Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - the first review
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - the first review
Also In The News
Catalan Dragons captain Greg Bird has been given a one-match suspension after a reckless tackle on Celtic Crusaders prop Ryan O'Hara last Saturday.
Wednesday, 08, Jul 2009 10:36
Lewis Bazley is in a whirl of hormones and horcruxes after a beautifully made, confident progression for the wizarding franchise.
Directed by David Yates, out July 15th in cinemas, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, running time 153 mins.
In a nutshell.
And they called it Potter love....
What's it all about?
Six years into his Hogwarts education and Harry Potter (Radcliffe) is facing his toughest challenge yet after the dramatic return of the Dark Lord (Ralph Fiennes) claimed the life of Harry's beloved godfather Sirius Black.
As Death Eaters wreak havoc on the Muggle and wizarding worlds, Harry is suspicious of dangers within Hogwarts castle but Dumbledore (Gambon) is more concerned with preparing Harry for the final battle with Voldemort that is fast approaching.
Film Trailers by Filmtrailer.com
Who's in it?
In a cast of familiar faces, Jim Broadbent is the main addition, as new potions professor Horace Slughorn, with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson once again returning as Harry, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) and Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) are among those reprising their roles while Bafta-winner Helen McCrory (The Queen) appears as Draco Malfoy's mother Narcissa. Making their film debuts are Jessie Cave, as Lavender Brown, Hero Fiennes Tiffin as the 11-year-old Tom Riddle and Frank Dillane as the 16-year-old Riddle, steadily becoming the Dark Lord.
As an example...
"Do not wish to know why I brought you here, Harry?" - Dumbledore
"Actually, sir, after all these years, I just sort of go with it." - Harry
"Oh, to be young and feel love's keen sting." - Dumbledore
What the others say
"Dazzlingly well made and perhaps deliberately less fanciful than the previous entries, this one is played in a mode closer to palpable life-or-death drama than any of the others and is quite effective as such." - Todd McCarthy, Variety
"It is perhaps inevitable that the sixth film - like the sixth book - feels like it is setting up the grand finale. If slightly muted in places, Half-Blood Prince shows every sign that Yates will deliver something special for the two-part Deathly Hallows in 2010/11." - Tim Masters, BBC
So is it any good?
Have a glance around the cinema after around 100 minutes of this lengthy and lovelorn sixth Potter - while you're likely to be faced with an auditorium full of dimly lit but captivated faces, you might also note a rising impatience, as audience members under 13 or over 18 tut impatiently: "Alright, alright, it's tough being a teenager in love - can we get back to the action, please?"
You can't blame director David Yates for injecting some romantic comedy into his second stint in the Potter director's chair; with the film somewhat of stop-gap after the downbeat ending of Order of the Phoenix and the forthcoming two-film quest of the Deathly Hallows, a little sunshine is essential against a plot so concerned with the growing gloom in the wizarding world and Harry's (Radcliffe) gradual realisation of his less-than-rosy future.
Unfortunately, an intermittently funny storyline concerning an increasingly hormonal Hogwarts takes up so much screen time that massive plot points from the source novel are neglected, namely the identity of the titular prince, which is seemingly forgotten about for a good two hours. Big romantic moments for Harry, Ron and Hermione are all well and good, but the youngest and oldest members of the audience - and, one suspects, the actors themselves - are far more concerned with the ever-closer battle between The Boy Who Lived and the Dark Lord. It's a shame the strongest elements of the film - a maturing Radcliffe, a suitably scowling Tom Felton as Malfoy and a magnificently mobile opening Death Eater attack - are swamped by wistful sighs and love potions. Rupert Grint is a growing comic talent but any notion of the threat placed on both the wizarding and Muggle worlds by the return of You-Know-Who is put on the backburner as a surprisingly innuendo-laden romcom strand takes up the majority of the film.
On the plus side, Yates has truly grasped the feel of Rowling's magical world, especially as it grows increasingly fractured, and the stormy skies and brooding expressions of the cast bode well for the aesthetics of the final two films alone. When the action comes - which, as in the source novel, isn't often - it's as thrilling and pacey as Rowling's prose and the genuine fear for the characters in a dizzy cornfield sequence again leaves the viewer itching to see how Yates will take on the Battle of Hogwarts in 2010 and 2011.
Broadbent is a splendid new addition to the cast, with a flash of Withnail and I's Uncle Monty in his bon viveur professor while a brief, but regal turn from McCrory as the pivotal Narcissa Malfoy is a welcome change from the sadly-stilted efforts of many of the background cast of pupils.
In a summer of sure-fire hits and one classic in the shape of Public Enemies, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a refreshing surprise, despite its failings. The CGI can't hold a candle to the mystifyingly successful Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but this latest instalment to the franchise has one crucial trick up its sleeve which Michael Bay's mindless explosions can't defy - a heart.
The cave climax provokes jumps and sobs in all the right places and as a dark cloud settles over Hogwarts and Radcliffe seems to grow inches in seconds, the wait for the final films seems as agonising as the anticipation of Rowling's final novel.