Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Review

Genre:  Fantasy, adventure

Director:  David Yates

Running Time:  153 mins

Budget:  $250 million

Released:  15 July 2009

Plot:  As Harry Potter begins his 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he discovers an old book marked mysteriously “This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince” and begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort’s dark past.

I am by no means a die hard Harry Potter fan but I do quite enjoy the exploits of Mr. Potter and his friends and have enjoyed all the films thus far.  I have yet to read the books of which the films are based upon but managed to pick up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone this afternoon for a measly R49 (5.9USD).  Moving on, I enjoyed the sixth installment of the Potter film series and was pleased that It was superior to the somewhat lacking (although enjoyable) fifth film, although the final battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore was pretty sweet.  Sadly no such battles were present in this film and there were actually only a few minor magical battles between Harry Potter, Bellatrix Lestrange, Severus Snape and a few others.  Even though I’m fond of Harry Potter and the other protagonists, I like Voldemort and his crew just as much.  However, I do not like Draco Malfoy, he’s always been a sniveling, slimy, little weasel and there’s no exception to this fact in this sixth installment.

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Most of the familiar faces return, Ron Weasley finding himself in awkward situations as usual and proving to be quite funny.  Including the (dare I say) sexual tension between Ron and Hermione that was present in the previous film.  Likewise, Harry himself has a new love interest that was only hinted at briefly before in the form of Ginny Weasley.  Other staples of the series return, including a new teacher, Professor Horace Slughorn (played by Jim Broadbent) and a Quidditch game.  Visual effects were brilliant as always (more info below) and the acting has improved once again as it seems to with each new installment.  A more serious acting style is fitting considering that the storyline and overall tone keeps taking a darker and more serious route.

Tim Burke and Tim Alexander are visual effects supervisors for the film. Tim Alexander said completing inferi-attack scene took several months. He said, “It’s [inferius] certainly much bolder and scarier than we imagined that they’d ever go in a ‘Potter’ movie. Director David Yates was really cautious of not making this into a zombie movie, so we were constantly trying to figure out how not to make these dead people coming up look like zombies. A lot of it came down to their movement — they don’t move fast, but they don’t move really slow or groan and moan. We ended up going with a very realistic style.” He also noted that inferius are skinnier, waterlogged and grey.

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About Dumbledore’s ring of fire, he noted that the effect will look like someone sprayed propane and then lit it. He added, “We did a lot of research on molten volcanoes, which have a lot of heat going on but no actual flames, and collected a bunch of other references, including flares that burn underwater, and showed them to the Potter folks.” The visual effects team emulated these six fire parameters: heat ripples, smoke, buoyancy, viscosity, opacity, and brightness. Since the whole fire scene was very time consuming, computer graphics artist Chris Horvath spent eight months for finding a faster way to conjure flames.  A very impressive scene indeed I might add.

Overall, a highly enjoyable film.  Even though I don’t like romantic themes that much I found the romantic sub-plots to be amusing and fun.  The film opened and closed well, leaving the viewer wanting more as there will undoubtedly be in the final two films (the final Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows, will be divided into two films) and even with a running time of 153 minutes, it was well-paced and thus kept the audience engaged for the duration.  Recommended viewing for Harry Potter fans and generally anybody with a passing interest in fantasy tales.

Score: 4/5

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