The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

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Las Vegas Round The Clock -
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Although I haven’t read any of J.K Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter series of children’s books, I have seen every one of the film adaptations. The first installment drew me in with its spellbinding storyline and beautiful execution.  However, ever since, the subsequent follow ups have been less impressive and now the latest and 6th installment of the franchise directed by David Yates (returning after helming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) from a script by Steve Kloves (who wrote the first four films) is the worst of the series.  I found the film to be a total bore that had me squirming in my seat waiting anxiously for something of consequence to happen.  Clocking in at approximately 2 and a half hours it takes roughly 2 hours before, the plot thickens, the pace picks up and another 15 minutes before we find out who the half blood prince of the title is.

Audiences, who are not familiar with the Harry Potter storyline, will be in the dark for there is nothing to bring you up to date and in the loop. I talked a fellow film critic, who had not seen any of the previous chapters, into joining me at the preview screening. Because he was baffled by what was going on, he had a problem being drawn into what he saw as a disinteresting as well as convoluted narrative. The thing is, he wasn’t alone in his feelings and from what I could tell there were more than a few yawns among my peers.

The story unfolds with wise Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, finally making his mark in the role originally played by the late Richard Harris) enlisting the aid of Harry Potter to help recruit the wacky, yet endearing Professor Horace Slughorn (a splendid Jim Broadbent) to return to The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and once again teach students the art of magic potions.  More importantly, Slughorn is needed for something of utmost value that only he possesses -  his memories, which goes back to the time he taught a young student, then known as Tom Riddle, before the young man transformed himself into the evil, dark Lord Voldemort (shades of Star Wars’ Darth Vader).  Considered to be “The Chosen One”, Harry is given the task of unlocking those memories from the professor in hopes of discovering clues to Voldemort’s vulnerability and the key to destroying him for good. The most interesting element of the movie is the flashback scenes of Voldemort as a young boy and a teen. The two actors who portray him are mesmerizing and as vital aspects, you would think more time would be spent on them.

Meanwhile there are other ominous presences lurking within the once safe corridors of the school.  Harry’s nemesis, nasty Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) is up to no good and with the help of the secretly conniving Professor Severus Snape (a perfectly icy Alan Rickman) and the trio of Death Eaters led by the wild haired, destructive vixen,  Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) plans are in the works to make Malfoy “their” rightful Chosen One, following in the footsteps of the malevolent Voldemort.

Except for Malfoy, who has no interest in matters of the heart, subplots involve romance among Harry and his best buds now that they are well in their teens with hormones kicking in.  HP (Daniel Radcliffe) is falling for Ron’s sister, Ginny (an emotionless, bland Bonnie Wright) who is dating another student, Dean Thomas. And Ron (goofy looking, Rupert Grint who supplies most of the comic relief) is snoggling up to new girlfriend,  the assertive Lavender Brown  (Jessie Cave) via the effects of a love potion, leaving behind a jealous and depressed Hermoine (Emma Watson) who secretly carries a torch for him.

The mention of the "Half-Blood Prince is introduced after Harry obtains an old used potions book, filled with the notes of the previous owner, a wizard who calls himself the "Half-Blood Prince".  However, use of the book, along with Valdemort’s back-story, as well as the vanishing chamber, isn’t explored enough.

Plot wise, the movie drags on with too much talk and not enough action or magical moments.  I felt I was watching one after another irrelevant, filler segments that have nothing to do with the progression of the plot. For example, Harry and takes Slughorn to visit his friend, the giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) who is mourning the death of a gigantic spider. There is no purpose for that scene and it amounts to a waste of time.  Even more wasted are the wonderful Maggie Smith and Julie Walters who show up in what are mere cameo appearances. That isn’t to say the film doesn’t have some grand elements.  The visuals are beautiful. The art direction and cinematography are exquisite and the special effects are seamless.

Essentially, this installment is supposed to act as a set up for the final, epic battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort. That occurs in the last book book in the series, The Deathly Hallows, which will be filmed as two separate movies.

As for this chapter in which memories play a major factor, ironically Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is forgettable.
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