Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince – The Movie
Although Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, the sixth cinematic installment based on J. K. Rowlings’ magical vision of an alternate reality, has received good reviews, it is the most disappointing of the series. This adaptation, directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as the famed trio of gifted wizards, spends a lot of time portraying the actors’ struggle with teenage angst as all the kids of Hogwarts are no longer children, yet it’s hard to believe that the student body has matured so much in the three weeks from the end of the story line in the previous film, The Order Of The Phoenix, unless Hermione Granger secretly slipped into Professor Snape’s magical apothecary using Harry’s cloak of invisibility and concocted “the instant post puberty potion.”
Awkward sexuality and buds’ first bloom are as much apart of this film as it is in the book, however the visuals and humor would have been better served by a less juvenile score, composed for this film by Nicholas Hooper. A subtle musical backdrop to match the post pubescent awakening would have been an improvement since magic is featured less prominently in this installment, unless love potions and memory vials are considered magic. In fact, hardly a wand is exposed until the very end of this long, two hour and thirty three minute film. The dialogue is so fast moving and rushed at times that it took about a half hour before I could follow the heavy British accents, a problem I did not have with the previous films. Perhaps English subtitles would have been helpful.
As thunder and lightning suggest in the opening sequence of dark clouds, the approaching storm is nearing. Voldermort and his death-eaters are openly attacking the Muggles’ world. Bridges are collapsing with explosions all over London, but the CGI effects do not impress the dire nature of what was happening.
The movement of the plot is erratic and distracting, never keeping up with the tempo of this chapter of the epic seven-book novel which involves discovering the secret of Voldermort’s indestructibility and how it is connected to Horace Slughorn – brilliantly played by British thespian Jim Broadbent as the professor hiding a dark secret, while in a state of denial. Broadbent, who won an Oscar in 2001, gives a well-crafted performance and the best of all the characters in Rowlings ‘ world. It’s Harry’s job to get close to the teacher and discover what lies beneath the dark Lord’s power which we learn is the “horcrux,” an object imbued with part of the soul of its creator, consciously splintered using dark magic. All of the seven horcruxes created by Voldermort must be found and destroyed before he can be defeated. Therein begins the quest that lay before Harry, Hermione and Ron.
The notion that the way Voldermort could attain immortality by fragmenting his soul and placing parts of it in objects through the use of the dark arts is a very mystical concept. That the fear of death would be so overpowering to motivate him, or anyone else, and to accomplish it by tampering with the very essence of their soul, is quite alarming. We know that objects can and do have the “vibrations” of their owners. Heirlooms are always special for this reason when they are passed down from one generation to the next. This is not exactly the same as a horcrux, but it is along those lines.
Rupert Grint does a good job acting in some very comical scenes while enchanted under the influence of a love potion while Emma Watson is convincing with a crush on Ron, frustrated by his deftness. On the other hand, Daniel Radcliffe seems distracted, unfocused and a bit bored in this installment and the film suffers for it, missing the magical chemistry between them that is so striking in the earlier films as Hogwarts is no longer a central character and the rest of the supporting cast, such as Maggie Smith as ProfessorMcGonagall, are rarely seen.
The film also fails to address Dumbledore’s burned hand, presented in the beginning of the film without explanation, appearing throughout the sequence of events that seem to drag on. His damaged appendage also changes from right to left and it’s hard to tell whether this is intentional or an oversight; a minor detail, but never-the-less noticeable. The other question that keeps popping up is why Harry never suggests that Dumbledore go to a physician to have himself looked at, or a pharmacy to get some gauze and antimicrobial ointment to cover his wound. Instead,Dumbledore walks around in the film with one hand charred black.
My biggest problem with the film is that the attack on Hogwarts by the death eaters, so important to the climax of the book, is completely diluted in the film. The battle was extensive in written form as the impenetrable Hogwarts, protected from outside evil by charms and spells, is invaded. An important symbol in the story, although one could argue that the film was already too long to have included this in any more detail. Another explanation is that they filmed these scenes but decided to put them in the last film which involves the final face-to-face confrontation at Hogwarts between Harry andVoldermort.
In spite of all the good write-ups, which are puzzling, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince coasts on the momentum built up from the previous films without sustaining the unfolding mystery or telling the story as well as it unveiled in the previous cinematic adaptations. I went into this film as a fan of the novel and the films, wanting to like it but left the quiet theater disappointed by all the outstanding problems. Let’s hope that the Harry Potter and The Deathly Harrows, reportedly being shot simultaneously in two parts, will be done with a bit more thought and care. The strength of these films is less about what happens as it is with the way the plot and visuals unfold since the outcome is already known.
For a full list of the cast of actors see the IMDb link below.