Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review: A Languid Film that Sacrifices Magic for Hormonal Teen Melodrama

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As a series progresses there is always going to be the inevitable struggle of trying to keep plot points fresh while also bordering the occasional stretching of the material to keep things interesting over a determined time frame. In the latest of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the unfortunate outcome is a film that only gets slightly better as it moves along at a horribly languid pace attempting to strike a balance between David Yate’s technical prowess and a better attempt at character development that ultimately results in a film that feels like it’s just filling the time. Along with a slew of incredibly talented British actors that seem to be ignored most of the time the young talents are able to bring their own charm to the on screen characters, which leaves behind pulse pounding magic showdowns for a teen romance film. There are some obvious enjoyable scenarios to allowing the hormones and teen angst dictate the characters motivations, however, when it’s the only explored aspect in the film it just makes the experience feel stressed for material as the film’s better segments occur once it embraces the darker aspects of the script and actually shows magic in a film about magic.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is quite easy to summarize because hardly anything actually happens in the film. Some death eaters cause some havoc and capture the wand maker, who never is mentioned of again, and kill some people on a bridge, that actually has no people on it during the special effects segment, introducing the supposed threat of the film that only appears twice more during the 2 ½ hour film trek. Mr. Potter, in a slightly less matured performance by Daniel Radcliffe from Order of the Phoenix, basically excels in his potion class from an old book that belonged to a mysterious person known as the Half Blood Prince, revealed eventually in an incredibly monotonous fashion, while balancing the hormones that rage within him for his best friend’s sister. Occasionally Dumbledore appears, a more energetic and useful performance from the exceptional Michael Gambon, to distract Harry’s youthful feelings of lust and love in order to guide him in the direction of find out more about the mysteries surrounding Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort, by trying to get close to the new potions professor Horace Slughorn, played remarkably by Jim Broadbent. The film in its adaptation might be praised for its accuracy, but when you’re dealing with the weakest segment of the story that focuses more on teen relationships rather than the ominous threat lurking beyond any of the innocent naiveté possessed by the young cast of characters it just makes for a less than thrilling cinematic ride.

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Beyond the obvious plot holes, from wand maker to evil death eaters fleeing from a taken over Hogwarts, and the faults in story structure, a rollercoaster ride of pleasure and pain, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince suffers from being the lead in to the finale of the film series. David Yate’s has some great shots, moving the film as slow as his dolly movements, and the cinematography from Bruno Delbonnel makes the picture look great but the substance that emerged from Order of the Phoenix is non-existent this time around due to the films fluctuations to focusing on the romantic comedy aspects of the film, which detract from the more sinister and more tragic events the film sort of passes by. The action magic adventure you were expecting from the trailer is not even close to being the final result you see on the screen in the theaters. Not only is there a lack of magic, but the instances that there are seemed to be recycled in delivery and are too quick to even get the blood flowing in excitement. If the action wasn’t focused on enough, the bland and awkward plot developments that begin the first hour of the film go by in languid form, proving that the masterful craft of editing is not just for piecing the film together.

There are some minor segments to the romantic comedy portions of the film that are enjoyable and seem genuine in presentation. The supporting actors, including Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, seem to have gotten better in portraying their characters to the point where they almost match up with Radcliffe’s mature approach to his own character. However, there is too much of a focus on these developing hormonal teen relationships and it distracts from any real or palpable threat that is essential to the direction of this series. Especially when you don’t have credible actors, including the dry and extremely unconvincing Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, there can be no salvaging the potency of the story when these unnecessary side stories become the main attraction. David Yate’s treats the audience as children when telling this section of the Harry Potter series, dictating exactly what is to be understood rather than allowing a more delicate filmmaking approach for audiences to come to their own conclusion as to what is going on in the story, a literary strength that Rowling actually possessed by allowing a bit of mystery to the entire story framework.

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince acts as the “third” movie to a trilogy, a set up for something bigger and fails to bring true substance to its script not allowing it to break free from its obvious mediocrity. It’s a film about magic that has no magic, even in the relationship segments that are quite ordinary if only a tad genuine. Leaving behind the darkness undertones from Order of the Phoenix for the juggling of hormonal romance and underdeveloped plot points, the newest of the Potter series begins in a bland fashion and only gets slightly better as it embraces it’s more darker elements, including one of the only visually stunning special effects sequences with Dumbledore and a wall of fire. Not at all the best of the series and really is just a filler for the finale, which now has been broken up into two parts, so it will be interesting to see how this filler leads into another filler for the greater part of the finale. This film has actually become review proof, no matter what is stated, a lone film reviewer such as me along with professional critics, this film will do extraordinarily well in the box office. However, fandom doesn’t necessarily replace the fact that this film isn’t exceptionally exciting nor is it tightly developed in story and presentation.

Grade: C+

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Comments
One Response to “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review: A Languid Film that Sacrifices Magic for Hormonal Teen Melodrama”
  1. erilict says:

    And how about Alan Rickman? he’s fucking great. not in this movie, of course, but he could/should have been. this film is just another example of great potential unrealized for the sake of ‘pleasing the fans’. to paraphrase a great video game critic “fans are stupid, whiney idiots who will never be pleased with whatever you do. so the sooner you shut them out, the better”. screw accuracy. screw hp fans. make your film your own.

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