Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Frank Dillane, Jim Broadbent, Bonnie Wright, and Jessie Cave
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 153 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Fantasy violence

This film is the sixth movie in the Potter series, with another to come [in two parts]. It has to be the longest running series in movie history and the temptation to continue with what has gone before must be enormous. Produced as a film designed to be a movie which combines style with substance, it defies the odds, and is perhaps the best Potter movie in the series so far. It is directed by David Yates, who directed the last one with an obvious desire to please and impress. But this time around, Yates delivers tighter story-telling that is more measured in pace, and scenes are intermingled with magic and fantasy to dramatic effect. The film starts off erratically with some out-of-genre blockbuster effects, and then it settles down to become a smart, moody piece that maintains its suspense. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) have grown up, and the story-telling captures surging teenage hormones without apology.
Hogwarts has been pivotal to the Potter films, and features here, but it is no longer safe and hides dangers that Harry has to contend with. Voldemort is marshalling his forces for a showdown with Harry, and Harry spends time exploring his emotional relationship to Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). The final battle with the evil Voldemort (played well in the film by two child stars, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Frank Dillane) approaches, and vital information is obtained by Harry from the memories of Hogwarts’ newly appointed Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), which give Dumbledore and Harry the final clue to Voldemort’s murderous intent.

In the midst of all this intrigue, adolescent urges are ever-present. Harry becomes attracted to Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), and Hermione becomes jealous as Ron succumbs to the charms of his amorous new girl friend, Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave). The romantic episodes conflict at times with the main plot, but they inject a note of distraction into the film that is perhaps needed to lighten the tone, as Harry’s darker side reveals itself. The climactic scene one expects from the film (following the book) doesn’t appear, and is obviously part of the forthcoming film adaptation of the final Potter film, “Deathly Hallows” (expected to be released by 2011), but the movie’s dramatic final sequence in Hogwarts’ astronomy tower, doesn’t disappoint.

Sequels to big, expensive movies like this one become darker as they progress, and not surprisingly, this film is no exception; its atmosphere is increasingly intense and moody. This is a much more grown-up movie than the Potter films before it, and contains elements that are not at all child-friendly. Even though the movie treads the well-established paths of previous Potter films with familiar characters, this film is scarily different. However, it is a film where the integration of design, cinematography, and musical score works very well, and the digital and visual effects blend effortlessly into the story-telling, particularly in the film’s second half. The music, design and photography contribute effectively to sustain the sense of ever-present evil that is so important to J. K. Rowland’s imaginative stories. The expected Quidditch match is included, but it is more restrained than before, and almost unnecessary. The fantasy elements overall have a grimmer reality to them. Scenes have not just been included for their visual effects (which are stunning), but contribute compellingly to the integration of fantasy, adventure and romance. The set designs by Stuart Craig and the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel are particularly impressive.

The film will definitely entertain Harry Potter fans who will be very eager to see how Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson are handling early adulthood. This is a long movie, and its busy plot at times becomes difficult to follow, but the film does join style with substance, and holds its tension and sense of high adventure well.

The film’s potential for supplying nightmare material makes it unsuitable for young children. This warning is reinforced by the fact that a beloved character in Rowland’s book dies in the film, and for some children this will cause emotional hurt.

12 Random Films…

Scroll to Top