Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Ultimate Fail of Yates
Back in November 16, 2001, the first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was released. As a raging Harry Potter fan, I was skeptical. I had read the book so could you blame me? To my surprise, I was blown away, making me eagerly look forward to every release. None of the movies disappointed me – Order of the Phoenix was questionable at times but still fulfilling. None of them, until now; to me, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was one huge flop.
After the Half-Blood Prince was murdered for me via big screen (thank you director David Yates), I came home and quickly logged on to the internet. Surely there would be Harry Potter fans whose feathers had been ruffled as much as mine; but no. Not only did they like it, some of them even defended the movie. They gave advice such as: shouldn’t go into the theater expecting something, have an open mind, the movie is never like the book, it was not that bad, etc, etc. How could they turn the other way? Luckily there is one Harry Potter fan that is not afraid to say that she hated it.
Please turn away now if you do not want to read about any spoilers. Thank you.
Where to begin…ah, the beginning: The Other Minister; or not. Apparently Director Yates (get used to seeing his names) seemed to not find the meeting between the Muggle Minister and the Minister of Magic important. I cannot fully blame him, it would have taken up quite a bit of time but to remove anything related to the Ministry of Magic? This error was redeemed for me with the introduction of the Death Eaters. Watching them fly around destroying things was great and I began to think that the movie had some hope, until they skipped over to Harry who was sitting in this restaurant hitting on a random girl. Is he not supposed to be home? As much as I hate the Dursleys, they are kind of important. Need I remind you HP fans; the dementors were mating. It would have been very unwise for Harry to be “roaming the tracks” or whatever he says. The dementors would have been on his tail trying to kiss the life out of him. Dumbledore did not even tell Harry his concern about 12, Grimmauld Place, Kreacher, and the meetings of the Order of the Phoenix.
All the elements in the meeting between Harry, Dumbledore, and Slughorn were included so no complaints there. After this meeting, Dumbledore just dumps Harry in water near the Burrow. I can see why Yates would want to take out the part where Dumbledore and Harry speak but to make Dumbledore not have the decency to tell Molly Weasley that Harry would be arriving at her home? To anyone who knows Dumbledore and Molly, they would know that the Headmaster is not this irresponsible and that Molly is not so ignorant. Yates even found it convenient to not include the Ministry of Magic pamphlets but since there is no minister, a ministry would be unheard of; so no secret passwords. The introduction of the characters was a little ridiculous but funny nonetheless but if Yates wanted humor, he should have included Fluer. The O.W.L results and Hermione’s reaction to hers would have been funny as well. Even Bill was removed. After what seemed like the most painful minutes of my life, Yates finally decides to skip right back into chapter two. Bellatrix was delightfully creepy but Narcissa’s hair…can we say skunk? I imagined her being a lot prettier but I imagined wrong. On to Draco’s Detour!
Since when does Malfoy allow his mother to follow him everywhere? I thought she did not want him to carry out the deed. Harry, Hermione, and Ron follow them but, thanks to Yates, they do so in a very stupid way. Hanging on the roof? Did we forget about the awesome powers of the invisibility cloak and the Extendable Ears, Yates? It would have also been funny to see Hermione make a fool of herself; more comedy relief.
Putting in the Slug Club meeting in the Hogwarts Express would have made the movie longer so it is alright that it was taken out. Luna’s uncomfortable comments would have been hilarious but hardly any of them made it in. And once more Yates fails to see the importance of the invisibility cloak. Instead of having Harry walk out wearing it, he has him use Instant Darkness Powder (nice backup on the whole first-year-playing-a-trick thing). Everything seems to be flowing almost smoothly for once until Luna, not Tonks, saves Harry. What is up with that? I thought the aurors were keeping watch at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade – oh wait, no Ministry of Magic, that’s right.
And now we come to one of the memories Yates probably found meaningless: The House of Gaunt. Why would he not put this in? It seemed very informative but what do I know, I am not the director. I can only guess that it would have added great suspense and some slight humor.
Was it just me or did Quidditch try-outs seem awkward? The book version of Harry seemed to be a lot more confident as captain, even though Harry becoming captain was not even mentioned just left up to interpretation. Anyway, Ginny helps Harry get the attention of all the students (book Harry did not need that). Aside from this, the whole scene was just…uncomfortable. Oh teenagers and their hormones. I cannot help but wonder where Hagrid is throughout all of this. If memory serves me correctly, the trio goes down to Hagrids to apologize and explain why they are not taking his class. Unfortunately, Hagrid, like so many others, is not relevant to Yates, although he is briefly seen bursting out of nowhere after Katie touches the necklace. That really shocked me.
The memory of Tom Riddle in the orphanage was not so bad, although some points of the conversation seemed out of place. On to Felix Felicis! The Quidditch match was not as interesting as I thought it would be. The matches in the other movies were better. Lavender and Ron kissing was funny – finally getting a hold on those hormones. But the canaries seemed to miss Ron completely. Hermione had better aim in the book.
