First Night: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Odeon, Leicester Square
It's dark – but at least there's a kiss
Wednesday 08 July 2009
Gone are the happy-go-lucky adventures of young Harry, Ron and Hermione; danger and darkness lie in wait in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The books, and correspondingly the films, have graduated in seriousness.
Director David Yates balances this with humour, though, and maintains an air of adolescence. We get a little romance: Harry realises that he fancies his best friend's sister, Ginny, and the pair share a kiss; and the long-awaited romance between Ron and Hermione finally takes shape, albeit awkwardly.
Remember, in this film Harry is supposed to be 16. Neither he, Ron nor Hermione looks 16 – but they don't look ridiculously old; hair and make-up have done their job.
As Ron Weasley, Rupert Grint is hilarious, capturing that feeling of uncomfortable, awkward youth. Even Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) manages to be funny when taking a potion that brings good luck in all his endeavours. Sadly Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) doesn't achieve the same level of humour, but at least she tries.
The acting of all three main characters has stepped up a level: still not great, but it's passable. They are, naturally, shown up by co-stars Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Jim Broadbent. Only one big name, Michael Gambon, disappoints; he doesn't quite capture the pure love of Albus Dumbledore – at times coming across as too harsh.
The scriptwriters bungled several key set pieces, including the funeral scene – although they almost make up for it with a magical passage where students and teachers raise their wands in tribute. Tears poured down many faces in the cinema at that moment.
The Half-Blood Prince is frightening, funny, romantic and entertaining but as the end credits rolled, I still felt disappointed. I had waited all year to see my second-favourite Potter book brought to life. If I wasn't a die-hard fan, I'm sure I would have loved it. My gripe is that the film was simply too different from the book – the writers inserted pointless scenes and took out others crucial to the narrative.
It just could have been better.
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 Gurdwaras-turned-food banks: Sikh temples are catering for rise in Britain’s hungry
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
- 5 'I'm experiencing austerity as well', says Princess Michael of Kent
- < Previous
- Next >