Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince – more than halfway engaging film!

Late night showing of HP and the Half Blood Prince was completely full at the large Century screen – we could all sit together in row one, but chose to scatter to random seats further back so we did not have to chose between characters to watch! Many many previews later (and the only one of note was Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, 2012 looked marginally interesting as a disaster film with spectacular effects) the film began with random destruction of buildings and bridges and I felt like I had mistakenly wandered into summer blockbuster disaster film. Then I was put off by Harry acting naive and full of wonder as Dumbledore put a wrecked cottage to rights with the wave of his wand – wasn’t the boy in the penultimate at Wizard School? But soon after that the film settled into a groove that dealt with the maturing of the main characters, their teenage romances, breakups and jealousies. The film kept the proceedings short of sappy and thoroughly engaging.

While the characters are trying to sort out their romantic lives, dark clouds are gathering as Snape takes a vow to protect Draco Malfoy and indeed to perform the deed he is supposed to perform in case Malfoy does not come through! The pensieve reveals secret thoughts and the truth about Voldemeort and horcruxes. A dangerous journey is undertaken by Dumbledore and Harry. And the significance of Snape telling Dumbledore “You are asking for too much!” on the clockwork balcony is revealed as Dumbledore implores “PLEASE” and Snape lifts his wand! But of course it is only revealed because the movies lag behind and books and we know the final outcome.

David Yates lucked out big time when he got to direct The Order of the Phoenix because the stories are getting more mature and dark and interesting as the series proceeds. But The Half Blood Prince lacks a major ingredient to keep it from being exciting – and that is VOLDEMORT! Thus we see the kid Tom Riddle in an orphanage – and he is very much like the serious kid version of Spock in looks and in the special powers he possesses, then we see him as the teenager gone bad at Hogwarts, but we never really see the Dark Lord, and good without a balance of evil tends to fall a bit flat.

The characters themselves continue to grow and often not as one would imagine, thus Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry is a grown young man who is trying to look naive and full of wonder but lacking that famous something that Rowling described in her character. Emma Watson has matured well and is a charmer, Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley is knockout, Rupert Grint as Ron is interesting, but for me the standout performances are by Alan Rickman as the tortured and conflicted Snape, and Helena Bonham Carter as the part demented and mostly evil Bellatrix LeStrange. The special effects are spectacular and just like the kids, Hogwarts seems to grow and mature over the years!

Overall the film is an engaging 153 minute watch with not a dull moment. It could have been much much more – but is still worth a watch.

ADDENDUM: I have to add some special effects moments that were really special! I loved the run through the dry fields while stuff was burning all around, I liked the Gollum like creatures crawling out of the water. AND I was unimpressed by Dumbledore setting the cottage right – that same sequence in Bhoothnath was so much more effective for its simplicity and charm! The Qidditch matches are always fun, but this one was hardly a match anymore – mostly just effects! Though I cannot see how one would make a movie BASED on wizards and magic without special effects……..


37 Responses

  1. thanx for the review . cannot wait to see it . in a way ur right yates is lucky to direct films which can be called as just not catering to kids . part 6 was always a book which lead to part7 and if they have been able to keep film engaging than its good .

  2. Curiously, I haven’t seen any HP movies 🙂 BTW, I saw a russian movie 12 (12 angry men version)

  3. btw voldy is my fav character and he just makes the part he is in very interesting . end of 4 and 5 films . sad he is not much in this film .

    similar to voldy i think it was sauron who made it interesting in LOTR .

  4. rks read HP books and say story to ur daughter .

    or see films with her 😀

  5. I agree with Agent Smith – you should read the books with your daughter and start with part 1 – she will love the films.

  6. if u read the books take time before seeing films otherwise u will feel bored .

    i must have read hp6 3 yrs back and hardly remember a thing so it would be good to see the film . i HP5 i had rea the book just 3-4 months back and thus when film came i was bored as i knew what would happen and they left out all good parts too 😦

  7. My daughter is 4. She is in Mickey Mouse and Bob the builder.


  8. Haven’t seen any HP films. I don’t know whether I should start watching them. I don’t like special effects and sci-fi movies much. But people say it is like Lord of The Rings, which I enjoyed very much.
    I don’t know whether i should go for the books first or the movies. Do the movies cover all that is there in the book?

