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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

By D.E.Levine

Director: David Yates
Writers: Steve Kloves (screenplay)
J.K.Rowling (novel)
Producers: David Heyman, David Barron
Executive Producer: Lionel Wigram
Co-producer: John Trehy
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, David Bradley, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton
Running Time; 153 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

It's hard to believe the characters in Harry Potter are growing up, but the actors are now taller, more developed and trying to portray 15 and 16 year olds although the actors are older and it's a bit of a stretch.

If one hasn't read the books, the film is still enjoyable but one might not fully understand the magic and wizardry without having been initiated either in earlier books or films.

In this film the students grapple with mortality, memory and loss. This film too is dazzling and has wonderful CGI effects, but it's less fanciful and deals more closely with life-and-death issues.

Steve Kloves skillfully condenses the massive novel (and all the Harry Potter books are massive) into a manageable format that eliminates a great deal of the violence found in the book. He also chose to end the film with a "hanger", not introducing the Minister of Magic until the next film and not concluding the volume in this film.

The films began eight years ago with breathtaking sets and all types of special effects. In this installment the sets are visibly stripped down reducing Hogwart's fairy tale character and emphasizing it's gray medieval foreboding character.

While there is the mandatory Quidditch match which is breathtaking, there's less emphasis on carrier owls and mischievous elves and an emphasis on teenage romance, raging hormones and open flirtation and jealousy.

The story escalates to the death of a key character at the end of the film with a deliberate ramping up to the final confrontation between Harry and Lord Voldemort in the next installment, currently being shot in two parts.

This film has mystery, intrigue and deception as Lord Voldemort appears to be ascending and neither London nor Hogwart's School appears to be safe from the Dark Lord's future actions. Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwart's takes Harry along to recruit a new potions professor, former colleague Horace Slughorn, with the hope that the professor will provide information about Voldemort's plans and actions. Meanwhile, the evil Draco Malfoy, Harry's nemesis at Hogwart's, prepares to commit an act that will pave the way for Lord Voldemort's return.

Throughout the film we witness the growing affection of one character for another, frequently surprising because they appear mismatched. Harry himself is not exempt from teenage hormones and all the jealousies, intrigues and lusts that appear to preoccupy his teenage friends.

This installment is thoroughly enjoyable but I emphasis that the Harry Potter films can only benefit if the audience avails itself of the actual novels and familiarizes itself with the characters and story lines before seeing the films.