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This review is from: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince [DVD] (DVD)
I'm relieved that my new DVD player shows this film properly - with the previous one it was like watching a black cat in a coal cellar at night through sunglasses - because this is a film I wanted to be sure about.
It's certainly not without merit, and the high spot is Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughon (not quite as awful as in the book, but wonderful nonetheless) who holds firm ownership of most of the narrative, because this is a film that tells the story of Tom Riddle and the horcruxes or, at least, should do...
At least I think it should because I consider the diabolical magic that confers immortality providing you kill enough people to be more interesting than teenagers getting off with each other.
Obviously stuff has to be cut in order to fit a great big book into two hours of film, and with most of the movies I think just about the right stuff got cut, but the problem with this book is that the stuff done by Riddle is much more interesting than that done by Harry, and mostly this film is about Harry. While I appreciate the power of sporting prowess and young love, I confess myself more drawn to the quest for identity and eternal life, and I wonder if it's fair to judge a movie on the stuff that isn't in it, if JK Rowling hadn't written all that stuff in the book, would I be quite so disappointed in the film? But she did write all that stuff, didn't she? That's the point.
It's a good film for Tom Felton - this is the movie where Draco gets to do some proper villainy - and Mr Felton rises to the occasion extremely well, giving Draco even a little twisted nobility.
After that, I enjoy Emma Watson's performance, and Michael Gambon is always worth watching, and it looks interestingly dark in a grown-up sepia kind of way, all a bit washed-out and 'artistic' - the cut from Snape tending the stricken Draco to the three figures in front of the light is particularly religious (though I don't know quite why) - and the chase around the cornfields surrounding The Burrow is excellent (Chez Weasley seems to have moved to East Anglia - it looked much more Wiltshire in Chamber of Secrets), all in all they've got the oncoming apocalypse thing very well.
The problem is that I'm being told very little that I don't already know; the plot does not really develop much - I know about young love, daft old men, death, and driven, troubled young men - what I want to know is the terrible story of Tom Riddle, Morphin, Marvolo, Borgin and Bourkes, Hepzibah Smith - all that stuff - I read about it in the Half-Blood Prince book, and I want to see it in the Half-Blood Prince film - that's what I've paid me money for.
If I wanted to learn about teenagers falling in and out of love, I'm sure I could find something to explain it all on CBBC (though I think I remember most of it).