Friday, July 17, 2009


Written by Steve Kloves
Directed David Yates
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Jim Broadbent

Waitress: Who is this Harry Potter?
Harry Potter: No one. He’s a bit of a tosser really.

I feel like every time I sit to write about a new Harry Potter movie, I must first state that I have not read the books. If you were standing in front of me, you would make a face and probably insist that I must read them. I’m sure they’re very good books. How could they not be given the magnitude of the followers out there? I’m just not interested in committing to hundreds of pages about a boy wizard and his simultaneous struggle with puberty and the fact that he is the chosen one. Now, give me a two and a half hour film and I will certainly give this Harry fella a go. Even at that, I haven’t always enjoyed my time at Hogwart’s. I found the second film (… AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS) facile and juvenile; I found the fourth film (… AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE) to be messy and undercooked. Still, sitting with Harry and Ron and Hermione at that first big banquet in the dining hall with all those floating candles in this sixth year made me very happy that school was back in session.

Director, David Yates took over directing duties with the last installment (… AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) and after that was so well received (Black Sheep Reviews gave the film a B grade) he was invited back to direct the next three installments. After seeing HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, it is clear that the right decision was made. Last time out, he was new to the scene. He brought all of Potter’s angst out of Potter mainstay, Daniel Radcliffe and he managed to make a tight Potter film that could be loved by fans and non-fans alike. This time, now that he has spent a little more time roaming Hogwart’s corridors, you can tell that Yates has found his footing and he has emerged as the best director in the Harry Potter series. Obviously, the most important part of the Potter series is the story but Yates has established his own force by taking that story and filling in around all of the edges. Thanks to Yates, and a delightful turn by Jim Broadbent, the Potter series has never looked better nor has it ever been this magical.

Not that the Harry Potter series in general is a big mental challenge but, again having not read the books dozens of times over, it is occasionally difficult for me to remember every detail to this complex progression. After two years absence from cinemas, a “Last time on Harry Potter” opener would have really helped. Once I got the gist of where we were at though, I didn’t have to do any thinking. The nuances he brought out of Radcliffe last time out were noticeably absent this time around. The Potter kids are pretty grown up now but their growth, which has been at the forefront of the story in the last couple of films, was stunted here. It was a bit more of the same as they attempt coupling (and snogging, lots and lots of snogging). While it may not have left me with very much to absorb about their nearly adult personalities, it simply gave the exhilaration of their trials that much more space to explode on screen. Then again, maybe we just know these kids so well at this point that new facets of their personalities are not what truly matters.

I just realized that I’ve said nothing of the plot of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. Either you already know it or you really don’t need to. Going in blind is always that much more fun, especially when magic is promised to ensue. Suffice it to say, Harry finds a book of spells that once belonged to the Half-Blood Prince and the kids try to find out who that is while the wrath of He Who Shall Not Be Named (but is named all the time now as if it never mattered at all) continues to close in on young Potter. That is the beauty of the film though. Yates cast such an exciting spell on this film that nothing else matters except the fun you will have watching it and the fun that was obviously had making it.


Matt Belanger said...

I'm surprised by the grade. I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was the best of the series. I thought everyone did a really good job in this one.

Black Sheep said...

It's funny because grades are the least important part of the review but usually the one thing people take with them. I agree that this was the best of the series but I do think the previous film gave Radcliffe more to work with as an actor.