Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

Final Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

Colin:

Not a huge fan of this one, admittedly. It’s definitely in the bottom half for me. I won’t say all that much, here, but part of what feels weird about it to me is that you know we’re on the cusp of the final battle, but there’s still sort of goofy stuff going on. The fact that stuff is being set up a whole year in advance, like acquiring Slughorn’s memory…we’re on the edge here, people. Dumbledore and Harry had to go to quite a lot of trouble just to get that memory out of him to confirm something Dumbledore already knew. I guess there was the matter of it being SEVEN horcruxes, but all the same. Couldn’t you have just held Sluggy down on a table while someone pulled the memory out of him? Desperate times, man.

I think this is finally where I need to talk about Ginny, too; I’ve given her enough grief for this whole series, so I think she deserves a reason. Ginny is built up as a whole new main character too abruptly. Someone from the inter-webs checked out digital copies of all the books to count how many times the characters’ names are mentioned. This gives you some idea of how ‘important’ those characters are or at least how often we’re supposed to be thinking of them. Other than The Chamber of Secrets, Ginny is nearly nonexistent until The Half-Blood Prince. In Azkaban, for instance, she turns up 18 times — I checked. Even Ron’s useless ass gets mentioned more than 750 times, and Harry’s around 2000. The truth is, she all but disappears from the books after Chamber of Secrets and doesn’t make a real reappearance until Order of the Phoenix (as a member of Dumbledore’s Army) and finally in The Half-Blood Prince, where she’s built up all of a sudden as the perfect girl. Rowling goes on about how gorgeous she is, how smart she is, how she’s brilliant at quidditch, how she dates every guy, and so on. She goes from shy, little possessed girl to every man’s dream in the blink of an eye.

Cause really, other stuff was going on and other from seeing her going to the Yule Ball with Neville, we don’t really get Ginny updates. Harry’s either interested in Cho, having “friend” moments with Hermione, or not really worrying about girls at all. So when Half-Blood Prince rolls around, Rowling realizes that she’s running out of pages and needs to hurry up and get Harry with someone double quick. She’s turned into a ginger Barbie, with no actual character development. We don’t know anything really about her, and she hasn’t had enough dialogue to make much of an impression. All we really see is her making out with a lot of dudes, which is the extent of her character development between Chamber of Secrets and about 3/4 of the way through this book. So that’s why I’ve been calling her a skank the whole time. Rowling has given herself no opportunity to develop this character at all for about 4 books — more than half of the series — and then expects us to suddenly accept her as desirable because we see her with several other guys. That’s not how you get readers to like a character.

We never knew all that much about Cho, but that was pure physical attraction on Harry’s part, and it didn’t last all that long. He MARRIES Ginny. They have KIDS. She’s one of the main characters in the epilogue, and effectively becomes the fourth member of the gang. I require a little more out of a character like that. You could have had Harry marry a muggle (DINER GIRL!) and it wouldn’t change all that much here, other than the fact that now the whole thing feels vaguely incestuous. But all of this would be SOMEWHAT okay if Rowling had then maintained the status quo and kept up the charade for Deathly Hallows. Does she? No. 759 pages, and Ginny gets mentioned 121 times. Ron gets 1179 and Hermione gets 1222. Harry gets a whopping 3128 mentions, since he IS the main character. But for all the focus on Harry, there’s not a whole lot of attention paid to whomever Harry is supposedly thinking about the whole time. He’ll think of her for a second or two, but only ever in the book, and not long enough to develop any real basis for their attraction.

There are a few other girls who fit this bill. Harry and Hermione have MORE than enough going on to support a relationship. Good chemistry, a long history, and they’re both not useless. The other obvious choice (and I bet Mike will back me up here) is Luna. She and Harry have had a lot of actual conversations, which is more than can be said for Harry and Ginny. Remember the talk they had in Order of the Phoenix, when Luna’s feeding the thestrals? She has some great dialogue about Voldemort and Harry, and she cheers him up. Pretty much every time we see them together, the scene ends with him smiling. Even if it’s partially just, “Damn, Luna, you’re weird,” he’s still smiling because she’s interesting. I’m not saying Luna would have been better than Hermione, but surely both of them would have been better than Ginny.

And so my conclusion is that Ginny was Rowling’s last-resort impulse pick, which required some 11th hour slapdash preparations that left the character shallow, uninteresting, underdeveloped and ultimately boring. Her two greatest achievements in this franchise are being possessed by a book and getting knocked up by the Chosen One. Twice. Other than that, all we really get in between those events is her making out with randos. Not the kind of arc commensurate with her ending status as the love of Harry’s life. I don’t outright HATE the character, and I don’t attack her for everything. But I find her to be horribly built up and overrated.

And that’s why I like to call her a skank now and again.

My Final Thoughts:

“Ginny ain’t shit but a ho and a trick.” — Colin’s final thoughts in a nutshell.

