Anthony's Film Review
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
The sixth Harry Potter movie is another dull entry in the series, though it has its moments...
I hate to say it, but Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince does continue the Harry Potter series with the same quality as its immediate predecessor, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I had expected more out of this sixth movie for two reasons. One, Order of the Phoenix is my least favorite of the seven Potter tales, and Half-Blood Prince gets a lot more interesting after that. Two, David Yates, who directed the film version of Phoenix, is back as director for Half-Blood Prince, so he has another chance to shine and possibly outperform his previous work as director. Honestly, I was hoping that he would learn from his mediocre direction of Phoenix and do a better job with Half-Blood Prince.
Before I elaborate on that, let me summarize the plot. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) begins his sixth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where an old professor named Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) comes back to Hogwarts to teach Potions class. During lecture one day, something interesting happens. Harry borrows one of the professor's old potions textbooks, which has notes scribbled in it by its previous owner, known only as the Half-Blood Prince. As a result, Harry excels in the class, enough to become a favorite pupil for Slughorn.
As this is happening, Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) assists Harry in these dark times. With the evil Lord Voldemort gaining power, Dumbledore helps Harry by showing him some tidbits about Tom Riddle, the boy who would eventually become Voldemort. Through a series of magically stored memories, Harry finds out more about Riddle. But one mystery remains, and Professor Slughorn holds the remaining vital clue to Riddle's past. It becomes Harry's task to try to extract what Slughorn may be hiding.
Parallel to the Slughorn plotline is another plotline. Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Harry's rival, seems to be up to no good lately. In fact, even Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) seems suspicious, especially when the two are seen together. This makes Harry curious. From there, he has a few nasty encounters with these two characters. There's also a scene (not originally in J.K. Rowling's novel) where Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and other Death Eaters launch an attack at someone's house, a sequence that I thought was decent enough.
All of this should make a good story. There is only one problem. There are too many scenes about student life at Hogwarts. It mostly centers on teenagers falling in love, including Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) being the object of affection for a student named Lavender (Jessie Cave) while Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) feels jealous. As for Harry, he has an eye on Ron's sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright). All of this occurs with some events that connect to the main plotlines but otherwise feel like a real distraction. I don't mind these kinds of scenes aside from the main plot, but director David Yates devotes too much time for them. And the scenes are played out a little too slowly as well.
There's one more issue I have. It's not the climax in a dark cave, which I thought was presented well enough. It's what happens after that. If you read the book, you know that the last part of the story involves, in order, an action scene, a major turning point, an emotional sequence, and an end on a somber note. The film has the turning point but removes the action and emotional scenes and makes the last shot look a little too positive. I would imagine that it would still feel strange for those who haven't read the book. The turning point and final shot seem discordant with each other, and you'd expect more development with the final scenes, which is what the action and emotional scenes did for the book.
This is why Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an OK movie. I still liked the couple of good moments in the movie, and it does serve the purpose of being a setup for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final chapter in the Harry Potter series. After seeing this movie, I felt unsure about how the last Potter story will look on film, especially if David Yates returns as director. Basically, I'm giving them one more chance. The last Harry Potter story adapted to film should be close to top-notch but no doubt must be better than these last two films. If the audience is going to watch the Harry Potter films, they need something to look forward to at the end.
For more information about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
The Harry Potter Films