park, which is a fun popcorn flick and emotionally/intellectually true to the book, is not word for word true to the book at all. But no one cares about scrutinizing the differences between the book and film we’re too into those awesome dinosaurs.

My point is that you can never have a film that take the story in a novel word for word/scene for scene. It would be 10 hours long and bore the pants off of you. You also have the tricky problem of knowing what people are thinking or feeling, which comes through loud and clear in a novel, but must be shown visually in a film. Just go back and watch Lynch’s version of Dune for one of the weirdest ways of tackling this problem. It is burdened with a ton of voice over and gives the viewer no clear narrator to latch on to.

This movie might not make the transition to film well, but one of my gripes with the 5th and 6th books are that Harry and his cohorts are moody brooding angry teenagers. This is explored ad naseum in the those two books in particular, and the struggles toward adulthood are mirrored by the trials and tribulations felt by one engaging in the battle between good versus evil. Again if you hate the fact that we have teens here then the books are condemnable as much as the films.

These movies are dark and scary fare. Not for most adults, but having worked in a toy store, I knew a large number of kids who were genuinely frightend by them. Good and evil are there, so are whiny teens, and thnakfully no musical numbers. Yet.

Oh and for those that don’t think Rowling gets a say in all of this, you are sorely mistaken. I’m sure that with such a massive franchise she gets to sign off on the script before producition moves forward. In addition, she gets huge amounts of cash. If were going to condemn, lets give Rowling her’s as well.

Reply

95 inga July 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Trey, I agree with you about the SERIOUS improvement of movie over book in taking away the whiny adolescent stuff. That said, I also agree with people who feel that Harry/Dumbledore and Harry/Snape and Harry/Voldemort were underdeveloped (I’m glad I came a little late and missed the waitress scene, I would also have been distressed). Maybe all the critics are right, and Daniel Radcliffe really is a dreadful actor (although so cute..).
I wonder if anyone else thought that the clothing of the Slytherins was…off? Those Christmas tree dresses the Slytherin girls had at the party? All matching? NOT something you’d see on the Heathers, who I think might have made good role models for these gals. Or maybe they should go Goth, like Bellatrix. And the Slytherin guys all in black? Seriously. They look like priests.
Some critic said he wondered why any teen would be interested in these kids who aren’t constantly texting, which I thought was funny. Maybe some teen could answer this for me (since I’m old enough to refer to Heathers, but not Buffy; that is, really old).

Reply

96 inga July 26, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Trey, I agree with you about the SERIOUS improvement of movie over book in taking away the whiny adolescent stuff. That said, I also agree with people who feel that Harry/Dumbledore and Harry/Snape and Harry/Voldemort were underdeveloped (I’m glad I came a little late and missed the waitress scene, I would also have been distressed). Maybe all the critics are right, and Daniel Radcliffe really is a dreadful actor (although so cute..).
I wonder if anyone else thought that the clothing of the Slytherins was…off? Those Christmas tree dresses the Slytherin girls had at the party? All matching? NOT something you’d see on the Heathers, who I think might have made good role models for these gals. Or maybe they should go Goth, like Bellatrix. And the Slytherin guys all in black? Seriously. They look like priests.
Some critic said he wondered why any teen would be interested in these kids who aren’t constantly texting, which I thought was funny. Maybe some teen could answer this for me (since I’m old enough to refer to Heathers, but not Buffy; that is, really old).

Reply

97 Pepsi July 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I’m shocked by the fact that so many people think this is the worst film. I’ve read all the books, and this is definitely not the least accurate. Order of the Phoenix was the SHORTEST film based of the longest book, it left out almost everything in the book. It was much more dissapointing. The Goblet of Fire got rid of Winky and the whole plot-thing that is what made that book one of the best. Prisoner of Azkaban, I do love the movie but, they didn’t even wear the UNIFORMS in the movie! They wore “Muggle” clothing. Personally I thought the 6th movie was the best so far. The first 2 were the most accurate, but too childish I found.

