Was Half-Blood Prince worth twice as long the wait? Well, to Warner Brothers it most certainly was, as it raked in nearly $20 million with just the first midnight show alone (late Tuesday-early Wednesday morning release), which no other movie has ever achieved, according to MTV. Sure, the franchise has always been successful, but this movie in particular was much-awaited, and its delayed release increased anticipation for fervid fans and piqued curiosity for the indifferent tag-alongs just the same.
For me personally, the movie was amazing. This was the first Potter movie I’d seen after reading the series, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. But overall I thought the movie was extremely well done, besides the weak ending. Readers of the series will be pleased the screenplay sticks to the storyline, but the way the movie was edited makes me think those who haven’t read the books would most definitely be lost at some scenes, for instance, those involving werewolf Fenrir Greyback, or Harry’s Hogwarts arch-nemesis Draco Malfoy. Some viewers may be thrown by the new Death Eater, or by Malfoy’s outbursts and inner turmoil.
However, all of the actors have matured in their skills. Despite scathing reviews I’d read before the show, and discussions with my friends about Daniel Radcliffe’s inability to show emotion, I think he made a breakthrough with this film. Harry’s character comes off as witty, compassionate, recklessly daring and charismatic, instead of the stony stoicism he displays in other films. Rupert Grint, too, skillfully portrays a lovestruck Ronald Weasley, but Grint has never failed to put on an entertaining performance before. I’ll admit I was a bit put off by a few scenes between Harry and Hermione (Emma Watson) because they came off as too sappy, but otherwise the flirting and fighting of the teenage wizards provided ample relief to the dark themes of the main plot. This was at once the funniest and darkest of all the Potter movies yet.
There were only two major disappointments for me, and both involve our beloved Alan Rickman’s character, Severus Snape. Rowling’s Sixth Book makes us loathe Snape, truly produces a reason for us to hate his guts. We even feel that lump in our throat when we discover Dumbledore’s fate as we read through the last few chapters. Yet, the film elicits none of these emotions. Frankly, it fell flat. To make matters worse, Snape’s brief admission that he is in fact the Half-Blood Prince comes as a side note, whereas it is given extensive attention in the books (hence the title).
Aside from some questionable awkward scenes between Harry and Ginny, the rest of the movie was so entertaining I would venture to call it my favorite. Well, for now at least, it’s a tight race between this and the last one (well, maybe not for Warner Bros).
One thing’s certain: whatever doubts we had in our minds that the final few films would not be able to capture the charm of the written series are now dispelled.