The sixth installment of the HARRY POTTER saga is a perfectly serviceable and enjoyable addition to the franchise. The movie wastes no time in establishing the characters and the story so far - so neither will I. After all, how can you spoil a movie when everyone's read the books? Technically, the film works fine. Steve Kloves has done a good job of condensing the material without being too slavish and Bruno Delbonnel has filmed it in the same warm, dark tones as A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT. The special effects and production design are top-notch. The performances are particularly strong - all the regulars do well, with Daniel Radcliffe given a chance to play some comedy, rather than just look put-upon. Among the new-comers, Jessie Cave plays comedy brilliantly as Ron Weasley's first girlfriend and Evanna Lynch steals every scene as Luna Lovegood.
For all that, I did have two problems with the film. Not big enough to kill my enjoyment, but flaws nonetheless. First, the movie lacks any real inventiveness or directorial stamp, in the manner of Alfonso Cuarón's AZKABAN. Second, the film is too biased in favour of the teen rom-com material in the novel at the expense of properly developing the serious material concerning Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort, horcruxes, Snape and Malfoy. The films have been getting progressively darker and more emotionally satisfying. The last movie featured a genuinely scary scene with Ralph Fieenes. But this movie went for the easy laughs. And in doing so, the film-makers dropped the ball. Take, for example, the limited screen-time and development of Draco Malfoy. That's an emotional struggle to get your teeth into, but his final confrontation with Dumbledore is very brief. And what about the identity of the Half Blood Prince? That's revealed almost as an aside!
So, top marks for light laughs: but they dropped the ball on the darker content.
HARRY POTTER & THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE is on global release.
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