Friday, August 14, 2009

Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

After a rather lengthy delay the latest installment in the Harry Potter saga finally arrives and is more or less worth the wait. In fact, my review is even more delayed than the film! Once again all of our familiar friends are back at Hogwarts for another round of riveting adventures with the addition of teenage romance muddling the soup a bit this time. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) have grown up before our eyes but manage to retain believability as the wonderful students who continue to encounter one disaster after another. A great deal of the story here revolves around the investigation by Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Harry of the evil Voldemort's origins, including visits to the past where Harry encounters the young Tom Riddle (Voldemort's original name) at ages 11 (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) and 16 (Frank Dillane). Riddle's attempts to discover the secrets of a forbidden Dark Art which may hold the key to his power remain elusive to Harry, who has a lot on his plate: He must also deal with a vanishing cabinet, an unbreakable vow and, of course, an exciting Quidditch match as well as his growing attraction to Ron's sister Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). A busy guy indeed. Luckily Potter is up to the task and so is Radcliffe. In addition Harry has come into possession of a mysterious Potions book marked as the property of the "half-blood prince" which enables him to excel in his Potions class but begins having a disturbing effect on the lad.

There's a lot going on in this movie, some of which I haven't even mentioned yet. Harry's nemesis Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) figures prominently in the story along with the fabulous Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) and Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) who returns as the Potions teacher. Helena Bonham Carter makes a perfect Bellatrix Lestrange, Jessie Cave is a hoot as Lavender Brown (with a huge crush on Ron Weasley) and director David Yates does a good job of juggling the multiple storylines and characters. As usual, it's delicious escaping into the world of Harry Potter.

Things to love about this movie: Ron's delirious joy as he becomes a star Quidditch goalie; the riveting performances by Fiennes-Tiffin and Dillane who both reveal the seeds of evil in Voldemort in chilling fashion
Things to hate about this movie: The romance scenes didn't really work for me and were not only clunky but a bit silly
Pleasant surprises: Despite the lengthy delay in its release the movie is just fine (I had fears that the delay might have been caused by quality problems)
Unpleasant surprises: Some rather cheesy f/x with the Milennium Bridge in London being destroyed by Death Eaters

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