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Romance and murder at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (DVD)
Advantages: Answers some questions, less frenetic than former films
Disadvantages: Some will dislike the lack of action and plot
Harry, Ron and Hermione are back at Hogwarts, but it soon becomes apparent that something is afoot. Draco Malfoy is acting as if he knows something important, but instead of lording it over Harry as usual, he is keeping himself to himself, disappearing at odd moments. And Severus Snape is even more unbearable than usual. On top of that, Harry discovers a potions text book, mysteriously belonging to someone known as the Half Blood Prince, which helps him do well at Potions - a class taken by new teacher, Horace Slughorn. Harry must work with Dumbledore to find out more about Voldemort's past so that they can finally defeat him. But in the meantime, Harry and his friends are experiencing love for the first time. Will it be their downfall? Or will love make them even stronger than before? And exactly whose side is Severus Snape on?
This film is the sixth in the Harry Potter series and I see it as an important stepping stone to the last and final film, which will hopefully reveal all in the Harry vs Voldemort battle. I have read the book of the same name, but to be honest, can remember very little about it, except that there is not all that much action. Because of that, I had low expectations of the film, expecting it to be nothing but a filler. Maybe precisely because of low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. No, it is not the most exciting plot line, but it was still good and I really enjoyed the time that was spent on developing the characters - something that is side-tracked in previous films.
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are as comfortable as ever in their roles as Harry, Ron and Hermione. I've read complaints that Daniel Radcliffe is a wooden actor, but I certainly didn't see any signs of it. I think some mistake wooden acting for the slight reticence with which Harry manages the great burden that has been placed on his shoulders. Rupert Grint is given the opportunity to inject some humour into the proceedings, which I thought worked very well - he is hugely likeable as a result, especially in his dealings with the ladies. And Emma Watson is very convincing as a teenager in love, as well as being a lot less annoying than in previous films. Best of all, we are really given the opportunity to see each of them growing as characters in this film - they really seem to be growing up and it is a pleasure to see it.
The usual gang of characters are present. I particularly liked Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy - for the first time, he appears to be a force to be reckoned with, rather than just an annoying, snivelling little bully. Alan Rickman as Snape is his usual sneering self, as is Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. And I love Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, who is a perfect bit of casting as far as I'm concerned - I just wished her role was bigger. However, it is Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn who steals the show as far as I'm concerned - from the moment he transforms himself from an apparently harmless looking armchair into a man, he shone. Slughorn is a bit of a coward who stutters his way through his new job, and Broadbent is completely convincing in the role, as always - he truly is a superb actor.
Much of the criticism directed at this particular film seems to concentrate on the fact that not all that much happens. To an extent, I do agree with this. The pace is slow and steady and much of the plot is spent looking back at Voldemort's childhood and how he came to be the evil being that he is today. However, I really liked this change in pace. First of all, it gives us the opportunity to concentrate on the characters for once - I particularly liked the Voldemort theme, which accentuated his evilness and sets the story up for Harry's battle with him in the next film. I also enjoyed the love stories between Harry and Ginny Weasley and Ron and Hermione - they were funny and sweet and gave me an extra reason to care about what happens to them. I have found previous films to be so frenetic that the constant whirl of action actually makes me lose the plot a little.
To be quite honest, I can't remember enough about the book to know how much was left out, although I'm sure that a fair amount was left out. Of course, it is necessary to do so, because otherwise the film would be way too long. One thing I will say though is that, whereas in previous films, I would be fidgeting and checking my watch, wondering how much longer the film was going to last, in this film, I was absorbed from start to finish - and the film is well over two hours long. This would seem to suggest that exactly the right amount of content was left in. And most importantly, the ending, which may came as a huge shock to anyone who has managed to avoid the book and/or spoilers, is spot on, leaving me with the hope that the next film comes around as quickly as possible.
The lack of action does not signal a lowering in the standard of special effects though - in fact, it made them stand out even more than usual. I particularly loved the Quidditch match this time - the zooming around on brooms was so life-like that I almost expected them to come flying off the screen and into the cinema. My mum said that it made her feel a little bit queasy, as if she was suffering from motion sickness. The transition from Voldemort's memories, which were stored as wisps in a test tube, into something that Harry could physically see were also well done, as was the appearance of the Death Eaters. By the time the film ended, I felt that I had watched a real quality piece of film-making, which is exactly what I expected.
The classification of 12A is probably about right. This is not a deeply scary film - probably the scariest part is when Harry and Dumbledore are trying to find a horcrux in an underground cave and creatures in the water are trying to snatch at them. There is the death of a major character, but I thought it was dealt with very well and shouldn't overly upset more than the youngest of children. Of course, ultimately, it is important for parents to decide what their children should and shouldn't watch.
I'm sure that anyone expecting the same amount of action as previous films is going to be slightly disappointed with this one. It is definitely much slower. However, I loved the opportunity to get to know the characters a little better and actually preferred it to the previous two films. At the end of the day, whatever you think of the film or book, it is a necessary part of the series and does set up the story for the final installment, and so for Harry Potter fans, it is a must-see. Four stars out of five.
The film has not yet been released on DVD and prices are not yet available on Amazon or play.com.
Running time: 153 minutes
Summary: More enjoyable than the last two films