Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Today was "Harry Potter Day," and if you are a fan of the series like me, you know that the film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, based on the 6th book, opened today.

It feels like forever since I read this book, and I only remembered scattered details, but I do remember that it was one of my favorites. The film did not disappoint. Operating upon the premise that to know your enemies helps you to conquer them, Dumbledore takes Harry on a tour of Voldemort's childhood. I felt like this part was trimmed considerably to make way for other things in the story, but it does get the point across that Voldemort (originally Tom Riddle) was a boy unloved and forgotten by his parents. That certainly created the hatred and cynicism that led to his desire for domination and notoriety.

A new teacher is introduced, Horace Slughorn, played by Jim Broadbent, who is rehired by Dumbledore because of his past connections to Tom Riddle and the benefit a certain memory of his could play in the ultimate showdown between Harry and Voldemort. Slughorn teaches Potions (Snape now teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts) and in Slughorn's class Harry discovers an old Potions textbook with detailed notes in the margins. These notes help Harry excel in the class, much to the dismay of Hermione, who is used to getting top marks in everything. The book, according to an inscription inside the binding, was once the "Property of the Half-Blood Prince." Who that person is remains to be seen and, when revealed, is surprising.

Amidst all the doom and gloom of Dumbledore's lessons, there is a surprising amount of humor peppered throughout the film. The balance is appreciated and clever. Most significantly, you see the sparks between Harry and Ginny Weasley begin to flourish, as well as between Ron and Hermione. Rupert Grint, as Ron, really had some great scenes in this film.

Certainly, this film moves the story forward and has significant events that shape and affect all the characters (don't want to give anything away.) And all of our old favorites supporting characters are back, including one of my favorites, Remus Lupin, in a small scene. We also see Narcissa Malfoy--Draco's mother and sister of Bellatrix LeStrange--for the first time. She is concerned, with good reason, about Draco's future.

The film was 2 1/2 hours, but never boring, in my opinion. I am always glad to have read the books first, but if you have not, but have seen the other films, you should have no problem following the story. The young students are definitely more grown up in some ways (which leads to teenage angst in others,) and it is obvious by the end of the film that the story is soon going to take us on a journey away from Hogwarts in the next 2 films, which is the way the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be divided up.

All in all, a very satisfying addition to the Harry Potter movie collection and a faithful telling of the book. Whether reading the books or seeing the movies, J.K. Rowling's storytelling never fails to amaze me.

A short, somewhat vague, trailer:

No comments: