Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince – A Movie Review
The cinematic offerings of summer 2009 have had audiences clambering for tickets to their favourite franchise. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen has, so far proved the most successful at the worldwide box office, whereas Terminator : Salvation has successfully breathed life into a somewhat stale saga. Hot on their heels is the latest incarnation of J K Rowlings phenomenally successful Harry Potter franchise.
Viewing a Harry Potter film is likened to slipping on an old worn, yet pleasurably comfortable jumper. The familiarity provides you with comfort and the enjoyment comes from re-familiarising yourself with an old friend. But it is to its credit that the sixth instalment, Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince does not rest comfortably in the realms of familiarity.
From the opening sequence the audience is plunged in a Harry Potter world unlike we have ever seen before. Director David Yeats clearly states his intention to guide the saga in a darker direction. The audience are exposed to an unmistakable feeling of foreboding highlighted wholly with the opening sequence revealing unmistakable evil slicing through the atmosphere and invading the Muggle world. Explosive dark trails pierce the London sky, creating dark storms and destroying the Millennium Bridge.
The monochrome visuals of the film serve appropriately to highlight the tone of The Half Blood Prince. Gone is the time when Harry ventured down Diagon Alley only to be assaulted by the gaudy, energetic spectacles in front of his very eyes, these days even Ollivander’ s Wands has ceased trading. It seems as though all the wonderment has seeped out of the Harry Potter wizarding world.
In this particular instalment Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore enlists Harry in his attempts to understand and ultimately destroy Lord Voldermort. Throughout the school year, along with the trials and tribulations of being a sixteen year old and a wizard, which include blossoming feelings of yearning for his best friends sister, Harry is engaged in a mission with Dumbledore where their aim is to ultimately destroy his arch nemesis.
Harrry Potter And The Half Blood Prince does not benefit from the absence of the saga’s central antagonist. There are surprisingly few action sequences, though there is a fair amount of charm and humour, most notably from Jessie Cave who plays Lavender Brown, Ron’s girlfriend. Her deliciously over the top performance is cringe worthy and yet somewhat endearing at the same time.
However, despite Ms. Cave’s best intentions this potter movie is the weakest of the franchise so far. At 160 minutes it does feel far too long and the story does become tedious in places. It doesn’t help that there is a distinct lack of action sequences to break up the monotony and I couldn’t help but feel that it was dramatically superfluous.
As a drama the film feels inert and crammed with events, minor characters that are spurious, pointless and boring. Unable to warm to the character of Slughorn I found myself losing concentration throughout most of his scenes.
Having read the books I was aware of the events of climax of the story. Throughout the course of the film whilst increasing dissatisfied with the unfolding of the story I waited eagerly for the final confrontations. Unfortunately I was to be disappointed. The scenes felt hurried and not given the care and attention they deserved. The culmination of events in ‘The Half Blood Prince’ is one of the central story arc’s in the Harry Potter universe and after the credits rolled I was left with a feeling of disillusionment.
The performances of the three central friends of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermonie (Emma Watson) are all mature and confident. These actors have grown up in the roles and now seem perfectly content in their performance. Emma Watson especially gives an accomplished performance as Hermonie in her most emotionally complex Harry Potter portrayal yet. As Ron Weasley Rupert Grint gives a mature and subtle performance and Daniel Radcliffe as the wizarding wonder does his best not to let the side down. An honourable mention should be reserved for Michael Gambon, who as the master of ceremonies in Dumbledore elegantly conducts each of his scenes. Alan Rickman is effectively malevolent as Professor Snape and Jim Broadbent gives a sincere performance as the potions master Horace Slughorn.
Through the Harry Potter franchise J K Rowling has rescued British cinema attendance figures in this country. Harry Potter is still able to conjure a little magic with audiences, though with this latest instalment the hex put on all of us is a little less potent. There is still plenty to admire here, but I have to wonder how would a person rate this as an individual movie, instead of a cog in a franchise. For that reason, I find myself a little disappointed.