My wife, brother, and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a souped-up Extreme Digital theater last night. They packed more digits into that sucker than I ever would have thought possible. I recently read the book again, so the story would be fresh in my mind. Also, that makes it much easier to criticize all the ways in which the movie diverges from the book.
On the way to the theater, my brother said that when he's talked to people who have seen the movie, they all liked it. But he also heard rumors that "some people thought it sucked". After watching the film, I can understand some reasons why some people might think that, even if I disagree with them about whether these problems push the movie into overall suck territory.
The main shortcoming of the film is that it's so unrealistic. Okay, it's a story about magic and wizards. That's fine, I get that. I'm okay with magic wands, spells, apparition, flying smoke Death Eaters, invisibility cloaks, love potions, cursed jewelry, vanishing cabinets, wrackspurts, werewolves, zombies, killing curses, pulling cinematic memories out of your head for later review, etc. I loved all that.
However. There is one scene near the beginning of the movie where you can see the night sky out a window during summertime. I didn't recognize any constellations, but that's fine. It's fiction, after all. Later in the movie, there's another scene that occurs at night, about six months later, and the exact same arrangement of stars is visible in the sky! That would never happen! I can suspend my disbelief, but there's a limit to how much unrealism I can accept, and that was way over the line. I imagine this is probably the primary complaint of most people who thought the movie sucked.
Of course, the same stars might be visible if the first scene took place just before sunrise and the second scene took place just after sunset. Come to think of it, maybe that's what happened. I take it all back.
Other than that, the movie was excellent. It's probably my favorite Harry Potter movie so far. Of course, they made some changes from the book, but none of the changes detracted from the story, and in fact some changes actually improved my enjoyment of the story. I'm thinking of one particular change near the end, in which the implications of the final events were made even more profound and personal. I absolutely loved that change.
I definitely recommend it. The entire movie was so intense and enjoyable that I didn't even realize it was almost three hours long. I think I'll be going again sometime soon.