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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince review
Now bear in mind that I have experienced the whole Harry Potter series by reading all of the books (like they used to do). Perhaps then my judgement is already tainted as I can only name one film that measures up to my expectations after reading the novel (from which it was based).
That being said and with my expectations at an all time high (as I greatly enjoyed the sixth book), you’d think that the film of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
would be a disappointment. You'd be wrong.
As Harry Potter begins his 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he discovers an old book marked mysteriously "This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince" and begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort's dark past.
The biggest financial success in the Harry Potter series was the fifth film (Order of the Phoenix). Strangely, it was the least interesting and overly long book. David Yates (director) showed that with tighter editing and correct casting, it is possible to make a film better than its source material. It was a good move then, to allow Yates to continue telling the story until its conclusion (Yates directed 6 and is directing both parts of 7). His flair for telling the Harry Potter stories is enviable to say the least. There is no doubt that throughout Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince certain elements were missing from the story told in the novels. However you never feel cheated out of any vital information (unlike Prisoner of Azkaban).
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince excludes many scenes from the novel, but you feel confident that these will be addressed in the seventh film. Throughout HBP you get the feeling that the tale is told in a leisurely way which is surprising as other incarnations have felt rushed somewhat.
A new character has been introduced in Half Blood Prince in the form of Professor Slughorn (played by Jim Broadbent
). Broadbent excels in this role as the potions master with an eye for the excellent and a secret to hide. It is strange that with some actors, a raising of an eyebrow can speak volumes to an audience.
The original child actors: playing Harry, Ron and Hermione have certainly gotten better over the years. In fact the only problem is that of Watson who acts well within a group (banter between Hermione, Ron and Harry) but is useless when she is speaking one-on-one. Every single year I hope that she has put more effort into her performance but I am often disappointed. She certainly has improved but that isn’t to say she can hold her own. I’m not so convinced that she will have any sort of acting career beyond the world of Harry Potter.
The setting of the Harry Potter world is (as always) quite stunning but somehow I always hope for consistency throughout the films. The Weasley household seems to have changed location since that last time it was onscreen; Hagrid’s hut seems to have moved a couple of miles away from the castle (since the first film) and new towers are added at will. Why is it too much to ask for the same sets throughout the films? I realise that each director is trying to add their own spin on the stories but it would be nice to have familiar surroundings.
Strangely Harry Potter and the Half Blood prince doesn’t focus on the main character from the novel (i.e. the potions book). It is not a film about a strange potions manual but in fact a love story between teenagers and a kind of passing on of a torch. This makes for many squirmish moments as Harry and Ginny (along with Ron and Hermione) daintily dance around each other shyly for 2 hours.
Nevertheless there is no point in taking away from what is fundamentally a great film. It is highly entertaining, along with being amusing in all the right places, has characters that you are grateful to see and old faces to join in the fun.
The final scenes were handled extremely well (with slight adjustments made from the original story) and if they had ended when the screen faded to black, all would have been well. Unfortunately someone thought it necessary to add another unnecessary scene which ends the film generically. The ending of a film is absolutely essential for a great review. I have never given 5 stars to any film that ended badly. With this in mind then, Harry Potter and the Half Blood prince loses half-a-point for its lazy and uninteresting ending. If they had cut out the unnecessary chit chat (lasting about 2 minutes) before the obligatory look at the sun shot, then this would have been a solid and highly recommended 5 star film.
It is not the best Harry Potter in the series (that was Order of the Phoenix) but Half Blood Prince is close! The newcomer to the series played by Jim Broadbent is a welcome addition and despite HBP being a darker tale, it is handled extremely well; making it ideal for families. I for one will be watching it again!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
For a different perspective on this film, head on over to The Substream