Love potions, quidditch, a unique textbook, and teenage heartache are just a few of the ingredients that make up the bubbling brew that is J.K. Rowling’s sixth installment of box office gold: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Be warned though, if you go and buy a ticket to see this, then you have just bought tickets to the next two films. This movie is inexcusably geared at getting butts in the seats for the last hoorah of this magical saga.
In Half-Blood Prince, no one denies that Voldemort is back in action. In fact, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has gone to great lengths to keep it’s students safe from the Dark Lord and his minions with the implementation of security guards, a campus-encircling force field, and security checks. The key points appear to parallel Rowling’s best-seller: Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) sends Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to find out a secret memory from the school’s new professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent); Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) finally reveals which side he’s really on; Death Eaters are rampaging through the Muggle world, and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) delves further into magic’s darker side.
Potter fans have watched the wizard trio grow up both on screen and through the books. Screenplay writer Steve Kloves really indulges on the subjects of teenage hormones and the blurry lines between friendship and something more. In fact, all the wizard battles, ancient secrets, mysterious creatures, and mystical destinies are downplayed to make room for all the love interests. Here’s the rundown: Harry likes Ginny, but Ginny’s dating Dean; Hermione likes Ron (Rupert Grint), but Ron is dating Lavander, though he secretly is digging Hermione (Emma Watson); Ramilda has a crush on Harry; Ron falls in love with Ramilda after eating love potion-laced candies meant for Harry; Cormac likes Hermione for all the wrong reasons, but she regrettably takes him to Slughorn’s party to make Ron jealous. I haven’t seen teen love-triangles like this since the glory days of the Brat Pack.
When he’s not having the kids make googley-eyes at each other, director David Yates does try to squeeze in a little bit of a story line. Harry finds an advanced potion book that once belonged to the self-proclaimed Half-Blood Prince. Apparently the book holds ties to dark magic of sorts since Harry uses one of it’s spells to lay out Malfoy, and we do discover who the Half-Blood Prince is, but other than that, we receive no more insight into the mysterious textbook. It seems like maybe something was lost in translation between the book and the movie here, considering film’s title. A main character dies, but there is hardly any pomp or even acknowledgment given where it should be due. And to put the cherry on top, we find out about Voldemort’s childhood, his time spent at Hogwarts, and the answer to his destruction, but we are left hanging as the credits abruptly start to roll.
It may sound like I hated this movie, but I didn’t. There was just a laundry list of things I felt were either lacking or too over the top. On the positive side, there was humor without the use of a ‘comic relief’ character, the acting was better than in any of the previous films, there was a particularly entertaining quidditch match, and the special effects were outstanding. Potter fanboys and book followers alike will love this movie and the darker turn the series takes, and will make their mouths salivate as they anxiously await the last two films. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince may be a build-up film for the grand finale of the series, but it left me feeling just a little cheated. Though I haven’t read the series, I hope that the original book version of this film was much more satisfying.
I give Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a hesitant 4 disappointed wizards out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards