Is there anybody out there who really doesn’t know what happens at the end of Harry Potter And the Half-Blood Prince? Don’t worry if you don’t, I won’t spoil it for you, but that’s what I was wondering when the two goofballs sitting behind us in the theatre yesterday who, as the lights dimmed, decided to yell out some rather pertinent info that occurs at the end of the film. Sure, they were idiot kids trying to amuse themselves, but it got me thinking about whether that particular spoiler would actually spoil anything for anyone.
One of the hardest things for a fan of the Harry Potter film franchise, of which I would indeed count myself one, is that the movies by design are completely and utterly predictable. Because the fan base want them that way. While certain pieces of character development from the books are left on the cutting room floor, the makers of the franchise have taken a reverential stance on the films for the most part. Which means that all a viewer/reader can do is expect the expected.
Maybe that’s why Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince left me feeling so hollow when it was finished. It was all just so anticlimactic.
In this, the 6th film, Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters are making in roads into the Muggle world. Meanwhile, Dumbledore is trying to uncover the means to the Dark Lord’s immortality with the help of Harry, who along with his schoolmates, is growing up very quickly. All the performances from the film regulars are spot on and solid, but special mentions has to go to Tom Felton’s Drako Malfoy and Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. In many ways, this latest film is theirs just as much as Ron, Hermione, and Harry’s, and both actors are more than up to the task.
As should be expected, Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry is still the star of the show, and he does a great job. If one were to look at the films as a classic buldungsroman, that literary term that refers to a coming of age tale, than Harry Potter’s story is also Radcliffe’s. I can’t recall watching any other actor grow up on screen the way Radcliffe has. He owns his character.
Performances aren’t the problem with Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. It’s the fact that every important revelation, every moment where I was supposed to go “oh man!”, didn’t happen. Because I knew it was coming. The best book to film adaptations manage to still move you; they manage to make what should be obvious, unexpected. Sadly, the penultimate scene of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, “that” scene, left me unmoved. I knew all along it was coming and when it did, it lacked any sort of intensity that would allow it to resonate.
Perhaps things would have been different if I hadn’t read the books. But I’d wager most people walking into Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince have, which means we all came to see the same thing. And when it happened there was nothing but silence.
And then it was over. And we left. Unmoved.