Upon reaching ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ either in reading order, or in viewing order of the films, one can breathe a little bit of a sigh of relief that we have come out of the dystopian darkness of ‘The Order of the Phoenix’ where Harry and Professor Dumbledore have virtually everyone against them from the Ministry of Magic to Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. That particular chapter is so taxing that it’s a relief to get to ‘Half-Blood Prince’, even though the entire magical community is living in fear because it has been confirmed that The Dark Lord has returned.
‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ picks up pretty much where the last film left off, even to the extent of having Harry and Dumbledore being photographed after the climactic battle of the last film. The story then travels forward and pushes the audience further into the mysteries of The Dark Lord’s origins and his connection to Harry Potter.
This movie doesn’t have as much all out action as some of the previous installments, and it seems to be more about building back story (hitherto unknown) and adding more levels to mysteries which will be solved in the final 2-part movie. The lack of action is only really noticeable when some sort of fighting takes place, and then you realize that this is the first bang bang sequence you have seen in a while. The story is engaging enough that you sit stuck in your seat absorbing every bit of information that is being thrown at you, and also dreading the ending you know is coming (if you read the book that is).
When working in the realm of fantasy, visual effects advances only help support film. When the ‘Harry Potter’ series started lo these many moons ago, the effects were slick and fun and basically for kids. By the time you get to viewing ‘Half-Blood Prince’ the effects are darker, more frightening, and considerably more visual than in past installations. Fans of the books won’t be disappointed by water-logged legions of undead left behind by The Dark Lord to protect a hidey hole, and all of the scenes with magical beasts and spells look just amazing.
It’s nice to see the same actors again and again in these movies. The three leads, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have all been a joy to watch mature and grow not only as people, but also as actors over the course of this film series. Michael Gambon has been particularly delightful as Professor Dumbledore and even though he did not originate the role, he has certainly made it so much his own, that you forget that he wasn’t always the actor behind the crazy grey beard. Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman are both fantastic as always, and Snape gets a wee bit more to do in this flick from some of the prior movies.
This movie does feel a bit like a ‘Back to the Future Part 2’ where you get just enough story, action, and entertainment to move you forward towards the finale. It feels somewhat like a middle movie, but considering this is the sixth in a series of what will be eight films, that’s not really a huge surprise. Needless to say this movie will draw in every casual and devout Harry Potter fan, and it really is something that should be seen on the big screen so you can enjoy all of the amazing visuals.