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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Genre Fantasy
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince is the best Harry Potter adaptation yet (despite sitting next to someone with a super-size popcorn and slurpy and no sense of volume control!). The franchise has slowly evolved from an adorable, theme park-friendly fantasy adventure for kids into a swirling, dark mass of might and magic for older teens and adults.

The series has become darker and darker as its audience has grown older in a similar pattern to J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Now The Half-Blood Prince beckons its wizened hand to the armies of Potter fans around the world as the epic battle between Good and Evil magic builds to a crescendo.

The latest installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has made everyone sit up and take notice as Potter learns of a secret conspiracy and his mettle is put to the test. Previous Potter entries have suffered from trying to take the tightrope balancing act to new heights without alienating its younger or older audiences. This has made the journey a little rickety with adult themes constraining family ratings, while lingering in the realm of a young wizard’s playful childhood.

Now that Daniel Radcliffe and his faithful companions have grown wiser, the darkness and mature content have peaked simultaneously - with younger fans on par with the “matric” echelon of Hogwart’s. This amazing timing pairs with a fantastic script, which is bipolar with euphoric happiness in teen love ranging to dark angst and torment from the chasms of the heart. The Half-Blood Prince has even garnered a nod of approval from the Vatican (probably not directly from the Pope) for its timeless message and has won the admiration of both fans and critics alike. The movie embodies more genuine comedy than its earlier adaptations and will have audiences in fits of laughter.

The movie’s charms are so inviting that you’ll feel at home with the wizards (even with the sound of troops marching on gravel, or popcorn in this case). The Half-Blood Prince works because the performances and characters have been refined over the episodes and the cast have grown in confidence. The script, adapted by Steve Kloves, is inventive and witty and plays to the actor’s strengths. The production has spared the pitfalls of computer generated imagery by mastering the basics and finding a superb balance in design. There are fewer fantasy creatures to worry about and the majority of the story takes place at Hogwart’s, which earths the story and adds consistency. Some have said that Harry Potter is unrealistic… for a kid with red hair to have two friends, but Rupert Grint puts comments like these to shame with his luckiest and funniest take on Ron Weasley yet.

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince is a dark, magical, funny and charming adventure that is both gripping and spellbinding. This is how Harry Potter should have been adapted from the beginning. David Yates takes the fantasy from the heights of a broomstick-flying romantic comedy right down to the depths of a bone-chilling adventure. The whole mix of genres is perfectly balanced, shifting from one foot to the next as the audience is introduced to a new facet of the story, each chapter as funny, exciting and scary as the previous one.

It’s an excellent ensemble performance from all, and while it’s difficult to give precedence to all name stars, Helena Bonham Carter could have had more exposure. The cast introduces Jim Broadbent to the fray, who makes a magical and well-rounded turn as Professor Slughorn with a brow wave to rival Jack Black in School of Rock (watch the eyebrows). Michael Gambon carries the torch as Dumbledore, while Rupert Grint and Emma Watson add volumes to their characters, relishing every line. Daniel Radcliffe breaks the shackles of teen type roles as he takes the extraordinary young wizard into deeper territory, marking his growing maturity and range as an actor (he’s not really Potter).

Overall, it’s an excellent installation… only baiting HP fans for things to come, leaving a similar cliffhanging feeling to Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring (one down, two to go). If this is the sort of magic that the production can exhibit with all now comfortable in their shoes, it’s exciting to think of what they’ll be able to achieve with the same team in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2.

The bottom line: Magical.

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