Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince: Movie Review

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince: Movie Review

Rating: 7/10
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane
Director: David Yates
I have a confession to make - I've never been a fan of the cinematic versions of the Harry Potter films; granted I've read all but the last two of the saga (yes, I am one of the few who doesn't yet know how it ends - and at the moment, I'm comfortable with that) but for some reason (mainly the slightly childlike direction of the earlier films and the inexperience of the actors) I have never been wowed by the whole Potter experience.
So, it was with some dread that I went into the cinema for this one - because whatever a reviewer says, it's just not going to stop the Potter behemoth at the box office - some flicks are critic proof.
But enough of that - on with the latest in the Harry Potter franchise.
Dark forces are gathering over the wizarding world in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Harry's back for his sixth year at Hogwarts- and it seems Lord Voldemort's rise to power is inevitable.
Upon Harry's return to school, he finds a potions book from the Half Blood Prince and is tasked by Dumbledore to look into the past of one Tom Riddle (aka You Know Who) to try and find a way to defeat him.
But life's never that simple for Mr Potter - throw into the mix Draco Malfoy's skulking about Hogwarts, adolescence and girl problems - and squabbles of jealousy between Ron and Hermione - and you've got a potent mix.
There's much to admire in this latest outing - finally, it's starting to feel like a more adult version of Harry Potter - and one which has a much wider appeal for viewers.
Yes, there will be those who feel there are many plot points left out in the latest rendition - the final books are bigger in tome than previous ones.
There's an obviously evident turn towards a much darker feel in the Half Blood Prince - the whole atmosphere is painted with greys, blacks and whites - there's very little colour on the screen during the 150 minutes.
One scene involving a confrontation between two characters in the dark, ends with one of them saturated in blood - because of the darkness throughout, this vivid burst of colour onto the screen is shocking.
And it's this sense of foreboding and doom and gloom, which saturate this film, which is greatly welcomed.
There's also a distinct lack of blockbuster style action - unless you count kissing (of which there's plenty) - and a lot more brooding and less of Ron Weasly's gurning.
The trio of young actors (Radcliffe, Grint and Watson) acquit themselves reasonably with the weightier material - but this film belongs squarely to Jim Broadbent's Professor Slughorn (the obligatory new teacher to Hogwarts) and the mawkish mournfulness of Michael Gambon's Dumbledore.
This is also the first Potter film I've felt actually accurately conveyed the highs and lows of the wizarding world - thanks to some truly majestic camera swoops, we see all walks of life at Hogwarts - from Malfoy lurking, to Ron kissing and into the distance; it's a stunning turn of direction from David Yates.
Coupled with a truly evocative and beautiful score, this is the Potter which has pitched it perfectly.
That's not to say there aren't some off moments - the plot (as it is) is quite strung out and there could have been some more expeditious editing to cut the film's length - some younger fans may be found shuffling in their seats.

But when it comes to Potter, the true fans are happy to be immersed in Harry's world - and don't care if the film is long, or drawn out in places - with the series now just two films away from finishing, they (understandably) need their fix.

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