  9. Ankit – Books is better option . movies skip a lot of things. LOTR is much more darker than HP . HP films are kiddie but enjoyable till 4 part . it all gets serious from 5 one .

  10. AgentSmith – Ok. I’ll then start with the books. Thank you very much for your advise.

  11. rks – I think children have limited ability to read and infinite ability to comprehend! In fact they might get bored with kid books as they was way below what their mind can process. Try HP on your daughter – and see! My prediction is she will become an addict in short order. 10 pages read by daddy at bedtime every night should do the trick.

    That article is interesting – climate change s a bubble too?

  12. Ankit – definitely read the books – they are quite magical and get more and more layered and intricate with each next one.

  13. rks – Read these to your daughter, rather than HP series.


    I have never seen any of the HP movies and i am not interested in one. It is all special effects and marketing of the movie, which has made it what it is.

    On a side note, watched KI yesterday with Family & friends, and after that my son has not stopped saying “bebo… bebo”
    I want KI to be the first Rs 200Cr grosser. Please watch KI rather than HP and contribute to the cause. Thanks !

    • BTW, at local AMC theaters where we went to watch KI , it was full house for KI, and hardly anybody for Harry Potter.

      Oh.. “no comments” on the review, as i skipped it 🙂

  14. Bebo was the only thing worth watching in KI! So you saw ti on a pirated Indian store DVD? That is a fine way to make KI a huge success!

  15. Have never watched any pirated DVD’s. Maybe in your enthusiasm to respond you skipped reading my follow up comment completely. Go Ki ! Watched it in AMC. Go KI !

  16. Yeah – I saw the second comment just as I posted my first one. You never rent from Indian grocery stores? More power to you! I thought the baby would not be up to 3 hours in a theater – again, more power to him!!!

    • You never know what the kids can handle until you have tried it….. and after all he has my genes 🙂

  17. Then I think you should read Harry Potter to him, he seems about ready!!

  18. No, i would rather read ACK for him than Harry Potter, as i recommended to rks.

  19. I did not think it was an either or scenario……..

    • It is a preferred choice 🙂

      • Of course I got that – but just like in food it is never ONE choice for me. I don’t know about babies and 4 year olds now – sometimes they just like repetition of the familiar and sometimes they hunger for more and varied fare.

        Just out of curiosity, have you read any HP books?

  20. Thanks for your insight. Will keep that in mind when we feed our son.

  21. Question dodged……..

    Books are food for the mind……

    • No i am not a “dodger”… It is just that i found it as diversionary from the main discussion…

  22. “Books are food for the mind……”

    Will try and keep that in mind. Once again, thanks on behalf of my entire family for your words of wisdom. Thank you so much.

  23. Sarcasm? Oh well……..

    I thought the question was quite to the point, because is is hard to judge the value of a product without sampling. I can say from much experience that ACK is great product! 😀

    • Man.. where have i ended up ? All i commented was on KI and HP and gave a suggestion to rks about ACK.

      😳 😯

  24. 🙂

  25. KI is a heap of trash..Some songs are good though.

    Given a choice, I will give something which instills our culture.

    Pakhi – That article has created a storm in blog world. Even though it is more rhetorical than substantiating with good facts, but people are talking.

    ps: Are you guys fighting?

    • :monkey:

  26. rks – about your ps – kya pata? Meri samajh 4-8 saal ke bachchon waali hai. Maybe that is why I like childish special effects stuff……

    • I am going back to the mode of being a ‘stranger’ on this blog… ❗

    • Mujhe aap logon ke sulah ke liye, gol mez sammelan bulana padegaa.

  27. HP borrows a lot from diff cultures of the world . it is like krishna , kans where kans hears krishna going to kill it and tries to kill krishna at birth . same way Harry – voldy story goes . it also speaks of love and how his mothers lvoe saved harry or his friends love save his ass all the time from the powerful voldy .

    but the best part of harry books is imagination and description of rowling .

  28. Neo – there is imagination but also in the early books it is a story told from a child’s perspective. IMO that makes it appealing to chioldren and to child within each one of us.

    Saks – ab kya hua?

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