Before I do anything, my heart and thoughts go out to the families and friends of the victims of the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, California: Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus (54), Cody Coffman (22), Alaina Housley (18), Sean Adler (48), Noel Sparks (21), Kristina Morisette (20), Telemachus “Tel” Orfanos (27), Justin Meek (23), Jake Dunham (21), Blake Dingman (21), Daniel Manrique (33), and Mark Meza Jr. (20). You will all be missed, but never forgotten. I’ve only been to Borderline a few times myself, but I do have my memories. I knew a lot of people who frequent that place multiple times a week, and I had a friend who knew the shooter, painting him in a very different light than what we’ve seen on the news. To make matters worse, the Woolsey Fire is spreading like crazy. Though my family and I are safe and our house is still standing, and though I’m no Catholic or Christian, I pray for the safety of the firefighters and everyone else at risk, and a quick end to the fire.
In commemoration of the upcoming sequel, FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (2018), I’m going to review the rest of the Harry Potter series:
- THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001)
- THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (2002)
- THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004)
- THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005)
- THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007)
- THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 (2010)
- THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (2011)
- FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016)
First disclaimer: Before anyone freaks out, yes, I’ve seen all of the films before. When I was a kid. I haven’t revisited most of these films since they were released in theaters. I’m just taking a trip down memory lane and seeing how they hold up compared to when I first saw them and getting my opinions out there. Second disclaimer: No, I’ve not read the books. Okay, I’ve read the first three. I do not remember them. I am not planning to read these books, so please don’t freak out with sentences like, “Well, it’s better explained in the book!” I do not care. This is purely my opinions regarding the films.
Returning alumni: Daniel Radcliffe (SWISS ARMY MAN , VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN , and the upcoming PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE ), Rupert Grint (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Emma Watson (THE CIRCLE , and the upcoming LITTLE WOMEN ), Michael Gambon (JOHNNY ENGLISH 3 , KINGSMAN 2 , HAIL, CAESAR! , and upcoming films THE DEATH AND LIFE OF JOHN F. DONOVAN  and JUDY ), and Alan Rickman (EYE IN THE SKY , LOVE ACTUALLY , and DIE HARD )
Franchise newcomers: Jim Broadbent (PADDINGTON 2 , SENSE OF AN ENDING , LEGEND OF TARZAN , NARNIA: LION, WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE , and the upcoming THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE ), Ralph Ineson (READY PLAYER ONE , STAR WARS: LAST JEDI , THE WITCH , KINGSMAN , GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY , and the upcoming THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS ), Helen McCrory (THEIR FINEST , SKYFALL , HUGO , and INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE ), Jessie Cave (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen), and Freddie Stroma (13 HOURS , PITCH PERFECT , and the upcoming SECOND ACT )
Director: David Yates (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen)
Writer: Steve Kloves (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN )
Composer: Nicholas Hooper (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen)
Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel (DARKEST HOUR , MISS PEREGRINE , and upcoming films THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS and THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW )
Editor: Mark Day (KIN  and LEGEND OF TARZAN )
This is my honest opinion of: HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is now in the spotlight after having done battle against Lord Voldemort and now the Wizarding World is on high alert. After accompanying Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) in recruiting the new Potions teacher Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), Harry and his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) return to Hogwarts. While everyone struggles with their relationship woes, Harry is tasked by Dumbledore to get close to Slughorn in order to learn the truth behind a tampered memory in Dumbledore’s possession that might aid them in their fight against Voldemort.
Ugh! My god, this may not be the most objectively bad of the Harry Potter films, but it’s bar-none the most boring and nearly the most pointless.
The biggest problem with the story is that the first hour and a half is nearly no plot. All this movie does is put everyone in a “will they, won’t they” romantic relationship. Ron with Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) and wanting out of it, Hermione wanting to be with Ron, Harry kind of with Ginny (Bonnie Wright), and so much of the story just stops to showcase this stuff. Like, how important was it that we see Ron overcome his nerves of being the new Gryffindor Quidditch keeper? Like… by God, was this book so boring that even the movie couldn’t figure out what kind of filler to put in? If that wasn’t enough, a lot of scenes dragged out like crazy, taking forever to get to functioning within the story and being pretty underwhelming in their execution. Even when something exciting does happen, like when Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) and that other Death Eater attack the Weasley house, no one dies and nothing important happens. It’s a wasted scene meant as pure fluff. In short, it’s boring. So… so boring. Nothing happens at all to move the plot forward. Even the question of, “Who’s the Half-Blood Prince” isn’t even the central focus. More on that in the spoilers.
