All reviews by Stafford Christensen.
Film is a powerful but subjective medium; this is a personal take on movies both classic and contemporary....
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Meets Greatness And Mediocrity Half-way
- I do not keep secret the fact that I am no die-hard Harry Potter fan.... I have not read the books and I do not go crazy over the movies. I have, however, found most of the Harry Potter movies to be fun and entertaining fantasy films and I try to keep up with them as they are released. It was not until 2007's Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix that I ever felt that a Harry Potter film was great - The Order Of The Phoenix was dark, stylish, energetic, mature, and a well-rounded piece of movie entertainment and I began to get the feeling that the Harry Potter films were growing more towards my tastes. I did not enjoy 2009's Harry Potter AndThe Half-Blood Prince as much as I did The Order Of The Phoenix but it is a good movie, continuing the franchise down an effective direction.
The Half-Blood Prince is easily the darkest Potter film to date. The cinematography - being recognized by the 82nd Academy Awards - and the degree of the graphic violence makes this darkness easy to see but the story content and things that Harry has to deal with internally also contribute to the film's dark nature. Along with being the darkest Potter film yet, The Half-Blood Prince is also the most stylized. David Yates did an excellent job crafting The Order Of The Phoenix but he takes a step forward in The Half-Blood Prince with his scene execution and framing. Yates runs off with The Half-Blood Prince and takes it away from the regular feel of the Harry Potter series - which is refreshing. Different moments of the film even takes the viewer back to the classic suspense/horror age of movies with its visualization and colorization; and it is very fun to watch.
What I also particularly liked about the film was the extended role for Alan Rickman (easily the best acting card the Harry Potter series has) and his Severus Snape character (easily the most interesting character in the Potter series as well) - anytime Rickman can be seen on screen is good for any film. I also think that Daniel Radcliffe is growing as an actor, as his screen presence is especially strong and he adds a lot more subtle flourishes in every scene in The Half-Blood Prince. And thank goodness that Radcliffe's crying scene in this film was mostly a success - the last time he cried in the series (The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2005)) it looked like the wringing out of a seal pup.
Overall, I do think that The Half-Blood Prince is a good film - because of its strong dark style I would list it as my second favorite Harry Potter film after The Order Of The Phoenix. However, despite the ways that the film excels in the areas of cinematography and style, I wound up a bit disappointed at the end. The reason? As good as the film is, it does not capture the imagination that I feel The Order Of The Phoenix achieved and its attempts at humor do not work (as dark as the film is, it still tries to make time for humor - unfortunately there is not any time for it). More importantly however, the film runs a bit slow at times and the story is not nearly as engaging as The Order Of The Phoenix or even The Chamber Of Secrets (2002), making it feel very run-of-the-mill Potter at times. Still, I would say that, because of its high style, darkness, and good acting, The Half-Blood Prince ends up as one of the best Potter films.