Half Blood Prince Prepares for the Storm That's Coming

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince = 4 out of 5 Stars
Albus Dumbledore: You must be wondering why I brought you here.
Harry Potter: Actually sir, after all these years I just sort of go with it.

The sixth film of the Harry Potter series. It manages to bring in some more darkness to the series, despite going back to the PG rating. Its a great looking movie in terms of its atmosphere and blending of the fantastical elements with the darker special effects. What certainly stands out is the continuing growth and maturity of the main, young actors, who continue to have great chemistry together and add depth to their characters. The film meanders a bit and certainly caters towards those very much caught up on the series, however, continuing to see a who's who of English actors working on such an involved story does keep the whole thing compelling.

Harry Potter: But, Sir, I though we weren't allowed to operate on Hogwarts grounds.
Albus Dumbledore: Well, being me... has its privileges.

This time around in the story, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is starting to be built up as the possible chosen one. Arriving back at school, he has interacted a lot with Dumbledore, who wants Harry to try and learn more about young Voldemort from new addition Professor Horace Slughorn, played by Jim Broadbent. Meanwhile, Harry's new year at school is helped by a mysterious text book, who's former owner was the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. This guide gives Harry a bit of an edge in his potions as well as in the dark arts.

While all this is going on, a love triangle has formed between Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermoine (Emma Watson), and other girls at school. Yes, somehow little Ginger Weasley has become a boy other girls like, but Hermoine's true feelings are starting to come out in the open. Harry's love life has its parts too, but he has other issues to deal with as well.

These other issues include deatheaters constantly plaguing the areas; including the muggle world, the Weasley house, and Draco Malfoy's soul. Despite being a little bitch and a tool, Tom Felton has taken Malfoy and turned him into quite a compelling character this time around. He is tasked to do something impossible and a scene that comes late in the game is quite effective. And lets not forget about Alan Rickman as Snape. He has a certain level of gravity held in this movie that makes sure to remind people why he was an ingenious casting choice to begin with.

This basic plot summary is part of the problem with the story, because despite all that was probably cut out from the book, this film crams a lot of information, which throws off its pacing. The problem I've had with most of the Potter films is that they are all very long long. That doesn't turn me off of a movie unless it's not balanced well, but the way the different plot strands kind of take their turns in this film makes it noticeably long without flowing seamlessly. I'll give credit to director David Yates and the screenwriters for probably doing the best job they could at adapting a very long book into one watchable movie, but Azkaban still remains the best Potter film, mainly due to how solid of a narrative structure it had among other reasons.

However, there are certainly a lot of things that work very well. The performances are all very strong here. The look of the film is pretty great. And the humor and wonder in the school of Hogwarts is balanced well with the bleakness of some situations and darker turns the story eventually takes.

Its a solid effort into the franchise, my second favorite of the film series. Oh, and the return of Quidditch is something I've been wanting. Coming up next for Harry is the final book separated into two films. I can only hope that the next films pull off a good conclusion, while being well balanced in its pacing.

Hermione Granger: [snaps her fingers] Hey, she's only interested in you because she thinks you're the Chosen One.
Harry Potter: But I am the Chosen One.
Hermione Granger: [smacks him on the head with the newspaper]
Harry Potter: Sorry... kidding!


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