Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Adventure,Mystery Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince | Adventure | rated PG (MV) | starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman | directed by David Yates | 2:33 mins

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliff) begins another year at Hogwarts still reeling from the events of the last: Dumbledor’s (Michael Gambon) fight with Voldemort and the death of Sirrius Black. He immediately suspects Draco Malfoy of wrong-doing and with Deatheaters attacking magicians and muggles alike in the open, Harry must locate the previous author of a book of potions all the while he, Ron and Hermoine’s lives are increasingly complicated with budding romances.

“I suppose about now you’re wondering what this is all about”

“Actually, sir, after all these years I just sort of go with it”

The Harry Potter movies exist in a magical cinematic world, bringing to the screen the imagination of J.K. Rowling’s world-famous book series. With each sequel it’s just their responsibility to not screw it up. I like the series and have loved a few of the movies. Chamber of Secrets and Order of the Phoenix and now Half-Blood Prince joins them as the best of the series. While many fans of the book thought the film was an atrocity, stripping out all of the excitement of the book for more pre-teen romance, I loved how this movie slowed down and focused on the kid’s relationships. It provides an excellent set-up for the 2-part Deathly Hallows finale.

From the start, I was delighted that Half-Blood Prince seems aware of the series formula and from there it takes every effort to go against it. Now 6 movies in, this change of pace was exactly the shot in the arm the series needed. Literally. Half-Blood Prince is a wonderfully leasurely paced film. Hogwarts has never felt more lived-in. For the first time in the series I really got a good sense of Harry, Ron and Hermoine as friends. They’ve warmed to each other to create a wonderful chemestry as a mystery solving team. In every way this film feels more organic than many of the last, which by comparsion could have just been going through the motions cramming highlights of the book in. Elsewhere, Evanna Lynch continues to charm up the room as adorably quirky Luna Lovegood and Tom Felton takes a monumental leap with Draco Malfoy’s slide toward the dark side.

Director David Yates and again screenwriter Steve Kloves envision this film more like the Potter version of a high school teen drama – except in this world we have love potions to make you question your true feelings for someone and liquid luck to stand in for performance enhancing steroids in the Quidich arena. The pairings here are what is interesting. Who likes who and who gets together create a few convoluted love triangles in surprising ways. And because Radcliffe, Watson and Grint all step up to the task, it all feels real.

But it wouldn’t be a Harry Potter movie without a little darkness and mystery to keep the series story moving. Right from the beginning the movie reveals alliances previously kept close to the chest. Now lines are clearly drawn between good and evil. There are several solid action scenes and creepy magic along the way. Once the requisite mystery has been solved and final battle has been waged – all part of each movie’s formula – Half-Blood Prince takes an uncharacteristically dark turn. The final few minutes are terrific, throwing our expectations off completely and daring to end the movie on a downbeat note. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen anything like it in a “kids movie”.  

Given how heavy it is on character relations and exposition that doesn’t exactly pay off, it’s best to view Half-Blood Prince as one hell of an epic first act in the final 3 films. It takes the series to the 10 yard line, now it’s up to Deathly Hallows pt 1 & 2 to bring it to a smashing close. This is the movie that has really gotten me invested in these characters and now I can’t wait for the next.

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