Well I did finally get round to arranging when to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- I went this afternoon with Evil Alex and his other half. On the way I of course stopped off in Trafalgar Square to have a look at the Fourth Plinth - this time there was a woman on there with a carboard house in aid of a children's charity, and on my way back a man in a kilt showing off his sporran. (Americans and other aliens! This does not mean something rude.)
We went to the Empire Leicester Square, the same place we'd been to see Star Trek
a couple of months ago. The place was sold out, and there were massive queues everywhere, but once we were in our seats all was well - despite the size of the audience there weren't any interruptions so a more expensive cinema seems to have been the right choice: I was right to hope that, having paid more to see the film, everyone else there would actually want to watch it rather than talk through it. I won't really review the film itself since there's enough places to read reviews already, I'll just make a couple of observations.
I remember when I first read it thinking this was going to be a nightmare to adapt - the strongest plot strand in the book is a series of flashbacks, which on film is never going to work as well. So the Tom Riddle scenes are kept to a minimum, but still make sense, and that leaves the kids' romantic entanglements as the strongest running theme. Hence the worrying assertion by the filmmakers that this movie would be the romantic comedy installment. That element certainly works well and there's loads of laughs to be had. The DanRad and Rupert Grint of course both have good comic timing, and Emma Watson is also in the film. The two new romantic interests have been well-cast as well, and I hope both Jessie Cave and Freddie Stroma get future work out of this. Cave as Lavender Brown is so over the top in her Ron-lust she got a laugh pretty much every time she appeared on screen. Obviously I've mentioned Freddie Stroma as Cormac on here before, but luckily he's more than a pretty face (or indeed pretty pair of pants
) and in a part that's been beefed up a bit compared to the book he plays the slightly creepy jock lusting after Hermione with a nice lack of inhibition, especially in the, er, finger-licking scene.
The film does remain very disjointed but doesn't get boring which is what ultimately saves it. The film deviates from the book in the way it treats the plot of Draco repairing the Vanishing Cabinets - instead of seeing it from Harry's POV as he tries to figure out what's going on, Tom Felton is trusted to carry that part of the story and we keep coming back to him every so often, which he carries off well. The two fights with Harry are very well done. Evanna Lynch also gets a couple of scenes that aren't Luna's in the book, which is fair enough as she's always good value.
I did find it a bit unintentionally funny that they try to show Harry growing up by having Dumbledore tell him he needs a shave, when DanRad's about as clean-shaven in that scene as I've ever seen him (would keeping a tiny bit of stubble have been such
a huge continuity nightmare?) Oh well, here's something to make up for it. I'm not sure about the big hair but the rest can stay.
Also, David Yates has Dumbledore be really shocked to find out about Voldemort's Horcruxes, which is a bit odd when he then immediately reveals he's already been on a search-and-destroy mission for them. I did like though how they made Riddle's diary getting destroyed in the second film what made Dumbledore look into Horcruxes, which I don't think is quite
how it worked in the book. And hopefully Michael Gambon's haterz won't be too upset this time around as he tones down his performance quite a bit.
It goes without saying that Jim Broadbent is great as Slughorn; and it finally clicked that Madam Pomfrey is Connie from Spooks
. So the biggest flaw with the film really is the lack of narrative structure. The effects are great though, especially the destruction of the Millennium Bridge at the start and the Inferi at the end (I was disappointed to find out they'd gone for more of a Gollum look for the Inferi than full-on zombie, but as it turns out they're more than creepy enough, especially in the underwater scenes.) Anyway, mostly the film's pretty funny, and I like funny so we're OK there.