By Chris Campo
I have finally arrived at Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth movie in the Harry Potter franchise. This means I only have two more films left until I have officially lost my Harry Potter virginity, until Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them of course, which is due out later this very month. It's no secret that I have enjoyed myself watching Harry and co. grow up and go to school, and to be quite honest, I'm sad that I'm almost done. I even took a few weeks in between this movie and the last, just because I genuinely didn't want to have no more Harry Potter to watch. But like Harry (and because Fantastic Beasts is SO close), I faced my problems head on and watched the penultimate Harry Potter film. Penultimate, if you count the last two films as one, of course, but without further to do, on with the review.
In this film, a far more adult and mature Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is brought upon my Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to recruit Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to teach at Hogwarts. It just so happens that Professor Horace has key information on Voldemort's past, and Dumbledore uses Harry to get this information, as he believes the secrets Horace is hiding can be the key to defeating Voldemort. Additionally, Harry, Ron & Hermione (Rupert Grint & Emma Watson) face they're own troubles at Hogwarts, such as love triangles, school dances, jealousy and a mysterious book with the words "Property of the Half-Blood Prince" written in it.
The best way I can describe this movie may come off as painfully obvious, but let me say it anyways: This is another Harry Potter film. I say that because, for a long stretch of this film, it does little to differentiate itself from the other five films that came before it. I don't mean this in an overly negative way, though. This film is like a pizza. Sure, it's good, but you've had pizza before. Nothing is all that new, but nothing is really bad either. This doesn't prove to be true for the entirety of the film, especially the wonderful third act, but after watching six films without much time between them, you start to notice the film going through the motions.
I have praised this series for it's dynamic and well realized characters, and that praise is once again applicable here. What we have come to know and love about these characters is still very present, but the film dives deeper into the motivations of characters and the relationships that have been forming this whole time. When you're six films into a series and are still seeing characters grow, you've done your job. I like that this film puts action and big set pieces in the passenger seat and let this film's narrative unfold with the characters at the wheel. The film really constructs a rather sweet dynamic between Harry and Dumbledore, causing for emotional moments towards the third act, moments that left my heart properly broken. Another relationship we see grow is the quirky one of Ron and Hermione. We've been left a bread trail of clues that they have a thing for one another and here it's no secret. It's a cute secondary plot that delighted me with how surprisingly relatable and real it was.
Even though this film is one of the more mature stories being told in this saga, the film knocks it out of the park with comedy. This, by far, has some of the most laugh out loud moments in it. I had to pause the film because I was laughing when Harry gave his best spider impersonation. As per usual, Ron is on the receiving end of some of the funniest gags as well, like an extended sequence where he has unknowingly ingested a strong love potion. The writing in general is just so damn witty. and if this film were nothing but characters sitting in a room talking, I'm sure I would be just as engaged due to the humor and charm injected into the dialogue.
Like I've mentioned, the third act of this film is great. There's no other way of putting it. A pattern I have caught onto is that the finale of these films are, for the most part, my favorite parts of them. Here, we get an ending that's emotional (to say the least), revealing, intense as all hell, acted to perfection and oddly warm, particularly in the film's closing minutes. Unfortunately, I have had some big moments spoiled for me, but with internet culture these days, it's my fault for not watching these films when they came out. Even with having the knowledge of certain events that were to come, I was still on the edge of my seat and my heart was still racing. Hats off to the director, David Yates, for creating such an intense and harrowing scene.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is another Harry Potter film. As the other films are a joy to watch, more of the same may not come off as a bad thing, but it's hard not to notice. After getting passed that, this is still a fun, emotional, and, for lack of a better word, magical film. Words cant describe how exited and at the same time reluctant I am to wrap this film series up and cross it off my film bucket list. Please, stay tuned for my review of the Deathly Hallow films, because they will, obviously, be my last reviews in the Wizarding World.
3 1/2 Stars