Rating: 4.25 of 5
I have to admit I was leery going into Half Blood Prince. Order of the Phoenix was by far my least favorite of the series because of David Yates direction and his whole philosophy about making it the shortest Harry Potter ever. Because I disliked it so much, I couldn’t figure out why they gave him more to direct. But, surprisingly, he did well.
In fact, Half Blood Prince is my favorite so far. Partly because the adaptation was so good and also because the kids gave such good performances.
I admit, it’s been a while since I’d read Half Blood Prince but the adaptation seemed spot on to me. Of course it deviated from the book plot some, but movies are better when they do that well. What the film captured were the emotional journeys of the characters, and it infused a strong romantic thread that was energizing and funny and heartbreaking. There were a lot of different emotional beats through the film and the actors handled them with aplomb. Rupert Grint was hilarious and showed he’s quite the comedic actor, which impressed me.
And David Yates wove the whole thing together really well. The pacing was by far the best yet which is really where I’ve felt like earlier films have struggled some. There was excitement and tension and darkness and beauty and laughter.
Beyond being Harry Potter, this really was a great film (said with the caveat that it’s easier to be great when you have the emotional and character foundation of 4 previous films and 7 books to support you but even that doesn’t guarantee greatness.)