This movie is definitely darker than the others before it in the franchise, and I mean that literally. Whereas the other Harry Potter movies seem to burst with light and color even in their most tragic moments, the color in Half-Blood Prince seems bleached out, neutralized. The world has suddenly darkened, and most of what we see seem to be moonlight and shadows.
Those familiar with the book will of course know what happens in the movie. The child wizards who have so fascinated us are now growing up, and we suddenly see them as adolescents with all the angst that stage carries. But while our brilliant Hermione is all eaten up with jealousy over Ron seemingly having noticed girls for the first time, and Ron is carrying on like a lovesick mooncalf over Lavender Brown (I have to admit that Rupert Grint's mobile face lends itself admirably to the portrayal of someone who has just consumed a strong love potion), Harry has to go on looking for a way to defeat Voldemort for good. Meanwhile there's Ginny, who is growing up very admirably. Her silent strength is always there to support Harry when he needs it, and boy, does he ever.
There's always Luna, of course, looking loonier than ever but in a good way, and Draco, looking more and more tortured in spite of himself. And oh yes, Draco's Aunt Bellatrix-- whenever I see her I get this extraordinary urge to scratch, hiss, spit, and pull her hair. And then there's Snape, and as usual you never quite know whose side he's on.
I wish JK Rowling had never said Dumbledore was gay; it somehow colors all the scenes with Dumbledore and Harry and there's quite a lot of that in the movie. Not that I'm homophobic or anything... it's just that somehow, all those teacher and student interactions have become overlaid with something else entirely. It made the movie a little off for me.
In fact, that was the entire tone of this Harry Potter movie for me... it seems to be nothing more than a transition between Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows. Technically, it's quite good and I can't find fault with that. But I was torn between a desire to see the movie end and a feeling that something was lacking.
As it is, I think my roommate summed it all up perfectly when she commented, "I don't know why, but I feel that the magic's missing somehow."
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