As Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven. Harry suspects perils may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort’s defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Even as the decisive showdown looms, romance blossoms for Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates. Love is in the air, but danger lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.
Director David Yates returns to the director chair for the second time in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", one of the most popular and money-raking series in recent cinematic history.
With the main cast (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) reaching the ripe age of 21 and beyond, the movie adapted from the sixth book is filled with raging hormones, teen romance and angst more than wizardry itself. The success of the vampire romance thriller "Twilight" certainly adds on a certain amount of pressure on the filmmakers and what we have with Prince, is an unprecedented concentration of love potions being sprinkled.
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" continues with Harry Potter battle with the dark side as the evil Lord Voldemort instigate Harry’s constant rival, Draco Malfoy into penetrating Hogwarts. At the same time, Harry discovers an old book filled with magical tricks and notes strangely belonged to a person nick-named 'The Half-Blood Prince'. With time running out, Dumbledore privately tutor Harry and task him with a mission to retrieve the memories of Voldemort’s past from his teacher, the retired Professor Horace Slughorn.
Yates certainly has a nimble hand in crafting engaging human relationships and well, courtships. The romance between Harry and Ginny (Ron’s younger sister) begins to blossom and the awkward jealousy brewing in Hermione as she begins to feel for the goofy Ron Weasly. Despite the heavy-matter on hand, Yates effortlessly jumps from one scene to another, in a way forgoing the looming consequence and excitement. The teen demographics and Potter fans might (or might not) find this a welcome change as the movie derails pretty much from the original J.K. Rowling material. Sure, the main theme of Harry searching for clues to Voldemort’s past still exists but the purpose of introducing the 'Half-Blood Prince' is ironically lost in this movie adaptation. I’m sure Yates and long-time Potter scriber Steve Kloves has a hard time condensing the writings but the development and exclusion of this crucial plotline is pretty unforgiveable.
The ensemble British cast is as always reliable and glitters even when their screentime is pathetically short. Regulars like Alan Rickman (Snape), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall) and the Weasley parents deserved much more. It’s a pity much of the Death Eaters such as Bellatrix Lestrange, Wormtail and even Voldemort fare worse. In this sixth instalment however, two British thespians Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) and Jim Broadbent (Professor Horace Slughorn) at least have a comparable screentime as the young leads. Over the years, we have seen Harry, Ron and Hermione grew up on the big screen and in "Prince", the trio have shown remarkable chemistry and maturity
As the story gets darker and more solemn, the production design team led by Academy Award winner Stuart Craig did a tremendous job creating the gothic looking architecture and props. Even the CG sets look marvelous onscreen. Every frame and scene has been painstakingly created and you can feel the glorious imagery and the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel popping out.
This latest instalment as compared to the prior episodes seem to take a life of it’s own while retaining much of the series’ theme, humor and improved dark elements and a whole new level of teen romance though sacrificing some of the breath-taking action sets from the book. Depending on which side of the camp you are on, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" can be classified as the best after "Prisoner of Azkaban" for the sprawling visuals or deem the worst in terms of faithful adaptation of Rowling’s works.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Eight Additional Scenes which last 5 minutes are included here. My personal favourite is this poignant scene called "Clouds Gather Over Hogwarts as Flitwick Conducts Choir". Should have left it intact in the final movie in my opinion.
A very interesting and personal feature that detailed the early years, failures, success of Rowling and the journey she took in writing the concluding story of the Harry Potter saga in J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life.
Cast Members Are Your Personal Guides To Aspects of Moviemaking lasts almost 30 minutes and covers various production aspects such as editing, stunts, Owl Training, Costume Design, Behind the camera with James Phelps and makeup with the various young stars of the Harry Potter series.
Take a sneak peek into what you can expect in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort before it opens in 2010 in this 11 minutes feature. Pity it’s not coming to Universal Singapore yet.
What's On Your Mind? is a fluffy segment hosted by Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) who posed questions such as "Which famous person would you like to spend a day with?" to his fellow co-stars.
The main cast members including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Bonnie Wright sums up the developments of their onscreen counterparts from year one to six in One-Minute Drills. Fun stuff.
The Harry Potter DVDs have always enjoyed a high-level of transfer and "Prince" is no exception. Details are excellent and dark levels which constitute much of the movie’s running time are crisp without disrupting your viewing pleasure. The opening sequence and the Quidditch match make good use of the stereo and there are always plenty of ambient effects littered around. "Prince" is very much a dialogue-heavy movie and the Dolby Digital 5.1 did a fine job with it as well.
by Linus Tee
Posted on 27 November 2009