Harry Potter Film Review: More Magic, Less Snogging!

Yesterday, Ilene and I ducked out of work at the end of the afternoon to catch a screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Our impressions were pretty mixed. Both of us agreed that this film is probably best left to die-hard fans. Here’s what Ilene had to say at the end:

It’s all raging hormones and Death eaters in the new Harry Potter movie, but mostly the former. The kids are getting bigger (though some are getting bigger than others; Ginny Weasley seems to have a good couple of inches on Harry) so the boy-girl thing makes sense. But really, a third of the movie devoted to a love triangle between Hermoine, Ron, and Lavender Brown? (BTW, attention all Weasleys: enunciate!)  It’s a good thing most of the audience of HBP will be fans of the book, because without a little backstory about the important bits, you will be lost. Like all the movies in the series, this one is Harry-Potter lite, but it would have benefited from a little less snogging and a lot more Half-Blood Prince.

I agree. Newcomers to the story will be pretty clueless – and even bored. Here’s a tender moment between Harry and Ginny that shows them well-matched in height, but perhaps Harry is standing on a riser:

Harry and Ginny pre-snog

And while the movie seems to be making a purposeful effort to grow Harry up in all the typical awkward teen ways (in one of the first scenes, for example, Harry breathes anxiously into his hand to check for bad breath after asking out a beautiful waitress), all the ensuing crushes and jealousy are much less interesting than the magic. But kids who want to see Death eaters in all their streaking, shrieking terror will find them wonderfully realized here.

In the end, it’s the handful of great performances (mostly from the adults; Alan Rickman, especially) and the big-budget special effects that make this worth the matinee price.

Have you seen it? Tell us what you thought.

Death eaters attack



About the Author:

Gillian served as Booklist's editorial director of Books for Youth from 2011 to 2014. She currently lives in Switzerland, while serving as Editor of Book Links, a position she's held since 2008. Follow her on Twitter at @BooklistGillian.

15 Comments on "Harry Potter Film Review: More Magic, Less Snogging!"

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  1. librarian_marn@yahoo.com' Marnie Cushing says:

    I would have to agree. This movie just didn’t have as much “action” as the ones previous. In truth, this book was my least favorite in the series and the movie will not be one I choose to see over and over. I really wish I’d read the book again BEFORE going to the theater so I could feel less confused about what was going on. It will be interesting to see how the next one plays out on the big screen.

  2. Laura says:

    Love the movie stills you included in this post! Even if I don’t make it to the movie (as the mom of two young kids, that’s a good possibility), I feel like I got a nice sense of it here.

  3. dobrez@chartermi.net' Cindy Dobrez says:

    Saw the film yesterday and have to agree with both of you. The plotting was horrid but the special effects were great. I loved the glimpse of the Weasley twins’ shop–it looked like Fao Schwarz on wizard steroids.

  4. spicere@mac.com' Ed Spicer says:

    I liked the movie. Loved the way Draco shadows the action (and for me, this was enough of a plot builder that made the love triangle necessary breather space and a humanizing counterpoint that made the characters more accessible). Finding the true Slughorn memory also required some of this love triangle element, but will concede that I understand why some may think it is too much. True confession, however, I LIKED the love triangle and thought Ron was especially wonderful and goofy after taking the love potion. I also loved the way Dumbledore and the other adults dealt with the hormones. I appreciated the evolution in the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry. The visual effects are simply out of this world stunning; I even liked the credits. And don’t you want to visit the Weasley’s toy store! I did not have any trouble understanding any of the dialogue from any of the Weasleys (sound problems at the theater or with the print?). It ISN’T the book and I have, since I reviewed the book, read it three times. Consequently I am, perhaps, influenced by the fact that I did not have trouble getting the references for all of those things left out. This one makes me eager to watch the next one and I would happily go see it again. Based largely on the visuals, this one is my favorite (although I did very much enjoy the last one too).

  5. Yep, agreed. I just wrote a review on my blog that is strikingly similar in thought. Wow–this movie was a boring beast. If I want to see teen angst in this detail, I’ll just open my 15 year-olds bedroom door.

  6. blankenship.5@osu.edu' Betsy Blankenshiip says:

    I agree. This was not a favorite. I could not beleive how much they left out. The ending was so lame – they left out the funeral and major fight scenes. They added and changed some events around, too.

    They downplayed the interaction bewteen Dumbledore and Harry and overplayed the raging hormones.

    I was disappointed in this movie.

