This one used to be my favorite movie in the series. But upon going back to rewatch it, I made a terrible discovery: this movie is really boring! Half of it is so dull that it makes the other, much better half much harder to watch!
After being blue-balled by Dumbledore, Harry meets Professor Horace Slughorn, a returning teacher at Hogwarts. According to the headmaster, he carries an important secret that will be instrumental in defeating Voldemort. Now, over the course of his sixth year, Harry must befriend Slughorn and retrieve the old man’s darkest memory! And thanks to an old potions book altered by the mysterious Half-Blood prince, he may have a chance! Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy works to complete a terrible task appointed to him by the Dark Lord.
But forget all of that! That’s all interesting and engaging! It only deserves half of the screen time! The other half is dedicated to god-awful teenage romance!
Romance has never been Harry Potter’s strong suite. Even less so here. Several brand-new characters are introduced for the sole purpose of giving people love interests and the chemistry between established characters is weak at its best. For example: Harry and Ginny have absolutely no spark between them and are only romantically interested in each other because… they’re written that way. Ron and Hermione have a bit more chemistry than that, but they spend more time chasing/being chased by said new characters, who are even less interesting. It’s all a mess of love triangles and every single one of them makes me want to claw my eyes out.
The Quidditch plotline is just as worthless. It’s heavily tied to the romantic plot, which does nothing but hurt it. But on top of that, the whole thing just feels like a huge waste of time! I don’t give a fuck about Ron becoming a Keeper! I want to know what secret Slughorn is hiding! I wanna know what Malfoy is up to!
That half of the plot is super interesting and engaging! Harry and Dumbledore working together to figure out Voldemort’s weakness is cool and watching Malfoy become relevant again is satisfying. Plus, Snape gets to play a much larger role in this movie than the last few, again: refreshing. Their plot is why the ending of this movie is so good.
Speaking of which: the last half hour or so of this movie is infinitely better than the rest! Everything from Harry and Dumbledore solving magic puzzles to get the Horcrux to Dumbledore’s death to the final confrontation between Snape and Harry is an absolute delight to watch! The visuals are incredible, the music is strong, the actors give their best performances yet, and it sets up the finale perfectly!
I also love Slughorn as a character. A well-meaning but insensitive and somewhat snobby teacher who likes to play at being a member of high-society makes for a wildly enjoyable time. And his deep regret over his involvement with Voldemort gives him a decent amount of depth. Plus, he’s a Slytherin who isn’t horribly racist! Finally, J.K. managed to show restraint!
For the first and last time!
Going back to complaining: what’s the deal with the tone? In one scene, you’ll go from dark and super-serious to slapstick comedy to romantic at the speed to give you whiplash! It’s kind of jarring to go from watching a kid vomit on Snape’s shoes to watching Harry accidentally spill Malfoy’s intestines all over the bathroom floor.
And why the fuck is this movie so dark? No, I don’t mean tonally speaking! I mean the lighting! It’s either so dark you can barely see or it’s just brown and yellow! Half of why the last thirty minutes are so interesting is that you get more than three colors going on at once!
Half-Blood Prince is the entry that everyone knows and loves for its ending. But we often forget that the journey to that ending was… not the best. In fact, it may be the worst one of the lot.
Well, maybe I’m speaking a bit too soon. We’ve still got Deathly Hallows Part 1 to deal with.