Question, why does Snape make the unbreakable vow? Let me get into this. Snape makes this vow to Narcissa… because Bellatrix wanted him to in a challenging tone. Um… so? Is Snape intimidated by her? No, because he tells her to leave knickknacks where they are. In fact, the bad guys don’t exactly seem to have a clear chain of command, outside of Voldemort being the undisputed leader. So… what does Snape owe Bellatrix or Narcissa?
More on the relationships, since when did Harry develop feelings for Ginny? This was pretty damned forced. They share MAYBE one scene and have zero chemistry. Not even just in this movie, but in the entire franchise. They barely interacted in CHAMBER, straight up didn’t in AZKABAN or GOBLET, a jealous look from Ginny in PHOENIX, and that was it. Zero time dedicated to a relationship build-up. During that really awkward “nice skin” scene between Harry and Ron, Harry mentions that Ginny is smart and funny. Um… I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve never seen Ginny crack a joke or wow anyone with her intelligence. The only thing this movie ever did was show that Ginny is a little taller than Harry. Not… exactly an amazing character worthy of affection there. Hell, Ginny herself is barely a character at all in these movies. Also, note my sarcasm here, but nothing says “true love” like a girl tying a man’s shoes. Is… this what teenagers do now?
I love how this movie mentions how so many muggles are dying, but we never see a single casualty. Sure, that bridge collapses, but every person on screen looks like they escaped. Yes, I know, kids movie, but these movies are also supposed to mature up as they went along. Death on a large scale is a mature subject being tackled, but we don’t see it. If this movie wanted the audience to get invested, we need to see the carnage.
This movie is now responsible for so many plot-holes in this series now and in the later two installments. Dumbledore can teleport at any time, any place, and can teleport anywhere. So… in PHOENIX, why did he need Faux to teleport when the Ministry tried to arrest him? Also, I know the relationship between Ron and Lavender is supposed to played up for laughs, but Lavender is so creepy and weird that it just comes off as creepy and weird, not comical. Oh, Hagrid just shows up out of nowhere to take a cursed girl to the medical wing and then we don’t see him until much later. Harry continues to be stupid by accusing Draco of cursing that girl with zero evidence to back it up. Seriously, who does that? And did we ever learn the significance of that cursed necklace that was around that girl’s neck? I think I missed a scene… or two. Am I the only one who thinks these post-dinner scenes with Harry are more than a little creepy? Not that I’m saying anything, but I see multiple stories a month about a teacher who gets arrested for having sexual relations with their younger students. Like I said, I’m not saying anything, but… yeah.
