That’s why I can’t help marveling at “Harry Potter and the
Half-Blooded Prince.” I mean, it seems almost unnatural that – six pictures
into a cinematic epic like this – that Warner Bros. Pictures and Heyday Films
can still deliver something that seems
this fresh & engaging, that isn’t the least bit formulaic.
(L to R) Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledoe and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures / Heyday Films. All Rights Reserved
But that’s exactly what they’d done with the movie version of “Half-Blood
Prince.” And the lion’s share of the credit really has to go to director David
Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves.
Of course, by now, Yates and Kloves are old hands at
Hogwarts (i.e. David directed 2007’s “Order of the Phoenix,” while Steve has
written the screenplays for the first four installments
of the “Harry Potter”
film series). So these two already have plenty of experience when it comes to
translating J.K. Rowling’s best sellers to the big screen.
(L to R) David Yates directs Oliver & James Phelps in a scene from "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures / Heyday Films. All Rights Reserved
And given that “Half Blood Prince” really is one of the more
exposition-heavy books in the “Harry Potter” series, David & Steve had
their hands full this time around. What with having to find a cinematic way to
wade through all that talk about (MILD SPOILERS AHEAD) horcruxes and hormones. Not
to mention the death of a much-beloved character.
That’s one of the real wonders of “Half-Blood Prince.” Given
all of the plot points that have to be covered in this 153 minute-long motion
picture, Yates & Kloves still find time to give virtually every actor in
the immense “Harry Potter” cast their chance to stand in the spotlight.
(L to R) Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures / Heyday Films. All Rights Reserved
Mind you, the cast actually got bigger this time around with
the addition of Jim Broadbent. But his take on new potions professor Horace
Slughorn is right in line with what Michael Gambon does with Dumbledore and Dame
Maggie Smith does with Minerva McGonagall. These old pros are clearly having a
ball playing Rowling’s all-too-human wizards & witches. But – at the same
time – Broadbent, Gambon and Smith bring a real conviction to their
performances. They genuinely want the audience to care about all these colorful
But then again, the folks at Warner Bros. Pictures and
Heyday Films have always done a terrific job when it comes to casting the “Harry
Potter” pictures. I mean, right from the get-go, they were smart enough to hire
Julie Walters to play Mrs. Weasley and Alan Rickman to play Professor Severus
Snape. And those two still make every moment count whenever their characters
appear on screen.
(L to R) Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures / Heyday Films. All Rights Reserved
Of course, the real coup here was in hiring Daniel Radcliffe
to play Harry Potter, Emma Watson to play Hermione Granger, Rupert Grint to play
Ron Weasley, Tom Felton to play Draco Malfoy and Matthew Lewis as Neville
Longbottom. Who knew that – back in 2000 when these child actors were all hired
for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” – that they’d eventually grow into performers
confident & skilled enough to be able to handle all the twists & turns that J.K.
Rowling’s increasingly dark tale would throw their way.
Speaking of Ms. Rowling … Some of the more hardcore Harry
Potter fans out there may take exception with the liberties that David &
Steve have taken with “Half-Blood Prince” ‘s storyline. But the changes that
they’ve made – an attack on the Burrow, folding in a few story points that were
left over from “Order of the Phoenix” – just made “Half-Blood Prince” that much
more entertaining a motion picture.
(L to R) Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter and Helen McCroy in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures / Heyday Films. All Rights Reserved
Then when you add in Bruno Delbonnel ‘s terrific camerawork
as well as Stuart Craig’s increasingly ornate production design and … Well,
there’s no other way to say this. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is a
full-bodied piece of entertainment. And if you’ve enjoyed the first five films in
this series, you’re sure to have a good time at this one as well.
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Copyright 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures / Heyday Films. All Rights Reserved
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Your review has got me pumped Jim, looking forward to seeing the film this evening.
The film series lost me with Goblet of Fire. Prisoner of Azkhaban was bad enough, with it leaving out exceedingly important plot points, but Goblet of Fire seemed to hold an inherent hatred for its characters, exposing the basic immorality and illogic of the entire wizarding world.
Maybe it's better in the books, but the world of Harry Potter in the movies is not a world I'm interested in inhabiting. From the brutal and masochistic "sport" of Quidditch to the appalling levels of danger and secrecy, to the bullheadedness and obliviousness of nearly the entire corpus of wizards, I just can't take it any more.
(And all that is without even mentioning the overused and trite "only one person can save us" basic storyline!)
I think Harry Potter is the most over-hyped, overblown work of mediocre fantasy fiction in history. Rowling's world is a glum, ugly, contrived and uninspired world, especially when compared to the bright realms of Narnia, Oz, Middle-Earth and Wonderland. Her main character has ZERO personality and her supporting characters are tiresome "types" - bookworm girl and goofy slacker sidekick. Shades of Velma and Shaggy from ScoobyDoo! And speaking of mysteries, why on EARTH kids have taken to this series is a puzzle for the ages; one can only surmise that too many kids have been deprived of the classics and have no idea what good fantasy fiction is like. Plus Potter erupted during the era of Buffy and The X-Files, both of which aimed at an older fantasy-hungry audience, and Harry filled the void for the younger set. Rowling caught lightning in a bottle, and I congratulate her on her success, but I deplore her middling fiction being lauded as great literature. It's like calling McDonald's "food" great cuisine. I'll be glad when the last 2 films are released and the Potter craze is OVER.
Plus...Ron and Hermione as a couple? And Dumbledore is gay? Give me a freaking break!!!!
Harry Potter is about one boy's quest to replace his family by picking up a pseudo brother and sister in Ron and Hermione, and marrying into their family. That said, it's better than how Twilight wrapped things up.
Get off your high horse. Have you even read the books? Or are you one of those people who dislike everything that is "popular" so that you can seem edgy? If that's the case.... Grow up. That behavior is what I expect from the tween's that I teach on a daily basis.
Or Harmony shippers. If any of you guys run out of podcasts, try theirs. It's an interesting listen and funny in its presumption. Granted, I still think the final pairings are on the convenient side, but to hear people so convinced they know better than the author...
Priesman, I've read all seven books. I've earned the right to say that they fail to impress me. The first book was kinda cute. Derivative as hell, but cute. But as the series progressed, reading the books became a plodding tedious chore. At the very least, Rowling needed a good and gutsy editor. Again, I'm happy for Rowling's success, but still think her books are lifeless, listless, uninspired and glum. After reading "Order of the Phoenix", I reread Tolkein's "The Hobbit" as a way of cleansing the palate and reminding myself what good fantasy fiction is really like.
Tomoyo, what are "Harmony shippers"?
Potter fans who support a romantic (relation)ship between Harry and Hermione.
I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was a great setup for the very exciting and intense last installment of the series.
What a bunch of whiners. I love Harry Potter.