Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince - Movie Review


Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, David Thewlis, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Robbie Coltrane, Timothy Spall, Julie Walters, David Bradley, Evanna Lynch, Jessie Cave and Warwick Davis.
Directed by David Yates.

Resist as I tried, this movie had me comparing more in my head to the book than any previous. Maybe it's because all of the stuff they've left out of previous movies that are still noticeable subplots in the book are starting to affect the over-arching plot. Maybe it's because all previous Potter moves are stand alone, whereas this 2-1/2 hour tale feels like Empire Strikes Back, a hammock movie designed to set up the final showdown. Empire Strikes Back ain't bad company.

The three kids are growing up. They're sixteen, well into hormonial times. Harry realizes he has a thing for Ginny Weasley, and Hermione realizes her caring for Ron Weasley is growing beyond friendship. This movie is more grounded in reality than any previous Potter flick, at least as far as emotions go. This is a high school angst flick. It just happens to have wizards.

This movie focusses more on the relationship with headmaster Dumbledore and the chosen one, Harry. Each year Harry ages, it becomes more clear that he and Lord Voldemort are destined for a final showdown.

Each year also tends to focus on a new quirky teacher, and this year it's Potions professor Horace Slugborn (Jim Broadbent), brought out of retirement by Dumbledore's personal urging, as he may have valuable information about a previous Hogwarts student named Tom Malvolo Riddle, the future Dark Lord. Broadbent's as welcome in Hogwarts' halls are previously memorable guests like Kenneth Branagh's Gilderoy Lockhart or Brendan Gleeson's Mad-Eye Moody.

The tapestry of characters weaves thicker, and still, I got a real kick out of some of the line reads from been-here-the-whole-time pros like Alan Rickman's Snape and Maggie Smith's McGonagall.

Bring on Movie #7.

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