Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
As Lord Voldemort’s presence becomes all too apparent, Dumbledore once again takes Mr. Potter under his wing so the two can work together in discovering the Dark Lord’s one true weakness. Along the way, the legendary headmaster recruits long-time friend Horace Slughorn as the school’s new Potions professor, allowing Harry to poke and prod at him for further information surrounding his and Dumbledore’s ongoing investigation. As if mysteries weren’t already aplenty, Harry also stumbles upon a textbook that at one point belonged to the very knowledgeable “Half-Blood Prince,” of whom inadvertently teaches the young wizard several new tricks that work to both his advantage and severe disadvantage.
While Order of the Phoenix was indeed enjoyable in its own right, it lacked heavily in terms of the cohesiveness earlier installments possessed and put on display wholeheartedly, mostly due to the efforts of screenwriter Michael Goldenberg. Thankfully, the almighty Steve Kloves has returned once again to provide viewers with a simply wonderful script characteristic of everything we’ve come to know and love about the franchise, with a few welcome changes. This in mind, the much-anticipated sixth entry in the beloved series of Potter film adaptations managed to impress me in ways I never thought possible.
One of the more noticeable changes this time around is without a doubt the substantial increase in some genuinely funny dialogue and interaction between a majority of the central characters. Such a sense of humor on the part of Kloves is indeed a treat, but coupled with an immense amount teen romance; even more so than that of the film’s immediate predecessor, the incredibly serious nature of several major plot points found within the novel often get lost in the fray once again. However, it’s easy to forgive such a flaw by way of how thoroughly enjoyable the film is as a whole, even if the amount of action present is incomprehensibly sparse.
Having read the novel, I also had pretty high expectations for how some of my favorite moments within it translated to the big screen. These moments, much to my surprise, are in fact handled with such fervor that I was simply blown away as they played themselves out before my eyes. For those of you who are also familiar with the source material, the film’s conclusion most definitely fits the description, and the amount of emotional intensity present within this sequence and others is nothing short of sensational thanks to Yates’ favorable turn-around as the series’ fourth and final director.
The performances in Half-Blood Prince can also be perceived as an all-time high, what with series veterans Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson constantly adapting to the worsening conditions surrounding the inevitable return of the dreaded Lord Voldemort with ease. Seeing as how emotionally poignant several sequences turned out to be, I was baffled by how consistently fantastic each of the protagonists were in this regard, and equally so by the efforts of the older cast members, newcomer Broadbent included. In fact, the acting is part of the reason why the film’s minor flaws are almost wholly forgivable, and that’s saying something.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince can very well be considered the best Potter film yet. While some may not agree with an overall lack of action and a heaping dose of teenage hormones, some of the film’s flaws become quite negligible in the wake of some serious emotional poignancy offered via an excellent script and wonderful performances. Once again, this sixth installment in the beloved franchise impressed me in ways I never thought possible with an adaptation of any literary source, let alone a Harry Potter novel, and has further proven that the series in question is a cinematic force to be reckoned with.