Reply

98 Pepsi July 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm

I’m shocked by the fact that so many people think this is the worst film. I’ve read all the books, and this is definitely not the least accurate. Order of the Phoenix was the SHORTEST film based of the longest book, it left out almost everything in the book. It was much more dissapointing. The Goblet of Fire got rid of Winky and the whole plot-thing that is what made that book one of the best. Prisoner of Azkaban, I do love the movie but, they didn’t even wear the UNIFORMS in the movie! They wore “Muggle” clothing. Personally I thought the 6th movie was the best so far. The first 2 were the most accurate, but too childish I found.

Reply

99 shelby hunt July 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

i really love harry potter all my friends say i look like hermoine thats really cool any way i am going to see every movie of harry potter any who i love harry potter peace.

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100 shelby hunt July 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

i really love harry potter all my friends say i look like hermoine thats really cool any way i am going to see every movie of harry potter any who i love harry potter peace.

Reply

101 days of dee tresna July 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm

i understand much of disappointments in this movie for those who read the book. indeed how to translate such a thick book full of imaginations into more-less 2 hours movie.

i enjoyed the movie, let the movie just the movie and the book is the one to generate the right imagination for each fans.

thanks for the review eric and JD
keep up the good work

Reply

102 days of dee tresna July 29, 2009 at 10:25 pm

i understand much of disappointments in this movie for those who read the book. indeed how to translate such a thick book full of imaginations into more-less 2 hours movie.

i enjoyed the movie, let the movie just the movie and the book is the one to generate the right imagination for each fans.

thanks for the review eric and JD
keep up the good work

Reply

103 Zangetsu August 10, 2009 at 7:13 pm

That is absolutely right. Whole movie was crap. When I went to cinema I was so excited “Ohh this is gonna be cool” when I went home I was thinking “Ohh I wish I never went watch this”. Like, first scene with Death Eaters, killing people and destroying the bridge was interesting, the second scene with Harry in the bar and meeting Dumbledore was WTF?! and scene after scene was becoming even worse. The Weasley house incident was just a piece of ****… you know what I mean. It was completely unnecessary. And how the bloody hell did Dumbie know where is horxux? Remember that scene when Dumbledore burns Tom’s closet? In the book Tom wasnt just sitting there and watching his stuff burning. Lame. And they skept fight scene! It looked like the whole castle was empty. Why were Death eaters there if they just broke some glass and killed Dumbie? And whene Harry was chasing Snape, nobody was fighting with death eaters it was just like: “Hey, what’s going on?” “Oh nothing, Potter is just chasing some Death eaters who killed Dumbledore.” “O, I see. Let’s go back to sleep.”

I mean WTF??!?!?!

And whene they burned Hagrid’s house nothing happened even Hagrid didnt came and said:” Oh, mah house is bu’ning. Wat am I gonna do?”

Like when Harry cursed Draco whho then lied covered in blood, he wastn punished he could walk away it was like that using dark arts on other students is quite often.

And its true that Daniel is really really REALLY rEaLlY dreadful actor, he’s got about just 4-5 different faces.

There is more things I disliked, but this are the most.

When I came out of cinema I thought just:”So this was it.” and didnt thinked a lot about it. In my opinion, the Order of Phoenix was the best movie.

Reply

104 Zangetsu August 10, 2009 at 7:13 pm

That is absolutely right. Whole movie was crap. When I went to cinema I was so excited “Ohh this is gonna be cool” when I went home I was thinking “Ohh I wish I never went watch this”. Like, first scene with Death Eaters, killing people and destroying the bridge was interesting, the second scene with Harry in the bar and meeting Dumbledore was WTF?! and scene after scene was becoming even worse. The Weasley house incident was just a piece of ****… you know what I mean. It was completely unnecessary. And how the bloody hell did Dumbie know where is horxux? Remember that scene when Dumbledore burns Tom’s closet? In the book Tom wasnt just sitting there and watching his stuff burning. Lame. And they skept fight scene! It looked like the whole castle was empty. Why were Death eaters there if they just broke some glass and killed Dumbie? And whene Harry was chasing Snape, nobody was fighting with death eaters it was just like: “Hey, what’s going on?” “Oh nothing, Potter is just chasing some Death eaters who killed Dumbledore.” “O, I see. Let’s go back to sleep.”

