David Yates returns to direct his second film in the Potter Franchise, the second director to do so. This is the final film where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are students at Hogwarts, and they spend a lot of time doing school activities. A much slower film than the other ones, this is setting the foundation for the Deathly Hallows adaptation.
Warner Bros. really dropped the ball with this installment. They pushed back its release date from November 2008 to July 2009, because the Dark Knight made a billion dollars and they didn’t need any more revenue in 2008. Not only did Potter fans have to wait an extra 8 months, but the studio heavily promoted Half-Blood Prince as being in IMAX 3D. The first twenty minutes were in 3D. The first twenty minutes only. You don’t even see Hogwarts in 3D. Lame, lame, lame…. Especially since Order of the Phoenix had such an amazing 3D climax. How can you do 3D so perfectly and than butcher it so drastically in the very next film?
There is a lot of emphasis of student life in this movie. There are the usual bits with Harry riding the Hogwarts Express with Ron and Hermione and stuff, but they also show the students lounging around in the dorm. They do more homework and classwork than in the last few films. Quidditch makes a glorious return. Hogwarts itself feels like another character.
This movie is more character driven than Potter 4 and 5. It feels more like Azkaban, but with less action. It is a dark story, but is lighter than the book. There are a few nitpicky criticisms that I have. Like why do they cut so much out but add totally made up events that have no impact on the story? There was no reason to have the Burrow attacked and burned down by the Death Eaters. There was no mention of it later on in the Deathly Hallows; it was just completely unnecessary. Even worse than adding unimportant events is adding unimportant characters. Sorry cute black Muggle coffee shop chick, but you suck and we could have used some Dobby time instead of you. How come Harry and Ginny barely kissed but Harry and Cho made out for about 35 minutes in Order of the Phoenix?
The whole movie is kind of a step in the wrong direction. It is really slow and some parts are down right boring. The book was kind of like that too, but they could have found some momentum in the story. Michael Gambon’s final few scenes as Dumbledore were performed well. Dumbledore looks so tired and weakened after the cave and inferi sequence, it is almost a relief to see him pass on. One of the weakest films in the franchise, but you are still going to watch it multiple times. A bad Harry Potter film is like a bad beer… it’s not really bad, its just there are way better ones out there.
Critically Rated at 13/17