Synopsis: Harry Potter returns to battle Voldemort and his evil followers in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Release Date: July 15, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure
The Harry Potter films will always be Cliff Notes to the books on which they are based, which inevitably prevents any movie in the series from achieving true greatness. Nevertheless, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes pretty close. Although the mystery behind the Half-Blood Prince’s identity is never fully developed, Director David Yates’ vision of genuine dread more than makes up for any holes in the plot. Yes, this is as close to a Hogwarts horror film than any film preceding it. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is scarier, more art-house influenced, and the most emotionally satisfying of the mythology thus far. Fans looking for PG-rated fun will still get their money’s worth of laughs, but those craving artistic maturity to parallel Harry Potter’s growth will not only be granted their wish, but they’ll also be transfixed with healthy, series-continuing anticipation until next year.
Those looking to be inspired by special effects may be somewhat disappointed with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The special effects are by no means bad in that suspension wires are still effortlessly out of sight, but they are also nothing special. Death Eaters destroying a bridge or Dumbledore repairing a ravaged home are amusing enough feats in movie magic, but nothing ground-breaking. The Harry Potter audience has seen all of this before in other Harry Potter movies. This time around special effects take a back seat to story development and mood.
Just as any film inherit with tragedy, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has its share of dramatic scenes and all of the actors have matured enough to meet the demand. Emma Watson sheds some tears, Alan Rickman is still solid in his interpretation of Snape, and Michael Gambon as Dumbledore finally gets to do more than simply be the all-knowing, all-powerful, funny headmaster. Not that funny is a bad thing as the comic talent of the cast saves the film from being too dark.
Jim Broadbent plays Professor Slughorn with hilarious facial expressions, Rupert Grint has mastered his physicality and timing to make Ron the Charlie Chaplin of Hogwarts, and in one particular segment, Daniel Radcliffe himself emulates Pineapple Express-like timing. Though the wizarding world is cloaked in shadow, acting is utilized as a clever tool to fend off despair; comedic chops keep the movie kid-friendly.
Director of Photography Bruno Delbonnel’s horrifyingly beautiful canvas deserves most of the credit for creating the ominous mood of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There are some amusing shots such as a POV showcasing the multi-tiered interior of the Weasley home; and awe-inspiring shots exhibiting the grandiose sets, such as one that exteriorly tracks Ron running to his girlfriend up the Hogwarts stairs only to dramatically reveal Draco Malfoy atop an outdoor platform.
Yet the most impressive aspects are Delbonnel’s complex lighting and chosen color palettes. The grayish-greens transport the viewer to Tom Riddle’s poisonous memory and the scarcity of faint reds and blues in a gray world resemble a devouring evil. It is interesting to note that although Voldemort does not appear in this film directly, it is through Delbonnel’s dimly lit alleyways and dark shadows that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named waits.
There are wonderfully impressive dissolves used whenever the audience is transported into a world of memory, lightning quick cuts to jolt the viewer when Harry touches an object of evil, and stylistic jump cuts to frame Harry’s disoriented self. Yet what makes the editing special in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the slow, but deliberate pace. Those searching for seizure-inducing editing will have more luck elsewhere. Even in contrast to its predecessors, the tempo of the sixth installment is noticeably more controlled. It is a welcome change that allows the story to be told through the actors as well as force the audience to be amazed and ultimately absorbed into a more atmospheric movie.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): David Yates
- Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
- Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter)
- Editor(s): Mark Day
- Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel
- Production Designer(s): Stuart Craig
- Country Of Origin: UKUSA