Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince stars, Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, Swiss Army Man), Rupert Grint (Can someone check he’s alive), Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah), Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow, Gosford Park) and is directed by Davis Yates (The Legend of Tarzan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2).
It’s the 6th year at Hogwarts and after the events at The Ministry of Magic last year, Voldemort’s return is known to everyone and his presence looms over the school. With a new teacher, a mysterious book and working closer with Dumbledore than ever before, Harry learns about the past of his greatest foe.
It’s been a while but I’m finally back reviewing another HP film, only 3 left now :(. We’re now two films in to the David Yates era and it’s going strong. The Half-Blood Prince isn’t my favorite of the HP films but it was still a really solid outing, before the ultimately finale. It’s a character piece, more than any of the films before it and looking back, not since the first film had one of the HP films defined the characters we’ve come to love more than the Half-Blood Prince.
In what’s becoming a trend for these reviews, I have to start with the opening scene. I’ll get to Slughorn soon but what I really love about the beginning of this film is the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore. This was the first time I felt a true friendship between the two of them and for the first time Harry had matured enough to be an equal to Dumbledore. We didn’t get to see this in the last one but they’ve become a team in this film and obviously that needed to be sprinkled throughout the Half-Blood Prince because of where this ultimately ends up. The banter back and forth they have at the train station feels genuine and Michael Gambon and Daniel Radcliffe have great chemistry. This might not be as exciting and elaborate as other opening sequences in the series but it’s very important to this particular story.
For me, I’ve always seen the Half-Blood Prince as a Romantic Comedy/Coming of age film, disguised as a Harry Potter film. That probably turned some people off as this film floats closest to the ‘teen’ genre but I think it gets away with it because of how much you’ve come to love the characters and it’s extremely well written and performed. More than any of the previous films, the Half-Blood Prince has several big laughs and for the entire second act if you’re a big HP fan, you do get wrapped up in the love triangles and romantic explorations. This film defined the relationships that had been building for 5 years and what are now still being explored in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I can understand if some people find this film to be one they skip through until the end but for me I find a lot of enjoyment from the romcom aspects.
The Half-Blood Prince focused a lot on the characters we love and developed them more but just like every other film, it gave us amazing new ones. Slughorn is hands down the funniest character in this entire franchise. I’ve complained about wanting to see more of the characters who come and go throughout these films but none more than Slughorn. I use quotes from this man maybe more than any other character, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve greeted someone with “Good to see you Wallenby” or spilt something and said “All hands on deck Granger”. Jim Broadbent is a classic character actor, his weirdness and quirky sensibilities was a perfect fit for Slughorn.
I haven’t really discussed the book to film adaptation, mainly because these are film reviews but also because I don’t have the time for that debate. However the one scene that wasn’t in the books that I think is the best addition, is the Burrow fight scene. First of all it’s incredibly well shot by Yates, creating a lot of tension and fear but again it’s a big character moment for Harry and Ginny. Up until this point, I never felt any connection between Harry and Ginny but this scene is played so excellently, that you get the awkard exchange between the two of them on the staircase and then an explosion of emotions when Bellatrix and Greyback show up. In the heat of the moment you get wrapped up in Harry’s revenge and you’re rooting for him to catch Bellatrix, then you also get caught in Ginny’s protective actions by running after them. There’s a whole lot going on in this scene and it all hits you with effect.
I don’t have much to say about the final act other than I thought it was as perfect as it could be. I was reading the books as they were coming out so I knew what was coming yet it still hits you hard and is every bit as powerful as it was on the page. It still gets me every time I watch it and I’ve seen it a lot.
My one flaw with this film, is the lack of a villain. There’s absolutely themes that play throughout but I always felt like there was a goal or endgame missing from this film, until it’s revealed in the final act. Previously you had a powerful stone, a secret chamber or a tournament but the Half-Blood Prince just seems to be plodding along until we get to the finale. This one also gives a lot of answers and so therefore has exposition that probably went straight over non-HP fans heads.
Overall I love this film. There may not be a whole lot going on story-wise but I adore the characters of the Harry Potter franchise, so ultimately the Half-Blood Prince is always a joy to watch.
What do you think about the 6th Harry Potter film, the Half-Blood Prince?