Far from being disappointed that the new “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” trailer is barely about Harry at all, most fans say they love this first glimpse of Tom Riddle — the boy who would grow up to become the Dark Lord. They did have a few reservations, though.
“I thought this was a bold move and a wise choice,” said Kristina Horner of the wizard-rock band the Parselmouths. “And it’s a wise choice. He’s easily one of the most fascinating characters in the book. Young Tom Riddle is all the right amounts of crabby, stubborn and adorable — which will make his story even more tragic.”
Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, who plays the young Tom Riddle in the orphanage scene with Dumbledore, got raves for being extra creepy. Jen Bensoussan, who runs the fan site DanRadcliffe.com, called him the “perfect evil, eerie child version of Voldemort. Think ‘Omen.’ “
“It seems that in the way the universe revolved around the role of Dolores Umbridge in the last film, perhaps Voldemort will be stealing the stage this go-around,” said Megan Schuyler, a documentary filmmaker who just completed a movie about wizard rock. “Hero Fiennes-Tiffin will make an excellent Dark Lord-in-training.”
“I think the trailer did a good job of showing that the concept of absolute power turned an innocent boy into a madman,” said 15-year-old Saribel Pages, a sophomore at New York’s Horace Mann School.
Since the trailer presented that concept with Riddle’s words as a boy over images of actions committed by him or in his name later in life — “I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me” — the effect made it seem more like a horror film, fans said.
Not all fans appreciated that. “Ooh, exciting!” said Sandra Pieloch, a senior designer for Nickelodeon Creative Resources. “Only I didn’t know the newest ‘Harry Potter’ was being directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It feels like some Brit remake of ‘The Sixth Sense.’ “
“The cinematography is on a much grander scale,” Bensoussan said. “From the graphic effects surrounding Dumbledore to the chilling scene of Bonnie in the woods, or of Ron lying death-like on the floor, ‘Half-Blood Prince’ looks to be bolder, darker and more intense.”
“The movies pale in comparison to the actual books,” said Raina Tinker, a designer at HarperCollins, “but this one looks dark and creepy, which is how the book was.”
Not everything in the book is going to make the movie, and not everything in the movie can make the trailer — otherwise, it would be another movie. Still, fans noticed some discrepancies.
“I think they did a great job of young Dumbledore in the Tom Riddle orphanage, but what is he wearing?” asked Jen Boxerman, a staffer for the upcoming Harry Potter conference Terminus. “It’s supposed to be a silly suit, and instead they put him in a polka-dot tie? It’s a testament to J.K. Rowling that I even notice these things.”
The larger issue for most fans is that the focus on Riddle meant nearly every other character was left out — including the Half-Blood Prince himself. “Where was Slughorn?” asked Caroline Bartels, librarian and host of Horace Mann’s “Lit Chat” club. “Where was Snape? Where was Merope? And the battle on the Tower?”
“Where’s Rupert Grint?” asked Pieloch. (He was on the floor, after being poisoned, for a split second — blink, and you missed it. But Grint exclusively told the Movies Blog that it’s just a teaser trailer, so there’s more Ron Weasley to come.)
“There wasn’t enough Draco,” Boxerman said.
“Horcruxes weren’t even mentioned,” said Sarah Sanders, a 17-year-old Horace Mann junior.
Perhaps if they had been, the audience would have been lost. If it takes Harry the length of the book to understand what Horcruxes are, how many there are, and what and where they might be, how can you expect a general audience to grasp the concept in a minute and a half? But if the filmmakers steered clear from anything too clunky for the trailer, they might have done themselves a disservice by not alluding to the mystery.
“I don’t think it was exciting enough for non-Potter fans,” said Finn Vigeland, a 15-year-old junior at Horace Mann. “I don’t think it would attract people who are on the fence.”
“If you haven’t read the books, why would you go see this?” Bartels asked. “It doesn’t move you forward from the last book at all.”
Others disagree, saying the trailer worked just as well for hard-core fans such like themselves as well as the general public.
“It gave me goose bumps,” said Jace Crion of the wizard-rock band Catchlove. “The trailer gave me hope that this could be the best Harry Potter movie yet.”
“It makes you want to stick with Harry to see how he’s going to get through it all,” said Hallie Tibbets, a staffer at Terminus, “even if you know exactly how the story will end.”