Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
(2019 Harry Potter Marathon)
Dare I say this is the Empire Strikes Back of the Harry Potter series.
"You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? Yes. I'm the Half Blood Prince."
Once again this was a Harry Potter movie I remember being so underwhelmed by the first time I saw it, but opinion has completely changed seeing this again in the context of my marathon. The tragic mystery of the story, engaging character development, and epic scale of the cinematography all combine to make this an exceptional movie. All these Harry Potter movies are between 2 and 3 hours long, but they each take you on such unique magical rides, that they do not feel long at all.
"Why is it, whenever something happens, it is always you three? .. Believe me, Professor, I’ve been asking myself the same question for six years."
While I could not stand the teen drama in part 4, I thought the love triangle and romantic tension between our main characters in this one was so charming. (Plenty of snoging ... and wow is Ron a nervous, clueless, loveable dude). That moment when he finally gets to be a quidditch champ is so fun, and I can't blame him for enjoying getting loved on from the new girl that has the hots for him. But I don't really get the chemistry between Harry and Ginny. Possibly since she was one of his original admirers, but wow were they young at that point.
Now being 6 movies in, I can officially say that I have gotten so invested in these characters. And I actually missed not getting to see some of the side characters as much like Neville Longbottom. Then we finally get to see Draco Malfoy as this tense conflicted character, struggling about if he can really follow thru on this path of evil.
The magical potions aspect of the story added an excellent new wrinkle that was nicely woven throughout the movie. Then Harry finds the Half Blood Prince's book with notes which gives him this edge, but then conflict arises when he sees that this book is brining out the worst in him.
"I'm going to tell you something - something others have only guessed at. It's true. I am the Chosen One, only I can destroy him, but in order to do so, I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you all those years ago"
I loved the mystery of this story with Harry working with Dumbledore to discover the truth about what Voldemort was up to with his questions for Professor Horace Slughorn. Harry getting to piece the mystery together by looking back into these memories was such a cool dynamic. The story reminded me a lot of Chamber of Secrets, but with a much greater sense of urgency.
"Merlin's beard! Is that an actual Acromantula?"
At times I think they went a bit too heavy with the dark asthenic of the film, especially in moments when it makes it harder to see. But I guess it does match the whole 'dark times' in the wizarding world vibe. But wow does Director David Yates incorporate some fantastic visual moments like that swooping shot of them walking thru the snowy landscape, Harry and Dumbledore on that rock surrounded by the ranging sea, and the creepy looming threat they encounter down in the cave.
Ending this on a somber note with Dumbledore being killed, and the death eaters being victorious was a great change of pace that helps build up tension heading into Deathly Hallows. I can't wait to finish out this journey thru the Harry Potter films. So many of these movies are so much better than I remembered, and I am eager to see how my final rankings of all them fall into place.
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching ... Cheers!