  7. onionscakesandparfaits@gmail.com' Heidi says:

    I agree. Way too much on the teen relationships. My favorite part of this book was all of the history you get of Voldemort. That’s such a minor part in this movie, and it greatly disappointed me. Special effects were great. And Alan Rickman did so well with the end of the movie. I was outraged that there was no funeral, and am crossing fingers that maybe they’ll figure out how to include it in #7 Part 1. Soundtrack did very well. And the Dumbledore Death scene was done well, too. I was crying so hard I could’t see the screen. Just imagine if they’d put all of their creative talent to more of the magic instead of the snogging.

  8. juliecorsaro2@hotmail.com' Julie Corsaro says:

    Despite all the “snogging” and “raging hormones,” the characters aren’t very sexy, save for the wonderful Alan Rickman who wasn’t in the film near enough and Helena Bonham Carter’s terrifyingly terrific turn as Bellatrix.

  9. joy_oliver@hotmail.com' Joy says:

    The snogging would not have been so bad if there was actually some chemistry between Ginny/Harry and Hermione/Ron. I heard Emma Watson say in an interview that Rupert Grint felt like a brother to her – it shows.

  10. libby.gorman@gmail.com' Libby says:

    I always go to HP movies with a “suspension of criticism” for the duration, because they never quite live up to the books (nor should they)! That said, my biggest criticism of this movie was adding in an action sequence at the Burrow that’s not in the book, while downplaying the Hogwarts fight at the end (it shouldn’t be just Harry and Dumbledore fighting). I like the teenage angst (plus, it’s funny!), and agree with Ed that it adds a humanizing angle.

  11. flyfishingbooks@hotmail.com' Michael says:

    I loved the books and like the movies. I gobbled up printed series and enjoyed each of the movies. I frequently go back to the print when the movie plot suffers, only to be reminded just how wonderful JK’s story is. In this movie the ommission of the first chapter, the Dursley’s, and many other “mental scenes” from the print do need a re-reading of the story to make sense of the movie plot. The film scene of the corn(?)field with Bellatrix and Greyback fighting Lupin, Tonks, Ginny, and Harry prepares us for the last book. Why the burning of the Weasley’s house? A great work for entertainment.

  12. megan.ower@gmail.com' Megan says:

    Wow, I absolutely agree and thought the same exact thing after I saw the movie. I couldn’t stop squirming in my chair and thinking “When will this be over?!” It was looooooong, boring, and slow. Not enough Half-Blood Prince…

  13. cowgirl_488@yahoo.com' Laurie says:

    I have to agree with the last contributor who described the squirming in the seat waiting for it to be over. As an English teacher, I am a big fan of HP and have read and seen everything that Rowling has put out. This, however, left me feeling that something huge was missing. It might have been just any fantasy movie with great special effects. I will close with the grumblings of the patron in front of me as he shuffled out: “Well, THAT was a waste of money.”

  14. mbstr8k@wmalumni.com' Mary Beth Kiss says:

    I enjoyed the movie as did my husband and two HP crazed children (8 and 10). I have to agree with Ed and Libby. All the HP movies have got quirks to them that make them different from the books. Books are always better than the movie. I actually found myself wishing the movie was longer so that more of the subplots could’ve been included. JKR includes so much in her books, I am sure it was hard to pick what could fit into a 2 1/2 hr movie. I found myself wondering if they should’ve given more information in areas where they just hinted at the true event — but then again what would they have eliminated to add that detail? I do think that they could’ve included something else from the book other than the made up scene in the burrow.
    Remember the intended age group of the audience for the books and as such the movies. The love triangle is wonderfully played and added comic relief. Alan Rickman, as always, comes through as the perfect Snape — just as I envision him while reading the books. The death of Dumbledore also had me tearing up — just like when I read it in the book. I definitely got the true sense of Draco’s fear too.
    When we left the theatre the first thing my girls said was, “I can’t wait until this is out on DVD so we can own it!” I will definitely watch again and along with my girls discuss what scenes we would have included or enhanced — a creative activity we enjoy. It has us discussing the book again — where it all began anyway.

  15. anon@gmail.com' anan says:

    What gets me about all of the bad reviews is that it’s primarily adults complaining about this movie being too teen-centric. Hasn’t it occurred to you all that the movie was primarily intended for a teen audience? The same goes for those parents who brought their very young children and were shocked at how mature it was. The protagonists are 16 and its best viewer will also be 16, give or take a few years.

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