<<<SPOILERS>>> [ Question, why is this movie called “The Half-Blood Prince”? It’s Snape. Cool. What does that mean? What does being the “Half-Blood” Prince mean? You can start with literally. “Half-Blood”, even in terms of the Wizarding World mythology, sounds like it means mixed blood, which is something that Voldemort would later say that is disgusting. So why would he allow someone like Snape in his ranks anyway, should that be the case? This is all spit-balling because, literally, the title means nothing. Give GOBLET some credit, there is a Goblet of Fire in the story and serves a function. Give PHOENIX some credit, there is an Order of the Phoenix that serves a function. But… nope, Half-Blood Prince means nothing, even in this movie and serves zero function. Also, it’s been hard these past few movies to take Snape seriously. Mostly his character is all about smacking people upside their heads. In this movie, a student pukes on his shoes. You wouldn’t guess that in just an hour or so, Snape would be the one who kills Dumbledore. ] <<<SPOILERS CONTINUED>>>
<<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>> [ This movie knows that Aragog’s death means nothing in this movie, or the franchise as a whole, doesn’t it? I mean, Aragog may have been instrumental in the resolution of the events in CHAMBER, but he ultimately tried to kill Harry and Ron. Why is Hagrid crying over him? Oldest friend or not, he tried to kill two kids. So not only does Aragog’s death do nothing to the audience’s heart strings, but it’s all just a contrived way for Harry to bring Slughorn to Hagrid’s, leading to a drunk scene, where Harry manages to coax the truth out of Slughorn’s tainted memory. ] <<<SPOILERS CONTINUED>>>
<<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>> [ And what a terrible film to showcase Draco’s humanity. Throughout the series, he’s been little more than an 80s bully. Six movies in now and he’s not once shown an ounce of humility or humanity. Just go full villain with the character. Who cares? ] <<<SPOILERS CONTINUED>>>
<<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>> [ And honestly, I felt nothing for Dumbledore’s death, and I think there’s a pretty specific reason why. Both Richard Harris and Gambon have been great in their respective roles, don’t get me wrong. But I think the sympathetic, wise, and powerful character only goes so far if we don’t actually know that much about him. Like… really talk about him. In fact, I might say that his character has never been better than, ironically, SORCERER’S STONE, or even possibly CHAMBER. The reason I say this is because those are the only movies where he’s actually sympathetic and wise. In AZKABAN, GOBLET, and PHOENIX, I don’t recall him having a similar relationship with Harry. This is no fault of Gambon’s, of course, but really think about how he’s written. In AZKABAN, he’s barely in it. GOBLET, he was certainly angry and willing to use Harry as bait, but that doesn’t go as planned. And PHOENIX, he was in it even less than AZKABAN because he was avoiding Harry like crazy. Again, Dumbledore has never been better than he was in SORCERER’S STONE or CHAMBER. And his death isn’t even handled that poorly. He’s surrounded by Death Eaters, Draco who can’t do it, the tension of whether or not Snape will kill him, completely quiet and not a single sound from the score, it’s actually expertly directly. But when the fateful moment comes, I felt nothing. I didn’t cry. Not even a little. You can tell there’s impact and effect, so once again, there’s nothing wrong with the acting or directing, but especially in this movie, it’s not quite counterbalanced from how boring this movie was, and how little Dumbledore’s character is developed for four movies. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
But, like all the other movies, there are a few things worth mentioning.
This movie is likely one of the funniest performance that Radcliffe has delivered in his career, seconded only by SWISS ARMY MAN. I love one of his first lines with Dumbledore as they locate Slughorn is when Dumbledore asks Harry if he’s wondering why Harry was brought here, Harry simply responds, “After all these years, i just go with it.” I let out a chuckle there. And don’t get me started on his performance when he finally drinks that luck potion of his. The way he talks to Slughorn, the way he talks to Hagrid, it’s all pretty hilarious. Actually, giving this movie credit, when the humor landed, it really landed. It’s both hilarious and adorable when Hermione smacks Ron with a book when Harry isn’t at the school dinner and Ron’s busy eating instead of being worried like her. Or when classes were cancelled, and Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) gives him another class to attend and tells him to take Ron with him because, “He looks far too happy.” Or how about when Hermione looks so frazzled and disheveled getting the Liquid Luck potion just right, noticing Harry getting it right perfectly. Or Ron when he ingests that love potion and goes all insane with love for Lavender. Gotta love it.
Helena Bonham Carter remains perfect for her role. The same is said about Evanna Lynch as Luna, who continues to slay me. Those funny looking glasses she uses to see Harry under his invisibility cloak, as well as fixing his nose after Draco (Tom Felton) broke it. Harry asks, “How do I look,” to which Luna says, “Exceptionally ordinary.” Or when she and Harry are going to that party and she says that she wears shoes to bed because she sleepwalks. Seriously, why isn’t Luna a main character as opposed to Hermione? She’s so much more fascinating!
Overall, it’s not exactly the most infuriating of the movies to watch, but it’s boring and nothing really happens until half the movie is gone, focusing too much on romances and unnecessary subplots, and nearly no focus on what you would think should be, ultimately crippling the movie as a whole. But I’d be lying if I said that this movie didn’t have some of the funniest moments in the franchise. But… yeah, that doesn’t quite save the movie, as few of these moments have anything to do with the story. Definitely one of the weaker Harry Potter films.
My honest rating for HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: a weak 3/5