Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Poster 1 of 12.

I love Harry Potter. I love the books and I love the movies. But I'm beginning to feel like I'm going through the motions, seeing these films. That's not to say this movie isn't well made or exciting to watch...maybe I'm just maturing as a film watcher and film lover?

Not likely.

So our friends Harry, Ron, and Hermione are in their 6th year at Hogwarts and these are trying times for everyone. The wizarding world has woken up to the fact that Voldermort is alive and poses a real threat to wizards and muggles alike. Dumbledore enlists Harry to help him extract a precious memory from the new potions master, one that will help them win the fight against Voldemort. But the man is not forthcoming. Meanwhile, Snape and Malfoy engage in some shady Diagon Alley dealings that have terrible consequences. And on top of everything else, the triumvirate have to deal with raging hormones and broken hearts.

I read it for the articles.

To be perfectly honest, I don't remeber the book all that well so I can't really comment on the adaptation. But I can comment on the story told on screen. At the beginning of the movie, dark wizards attack London but this interesting twist to the story--the very real threat of dark magic to non-magical folk--isn't explored any further. Is it a set-up for film 7? I hope not because that kind of stuff really pisses me off. I'm not watching film 7, I'm watching film 6. I know most the story is focused on Harry and Hogwarts, but the main plot could have only been enhanced by following up on the events taking place in the muggle world.

The drama is balanced with humour as Harry and friends become entangled in affairs of the heart. This is the book/flim in which Harry and Ginny finally get together, and get together they do in the sublest, most downplayed of ways. But it is cute and fun to watch. And Ron's obsessive girlfriend Lavender is pretty funny.

The evil comes...and goes.

It might seem like I didn't really enjoy this movie, but in truth, I really did. The films continue down the same dark path that was introduced in the third movie. Creative decisions made in previous HP installments are seen again Half-Blood Prince, creating continuity and bringing Rowling's magical world to life. Perhaps this is why I feel like we're all just going through the motions as there's nothing really to distinguish this film from the last one. In the same way that Half-Blood Prince doesn't stand out from the rest of the HP films, it doesn't function independently as its own movie. And it doesn't really need to, this late in the game, but I doubt a casual viewer will get much out of it.

I really feel like I need to finish this review on a high note because I've criticized more than I meant to. I'd like to now formally state that the very best thing about HP6 is Severus Snape. Alan Rickman is always fantastic, but it seems like he was born to play Snape. The man oozes menace on screen and steals every scene. Happily(?) Snape has a bigger role in this film than in films previous and he easily upstages Helena Bonham Carter, who is also excellent. I look forward to his final performance as Snape with poorly concealed glee.

Unlike every other goddamn movie this year, HP6 is not 3D.

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