Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

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As always, I will divide this review into two sections. The top portion will be spoiler free. Everything after the SPOILERS! mark will be, well, full of spoilers, and I'd assume the comments will be as well.

Going in to this film, I was worried. I had heard many good things about this adaption, but frankly, I wasn't convinced they could convey the proper tone for the book. Sure, Harry Potter 1 was all magic, smiles, and laughter, but things have progressively gotten darker and moodier. For me, Goblet of Fire, almost stands out as the Empire Strikes Back of the series. It's the turning point where the laughs kinda die off and the body count begins. What I love most about the series is that it goes from light-hearted magical fair to a much more serious, emotional, and frankly, painful story. To Rowling's credit, she never turned the book "adult." There isn't sex, gratuitous violence, or other cop outs. Rowling moves the series expertly along as the characters age and the stakes rise.

So back to my worry. The books convey this pain, this fear, so well, and I wasn't sure the movie could pull it off - especially the pivotal ending. Happily - they did it. Obviously a lot was cut out. But I think the movie did a fair job of striking a balance between length and representing the book. This movie is sad. Overwhelmingly so. And I'm happy they kept it like that. There is no "Hollywood" cop out here.

If you are a fan of the series, and maybe felt a little let down by the last movie, definitely see this one. It's worth seeing on a big screen. You may not want to bring your youngest. I brought all my kids, and while there wasn't anything objectionable (even with all the teenage hormones), the movie may drag a bit for them. Again, it's more dark, more serious, than the previous ones.


To me, there are 3 critical parts of the entire series. The death of what's his name at the end of Goblet of Fire, the death of Dumbledore, and the revelation of Snape at the end of B7. I thought Snape's history in Order of the Phoenix wasn't handled well. But they handled his character great here. Ditto Malfoy. The movie did a great job conveying how tortured he felt.

The scene with the bridge in the beginning was incredible. It was a great way to demonstrate how the Muggle world was being impacted as well.

I do wish they had spent a bit more time on Voldemort's past. They didn't do a bad job - that young kid was perfect (remind anyone of Damien or the Omen or whatever that old movie was?) and I wish they had maybe cut a bit more of the teenage hormone stuff and spent more on him.

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Rick O posted on 7/18/2009 at 9:30 AM

I agree -- it was a decent adaptation. It wasn't perfect, but I thought it did a good job summarizing a long book. However, I'd argue that the hormone stuff needed to be left in, because without it the entire film would have been dreary and depressing. While that may have been the overarching theme of the book (like Empire Strikes Back), that wasn't all of it. And, really, none of the hook-ups in Hallows would make any sort of sense if they didn't set them up here.

Comment 2 by Ludovico Clemente posted on 7/18/2009 at 12:47 PM

I agree it was very entertaining, it made both laugh and shiver.. The only thing for me was, it felt a lot different from the feelings I had reading the book, a LOT... But that's how movie adaptations go sometimes, I suppose :). I also think the script spent too much time on personal problems of the main characters, leaving the real problems (Voldemort and the Horcruxes, anyone? :) a little aside..
That's just my pov, anyway, and I agree that it was absolutely fun to watch.

Comment 3 by Kumar posted on 7/19/2009 at 12:10 AM

It was good. But cutting out the Gaunts completely is an epic failure of story telling when the series is viewed as a whole (if they decide to now show it in the next part).

Comment 4 by Michael Brennan-White posted on 7/19/2009 at 7:30 AM

My son wanted me to reiterate how much we missed the battle at the end.

That being said, HBP was my least favorite of the books so surprisingly I felt it was the best of the movies so far especially after being disappointed by the 5th movie.

Slughorn felt very one dimensional in the book but Broadbent was the high point of the movie along with Helen Bonham Carter as Bellatrix. I also appreciated how true to life the Lavender Brown affair was portrayed.

I will probably go see the movie again with my kids.

Comment 5 by *Sigh* posted on 7/20/2009 at 12:03 PM

OH MY GOD. The movie was completely terrible, hard to pick up at the start, you can SEE a lot was cut out of the movie. WHERE THE HELL IS THE STORY LINE, HMMM? And what about the ending? Wasn't it horrible!!
I'm sorry, but it is one of the worst movies I have seen in years, certainly the worst out of the Harry Potter series. Compare the first three movies to this one - the sixth has no feeling, no meaning whatsoever. What was the point of all that love shit? That's what three quarters of the movie was revolving around.

