Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
More Sequels than Police Academy
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson
By Robert Patrick
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – or the more exasperating title of Harry Potter 6 – is director David Yates’ second outing behind the camera of the much heralded franchise. Before Yates was billed as the directorial successor to the mega-grossing series, he was helming such television movie classics as “Sex Traffic” and “The Girl in the Café”. And though the aforementioned films sound like softcore porns, Yates’ first foray into mainstream moviemaking was a critical success with his handling of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. The newest J.K. Rowling adaptation, The Half-Blood Prince, is once again meticulously orchestrated by Yates and the returning cast of the previous Harry Potter installments.
Of course, with grandiose fashion, “Half-Blood Prince” has swift dashes of its trademark wit, as its characters spill over with charming dialogue and likeable mannerisms. You can also expect the usual quidditch matches, generous with its swirling action and cacophonous cheers, to be played out in its expected CGI glory. The only thing that is largely missing, until the final twenty-minutes of the movie, is the whipping magic sequences that are so extraordinary in the bulk of the franchise; in fact, for most of the film’s duration, nothing of consequence really happens. Harry Potter mulls around, less fascinated by his abilities than he should be, and often says nothing worth repeating. The front seat of the movie is inhabited by Ron’s awkward social life, which is corroborated by the incessant need to placate the ogling of fellow classmate, despite Hermione’s obvious love struck attitude toward him; Hermione huffs, scowls, then coos at Ron, but he is too flatly dense to realize that she wants him to court her. Meanwhile, Harry Potter is also confused about his fluttering infatuations at school, as he ends up unintentionally wooing Ron’s sister, Ginny. Most of the film plays out like an adolescent drama, with its characters blushing at each other for an extended period of time. Eventually we realize the real conflict, which is that Voldemort’s soul is kept preserved in various inanimate objects, essentially keeping him alive. Harry Potter and Dumbledore, in attempting to extricate the evils placed against Hogwarts, go out on a quest to find the pieces of the evilest wizard who ever lived.
When the action does heat up, the special effects snap and pop with fury. Yates’ talent is his ability to utilize computer animation without exploiting and overusing it. While other blockbusters saturate their reels with the dumb clunking of mindless explosions and strewn steel that stretches across the screen like taffy, “The Half-Blood Prince” actually uses a strategy when it employs its graphics. When watching the movie, it is easy to admire the choices of camera placement and directorial flair that Yates brands his film with.
Halfway through the film, the entire thing starts to drag its feet with poor pacing. The primary antagonist in the movie, Draco Malfoy, simply looks stern – that’s it. Malfoy internally struggles with the immoral task of having to assasinate Dumbledore, but does he really want to? For the most part Malfoy mopes around looking like the lead singer of an icy European trance band.
The best part of the movie was Jim Broadbent of all people. Broadbent plays an eccentric professor, naïve and good natured, who wants to assist Harry Potter in his trails at Hogwarts. The English actor virtually steals the show as he becomes even more bombast and colorful than some of the movie’s CGI. I also finally got to see what Jim Broadbent would look like disguised as an armchair – that was a life goal of mine.
The score of the movie has a pretty great composer in Nicholas Hooper, who also wrote the music for “The Order of the Phoenix”. The notes fly along, helping the light sequences of laughter, while the darker scenes receive thick and syrupy passages from the orchestration.
One cant really say too much bad about the newest installment to the Harry Potter franchise, but the overall ability to stay in your mind long after the film ends is really not there. I have a hard time, three hours after the movie ended, remembering much of the dialogue exchanges. No matter what, you can expect Alan Rickman to look, once again, like Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor. You can also be guaranteed that a lab experiment concerning potions will turn out badly. But that’s what you want, right? Go see it, you could do worse on a Saturday night.
Did I mention that Jim Broadbent turns into an armchair?