The already darkening skies encompassing the world of Harry Potter have darkened further in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment of the wildly popular movie franchise. Long gone is the baby-faced innocence our would-be wizards once had when they first entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There is now deep-seeded resentment among foes and burgeoning love between friends and classmates.
What one may not expect (I certainly did not), however, is that a great deal of the 153 minutes of celluloid dedicated to this film is derived from the exploration of said 16-year olds and their raging hormones. Don’t fret though, there is still that pesky Voldemort situation going on as well.
As it goes, Mr. Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is back in the thick of things as school headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon ) has discovered that to defeat “He Who Shall Not Be Named”, the various objects encapsulating portions of Voldemort’s soul must first be destroyed. One in particular, is difficult to obtain and, as par for course, Potter is enlisted to help.
The battle to retrieve this object and the subsequent “shocker” are pretty much the highlights of the film and the only “real” bridge connecting Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to the fantastical fantasy world the film is supposed to be a part of. These portions of the film are good no doubt – intense levels of magic are employed and a fair share of ghoulies comes forth – but other than that the film drowns in set pieces unrelated to anything of worth. Let’s see, there is a good 15 minutes or so dedicated to a Quidditch match, a great many individual scenes of toiling between Harry and Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) as Harry tries to get the professor to admit to something he’s done in the past, and even more footsies between Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) than I care to see or imagine (all the while, too little of Emma is showcased for my liking).
But, while the film is light on action, it does give the opportunity to further develop some of the characters we’ve grown to know all these years. Harry continues his maturation and in this installment, he fully embraces the path laid out before him – personal safety, be damned. Daniel Radcliffe couldn’t portray the more serious Potter better than he does. As for Ron, well, let’s just say he is slightly less whiny than he’s been in the past. But who would have guessed, he’s become quite the ladies man! It’s a pleasant character development, even if the way alum Potter director David Yates captures it is a bit overdrawn. Hermione, as I mentioned, is sadly underused, being pushed to the side and used sparingly as a scorned and jealous lover. Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) on the other hand, finally gets to come out of the shadows and play a more crucial role to the proceedings. Whether or not he is good guy remains to be seen (I haven’t read the books the movies are based upon, so it’s all a mystery to me).
From my point of view, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is geared more towards the die-hard fans as it closes a few nagging open ends (although I’m told it misses quite a bit from the book). As for the rest of us, the movie is fun fantasy yarn but not as good as the predecessors it is built upon.