Home > Pre-Japan > Harry Potter and the…I can’t even make up a pun for how terrible this was

Harry Potter and the…I can’t even make up a pun for how terrible this was

Well chalk that one up in the “fail” column. I just got back from seeing “Harry Potter and the Teenage Hormone Factory,” though the working title is “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” I’ll say this right off the bat. If you are, like me, a fan of the books, DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Well, maybe go see it, because you will feel so bad after watching it, you’ll be drawn to immediately re-reading the book to purge yourself of the feeling to vomit which will surely have crept up as the credits rolled.

I am quite serious, folks, this is not my penchant for exaggeration oozing out of my fingertips and onto the paper. This is a different kind of oozing. It’s black, sludgy, and malodorous. Also, it smells. What follows here is the probably the longest and foulest thing I will ever write. It’s my review of the movie. Before I do that, I will give full disclosure. I re-read the 6th Harry Potter book not two days before going to see it in theaters. I admit, I had high hopes, though not all too high considering the 6th book certainly does not lend itself to movie script. It has long passages of back story, no real climax, and in general deals more with an emotional, rather than a physical story line. All of these aspects lead up to a monumental task of putting it into live action theater. For their parts, the actors have truly grown into their roles, and play them beautifully. I worried about Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson while I cringed during the first two movies, but as they grew older they have become immeasurably better. As usual, the side cast of characters, which includes just about every single major British acting name besides Ian McKellen (sigh…) is brilliant. Visually too, the movie is great. The landscapes, the sets, all done gorgeously. That is, regrettably, where the positives end.

Steve Kloves, the man who wrote the screenplay for this movie, has done every single other Harry Potter movie, and had done a pretty good job. There will always be those who wish the movies could be exactly like the books, exactly like they imagined them in their heads, but unfortunately movies and books just work differently. I am a very easy to please person. I’m fine with adapting the screenplay to fit the needs of the silver screen. It has to be done well though, wouldn’t you agree? There should be emotion, no? There should be a conveyed emptiness when someone dies, right? There should be reasons for drastically changing the most significant parts of the book, yes? To use a popular phrase, Steve Kloves “jumped the shark.” He probably also jumped a few parked buses, and an entire row of junker cars.

Please read on if you want to read this, but BEWARE, IT DOES CONTAIN SOME SERIOUS SPOILERS.

It’s almost as if, realizing that this being the sixth book in a series of seven, they decided to try and make it an entirely separate movie. Each previous movie, indeed, has had its own plot to deal with. There is always a beginning, a middle, and an end in the first five books. This book has a definite “to be continued…” aspect to it. And so, doing their best to keep the audience interested, they instead tried to make the movie less about the plot, and more about how incredibly awkward high school romance is. (Which, by the way, while funny, made me wonder whether anyone at Hogwarts actually socialized with people their own age before coming to this school…) The movie was more about Harry v. Ginny, Ron v. Lavender v. Hermoine v. McLaggen, whom I would rather not see seductively sucking his index finger again, thank you very much. The Half-blood Prince, the namesake of this movie? Barely an afterthought. Voldemort? You know WHO?! In fact, he’s not even credited in the movie.

The worst part though, the true piece de resistance in terms of badness (I know, I totally just flipped the saying to mean exactly the opposite of what it actually means!) was how poorly the changes to the screenplay were done. Logistically, I don’t think Dumbledore’s death was a real cinematic problem. They could have lifted the passages straight out of the book. In case those of you don’t remember, I’ll recount them here. After returning from getting the Horcrux, Dumbledore and Harry notice Voldemort’s sign over the astronomy tower. Making their way there, Dumbledore notices something is amiss, and just before the doors are blown open and Malfoy storms through, Dumbledore immobilizes Harry, who is under the invisibility cloak. Dumbledore casting this spell gives Malfoy all the opportunity he needs to disarm Dumbledore, thus rendering him weaponless. A whole speech ensues, and the death eaters, whom Malfoy has summoned through the vanishing cabinet in the room of requirements, (yes yes, I sound like a nut, but please keep reading) fight their way through the various students and Order of the Phoenix members present at Hogwarts. Malfoy is unable to finish Dumbledore, so Snape comes in and does it in his stead. I have taken the liberty of bolding the parts which you should pay special attention to. Does that sound too difficult to re-enact on screen? Not to me it doesn’t. Here’s how it was done instead.

