The sixth book in the saga of Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is undoubtedly the one I liked the most: full of interesting events, not only it introduces the Horcruxes that will be so crucial in the last book, but it also take out of the picture a reference figure for Harry and his companions, it changes the character of Draco Malfoy for the worst, and above all it reveals the true (?) nature of another great character of the saga: Severus Snape. And so, you may ask, did I enjoy the film directed by David Yates in 2009 based on that book that I love so much? No, not really. Here’s why.
Perhaps it’s a matter of expectations: I expected the film to be as good as the book and instead… there’s no comparison between the two. Almost nothing remains of the emotions the book gave me, nor of its rich plot. It’s clear that the film aimed at telling only the story of Draco and his misdeeds (and it does so well), but everything else is simply forgotten. The unforgivable thing for me is the ending that betrays all we have come to know about Harry, an ending which comes out as emotion-less and cold despite the death of nothing less than Albus Dumbledore! Even the revelation of who’s the half-blood prince has no weight whatsoever and it leaves the viewer perplexed since the movie does nothing to highlight the importance of the prince’s book which is used by Harry in only a couple of scenes.
Even more than in the previous films, the absence of everyday school life here emerges as an unforgivable flaw as the film fails to adequately convey the shock of having Snape teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. The same goes for Harry being suddenly very good at Potions, something he wasn’t before, and his consequent friendship with Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).
I feel like a golden opportunity has been thrown away: with such a great source material, the movie feels like a mediocre job of an equally mediocre director. It doesn’t leave a lasting impression and it completely fails at creating what should have been the highest emotional peak of the whole saga! Yates had already wasted the death of Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but here things are even worse with the scenes of Dumbledore’s death being absolutely mundane. So, after two successful movies by Chris Columbus (the philosopher’s stone and the chamber of secrets), the excellent third installment by Cuarón, Newell’s good fourth film, Yates’ arrival behind the camera is confirmed to have led to a brutal decline in quality which is evident in the weak fifth film and unfortunately also in this sixth one, perhaps better than the previous one (but with a decidedly worse ending), but still disappointing.
And speaking of the ending… are we really expected to belive that Harry, fully capable of moving and performing magic, could maintain control and do nothing to try to help his mentor about to be killed by the death eaters? In the book, Harry could do nothing because he was paralyzed! Instead, in the film version we have to believe in a Harry who holds back, keeps his instinct in check! This is not the character we know and love! I was hoping that a new vision would give me more and instead the opposite happened, I dislike the movie even more than before. And now let’s go ahead with the end of the saga broken up into two different films for reasons I don’t understand… But let’s talk about it in the next review, ciao!