Potter’s Half-Blooded Adventure
The new Harry Potter film, “The Half-Blood Prince”, is finally out in theaters, a full two years after the series reached its literary end and amid news that that final novel will be a longer film than any other – split into two parts.
I know a lot of the die-hard fans were disappointed with the direction of the series as J.K. Rowling kept to her plan of keeping each book largely a stand-alone novel with the necessary plot details repeated for the readers as needed. This meant certain plot details used in one book would be conveniently shut off for the next if not relevant to the storyline she wanted to tell. It also meant dumping a lot of new background information onto the reader if the story required this.
The first novel where this expository excess was so blatant that it caught the eye of film reviewers was this year’s Half-Blood Prince. Indeed, most of the bad comments from film critics had to do with the nature of the story – its Pensieve-based backstory, its lack of a dominating villain, its middle-act subplot of teenager romance seeming shallow and silly. But truth be known, many of the fans who were critical seemed to attack the very few elements where the film makers were trying to paper over the source material’s weaknesses (by giving Draco an un-nuanced presence, adding an action sequence in the middle of the film to give it a lift, showing a bridge collapsing rather than talking about it, etc.).
I rather liked this film. It was faithful to the story Rowling presented and its deviations from the source material only strengthened the film. For example, the funeral at the end was replaced by a poignant wand-raising that literally brought out the light to erase the Dark mark.
And I think each of the lead actors had great scenes in which to shine – Hermoine revealing her under-proven love for Ron (which, frankly, isn’t much clearer in the books), Ron hamming it up at Quidditch and dealing with his love interest, Harry being drugged up on Liquid Luck, and Professor Snape in the ambiguous climax.
This was not a perfect adaptation, but it was hardly a perfect book (even in comparing it to other Potter novels). It was a solid theatrical treatment, and well worth watching. I look forward to buying the film on DVD and catching the final two films in the theaters.