Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Half-Blood Prince Is Surprisingly Full of Spirit

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Picking up literally moments after the last film left off, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince follows Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), as get ready for the new year at Hogwarts after surviving the battle with Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) Deatheaters. As Voldemort is still on the loose, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) recruits Harry to get closer to the new potions teacher Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent). It seems that the vain Slughorn has been hiding information that may key in unlocking a crucial piece of Voldemort’s past. Besides dealing with Slughorn, Harry must also figure out what Voldemort has in store for Draco Malfory (Tom Felton)? Not to mention what role that Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) plays in all of this? To top it all off Harry, Ron, and Hermione are quickly learning that affairs of the heart are equally as complicated as trying to stop Voldemort.

Surprisingly, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the second best film in the series behind Alfonso Cuaròn’s Prisoner of Azkaban. While I am a huge fan of the Potter books, the majority of the movies for this franchise have been average at best. I thought Yates fixed a lot of the problems I had with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I found Order of the Phoenix to be a sluggish filler movie with a mildly entertaining battle scene at the end. Half-Blood Prince felt more like a complete film to me. Sure the film may not be as dark as its predecessor but it seems that director David Yates finally figured out how to balance the dark moments with the humorous ones.

I also really liked how he handled both Harry/Ginny's and Ron/Hermione/Lavander's love stories. Trying to tell one convincing love story can be problematic for even the most skilled filmmaker. Now imagine trying to orchestrate two separate ones in a big budget film such as this. Not only did Yates keep both entertaining but, unlike Goblets of Fire, the love triangles never felt like they were weighing down the film.

One of the problems I had with some of the other Potter movies was the listless pacing. They often tried too hard to incorporate every key moment featured in the books. I like that Yates took a few more liberties with the story time out. By now we are very familiar with most of the main characters and there given roles. It was nice that the film did not drag out the scenes regarding the Half Blooded Prince or the memories of Tom Riddle. We are shown just enough to get the gist of the significances in this film and the ones to come. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince not only brought life back to the franchise but it has actually made me look forward to the next instalment; which is something the last two films were unable to achieve.



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