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Friday, December 1, 2023

Life + Arts

Potter flick delights, does not excite

Wednesday at midnight, thousands of fans prepared themselves for the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Based on the sixth book in the popular series by J.K. Rowling, the film opened to enthusiastic audiences and sold out theaters across the Houston area.

The movie, like the book, is much darker than the other Harry Potter films and follows the novel closely. Half Blood Prince opens with Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort’s followers, attacking Muggles, witches and wizards in broad daylight. Harry reads a Daily Prophet full of worrying headlines about his last encounter with Dark Lord and his subsequent rise to power.

Other key parts of the novel are kept as well, such as Snape and Narcissa Malfoy making the unbreakable vow, Draco Malfoy using the vanishing cabinets and Harry and Dumbledore’s explorations into Voldemort’s memories.

Viewers are introduced to Professor Horace Slughorn, new potions master at Hogwarts. Not quite as large as the book made him out to be, Slughorn’s character is performed perfectly by Jim Broadbent. While the movie is serious, Broadbent delivers comedic relief at all the right moments with his constant quizzical facial expression.

The film’s score also contributes to the darker theme. The music is mostly ominous, with dark undertones heard even in the most lighthearted of scenes.

Though Half Blood Prince is much more grim than previous movies, director David Yates managed to keep some of Rowling’s humor.

Of particular delight is Lavender Brown, played by newcomer Jessie Cave. Her obsession with Ron, whom she affectionately calls ‘Won-Won,’ is like a pre-teen’s crush on the Jonas Brothers – pathetic and hilarious at the same time. Rupert Grint is also extremely entertaining as Ron when he eats love potion-poisoned chocolates intended for Harry.

Viewers are treated to the raging teenagers’ hormones now that they are ‘growing up.’ While Harry experienced his first kiss with Cho Chang in the previous Harry Potter film, fans now get to see him (finally) fall for Ginny, as well as Hermione falling for Ron.

The only questionable addition to the film’s plot is the burning of The Burrow, the Weasley family’s home. This raises questions for future films, such as where Bill and Fleur will get married, or if it will happen at all. Even though times are grim in Harry’s world, there are other ways to prove it without making things up.

Visually stunning, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince follows the plot of the novel closely. However, the movie as a whole is anti-climactic and leaves the audience craving more.

For instance, the battle at the end of the novel is almost entirely missing in the film. After the Death Eaters join Draco at the top of the astronomy tower, they escape Hogwarts but are forced to fight their way out. Bill is hurt by werewolf Fenrir Greyback and several other students and members of the Order of the Phoenix are present.

In the movie, the Death Eaters exit Hogwarts quickly, moving through a deserted castle with Bellatrix Lestrange, causing slight destruction out of spite. Harry confronts Snape by Hagrid’s, but it still feels like something is missing.

Dumbledore’s funeral is also missing from the film. A crucial part in the book, it made his death real for readers and further reinforced for Harry’s new role the ‘chosen one.’

For book and movie fans, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a must-see, but don’t expect to be overwhelmed.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Rating: PG

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

Verdict: The book is better, but the cinematography is great.

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