Harry and Dumbledore apparate onto the Astronomy tower, (a MAJOR plothole which has been easily whisked away with: “Oh Harry, I’m Dumbledore, I can do whatever I friggen want”) at which time a faint, mere whisper of a sound is heard, making Dumbedore suspicious. Quite frankly, it could have been the wind for all I know. But OK, that’s acceptable, Dumbledore is a pretty exceptional wizard. Upon hearing this “sound”, Dumbledore instructs Harry (sans cloak) to hide underneath the platform, and to not come out. WHAT THE WHAT?! I don’t care whether Harry gave Dumbledore his word that he would obey, throughout all of the books, it has been made abundantly clear that Harry Potter does not take well to rules and regulations. And yet, in this version, he goes and hides under the floor boards while Draco Malfoy shows up and gives his little speech. After this, the death eaters saunter over to where he is, having found absolutely no resistance throughout the entire castle, and the rest is history. Snape kills Dumbledore, and he tumbles down the astronomy tower with a “dramatic” closeup of his face as he falls. This turn of events doesn’t seem to worry Harry one bit, as he waits patiently for all the death eaters to amble down the tower and off the grounds, still meeting no resistance whatsoever from anybody, ever. It is at this point that Harry decides: Screw this! And chases down the entire group of five or six death eaters and pretty much challenges them all to a duel. Needless to say Snape owns his behind, and admonishes the kid for trying to use one of his own spells against him. “That’s right…I am the Half blood Prince!” Yeah dude, no one cares, it’s not an important part of the movie. Let’s see Harry and Ginny make out!

I have two more pieces of the movie to destroy, though this next one I can live with. I’m on a roll however, so there’s no need to stop here. After Dumbledore is killed, in the book there is a big funeral at Hogwarts where everyone shows up, his body is laid to rest in a beautiful white casket (which becomes important in the later book, which is why it’s a shame it was left out), and all together it is an incredibly touching scene. It is also the scene where Harry breaks up with Ginny because he doesn’t want her to get hurt, yet another issue they will have to resolve in the seventh movie, as such a thing never happens.

Instead, in lieu of a funeral, everyone gathers around Dumbledore’s body and sticks their wand up in the air. Oh, and they make a little tiny little bit of light come out of it. This is how you mourn the greatest wizard of all time? By creating a similar effect of people holding out their lighters at a freaking concert?! Truly, thanks for ruining what should have been the most touching scene in all of the seven books.

And then, to add insult to injury, once the credits start rolling, the dark ominous music is replaced by a soundtrack that lends itself not to visions of Dumbledore’s death and Voldemort’s strengthening armies, but to “Tra li la li la, I’m hoppin’ through the woods, isn’t life grand!” That may have been effective in the previous movies because there was a kind of finality to the movies, and also a kind of victory for Harry Potter and the forces of good. They thwarted Voldemort once again! Hurray! I’m so happy. In this instance, Dumbledore’s dead! We didn’t even get the real horcrux! Does not really bring to mind skipping in the woods on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Well, I think I’ve vented enough. I feel much better. Feel free to comment as you please, especially if you disagree! I encourage dissent.

-Dash

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Categories: Pre-Japan
  1. July 26, 2009 at 11:16 am

    As you know, I definitely agree. They tried to put way too much into such a short movie, it was like a break-neck Harry Potter roller coaster. I also don’t think the characters are very well developed, if that makes sense.

  2. Winnie
    July 29, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Well this breaks my heart 😥 not that i had much hope for the movie franchise to begin with

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