I promised Dad that I’d take him out for a good movie while he was out in Australia. Unfortunately, the first movie I treated him to was Year Zero and if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know what a disaster that was. Still, I had to make good on my promise and you can’t go wrong with Harry Potter, can you?
For those of you who haven’t read the books, be forewarned – this review will contain plenty of spoilers. That being said, you really should be reading the books prior to watching the movies.
In the sixth installment of the extremely popular Harry Potter series, Harry Potter has somehow managed to survive the events of the previous film, including the Dark Lord’s attack on the Ministry of Magic and the killing of his godfather Sirius Black by psychotic witch Bellatrix Lestrange, to enter his sixth year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. With the ressurection of the Dark Lord Voldemort, the school is now under a deep lockdown, setting the tone for a much darker story than that of the previous films.
Harry is tasked with a mission from headmaster Dumbledore to gather precious information in the form of memories from Voldemort’s former teacher Professor Slughorn. Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy, Harry’s “nemesis”, has been given a sinister order from the Dark Lord himself. Despite the darker tone of the story, Harry and his group of friends are now at the age where dating is appropriate and romance is certainly in the air. One of Hogwart’s magical storerooms sets the scene for Harry’s first kiss with longtime crush Ginny Weasley, while Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley leaves book smart Hermione Granger heartbroken as he blunders through a disastrous relationship with Lavender Brown.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth of what is going to be a series of eight films based on J.K. Rowling’s famous books. The film is fairly straightforward and, for the most part, stays true to the original text, a few changes made for timing notwithstanding.
The special effects are incredibly impressive. The movie opens with a very well-shot sequence of the kidnapping of the talented wandmaker Ollivander, proprietor of Olivander’s wands, and subsequent destruction of his house and attached shop. The shot is smooth, showing the mayhem caused by the Dark Lord Voldemort’s group of followers, the Death Eaters on wizards and muggles alike. I was particularly impressed with the special effects used to show the shaking and curving of a suspension bridge as its supports are cut off.
The quality of acting from in this movie is also excellent. With a mix of childish glee and seductive whispering, Helena Bonham Carter gives an exceptional portrayal of an obsessive, mentally unstable person in her role as the mad witch Bellatrix Lestrange. As Lavender Brown, Jessie Cave does a wonderful job of simulating the sickly-sweet silliness of a teenage girl with a crush. There’s also some pretty good moments from main characters as well. Tom Felton’s performance of Draco Malfoy’s slow mental breakdown as he struggles with the weight of a task too heavy to handle is particularly powerful, as is the heart-breaking scene in which Harry Potter is given the task of forcing a cruel potion down Dumbledore’s throat despite the latter’s protestations.
Unfortunately, being the third-to-last installment of an 8 movie series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince doesn’t come with a satisfactory ending. The movie ends very abruptly on the death of a major character and leaves a lot of unanswered questions in its wake, the result being that it feels somewhat unfinished and leaves audiences with a sinking feeling because of the downer ending.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an extremely impressive movie and is worth seeing on the big screen at least once. The half-year delay in the movie’s release has really given the directors a chance to polish up the movie. It certainly outshines some of the previous movies in the series.