Not much to say about Slughorns Christmas party. It was mildly entertaining. McLaggen throwing up on Snapes shoes gave me a good laugh. But, once again, the importance of the invisibility cloak escapes the director…at least Harry got to hear Snape and Malfoy argue. When the Christmas party moves over to the Burrow, I have to wonder where all the snow went. Where was Percy? And the Minister of Magic? Yates should have vindicated himself and finally put in Scrimgeour but no. Instead, he decides to make Ginny tie Harry’s shoes, skip what Lupin had to say, and then light the Burrow on fire. That was so uncalled for. It really broke my heart.
Ron being poisoned was fine. The scene went from funny to suspenseful (Yates finally got something right). His achievement was quickly followed by a downfall; the next two chapters were skipped completely. Harry never tells Dobby and Kreacher to tail Malfoy. It would have been entertaining to see the two elves go at it. Also, two memories that concerned Tom Riddle and two objects (the ring and the necklace) were removed. I am really starting to feel bad for the people who do not read the books…
Let me take a slight break from the plot. In the book, J.K Rowling never gives away Malfoy’s plan, which helps build suspense and curiosity. The director must have seen it differently. He shows us all the cabinet Malfoy is interested in and later, there is a brief explanation of vanishing cabinets. Does anyone realize that Yates just gave the whole ending away?
Back to the plot….BAM! Right off the bat, here’s something that irritated me to no end: The funeral of Aragog. Movie Harry drinks all of Felix, I thought he was supposed to save some for the D.A – surely they would need luck for the epic battle. No note from Hagrid explaining the death of Aragog ever arrives to the trio either. Yates has sure turned Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Hagrid into some strange friends.
The number one question I have is where was Moaning Myrtle when Malfoy was bleeding all over the place? Was Snape happily prancing through the school until he suddenly ends up near the bathroom where Malfoy and Harry are? The Sectumsempra spell was not as cool as it was in the book. They were supposed to be cuts, not just little blood stains. And since when does Snape skip out on the opportunity to hand Harry several detentions? Harry got away with it under Snapes watch? Ginny even accompanies Harry into the Room of Requirements to get rid of the Prince’s copy of Advanced Potion Making. Snape does not even ask him for the copy so why would he hide it? There is no point in even mentioning the last Quidditch match since it was taken out. Instead of kissing in the common room during the party, Ginny and Harry kiss in the Room of Requirements. It is not even clear when and why Ginny and Dean split up.
Here is another character that was removed: Professor Trelawney. Her appearance alone is entertaining but she is also the one who made the prophecy and let slip the whole bit of Snape being the reason why Lily and James Potter die at the hands of Voldemort. At least the journey Dumbledore and Harry take was not so bad. Since the pamphlets at the beginning were never mentioned, and Inferi never explained, no one (aside from HP readers) knows that those things coming out of the water are reanimated corpses. Dumbledore seemed to look like Gandalf at one point.
What really takes the cake though is what takes place before Dumbledore’s death. Due to the lack of invisibility cloaks and proper spells, Harry is forced to hide. Now, I do not know about you but the Harry I know would have never done that. He would have had to be paralyzed. The epic fight in the stairs never takes place either. It is all so not suspenseful…and then Dumbledore dies at the hands of Snape (who shushes Harry before killing the Headmaster). Bellatrix is, once again, delightfully creepy, smashing up everything she can. And then she lights Hagrid’s house on fire. Does this mean Hagrid and Fang die? Gee, I hope not. Harry seems to not have any help either. And the climax (Snape being the Half-Blood Prince) is not climatic at all since we were never given any information on how he is the Half-Blood Prince.
From that point on everything is just disappointing and awkward. Bill never gets bitten, Fleur never appears along with the whole Weasley family, and no funeral takes place. Wait, stop. No funeral? You read right ladies and gentlemen:; the killing blow. Yates sure did one hell of a job with this movie. Instead of giving us a nice funeral – seeing as to how everything important was removed – he has Harry forget that Sirius and Dumbledore died and Hermione say “Ron is okay with you and Ginny.”
I have no further comments. On to me being picky!
As far as effects go, they seemed to be poor. I remember when the Harry Potter movies were actually magical. Pictures moved, the Fat Lady was present, the ghosts in the castle floated around, potions and spells looked like potions and spells…but not in this movie. No. Harry Potter is supposed to be recession proof so what happened? The potions either looked like water, Gatorade, or smoke, and the wands and brooms looked fake. Almost all the pictures (safe the ones Slughorn had) looked perfectly still. And where was Buckbeak? Hedwig barely even made it to the screen…only saw him once.
All bad comments aside, I have to give credit where credit is due. The actors did an excellent job. Really, if it were not for their fabulous interpretations of the characters, the movie would have been beyond a flop. Yates better thank them from the bottom of his heart. After sending gift baskets he should either quit or be fired.
I really do not know what J.K Rowling was thinking, letting this guy direct. If it were me, I would have fired him on the spot. But the movie was already behind and the HP fans were growing restless. I am aware that a movie will never completely reflect a book but I hope that we can all safely agree that Yates did not do the best he could with this movie. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix should be a monument to the wonderful work Yates can do. Too bad he backed out in this film.
I really hope David Yates does not direct Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows otherwise we will be assaulted with more teenage hormones and not important plot.