Reviews for July 15th, 2009
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Directed by David Yates.
Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts for his sixth year studying witchcraft and wizardry. The Death Eaters, led by Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), have been spreading terror throughout Hogwarts and the Muggle world. Harry believes that he’s the “chosen one” who’s destined to fight and kill Voldemort, the Dark Lord. Voldemort uses Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) to spread his evil. Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), Harry’s potions teacher, has vital information pertaining to Voledmort which Harry needs to know, but first he turns to Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) for assistance and to gain knowledge about Voldemort in his childhood days, when he was called Tom Ridley (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin at age 11 and Frank Dillane at age 16). Dumbledore eventually shows Harry his memories of Tom Riddle. In a rather contrived subplot, Hermione (Emma Watson) has feelings for Ron (Rupert Grint), Harry’s best friend, but Ron now has a girlfriend, Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave).Harry himself has his eyes on Ginny (Bonnie Wright), but she happens to have a boyfriend, Dean Thomas (Alfie Enoch). There’s no denying that director David Yates includes dazzling CGI and cinematography along with an impressive musical score that makes the big-screen experience a breathtaking one for both your eyes and ears, especially in IMAX format. However, the screenplay by Steve Kloves gyrates too often between drama, comedy, romance and a few action sequences, none of which feel as immensely exhilarating as they felt in the prior Harry Potter movies. It’s worth noting, though, that the comic relief works well as a means to lessen intensity of the film dark tone. There’s so much intrigue, tension and a foreboding sense of doom and evil in the first hour, but both the intrigue and tension wane in the remainder of the film, leaving you with only sporadic thrills. You feel as though a spectacular, intense and exciting event is about to occur at least at some point throughout the film, but, instead, too many scenes leave you feeling underwhelmed and yearning for greater sense of adventure and excitement in the last hour-and-a-half. At a running time of 2 hours and 33 minutes, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince boasts a terrific ensemble cast, occasional thrills and spectacular visuals, but it suffers from a less-than-spectacular plot that’s often contrived, uneven in tone and anticlimactic. Number of times I checked my watch: 3 Released by Warner Bros. Pictures. Opens nationwide.