I mean WTF??!?!?!

And whene they burned Hagrid’s house nothing happened even Hagrid didnt came and said:” Oh, mah house is bu’ning. Wat am I gonna do?”

Like when Harry cursed Draco whho then lied covered in blood, he wastn punished he could walk away it was like that using dark arts on other students is quite often.

And its true that Daniel is really really REALLY rEaLlY dreadful actor, he’s got about just 4-5 different faces.

There is more things I disliked, but this are the most.

When I came out of cinema I thought just:”So this was it.” and didnt thinked a lot about it. In my opinion, the Order of Phoenix was the best movie.

Reply

105 Ilena August 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Worst movie ever.

Reply

106 Ilena August 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Worst movie ever.

Reply

107 Samantha November 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm

The sixth movie was BY FAR the most diaappointing for me. Completely butchered the book. Don’t like this director.

Reply

108 Samantha November 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm

The sixth movie was BY FAR the most diaappointing for me. Completely butchered the book. Don’t like this director.

Reply

109 cognitive21st December 4, 2009 at 4:24 am

In my view this part was the worst, but even others dont deserve a good rating except the first two maybe (because they actually cover a considerable part of book’s story and stick to it)! And those who judge harry potter by watching movies: movies do NOT convey or even outline the story, drama, fantasizing aura and sequence!
For this movie: plots are crap, emotions are wrongly overdone, and a hell lot of waste of time in already very short movie!
and at the end IMO: harry potter movies should have been long (atleast post prisoner of azkaban movies) like lord of the rings’ extended versions (3-4 hours long)!

Reply

110 cognitive21st December 4, 2009 at 4:24 am

In my view this part was the worst, but even others dont deserve a good rating except the first two maybe (because they actually cover a considerable part of book’s story and stick to it)! And those who judge harry potter by watching movies: movies do NOT convey or even outline the story, drama, fantasizing aura and sequence!
For this movie: plots are crap, emotions are wrongly overdone, and a hell lot of waste of time in already very short movie!
and at the end IMO: harry potter movies should have been long (atleast post prisoner of azkaban movies) like lord of the rings’ extended versions (3-4 hours long)!

Reply

111 godawful December 17, 2009 at 5:33 am

This movie is as awful as the books. The books are written at a third grade level and the movies filmed for people about the same age, if that. Half Blood Prince was the second movie I tried to watch – big mistake. At least I learned not to read the $h!tty books after half of one. Save your time people: go stare at a brick wall for two hours; much more entertaining and productive.

Reply

112 godawful December 17, 2009 at 5:33 am

This movie is as awful as the books. The books are written at a third grade level and the movies filmed for people about the same age, if that. Half Blood Prince was the second movie I tried to watch – big mistake. At least I learned not to read the $h!tty books after half of one. Save your time people: go stare at a brick wall for two hours; much more entertaining and productive.

Reply

113 Joanna January 16, 2010 at 5:49 am

I’m very disappointed from the sixth movie. I waited so long for it to come out but now I see it wasn’t worth it! Although all the actors played well, the inclusion of scenes that were not in the book was a very bad idea. Allowing David Yates to direct the rest of the movies is also a big mistake.

Reply

114 Joanna January 16, 2010 at 5:49 am

I’m very disappointed from the sixth movie. I waited so long for it to come out but now I see it wasn’t worth it! Although all the actors played well, the inclusion of scenes that were not in the book was a very bad idea. Allowing David Yates to direct the rest of the movies is also a big mistake.

Reply

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