It’s the day before the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but do we care? Apparently so. We have a film section y’know! Here’s some thoughts from our filmxpert, Maria…
Released: July 15, 2009
Dir. David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon
Confession: I’m not a big Harry Potter fan. I’m not even a small HP fan – to the chagrin of many of my friends, I’ve only read the third book and the last ever chapter (but that’s enough right?).
However, I’ve still seen all of the film adaptations and get a tingle of excitement every time I hear the familiar, magical few notes of John Williams‘ score that introduces each new film. As hard as I resist, it draws me back in…
And now we’ve come to the sixth installment. Harry and friends are 16-years-old, maturity and hormones a-raging. Literally. There’s action of the romantic kind in this action adventure film – but more on that later.
The Half-Blood Prince is probably most famous in being the ‘one where *somebody* dies’. Oh and being darker than everything that’s come before, which it certainly is. The first couple of scenes are of a grim-skied London being terrorised by Death Eaters, destroying the Millennium Bridge while they’re at it. (Tut.) This early onslaught sets the tone for a HP film that seems to be getting to the core of the evil that Harry must ultimately face.
But let’s not dwell on that, because the filmmakers sure don’t. Although Harry continues to try and fulfill his destiny as ‘the chosen one’, what seems to be most important to him and the rest of the adolescent Hogwartians is snogging. Yes, there’s tons of it. Harry and Ginny Weasley. Ginny and her boyfriend Dean. Ron and new girl Lavender. Even Hermione is romanced by Quidditch stud, Cormac (who does some impressive gesticulating with his broomstick handle when trying to entice her). Of course, they’re normal teenagers whose hormones are in overdrive and they can’t get enough of each other. But please, there’s a world to save or something.
When they do remember this fact, the action in the film is superb. There’s a genuinely scary bit in the middle when Harry and Ginny are at risk in the middle of a cornfield. The tension is irresistable. But there’s not enough of that in my opinion…until the ending. And even then it’s not as impressive as it should be, according to my friend Jenny (a Harry Potter aficionado, if ever there was one).
The leading actors are still learning on the job, but they are, of course, sufficiently outclassed by their more experienced co-stars: Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace Slughorn and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange are particular standouts. (The latter, in particular, relishing in her villain status.)
But all these great, small elements, just don’t add up to a great film, sadly. It was diverting enough, but parts of it left me confused and other parts of the story, that are so widely known, obviously then didn’t pack the punch that they were supposed to (although the identity of the Half-Blood Prince was unknown to me, so that was a pleasant surprise).
This film will be a huge hit whatever’s said about it, because it’s HARRY POTTER. But avid readers and devotees may find it a bit wanting when all’s said and done. And those that aren’t …well they might just end up confused.