He’s not wrong. Ginny is built up totally abruptly. Though I will say, I feel like when I read the book (which, admittedly, was once, the day it came out), the thing with Ginny was more — Harry sees her with all these other guys and is like, “Wait, what?” And he starts to have feelings for her that are more like, “Where did these come from?” I feel like the book is more about him suddenly noticing that Ginny has been there the whole time and has kind of had a thing for him and, “Oh, she’s actually pretty attractive.” I mean, it’s abrupt, but I didn’t have much of a problem with it in the book.

The movie, however — completely weird. They did a lot of rushing in this one, which is why I don’t like the movie all that much outside of the cinematography and a few moments here or there. I could accept the Ginny thing if they gave it more screen time here (screen time that wasn’t so goddamn awkward, either), but they’ll never be able to overcome the chemistry that Harry and Hermione have. So that’s a losing battle to begin with.

I also love that your entire final thoughts are basically, “Yeah, the movie’s not that great, but fucking Ginny…” That’s awesome.

Ginny aside — most of this movie is pretty pointless. The entire second act is essentially Ron and Lavender (which I could not give a fuck about), Ron and Hermione (which sucks, but is interesting because Hermione is so great, and, admittedly, needs Ron and Lavender), and Harry and Slughorn and the memory. I don’t give a fuck about that. That’s not interesting to me. What was interesting to me in this book was when Harry and Dumbledore would go out horcrux hunting together. The reason Dumbledore’s death actually is sad in the books is because he spent the year with Harry, going off and doing shit and spending actual quality time with him. That’s why these deaths are sad. Any person who becomes a close father figure to Harry gets fucking capped out of nowhere. And they completely ignore that in the movie. And it’s a shame, because that’s the best part of the book!

So much of this movie is stuff I don’t care about (do we really need a whole section with Ron and the fucking Quidditch tryouts?) that it basically forces itself down to the bottom two films, along with Chamber of Secrets.

However, the cinematography here is actually the best in the franchise, along with Azkaban, and the fact that Philosopher’s Stone mostly has the novelty factor going for it, I’d probably have this fluctuating with that in the 6/7 position of the 8 films.

Otherwise — the sequence in the cave is great. That whole sequence is incredible, and is perfect. The astronomy tower sequence is well done, as is the end of the movie. I have minor quibbles, but on the whole, good job.

I love that Draco has become a three-dimensional character and has been given a chance to shine. Problem is — as I say with all these movies — the minor characters don’t get enough development for it to mean anything. Draco goes back to being one-dimensional (well… two) in the next two movies, and they count on you remembering the books and remembering this to fill in the rest.

Hagrid is basically gone here, which sucks.

Slughorn is entertaining, but otherwise, too many of his scenes are from the book and for plot purposes, and detract from the overall quality of the film. It’s not his fault, but he is involved, so — he’s a casualty.

Harry being all hopped up on lucky crack was awesome. The Spider-Man 3 sequence of this movie. Absolutely hilarious.

And then — the Burrows sequence is absolutely incredible too, and doesn’t even feature in the books at all. That should tell you something, that when they stray away from the book, this movie is at its best.

Also — Hermione. She is seriously the best part of these movies, and every time she gets an emotional moment, it makes me realize how little every other character is developed. All of her scenes are the actual best parts of this movie.

Overall, there are just too many holes and uninteresting in this movie for me to love it as much as I love most of the other ones. In terms of pure filmmaking, the first two are the worst. In terms of how I enjoy the movies, this and Chamber of Secrets are the bottom of the franchise for me. This one just doesn’t hold much interest to me. The way they did it in the book was a lot more interesting. Harry not going with Dumbledore looking for horcruxes really detracts from things. Remember how they go to the Gaunt house and stuff? And how that’s the reason Harry is suspicious when he finds out Dumbledore went away for the holidays without telling him? Who gives a fuck about Hermione eating dragon meat to mess up her breath and Cormac vomiting on Snape’s shoes?

But yeah — not that interesting a film compared to most of the other ones. I get Colin’s thing with Ginny — I just think it comes off as awkward more than anything. That’s mostly what this movie is — awkward. It’s the biggest casualty of trying to get a 700 page book into a single movie. Goblet worked out all right (though even that one has its issues), and Order of the Phoenix I thought was great because they changed it up enough to make it work, but this one I just thought had way too many issues to be considered a top film of the franchise. The great stuff is too bogged down by the not so great stuff.

I totally support the Luna idea, though.

Oh, and — best line in this entire article: “Her two greatest achievements in this franchise are being possessed by a book and getting knocked up by the Chosen One. Twice.”

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we start Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 — a film that I have a very interesting relationship with. Which is to say — I thought I felt one way about it, but I might actually feel the exact opposite way about it.

He said, putting it as concretely and directly as he could.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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