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January 26, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Every time a new Harry Potter movie is released, I imagine the sound of thousands of parents warming up their cars in order to throw their kids inside, drop them off at the cinemas, and take advantage of the opportunity to indulge in some spare time. In many respects, this could be the case. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the Harry Potter franchise, has not betrayed its younger audience by moving beyond a PG rating. Nevertheless, the age-universal success of Harry Potter means adults can still find many things to keep them interested in this film. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince begins with the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Magic, Professor Albus Dumbledore, appearing in London to take Harry Potter back into the magical world. Dumbledore has collected Harry early in order to convince an old acquaintance, Professor Slughorn, to return to teaching at Hogwarts for reasons that may hold the key to defeating Lord Voldemort, Harry’s arch-nemesis. Meanwhile, a Potions class exposes Harry to a valuable book once owned by the unknown Half-Blood Prince. There is almost no focus on school activities at Hogwarts this time; the movie dances around one or two classes, and Quidditch takes up a tiny portion of the film’s bum-numbingly long session of two hours and fifteen minutes. The sixth film makes it clear that groundbreaking changes are about to take place in the world of magic, and they may not necessarily be for the better. No Potter movie worth its salt can survive without the dark, moody moments that have become a mainstay of the franchise. In this sense, The Half-Blood Prince could be intermingled with any other of the Harry Potter movies and you wouldn’t spot the difference, apart from the constantly changing appearance of the school-age characters. Still, as far as family entertainment goes you can’t get a bigger blockbuster, better special effects or a more strictly constructed plot. This movie benefits from the fact that it is more humorous than the last Potter movies. The director seems happy to admit that young people of this age are usually awash with hormones, and he successfully uses this for comedic gain. For the first time in six movies, I finally believed that I was watching real adolescents experiencing typical teenage angst, even when you ignore the over-acting. Most of the actors have already had five movies to establish their characters; in the sixth film, it appears they are finally comfortable in their roles. In this instalment, Draco Malfoy is now almost completely enveloped by his ominous black suit and polished shoes. The true nastiness of his character begins to emerge as his role within the series becomes more pertinent. Snape is still as dark and brooding as ever, and the activities of both these characters continue to arouse Harry’s suspicion. As the insane, evil Bellatrix, Helena Bonham Carter is perfectly cast and has a tendency to steal almost every scene she appears in. Rupert Grint works his natural funny bone playing the confused and often luckless Ron Weasley, and Emma Watson seems settled in her role as the now semi-boring and predictable Hermione Granger, who appears to have lost the angry fire that she originally had as the lonely child genius of the first few Potter films. Not surprisingly, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter is still as wooden as ever, but because he’s been a mainstay throughout the Potter movies it’s now much easier to ignore his poor acting ability. The film’s saving grace, and its defining feature, was its ability to acknowledge that humour could be used to great effect in the previous films without diminishing the impact of the darker moments. The light-heartedness of many scenes often made you forget the amount of time you’d been watching the film, while the heavier moments often had more impact when they were contrasted with humour. Don’t forget that this is still a Harry Potter movie; dark and moody has always been the setting in which events take place. At least with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, you aren’t left wishing you could smile every once in a while.

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