Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince: The Review
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Tom Felton
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
After narrowly escaping with their lives following a deadly encounter with Voldemort and his Death Eaters, our erstwhile heroes are back a little older and wiser in their penultimate year at Hogwarts. The whole wizarding world are on their guard and rumours persist that Harry is “the chosen one”. Harry himself seems more preoccupied with his burgeoning feelings for best friend Ron’s little sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright). To complicate matters further Professor Dumbledore (Gambon) seems intent on presenting Harry with a mission involving new Professor Horace Slughorn (Broadbent) and a secret that could prove to be the key to defeating Voldemort once and for all.
Finally, almost a year after its originally scheduled release date, the behemoth that is the Harry Potter franchise rolls into town in time to wrestle the summer crowd away from Optimus Prime and Shia La Boeuf. Opening with a well choreographed sequence involving the destruction of the Millennium Bridge by Voldemort’s Death Eaters, the first real moment in the Harry Potter universe that has the Wizarding and Muggle Worlds colliding, we witness Harry, in a scene not in the book, arranging a date with a pretty waitress. It’s a hint at what to expect for the next 153 minutes from our now teenage protagonists, hormones and tangled love lives make up a good chunk of the story line and the young cast portray these feelings convincingly and with gusto.
In an amusing sub plot Ron Weasley (Grint) finds himself in a relationship with classmate Lavender Brown played by a delightfully deranged Jessie Cave who could boil more bunnies than Glenn Close has had hot dinners. Their constant snogging and Cave’s frankly terrifying squeals of “Won, Won” propel Hermione (Watson) to question her feelings for best friend Ron. Harry too is falling for Ginny Weasley and being pursued by girls attracted to his potential as “the chosen one.” It is this title that sees Dumbledore engage Harry in a mission to uncover Horace Slughorns secret and fulfil his destiny. Broadbents’ Slughorn is somewhat more endearing than the pompous Professor on the page and he’s a delight in every scene. Working well with an increasingly more confident Radcliffe he’s a welcome addition.
Set a mission of his own Draco Malfoy (Felton) is elevated from one dimensional school bully to a tortured and desperate, lonely teenager. Increasingly afraid and with little hope of achieving his goal Felton gives his Hitler Youth poster boy hitherto unseen layers and proves himself worthy to the task. Acting with emotion and more than a little class you may find yourself sympathising with the previously odious Malfoy. In many ways The Half-Blood Prince is as much Draco’s tale as it is Harry’s, his actions changing Hogwarts forever.
Although Voldemort himself is absent in this film his malevolent presence is felt through out and we learn a little of his past, his 11 year old and teenage self portrayed by the gloriously creepy Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane respectively.
With set pieces such as the Quidditch match, finally living up to its promise on the page as a brutal and exhilarating sport and the Dumbledore/Harry scene at the lake, director David Yates shows as deft a hand at the action led scenes as he does with portraying the inner workings of the teenage mind. Beautifully photographed by AmÃ©lie cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, the film at times resembles a painting and adds to the pathos of the final two scenes.
Potter fans, if they can be less slavish to the books, will be delighted and moved. Who needs robots that change into cars anyway?
By Christa Ktorides