Review – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

21 08 2009

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As of late, it seems that viewing the latest Harry Potter flick has descended into a chore for parents. Then there’s the DVD release with the deleted scenes the kids have to watch. You mightn’t think it’s worth the effort. The series flopped in 2004 when Alfonso Cuarón took the reins on the Prisoner of Azkaban and fans consistently found errors in the films that followed it. However, has the series managed to redeem itself with the Half-Blood Prince, the latest edition in the massively popular Harry Potter series?

While coming to terms with the loss of his godfather Sirius Black, Harry learns that his begrudged schoolmate Draco Malfoy has been summoned by the evil Lord Voldemort to kill Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore. The film is dark, somewhat bland, in tone and stumbles confusedly between gritty narrative and hapless teen romances. The ensemble cast returns with a few fresh faces – actually, the only new main role is Horace Slughorn, the newly appointed Potions master. The film explores teenage romance and a pitiful love triangle; Harry likes Ginny Weasley, Ron likes Lavender Brown, and Hermoine likes Ron. This creates an unnecessary draw between the characters, and it provides an odd contrast with the film’s dramatic tone.

Yes, the film is much darker in tone than any of the previous ones. There are numerous key plot twists which will set up for the double-part film adaption of the Deathly Hallows and it almost feels like the colour has been drained from the wizarding world. It’s as if they poured brown paint into a sandpit and shovelled in gravel for good measure. It’s dark and depressing and though Harry Potter was originally destined to be a sappy, PG-rated child-oriented series, it feels like a needle in a colourful balloon has been let out on the style of the series. We’re exploring a grainy, tear-fest world which is estranged from the days of the Philosopher’s Stone and the like – even book creator Jenny Rowling has reversed the series on its head in the overly-immersive book series.

It really takes a while to get into the story of the film. You’d best take in a strongly-caffeinated soda to keep you awake for the first forty minutes of the film. It can sometimes feel head-on-brick-wall-banging boring. The “action” of the film is very held back and brief; there’s about fifteen minutes’ worth of suspense/fight scenes. It’s like our imagination is fighting an uphill battle to become riveted with the plot sequence and there’s only a lukewarm satisfaction throughout the climax of the somewhat confusing plot.

The film is actually a watered down version of the book, with a selection of the best bits being cut out and used in the film. It’s taken a while, but this time around we actually get to see Harry compete in the violent Quidditch sport which built up his reputation – in both good and bad respects – in the first two instalments. And now Ron joins the team, partly because he feels isolated from Harry’s world and partly to impress the girl he is profusely fond of. The director decided to give Ron a decent role in this film; he always seemed to be an extra lingering under Harry’s starlight. Hermoine gets some decent screen-time, too, but now it seems that a lot of the secondary characters which were introduced earlier on in the series play a pivotal role in the film’s plot. Who knows who the main star will be for the final films? Maybe we’ll get an insight into the life and times of Dobby – is he the offspring of Gollum or some sort of deity going through a chemical peel?

Despite relatively harsh reviews from the general public the Half-Blood Prince is not quite a lost cause, it just didn’t quite match the success of the previous films. It’s not a flop, but it’s not worth the rush to see unless you can’t take the nagging from your overly-insistent children. Perhaps they can wait for the DVD release. Bet you’ll love that.

By Sinclair

References

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One response

21 08 2009
Stephen Collis

Sinclair I don’t know whether I agree with you, but you’ve written an provocative, entertaining, and well crafted review there.

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