We just watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP6), the sixth installment of the seven-part story of The Boy Who Lived, originally penned by JK Rowling, and brought to life in the big screen by David Yates. HP6 is a wonderful departure from the usual CGI-burdened films (read: Transformers 2), filled with humanity, humor, and the beginnings of horcrux hunting.
(Spoilers, rants, and raves follow, FYI =])
The film is really for fans. It is not a stand-alone film that those living as castaways in the Antarctic with nary an idea about Harry Potter can just come in from the cold and watch (pun not intended). I must admit that for the first 10 or so minute, and every so often during the film, I had to sort through my mental filing cabinet and recall plots, characters, and nuances from the book, with aid from past movie versions. It’s a fun exercise though to connect this with that, to recall what the Room of Requirement is, or see the Pensieve in action.
The film, thankfully, is not a visual extravaganza. Real fans have had a good dose of that already as they read the book or saw the first five films. My sister and I are delighted to have more of the humanity (muggle-ity?) of the characters brought to the fore; the actors portraying the characters do not disappoint. The silliness of being lovesick, the fury of being scorned, the comfort of friendships, for me, add more dazzle to the film. I think only full-blooded fans will appreciate the necessity of such coming-of-age storylines; they make the characters more relate-able, and hopefully stronger, as they get ready to face the fight of their lives.
But to give credit to where it is due, the scene where Dumbledore saves Harry from the Inferi and they escape from the cave they retrieved a horcrux from is an AMAZING sight to behold. I think it’s the best part of the film, effects-wise.
The darker mood of this current film is a perfect setup for the battle royale and revelations Book 7 contains. As my sister says, it’s a respite, a regrouping film, a film that allows the characters to mature, and the fans to, well, breathe. But the film wasn’t the least bit boring: the humorous interjections, the constant yet subtle references to items in the five past storylines (Ollivander’s torched! Where will I get my wand now?), the wacky exploits of the Weasley twins, the unfolding love story of Hermione and Ron / Ginny and Harry- they all provide fodder for the HP-starved fans.
It’s sad that many have left the cinema disappointed. (On a more personal note it was infuriating to hear the snoring of the young ‘uns seated in the row in front of us!) Maybe expectations were set too high, maybe the standard they used was HP1. I think it’s a Herculean task to match HP1- seeing Quidditch played or seeing the opening reception meal for the first time is just unmatchable.
Be that as it may, HP6 forms a vital cog in the wheel unraveling the story of The Boy Who Lived versus He Who Must Not Be Named, as the characters solidify their stance, their real values come to the fore and the fight of good against evil is decided on an arena of a higher plane.
All is well. *wink*