I loved the movie version of The Half-Blood Prince. I would have liked it even better without Ginny Weasley sticking her freckled nose into every available scene.
I never really took issue with Ginny in the books-- the way the romance developed, sure, but not the romance itself. In this movie, though, I felt like her presence was kind of a distraction from the real story. (Also: did anyone else see her fighting with Dean Thomas before Hermione mentioned it at the party? Anyone? They looked pretty happy at The Leaky Cauldron to me.) Don't get me wrong-- Bonnie Wright was great as Ginny. I just thought there was too much of her.
Tom Feldon and Rupert Grint were great. I could have watched Draco Malfoy forever, and Ron was vastly entertaining. Snape and Dumbledore were, of course, great as well-- hell, I liked pretty much everybody.
I loved the direction, by and large. There were a lot of really beautiful scenes. I should watch the movie again so I can gush appropriately about my favorite parts-- as of now, there are too many to choose from! There were some heavy cuts, and some odd decisions on story development (I am thinking mostly of the one that involved a field and a sudden fire), but that's all to be expected in this kind of movie.
I want the last movie, NOW.
I've been reading about Iran, and thus (a little bit) about Shia Islam. (The book is Persian Mirrors, by Elaine Sciolino. I've had it on my shelf for a long time and am really enjoying it now.)
The author doesn't go very deep into doctrine (or hasn't in what I've read so far). What caught my attention was her mention of the story of the 12th Imam. Apparently this is a messianic figure who's supposed to have disappeared as a child at the end of the 9th Century. In Shia Islam, it's apparently believed that he will come back towards the end of the world and... well, Wikipedia says "bring justice and peace to the world by establishing Islam throughout the world," so we'll go with that. This second coming of the 12th Imam, of course, sounds a lot like the second coming of Christ, which in turn bears certain resemblances to the second coming of King Arthur. I know there have got to be others out too-- it would be interesting to look for them. (I just did a Google search for "second coming" and got mostly articles on the Yeats poem, which is pretty fabulous. I like that poem...)
Humans seem to be pretty fond of these legends-- the hero who will come and fight the final battle for us, and lead the righteous into a new era of peace and joy. Actually, Harry Potter (to tie these threads together) is a pretty good example. Child messiah rids the world of evil once, receives appropriately grandiose title ("The Boy Who Lived!"), and vanishes from the (wizarding) world (with the help of Dumbledore, who is absolutely a God metaphor). Ten years later, when evil once more rears its head, the Child Messiah comes again, battles evil, and prevails-- ushering in a new peace that lasts for at least 19 years. Someone could write a dissertation on Harry Potter as Unintentional Biblical Allegory-- but the dissertation could just as easily be about Harry Potter as Archetypical Messiah, or something related. These are just things that we think about-- we like for good to triumph over evil, and we want to know that someone will come take over for us when things get tough.
The problem with these legends, of course, is that they are legends. We have no way of knowing whether they're true or not. Sure, someone might show up in the nick of time, just as the world is about to end, and fix everything with his magical powers-- but the best thing to do is to work on improving the world ourselves. If King Arthur does decide to come back, it can be an unexpected bonus.
(I have the sudden strong urge to go and read The Dark Is Rising. Wish I'd followed the earlier urge to buy it.)