All Hail the Half-Blood Prince
MOVIE REVIEW. The sixth Harry Potter movie feels free from being too faithful to the book and seems like the first to leap from the pages to the big screen.
The wait is finally over. The sixth Harry Potter movie is here and it is definitely worth the wait. The movie opens on an ominous note, with three Deatheaters' gleeful destruction of the Millennium Bridge in London. The tone is bleak and dreary, and it is carried over throughout the rest of the movie.
But not all is gloom and doom in the Potter world. Another early scene sets up the flip side; Harry sits in a café reading the Daily Prophet when an attractive waitress saunters over and chats him up. This time around it's not just Harry who's noticing the girls, the girls are noticing him, too. Yes, folks, the hormones have gone on hyper-drive in the sixth Potter movie. But don't worry, everything is kept to a PG-13 minimum and nobody gets past "snogging."
Clearly, The Half-Blood Prince plays on both the light and the dark. Voldemort and his Deatheaters are getting stronger. Hogwarts is no longer safe and this time around, danger will come from within. Even Dumbledore appears worse for wear. You realize that the greatest wizard of all time is not infallible; he is beginning to slow down. It is therefore of the utmost importance to him that he prepares Harry for what lies ahead. Clearly, it is the wizarding world's boy wonder who will have to have that final showdown with Voldemort.
But it's not just He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who has invaded the hallowed hallways of Hogwarts. Teenage hormones have taken over. You can't seem to turn a corner without running into teenagers kissing, crying, fighting, and experiencing the, uh, "highs" of certain, er, "potions." Moments of levity are most welcome though, considering that most of the movie is steeped in a deep sense of dread and foreboding. This is how Half-Blood manages to not just be the darkest film of the series, but also the funniest. There are plenty of LOL moments as you watch the young wizards try to navigate the treacherous waters of their teenage years.
The acting in this one has improved by leaps and bounds. Daniel Radcliffe handles both the light moments and the tragic scenes like a pro. Rupert Grint shines in the Quidditch scenes and will clearly have a career as a comedian, and Emma Watson's performance as the victim of unrequited love is both heartbreaking and hilarious. But special mention goes to Tom Felton for his portrayal of a young man torn between doing what is right and doing what he believes is his destiny.
I think this is the first Harry Potter movie that can stand on its own, separate from the novels. Major kudos goes to director David Yates and screenplay writer Steve Kloves. They give the movie room to finally breathe. It is the first Potter movie that feels free from the burden of being too faithful to the book, free from expectations, and free from the desire to please everybody.
That's why it's a gamble. I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of fans who would have loved to have seen a lot of the scenes that were mercilessly cut from the film. But you have to go into it with an understanding that a movie is different from a novel. And what's important is not what was left out, but if what they kept in the movie makes it work. And that's the case here. You get the feel of the book in the movie. They filtered and distilled the novel until they came up with the core of the story. And they worked with that, adding textures and layers and yes, magic.
In the end, the gamble works. This is one of the best Harry Potter movies to date and the first one that has made a seamless leap from the pages to the silver screen.
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