Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince review
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince features troubled teens and home-front horrors!
Voldemort is closing in on both wizard and Muggle worlds as his Death Eaters spread terror in London and at home. Not even Hogwarts is safe in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Dumbledore, still preparing Harry for his final battle with the Dark Lord, enlists the aid of old colleague-professor Horace Slughorn instructing Harry that the social-climbing, egotistical prof holds the key to the destruction of Voldemort and it's up to Harry to get the info out of him.
Harry and the hormones
Meanwhile, the students wage a more personal war with their own hormones and Harry becomes more attracted to Ginny Weasley who returns his affections but is dating Dean Thomas. Lavender Brown zeroes in on poor Ron with an obsessive fervor that totally unnerves the insecure teen wizard and secretly sinks Hermione into a seething jealous rage that she has trouble hiding. When Ron munches on a box of Romilda Vane's love-spelled chocolates, it's up to Harry to help break the spell.
As the romance wars wage on, young, dour Draco Malfoy becomes the "Chosen One" of the Death Eaters as he vows to make his mark and make his father proud by carrying out a horrible assignment that can only end in tragedy. Snape flitters on the edges of all the drama only to finally show his true colors. Nothing will ever be the same.
Half-Blood Prince closest Harry Potter to novels
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the JK Rowling book where so much in Harry's fight against Voldemort becomes clear, yet, it presents total confusion on the emotional front as its teen protagonists struggle with budding relationships. The horror, destruction and sorrow inherent in the spread of Voldemort's evil and Dumbledore's fate is balanced with romantic emotional upheaval, teen dating angst and the occasional comedy that results. This made the book a fun and engrossing read and the film visualizes the story very well. It is perhaps closer to the novel than any of its Harry film predecessors.
For the first time, Harry and Dumbledore work as quasi-equals as Harry is now a young man and no longer the little boy wizard. This alters the dynamic of their relationship and it's a refreshing change. All cast members seem to be re-inspired in their roles and acting is elevated as Daniel Radcliffe portrays young love angst equally as well as deep sorrow, Rupert Grint reveals his very formidable talents for comedy, Emma Watson makes Hermione's seething but restrained jealousy come to life and Bonnie Wright shows us a glimpse of what she can deliver in the last two movies as the intended love of Harry's life. But, it's Tom Felton as the conflicted, driven Draco Malfoy who gives the break-out performance of the movie. Watching Felton take Draco from a cocky, self-assured mini-Dark Lord proud of his evil assignment to a reluctant, shattered failure, is truly mesmerizing.
Dark forces at work
The "look" of the film reflects its dark storyline perhaps too closely as director David Yates (State of Play) chooses to shoot every scene with such muted color as to almost appear black and white at times. About three-quarters of the way through, I was praying for a shaft of sunlight. At times, the darkness even makes some of the action hard to see. Even the lighter-weight, romantic trysts and party sequences appear more de-saturated than usual. None-the-less, visual effects are well...effective. The "memory" sequences work nicely as does the cave scene in which Harry is almost pulled to his death by a horde of creepy, ultra-skinny skeletal creatures.
The Death Eaters' attacks on London work very well, except a falling bridge looked a bit fake. Comedy effects add to the humor and some are delightful, especially Horace Slughorn's "morph" from armchair into human.
Happy Harry fans
Overall, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is engrossing entertainment successfully balancing the tortures and humor of young love with the horrific threat and sorrowful outcome of the use of dark magic. The ending unites the longtime trio of young wizard pals as they vow to bring Voldemort down...together.
Fans of the novel should be pleased with the film and those who've skipped the Harry Potter books should have less trouble than usual keeping track of the story and coming along for the ride as the Hogwart Express starts steaming at full speed toward the end of the line.