Bi-Polar Reviews: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince I

Apologies for the absence people. I’ve been off the wireless for a week now. Its good to be back, with new improved fibre-optics!

Here is part one of the Harry Potter Bi Polar Review.

Happy

It’s a real shame that I could never give a film featuring Harry Potter the status of a perfect film. Each fable relies so heavily on those that came before or after that one can never be a finite piece of work. Sure, the three-act structure can be utilised, but without the background info, the knowledge that more will be coming, watching a middle installment alone will leave you confused and disorientated if your haven’t followed the Potter Doctrine.

potter

The reason I bring this up is because Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is good enough to warrant this appraisal, and goes at lengths to try and establish itself as one of, if not, the best of the Potter flicks. The tone is perfect, the jokes are many and the look is ebony black. How could this be the same director that brought us that lacklustre Order of the Phoenix a few years back? I certainly think the cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel may have had a hand in the success of films visual maturity. With countless well crafted shots of the maturing cast for an audience growing up alongside the franchise.

now and then

The sixth installment of the series sees Harry working with Dumbledore to unlock a key secret about Voldemort. To do this, Harry must befriend the newest member of the Hogwarts staff, one Professor Slughorn (played with aplomb by Jim Broadbent). What interested me most about the way this played out on screen, was the subtle similarities presented between Harry and Tom Riddle. Dumbledore actively encourages Harry to act more like his binary opposite in order to defeat him, thus reminding the audience of ideas first posited in the 2nd film and book. The sub-plots surrounding this are delightful. Quidditch has never been shot so well and Hogwarts has never looked more magic. The underbody of film revolves around Harry’s pursuit of Ginny and the love triangle between Lavender, Hermione and Ron.

the three

As for the performances, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are solid as usual. One particular scene of note, is Radcliffe demonstrating his comedic sensibilities after taking the luck elixir. It is the supporting roles however, that deserve notice. Helena Bonham Carter will scare your children, so props to her, and Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore will woo even the most stringent of Richard Harris fans. However, it is the arrival of Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn who steals the show. Broadbent is known for his many comic roles and his bewildered, jellied expressions are utilised to great effect here. A blowhard and man with many “friends”, his jubilant smile and need to collect powerful and famous wizards for his Slug Club are ever-present, bringing some levity as well as effectively hiding the dark secret that drives the plot forward.

potter

All in all, while we see Harry Potter is growing up, so to is the market for these movies. If you’ve seen all the movies up until now or read all the books, and your are at an age to appreciate the adult themes and movie techniques, this movie should fall pitch-perfect on your ear. You are likely to leave the cinema filled with a heart-wrenching sadness for innocence lost lest you have trouble in separating film from text. It is worth noting that while there have been many criticisms in recent weeks over the liberal use of the source material, specifically the dramatic conclusion of Half Blood – this should not dissuade audiences from viewing the film. Adaptations are fickle things in the mind of a reader. After all, what can compete with the minds own interpretation? The films and books are separate entities and should be approached with this in mind. Many audiences cannot and would not sit through an accurate 6 hour faithful adaption, so changes were made and pensieves were tucked in the cupboard. If die hard Potheads are willing to overlook a change or two in aide of narrative progression and editing economy – then a good solid family film awaits them. If not, then grow up, your 27 for goodness sake!

Dré

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