Monday, August 8, 2011

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Review

In the last instalment leading up to the grand finale of The Deathly Hallows, David Yates once again condenses a huge novel into a feature length film, but there is no clear over-riding story line to focus on. Instead, Yates balances plot strands ranging from the mystery of the Half-Blood Prince's Diary, the dark revelations of Tom Riddle's past, the now-raging hormones and love potions of 6th form Howartians, the going over to the dark side of Draco Malfoy, the arrival of the death eaters and the carefully planned murder of... well, I wouldn't want to ruin it. 

Yates does a good job of holding on to all the plot strands and creating a film that flows together with a swift momentum, largely thanks to Bruno Delbonnel's exceptional cinematography. He picks up the intensity with the gradual revelation of Tom Riddle's secrets, building up to the grim revelation of how he managed to cheat death and become the most powerful dark wizard of all time. 

The climax is carefully orchestrated and filled with significant detail that will play itself out in the face-off of Deathly Hallows. The skilled set of actors - old & young - skillfully communicate the nuances of the loyalties and betrayals that lead to probably the second most important death of the series. 

Jim Broadbent is great as the scattered and sinister Professor Horace Slughorn, new professor of... Defense Against the Dark Arts, although Dumbledore has other reasons for wanting him around. The standout performance, however, is Alan Rickman, gloomy and ambiguous as troubled Professor Snape. As a boy on a dark mission in way over his head, Tom Felton also finds new depths in Harry's schoolboy nemesis, Draco Malfoy. 

A satisfying, polished and full film that also serves as an exciting prelude to the finale.

Oscar noms: Cinematography