Saturday, July 9, 2011

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Half-Baked Filler

Two years after the popular Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007, the adaptation of the sixth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released by Warner Bros. in 2009, directed by David Yates. The series remained extremely popular with this film's positive reception and I remember liking it when I first saw it. My opinion changed when I saw it again, and after paying closer attention to what happens, this is my least favorite of the Harry Potter movies.

The story begins with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) at a train station, where Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) arrives, soon transporting Harry to a house where they find Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbend), a former Hogwarts potions professor, disguised as an armchair. Using Harry, Dumbledore convinces Slughorn to return to Hogwarts, after which Harry is teleported to the Weasley house, where his belongings are waiting for him. After leaving Fred and George's (James and Oliver Phelps) new shop in Diagon Alley, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) follow Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) to another shop, Borgin and Burkes, where they see him negotiating with Death Eaters. After an unsuccessful attempt later on the Hogwarts train to listen in on Malfoy, Harry attends potions class during a free period without a book. He takes a spare from a cabinet, in which the inside text is written on all over and the first page declares it belongs to the Half-Blood Prince. Though this book helps Harry pass through the class, he is curious as to who the Half-Blood Prince is, and also learns along the way how to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

The plot is one of the easiest to follow, but this is because hardly anything happens in it to impact the overall continuity. There are, as usual for an adaptation, changes made for the movie from the book, such as the depiction of the destruction of the Millenium Bridge as opposed to a simple description and the exclusion of a couple characters, namely the Muggle Prime Minister and Rufus Scrimgeour, the new United Kingdom Minister of Magic. The changes overall make the movie more simplistic, but again nothing really happens to the overarching plot until the third act, and even that can be a little grating.

For instance, when Harry and Dumbledore figure out that Voldemort split his soul into 7 pieces, or Horcruxes, Dumbledore appears to just instantly know where one Horcrux is and how to obtain it. This involves some sort of liquid that Dumbledore had to drink for some reason, making one wonder why they couldn't just get rid of the liquid another way. From what I remember, this whole scene is better explained in the book, but it still makes very little sense in the film. Another thing is the plot thread of the Half-Blood Prince, the revelation of it being Snape utterly pointless to the ongoing narrative. In fact, the only really impacting events are Horcruxes and the fact that Snape kills Dumbledore.

The acting is still as amazing as it ever was and you get the feeling that the characters have grown much like the three main actors themselves. Rupert Grint does a good job of displaying Ron's character development, as does Emma Watson for Hermione. Though we don't get to see very much of him, Jim Broadbend made the new character Slughorn interesting.

While the effects of the movie are much improved over the last one, there isn't much of anything noteworthy. However, I did like it during the scene in the cave with a Horcux, wherein Dumbledore uses fire from his wand to protect him and Harry from a horde of creatures.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an overall mess. The character development and effects are spectacular, but the plot is very paper-thin and has little incentive to watch it. I would only recommend this movie to Harry Potter fans or people preparing to watch the seventh and eigth installments. Otherwise, there's really no reason to watch it more than once.

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