|Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 14 December 2009|
With all the Harry Potter films I happen to have seen the films and then read the corresponding books. The problem is that when you watch the film again, there is confusion abound. I sat through this film for the second time and felt like two-thirds of the movie was missing. I could have sworn I saw this scene and that scene. But what it actually was, was that I was trying to include the images that came to me when reading the book into the movie. However, some of them were so realistic that I could have sworn I saw them in the theatrical release of the film.
When comparing the movie with the book, several characters’ actions are replaced by other characters. For example, Tonks is the one that finds Harry on the train floor and takes him up to the castle where the gates have been locked shut and Professor Snape meets them. However, in the film, it is Luna that finds Harry and walks with him back to a Hogswart with open gates. While this is a simple matter, it continues like this throughout the film. Not mention I simply adore Tonks and for her to only appear once in the entire film is heartbreaking, especially when she is prominent in the first third of the book and the last sequence.
Speaking of the final sequence, there is supposed to be a big battle, but inside it becomes a minor showdown between Snape and Harry. It is a HUGE letdown considering the end of the sixth book.
In addition to the change in characters and the change in the end, it seems as though the film contains all the unimportant information and neglects all the ingenious storylines created by Rowling. That is probably one of my biggest issues with the film. It is a huge part of the story for Harry to have meetings with Dumbledore and go into the pensieve with him to understand Tom Riddle’s past. However, the film neglects many of the pensieve trips and only cares about Harry’s task to get the memory from Slughorn. There are many explanations of horcruxes contained in those pensieve trips. So many in fact, that I don’t know how the filmmakers are possibly going to get the audience up to speed in the last two films. I seriously have doubts already about the last two films. Although, I can tell you that the opening of the seventh movie is going to be incredible.
Now that I have spoke my mind, the movie is actually entertaining and involving. It is a fine film for those that red the books. However, without having the knowledge contained in the books and left out of the movie, the film doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I think the filmmakers have forgotten that fact, and so has nearly every viewer. Imagine trying to understand the intricacies of this complex story by only watching the films. It is simply isn’t possible.
The video quality is a bit misleading. To anyone that pops in the disc and begins watching, they are going to be disappointed. The entire film is bleak and dismal. Colors can hardly be found in the film. The amount of desaturation is incredible. However, this is not an issue with the transfer. It is an accurate representation of the theatrical playback. In fact, the video quality is quite excellent once past lack of eye popping colors. Black levels are fully resolved and crushing only occurs one or two occasions. Film grain is ever so slight, providing a nice texture. Details remain full throughout the film. Shadow delineation is spot on, clearly representing dualities. Only the trained eye will catch some of the flecks of noises and banding issues that haunt a couple scenes in the film. Once you understand the filmmakers’ intent, this can be a much-appreciated video transfer.
The star of the disc, without question, is the audio track. It is absolutely perfect. Dialogue is clean, balanced, and matches every atmosphere and ambience. And, for the first time in a long time, there isn’t once distorted frequency in the dialogue. There is nothing worse that cracking dialogue as a result of poor production dialogue recording. The LFE channel is present throughout the film and becomes noticeable when appropriate. The sound design is incredible and is nicely transferred to Dolby TrueHD. Directionality and panning is spot on. Immersion is full sounding and complete. Sound effects fill every corner of the room, even in the calmest and simplest of scenes. There is not one moment in which you will feel yourself taken out of the movie by a glitch in the sound. This is most certainly a demo audio track from beginning to end. Bravo Warner Bros.
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” comes in a 3-disc Blu-ray package. The first disc contains the film. The second disc is a Blu-ray disc with the bonus materials. The third disc is a standard DVD Copy of the film that also functions as a Digital Copy of the film.
Aside from the film, the first disc is also equipped with the Maximum Movie mode and BD-Live. The package contains easy to watch and navigate bonus materials. The Maximum Move Mode is a picture-in-picture track. This track contains everything from interviews to production stills. The track is not hosted by Daniel Radcliffe, despite what the cover art may say. The nicest function of the track is the ability to segment those segments in which no information is present. Also available through the track is a collection of Focus Points. These points are also available as separate segments.
The rest of the bonus materials are located on the second Blu-ray disc. “Close Up with the Cast of ‘Harry Potter’” contains sit down interviews with various members of the cast and someone from the production department. “One-Minute Drills” gives each of the actors one minute to explain their character in the film. “J.K. Rowling: A Year In the Life” is a documentary that goes behind the scenes with the author. Warning: do not watch this featurette if you do not want spoilers about the last book or how the saga ends. “First Footage from ‘Deathly Hallows’” is a hugely disappointing segment. It is nothing more than an elaborated trailer. A montage of chase sequences and dramatic moments are put together and consider a first look. “What’s On Your Mind?” is an extremely brief segment that is much like “60 seconds” segments seen on Cinemax when an actor receives a bunch of one-word answer questions. There is a collection of deleted scenes, which don’t really offer anything in terms of what is missing from the book. In fact, it shows you the pointless information that the screenwriters focused on. Finally, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is a look at the attraction being built at Universal Studios in Florida (ironic since this is a Warner Bros. production).
All in all, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is an entertaining film, but its deviation from the book is disappointing. The video quality is extremely good, but viewers will be disappointed that the image doesn’t leap off the screen. But if there is one reason to get this disc, it is because of the stellar audio track.