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20 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince (2009)

Directed by: David Yates
Screenplay by: Steve Kloves
Genre: Fantasy, Action & adventure,
Runtime: 153 Minutes
We have seen the characters bloom and grow through the six years at Hogwarts, as characters as well as actors. Half-Blood Prince is unquestionably the most dramatic (and if you like, the darkest) so far up to this point in the Potter series and more secrets are revealed and uncovered. Director David Yates takes the chair again along with returning screenwriter of the first four films, Steve Kloves and once more both their skills have contributed to this film. The films direction is safe in Yates' hands as he deals out the cards right with the film’s fine direction. Potter 6 is full of more teenage angst, unhappy things, and serious issues, and together combines to make one exciting drama that warps us into the seriousness of what may very well be, the end. Some will detest the films darkness, possibly even boring and depressing, but the films natural flow into the darker and more serious tone is only natural. Since Voldemort returned in Goblet of Fire things have been becoming more serious and from everything that has happened to Harry and his friends, and even for the whole ministry of magic, it’s hard not for the story’s tone to become more serious.

After opening with a sequence that takes place where the 5th film left off, where we see Potter getting his picture taken after Voldemort’s return (after a battle scene between Dumbledore and Voldemort); the film sees Harry in the muggle world at a train station and Dumbledore arriving across the street. Dumbledore brings Harry along to visit former potions professor Horrace Slughorn, who has gone into hiding. Slughorn agrees to return to teach at Hogwarts as Dumbledore tells Harry that Slughorn's return to Hogwarts is crucial (which is soon explained in the film). So from here the film dives into retrieving a specific memory of Slughorn’s mind and along the way, the film is full of a driving romance between are characters, and that includes 16 year-old Harry kissing Ginny Weasley, Ron’s sister. A spoiler as it may, but I thought it would be interesting to mention that.

The acting performances of this film where strong as with most of the Potter films and everyone gave their 100%. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, a character who up to this point you sort of thought little of after his scarce appearances with films 1-5, was remarkable and has bloomed into a great actor for sure, and lest we forget Harry and the crew. Radcliffe as Potter once more gives a bright performance. Young Watson who plays Miss Grainger also gives a more grown up touch to the character as her love interest is uncovered, being Ron. Grint as Ron Weasley, the often bizarre and odd friend of Potter, gives also gives a warm performance. In one scene we see him infatuated from a Love Potion and the infatuated and unbelievably happy expression on his face was hilarious and the whole scene was very amusing. Dumbledore’s actor Michael Gambon also boasts remarkable flare as we see Dumbledore like we never have before; more sincere, more heartfelt and certainly deeper as we see his true bond with Harry. Everyone did a great job with acting this film and the list goes on with great actors/actresses. Some that spring to mind are Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) and Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange).

Although Voldemort does not make a present appearance in the film (but instead flashback/memory sequences of his origins and youth under the name of Tom riddle) his name remains very much present. His Death Eaters are still faithful, sinister and wicked as ever as they cause havoc in both the muggle and wizarding world. The film’s overall style tone is very much dark, and I mean this literally in a visual way. The films colour palette is full of deep blues and dark grey, but this is saved with often moments of great colour. One scene springing to mind is when Dumbledore and Harry are after the Horcrux and to defend them, Dumbledore uses a powerful spell of where fire spirals around them in flaming glory. It very well shows Dumbledore as the most powerful wizard in the world.

The film ends with Harry, Hermione and Ron looking on into the distance knowing what they must face and is the last moment we will be in the walls of Hogwarts. Many critics dislike the films darkness as I said previously and if you are not a Potter fan, Half-blood Prince does not do much justice, but as a film with characters you are familiar with (alongside a few new ones) it is a powerful and compelling story. Although the film is not among the best of the Potter franchise, it holds out as yet another great Potter film, and after all, being a big Potter fan myself, it’s hard not to like any of the films. We are now approaching the end of the franchise and what an exciting thing it has been.

My Rating: 8/10

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