The first screenings of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince rolled out just after midnight Tuesday, and the fans, most of the generation that had grown up with the Potter books and movies, flocked to see them.
How good is the film? Here are some thoughts from area residents who attended the midnight screenings.
"It was enjoyable, but lacking in elements from the book. They left out a fair amount of what was important."
-- Ernie Williamson
-- Scott Hinds, who was dressed as Dumbledore
"Better than I expected but not the best yet. I was looking for that big fight scene at the end, and it just wasn't there."
"I like that it matures as they get older."
-- Mackenzie Hinds, who said it was her favorite of the films
"I thought it was the best yet. I loved the tone and the actors. I really liked Draco in this one. Excellent."
-- Stacie Wells
"I would say that if you expect the book, then you are going to be disappointed. If you know nothing about the book, you'll probably love it. You'll love it or be very confused."
-- Heather Clark
"It was very good but a real crier. I'm pretty sure I annoyed everyone that was sitting anywhere near me."
-- Caycegale Cooter
"Pretty good, for a movie. There just seemed to be a lot that was added and a lot that was left out."
-- Brad McCall
-- Compiled by Staff Writers Steven Uhles and Sarah Day Owen
Here is Entertainment Reporter Steven Uhles' assessment:
Harry Potter fans needn't fear the dark. Although Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the grimmer novels in the series, little of the literary dourness made its way on screen.
There were some unavoidable moments of existential stress on the boy wizard and company, and some authentic frights, but the film seems to exist to dazzle first and spin a riveting yarn second.
Half-Blood Prince, an impressive display of film school tricks and new technologies, succeeds in meeting the criteria of a summer blockbuster. The money (a reported $200 million) spent on the movie all seems to be on the screen.
The movie is detailed and carefully constructed. The need to awe, however, seems to have left little details -- character, story, plugging pesky plot holes -- as afterthoughts. The most successful moments, in terms of performance and storytelling, occur during the rare instances when the camera stops swirling around the set and the actors, who are truly beginning to grow into these roles, are allowed to work.
That's not to say that Half-Blood Prince should not be a special effects film (it is about wizards, after all) but that a judicious approach to technique might have made for a more affecting film.
Here's what Staff Writer Sarah Day Owen had to say:
I didn't see a single Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The sixth film didn't rely on sugar coating or magic tricks, hallmarks of previous movies, to carry the plot.
It seemed in preceding movies that the viewer was given these little treats of magic along the storyline to enter into the world of Harry Potter. Not in this movie.
Half-Blood Prince is a formal departure from the childlike wonder and black-and-white right and wrong of previous films to the downright horror of hexes, torture, brutal death and the gray of real-world dilemmas.
Character development is satisfying to see -- Hermione is less childlike and over-the-top, Ron's not talking in that squeaky voice, and shots of Harry aren't that same grin shown over and over. The actors have matured into their roles and taken the characters to new depths.
As a longtime Harry Potter fan (I got hooked on the books in high school),
I didn't dislike the movie. It's well-made and did the story justice. I'm as nostalgic for the happier, lighter days at Hogwarts, though, as Harry seems to be at the end of the movie.