REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
153 Minutes // UK | USA // Warner Bros.
dir. David Yates
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 – Silvercity Brampton
starring: Daniel Radcliffe & Jim Broadbent

Harry Potter quickly became one of the most beloved movie franchises in history somewhere after its third installment – just as the series began to form into something dark and mysterious rather than frothy and for families. Now, in its sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a full fledged dark film, but not without the usual camaraderie and feverish teenage romantic entanglements.

In The Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter finds himself in another series of unfortunate events. Simultaneously hitting on an attractive subway cafe waitress and trying to cover up what The Daily Prophet (the magical newspaper from Hogwarts) is, all turns out to be for not as he ditches her to go away with Dumbledore. Dumbledore, of course, standing ominously without climax outside the underground cafe staring at Harry. Harry grabs his hand and they’re off in a speeding black smog. Their destination: Professor Horace Slughorn’s (Jim Broadbent) house.

After scavenging his destructed and decrepit home, Dumbledore finds him posing as a chair in an adjacent room. They converse; they relish; Harry gets awkward; the Professor agrees to come to Hogwarts.

Unfortunately, this film follows the exact same comfortable routine as all the others – apart from Prisoner of Azkaban of course. A lot of pre-Hogwarts banter between the Weasley’s and Harry and searching through the shops for new things – more specifically the Weasley twins’ humor shop.

Now at Hogwarts, it’s clear that Hermione is crushing on Ron and Harry on Ginny – sadly, they’re romantically linked elsewhere. Ron, now a Quidditch star, is stalked and obsessed over by an incessant blonde named Lavander (Jessie Cave) – much to Hermione’s dissent.

Flopping between the tragedy that is unrequited love and the sporadic search of the Half-Blood Prince (a genius who attended Hogwarts some years ago – Harry has his potions book that is beyond knowledgeable), Harry Potter quickly falls into a now gimmicky pattern. It does enjoy a brooding atmosphere, but becomes unnecessary in many scenes and appears only to be dark to follow the latest Potter trend. Yates’ once again misses the directorial mark by forcing an intrusive vibe that, while effective in heavy scenes, was more laughable than suitable. Brief whiffs of greatness clouded by stenches of a try hard.

Beneath all of this is Draco’s own little plot to become the next big dark wizard. Early on it is revealed that Snape is in cahoots with Bellatrix and Narcissa; binded with an curse which entails him doing everything in his power to keep Draco protected to the best of his ability. The result of breaking said curse: death.

Struggling to get evidence of Draco’s evildoing’s is mischievous Harry Potter. Like always, Draco is on to Potter and his pals, so he must be crafty and ambiguous in his methods. Sometimes to the amusement of the audience and other times to the annoyance. Yet another area of the film that could’ve used some polishing. Funny and cute when Harry first received his invisibility cloak; now its too obvious.

Draco

In trying to juggle the Draco subplot, two romantic subplots, an uneasy direct plot in which Harry tries to get a clear and untampered memory of Tom Riddle from Professor Slughorn and several other subplots (including adorable little looks at Luna Lovegood a few more times), it was clear that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had far too much on its plate. Due to the failed attempt of compacting so much material into a two and a half hour feature, it is no wonder why Deathly Hallows will be a two-parter.

However, it does decently to be mature and calm consistently – not breaking under pressure. The cast shines like always – Jim Broadbent and Tom Felton deliver brilliant supporting turns that contrast wonderfully with each other… even though they never come face to face in the film. Daniel Radcliffe gives one of his better turns as Potter to date, but like usual, is without charisma and turns in yet another devolved performance. He’s particularly embarrassing next to the always good Grint and always wonderful Watson.

The skillful cinematography, punctual sound design and tense, eternal score make this a technically staggering film. Though it appears it took quite a bit of inspiration from The Orphanage, it works especially well with magic as a backdrop. Hardly as problematic as you’d expect, but it certainly could have been full of clarity as a 210 minute long film.

The primary problem the film has is that it focuses way too much on the troubles that come with being a teenager. The romantic rhombus the film inflicts on its audience is much more divulged into than any of the more important, more spectacular plots. If this film truly wanted to be a dark installment, they could’ve cut the romantics short and overplayed the evil – it would’ve made it less gimmicky and more on the path they seem to be trying to get on.

All in all, this is a generically entertaining film, perambulating with darkness and very heavily clouted fight scenes. It is more star-studded than a crystal clear evening sky and the performances reflect as such. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a typical installment in this typical series. Albeit, a good one. [7/10]

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