Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Although I have been meaning to do so, I have never read a single book in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. However, I have viewed and enjoyed all of the Harry Potter films to date. So when a friend suggested we check out the newest film in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I was all for it.
Most Harry Potter fans know that as the novel series progresses, the storyline grows darker and darker until the final confrontation between Harry Potter and his parents‘ murderer, the evil Voldemort. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth novel in the series and so, by now, things have become rather dark. In fact, this novel gained notoriety as one in which a main character loses their life (don’t worry, in case you haven’t read the books, I have no intention of revealing that character’s identity).
The story begins just prior to the students’ scheduled return to Hogwarts. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is visited by schoolmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), a powerful wizard and trusted friend. Dumbledore enlists Harry’s help in persuading a former professor into returning to Hogwarts to teach Potions classes. Dumbledore believes that this professor holds the key to the destruction of Voldemort, but unfortunately, the professor is reluctant to reveal such information. Therefore, Dumbledore asks Harry to form a special relationship with Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) as a means of gaining his trust, thereby circumventing his reluctance to reveal his secret.
Meanwhile, Voldemort and his followers are still up to their evil tricks, the Dark Lord choosing Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), fellow student and enemy of Harry Potter, to execute his latest plan of treachery. Draco is assisted in his task by the Death Eaters, led by Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Hogwarts teacher and dorm master of the Slytherins. Snape enters into an unbreakable vow with Malfoy’s mother (Helen McCrory), pledging to protect Draco at all costs and, should Draco falter at his task, to take up where Draco left off and complete the Dark Lord’s mission.
In a side story, it would seem that love has struck the students at Hogwarts and Harry and his friends must sort out their feelings for each other in addition to fighting the forces of evil. Of course, sometimes when falling in love, it can seem like one is already fighting the forces of evil, especially when love potions become involved.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a significant film in the Harry Potter series because it brings with it a level of maturity that was missing from the other films. Sure, we have watched Harry grow over the last five films, both in his level of power as a wizard and as a human being. But this film forces Harry to mature beyond his years. While still acting the teenager when it comes to the opposite sex, we find Harry completely the adult when working with Dumbledore to root out the secrets behind the strength of Voldemort.
This being the case, I would advise against bringing very young children to see this film. The movie contains adult themes which may be so complex as to bore younger children into a state of fidgeting, or they may be so dark as to scare the daylights out of the children causing fits of tears and screaming. Of course, if you don’t have a babysitter or your child is insisting he/she can handle seeing this film, by all means, bring them along…just remember these four little words as you find yourself either running from the movie theater with a screaming demon or hollering like a demon yourself to make your child sit still: I TOLD YOU SO.
The adult themes fit in perfectly with the growth of the actors playing the main characters. Daniel Radcliffe, although still looking very young, is completely up to the task of playing a much more mature Harry Potter. Emma Watson is stunning as Hermione Granger and Rupert Grint finally comes into his own as a more mature yet still goofy Ron Weasley. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince finally allows Tom Felton to show some range as an actor as his character struggles with the task he has been selected to complete.
Although some may disagree with me, I actually enjoy Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore over the late Richard Harris. There is more of the kind, elderly mentor in Gambon’s portrayal and I believe he was more suited for the role. Helena Bonham Carter strikes me as someone who is well-suited to this genre and she actually fit in perfectly as leader of the Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange.
I found Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to be a thoroughly entertaining movie and a perfect follow-up to the last five films. As in all Harry Potter films, there is a mystery to be solved and much of the fun in this film is in trying to figure out the secrets before Harry does. Of course, with mystery and intrigue, it follows that there will be plenty of adventure. Action is also at an all-time high in this film. And of course, we must not leave out the love story…or should I say stories…for all you hopeless romantics out there.
Although I have enjoyed all of the Harry Potter films to date, I must say that I found Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to be my favorite of the series. The acting and themes were much more mature and I felt less like I was watching a kid’s novel adapted into film and more like I was watching an adult action/adventure/fantasy film. I can’t wait to see what they do with the final novel of the series.