Cathy: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” sees 16 year old Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), together with his best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), entering his second last year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the painful arena of adolescent love. In order to find a way of defeating Lord Voldemort, Harry’s archenemy, Harry and Albus Dumbledore (Hogwarts’ headmaster and Harry’s much-loved mentor) search out memories of Voldemort as a student at Hogwart’s – with tragic consequences.
David: Its just so hard to be objective about this film. I cannot even imagine what it might look like to someone who has never heard of Harry Potter, or who hasn’t read the books, or who hasn’t seen all the previous installments. I found myself asking: does this film make sense as a story in itself? I guess one has to start with what “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is about. One would expect that it would have something to do with someone called “the Half-Blood Prince” – which the novel certainly is. But this major theme in the novel is reduced to a secondary subplot (behind the teenage romances) in the film. Very frustrating for HP fans.
Cathy: After much anticipation (the girls were very excited to be seeing HP for the first time IN the cinema AND on the opening day), I actually came away feeling a bit disappointed. Considerable discussion ensued on the way home about the many scenes from the book that we considered vitally important to the plot that were not included, while several scenes not even in the original story were added. I found the end particularly anticlimactic, and so at odds with the dramatic ending in the novel.
David: Nevertheless, this is a beautifully produced film, with good performances from the main characters. Michael Gambon, as Dumbledore, is the best he has ever been – very “Gandalf”. He has aged into the part. Talking of which, Maggie Smith (who plays Professor McGonagall) is noticeably aging. The new character of Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) – while not quite what I expected – is absolutely delightful. There is witty humour all the way through the film (although I asked myself “Was the book this funny?”).
Cathy: I agree. Great cinematography; the very grey, monochromatic look at times certainly suited the darker mood of the movie, and I am still glad I went to see it. I’m giving it three and a half stars.
David: The problem is that the film just didn’t, in the end, seem to present the story line of the novel in a coherent manner. I’m giving it three stars.