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Starring:Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Jim Broadbent, David Thewlis

Diretcor: David Yates

Writer(s):Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling

Cinematographer:Bruno Delbonnel

Original Score: Nicholas Hooper

Running Time:153 Mins.

The Harry Potter series (of films) have had the luck of being both largely favoured by critic’s and audience’s alike, appeasing the die hard Potter-philes and the Average Joe cinema goer, with the record breaking box office for each and every film thus far providing evidence enough of their worldwide appeal, which seems to transcend age, sex and race like few other films can lay claim too. The secret seems to lie mostly in author of the source novels J.K. Rowling’s hands, in creating a world of characters that are at once larger than life and familiar in their ways, notable more in the adult character over the slightly more “normal” children, though at this stage it would be more definitely be more prudent to call them adolescents!

For you see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is about burgeoning teenage hormones bubbling to the surface, with the amount of screen-time dedicated to the characters, often silly, romantic endeavours. Even the usually affable Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) comments on more than one occasion on Harry’s potential situations with the fairer sex. It is to the films credit that these scenes are played out well but you can’t help but feel they are jarring against the rest of what is happening in what is supposedly the core plot, except it’s not.

In watching a film adaptation of a novel you have to accept that something will be lost in translation and with the Potter books getting ever more lengthy as they go on it is only feasible to assume more will be lost to ensure both pace and a not too bum numbing running time. As you can see once again we are coming in at the two and a half hour point, not a problem in itself but when so much of that is spent on characters and situations that aren’t key to the stories supposed overall structure (going by the book) you can’t help but feel ever so slightly wronged.

As a fan of the source novels i can appreciate the omissions that were made in past installments, we did not need the exploits of Nearly headless Nick continued, or the Elf Society set up by Hermione, but when the essence of the book is totally lost leaving us with swathes of romantic subplot I can’t help but feel hugely disappointed.

 The idea of the titular Half Blood Prince is totally forgotten until an all to brief comment at the end, but more unforgivable than this is setting up events that seemingly amount to nothing. This includes Malfoy (Tom Felton) using a disappearing cabinet for absolutely no reason, and robbing us of the explosive finale in the novel, and having Harry set out to gain a memory from reluctantly returning teacher Horace Slughorn (the fantastic Broadbent) to end up coming across to the audience that really there was little point going to the hassle as Dumbledore already knew what Harry discovers anyway. And then character actions are altered, with one event at the end leaving Harry looking like a coward when he should look like a tragic hero.

In fact overall you will be left feeling robbed as we are simply left waiting for the next installment rather than (as the past films have succeeded in doing) feeling like a stand-alone film to some extent. A stop gap, or extended set up if you like, hardly fair when the final book will be two films rather than one, meaning a cliffhanger in part one is inevitable.

There is much to be found that IS  good though, some of it excellent in fact, casting is an issue the series has never suffered from with every actor chosen seemingly made for their role and Jim Broadbent on this occasion is no exception, funny and poignant at once I really could see no one else in this role. Snape has his moment to shine, though as I mentioned before he is robbed somewhat by the thinning down of what should be the driving plot.

The biggest surprise for me was Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), finally having overcome the jaw clenching alot of his “acting” amounted to in the past he has matured into a fine young actor and one who really conveys the characcter so well, with the same to be said for Hermione (Emma Watson), such a shock considering how wooden they started out all those years ago, on the downside I found Ron (Rupert Grint) to be deeply annoying, even more so than usual with his attempts at humour lost in a film with a little too much of it anyway considering all the brooding going on.

The best scenes come in the flashbacks to Voldemorts past and n this you get a sense that Heyman really is the man for the job of concluding these films, he has an excellent and some of the shots in the film are the best I have seen all year, the standout’s being the Death eater attacks on London and the Weasley house, both not actually taken from the book but both visually arresting and excellently shot, acted and with the right level of peril and excitement, it is just a shame they feel totally out of context with the rest of the film, hopefully the same mistakes won’t be made come the supposedly(again going by the books plot) thrilling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (and 2)

VERDICT

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is one of the weaker efforts of the series so far but with a smattering of some  brilliant scenes amongst the teenage brooding, tonally all over the place and seemingly little more than a setup for the big climax. That said a weak Harry Potter is still a good and thoroughly enjoyable experience, just lower your expectations if you’re a fan of the book.

grade-c-

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