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Harry Potter And The Hormonal Rush

July 20th, 2009

For all of the changes it made to the text, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had a lot in common with the book. Nothing much happens in either one.

Half-Blood Prince was my least favorite of the Harry Potter novels. It felt as if it was mostly filling in backstory and setting up Book Seven. The previous stories had strong hooks: Who’s trying to break into the Chamber of Secrets? Who’ll win the TriWizard Tournament? The hook here should’ve been the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, but the answer wound up being a throwaway. Instead, the burning question the book posed was this: Will Harry convince Professor Slughorn to ‘fess up, and how long will it take? Several hundred pages, as it turned out.

The film version even does away with much of the backstory of Tom Riddle, so what was left? A whole lot of snogging. That’s okay, hormonal issues were very much a part of the series, and it’s good that the films acknowledge their ever-maturing characters. It’s just that the film became very focused on the budding romances. A scene near the end had Draco Malfoy headed down a Hogwarts hallway on a sinister errand, and off to the right of the screen there were several sets of snoggery-engaged students. The shot succeeded in depicting Draco’s isolation from his classmates, but by that point the clouds of testosterone had become so thick that for a moment I thought I might see some headmaster-unapproved heavy petting.

Make no mistake, I did enjoy the movie. I like spending time in this world, I like the characters and the actors that portray them. It’s been fun following them through adolescence. And I always get a kick out of an appearance by Luna Lovegood. (I still think that Luna would’ve been a better match for Harry than the bland and predictable Ginny.) By now, the filmmakers have become so good at this stuff that the magic seems almost effortless. And Half-Blood Prince is arguably the best-looking of the movies; they took a page out of the Lord of the Rings films and color-graded the heck out of each shot.

Looking forward to the next film in the series. Hopefully something will happen in that one.

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