Oh well, I guess as the writer JK Rowling has to be going somewhere with this. I'll trust her and see what happens in the seventh film, it had better be good!!

Comment 6 by Jonathan posted on 7/20/2009 at 5:00 PM

I liked it. I do think cutting out Tom Riddle's pass as much as they did was a mistake. The teen hormone theme, while at first was annoying me, ended up amusing me. It was pretty funny. a little heavy handed, though

the sequence with the good luck potion was laugh out loud funny.


One thing the left out and I can't for the life of me figure out why is at the very end when harry goes after snape, in the book, snape snarls at him something like "if you don't learn to control your mind you'll never ... ". I remember it feeding nicely into the "which side is snape really on?". It was both a taunt and a teaching moment.

The reveal of who the half blood prince was was also just thrown in at the end without any real impact.

overall, loved it. It was also may favorite of the books

Comment 7 by BJ posted on 7/20/2009 at 6:07 PM

I liked the movie but I can't believe they didn't stage the battle at the end. That part of the book was so good with Harry and classmates fighting the death eaters. Also they didn't develop Snape being the half blood prince very well.

Comment 8 by domminic posted on 7/22/2009 at 8:25 PM

watched the movie...even wrote a review on it
read it here:

in short, it was disappointing. i expected much more from the team. they left out a whole lot from what was written in the books. especially the fight for Hogwarts!

though david yates did a splendid job, it was disappointing nonetheless

guess i`ll just stick to the books for now...

Comment 9 by Cartoon Voices by Andrew posted on 7/24/2009 at 5:50 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful review (I stopped reading at "Spoiler"). I hope to see this film this weekend.

Comment 10 by killzango posted on 7/25/2009 at 1:31 AM

My family and I watched the movie last night and we were all pretty disappointed. We're avid fans and have read all the books of course and love the books and the previous 5 movies. We did not enjoy this one at all. We're still talking about what disappointed us which is quite a bit. Big book to compress into 153 minutes but obviously what the people who adapted it for cinema thought were important differed from us. The title Half Blood Prince indicates some importance on who or what that person could be but the movie didn't impart that for me. Lots of really great stuff sacrificed and I have to admit we struggled to remain in the theatre because it was long, boring and we came out thinking what was that all about. Honestly Deatheaters storming through Hogwarts unchallenged - come on! Harry not being disciplined by Snape for nearly killing Draco - completely out of character with their relationship throughout the series. Anyway, love the book and yup looking forward to Deathly Hallows mark I and II but probably with a bit more trepidation than before.

Comment 11 by Mark posted on 8/24/2009 at 8:36 PM

HP 3D. What a rip-off. I don't know about the rest of you, but if you paid money to see the half-blood prince in 3D, then you probably felt cheated as well. They let you see all the previews in 3D and then the first 20 minutes are awesome. once Harry arrives at the Burrow, that's it. no more 3D for the rest of the entire movie. WHAT THE @#$^. I paid money to see the movie in 3D, not just 20 minutes. At least during some of the action scenes, let us put the glasses back on. the movie was ok, but it sucked when i was expecting to see the movie in 3D from start to finish. if they are going to advertise a movie in 3D, I say DO THE WHOLE STICKIN' THING!!!

Comment 12 by MIKO posted on 12/7/2009 at 1:16 AM

O.k to begin, in the begining when Dumbledore was making his yearly announcements you SAW! 2 aurors pacing outside the great hall. This SHOWS that Hogwarts was being protected. to have Bellatrix just come in there and tear up the place is outrageous, where was Hagrid? where was proffesor McGonagall? where were the aurors!!? There was no way in hell that after Dumbledores death security jus vanished!

To me it seemed like Yates felt like he had to compete with Twilight and New Moon. He put so much emphasis on the teen relationships and not the story line. Yates come on man Harry vs Edward? Harry wins everytime we established that when Cedric Diggory Died. kudos to hp4 AMAZING MOVIE.

At the end i think it was appropriate to have Dumbledores funeral with past characters. He could of played around with it so much like having fleur and Bill standing next to each other with engagement rings. Krum returning and his academy to pay his respects.and etc.

I understand he took out the battle to anticipate the one in hp8 but that added scene was so dirty. The plot was so messy to that scene, and again the end when they are escaping did not make sense.

Yates im sorry but if i wasnt a die hard fan i would say you nearly massacred the book with that movie. and this was my favorite book. If it wasnt for the great acting of the stars and the side plots this movie would have been a mess.