Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry_potter_half_blood_prince_dumbledore_potter (Interrupting my normal blogging activities for a moment to talk about one of my other passions--Harry Potter.  The sixth movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released at midnight last night, so for all you other Potter fans that are readers, let's discuss!)

So much for people losing interest after the last book--apparently Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince made 22.2 million dollars last night!  I was there, of course.  Not much beats going to a Potter movie on opening night in my book.  It's like watching a movie with a hundred of your best friends--lots of cheering and clapping and laughing....and usually some crying too!  

And as for the movie itself....(leave now if you don't want to know)....I was left at the end trying to decide whether it was well-done or not.  

There were changes from the book--perhaps the most changes in any of the movies so far.  I know they have to cut stuff, but this was more like outright substitution than cutting for length--it just didn't make any sense to me at all.  

For example, instead of the "The Other Minister" chapter or the scene at the Dursley's (perhaps some of the funniest in the books), Dumbledore finds Harry flirting with a waitress at a restaurant in the subway because Harry now rides trains for fun?  Then there was this whole weird bit about how Lily Potter gave Slughorn a pet fish?  It was very "WTF?"

The added "attack on the Burrow" scene was scary, but I'm not sure if it was necessary.  The stated reason for adding it was to show how dangerous the wizarding world was becoming, but I think it really would have just been better to do it as Rowling did in the books--with a mention here and there of someone dying or disappearing from Hermione reading her Daily Prophet.

And then Harry and Dumbledore get back to the Astronomy tower after the bit in the cave.  I knew that the battle scene had been left out, and I think that by itself would have been OK, but they also left out many of the lines that are what made that part of the book so poignant.  I so missed Dumbledore's "I'm not worried Harry, I'm with you."  And when Harry gives chase to Snape and calls him a coward, I almost wanted to shout back the, "Don't call me a coward" line instead of whatever drivel Alan Rickman said in its place.
Then Harry goes back to find all the students starting at Dumbledore's fallen body--geez, you don't think maybe someone would have thought to pick him up or straighten him out or something?  I kind of understand why they left out the funeral--most of the interesting parts of that happen in Harry's head, after all--but the funky wand-lighting thing and later awkward conversation between Harry and McGonagall had to take up almost as much time.  Then later, Harry, Ron, and Hermione discuss not coming back to school (again, minus the "We've had time to turn back" bit).  The movie could have ended with Hermione's line that "of course they weren't going to let Harry go hunt horcruxes alone", but instead they start waxing about how beautiful Hogwarts is.  It was just...flat.

But other than the strange changes, the movie was actually really well done.  Slughorn was perfect!  And Tom Felton, whom I've been annoyed with in the past, also did an excellent job of showing Draco's inner torment.  The scene with Katie Bell and the necklace was incredibly spooky.  And the scenes with Ron playing quidditch and the bits showing the teenage romance were just hilarious.  Even Michael Gambon has improved.  Although it only took him four movies to do so, I can't find fault with his Dumbledore at all in this one.

It's kind of frustrating actually, because when the writers and directors work with Rowling's original material--and let the actors work with Rowling's material--they make great movies.  It's like I just want to write a note to (screenwriter) Steve Kloves, 

"Dear Steve, 

J.K. Rowling? Better writer than you!  So use her stuff instead of making up your own, K?  Thanks!"  

Do you think that would be helpful?  :)

Overall, I'm too much of a fan not to like just about any Potter movie that gets made, but I certainly don't think this one was "the best Potter yet" as the critics are saying.  I definitely like Goblet and Phoenix better...and maybe even the first three, although this one was certainly funnier....

Anyone else seen it yet?  Thoughts?