Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
The sixth instalment in the Harry Potter franchise suffers from as many growing pains as its young wizards. While Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince does venture into darker, more adult areas than its predecessors it also injects more humour and character development than previous encounters, which doesn’t always make for a satisfying concoction.
David Yates’ second outing as director picks up in the aftermath of a spectacular attack on London by Death Eaters and builds towards the death of a key character that will pre-empt the final confrontation between Harry and Lord Voldemort in two-part finale, The Deathly Hallows.
En route, it becomes a little bogged down with hormonal interludes, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) get to grips with their burgeoning sexuality and feelings for each other. It’s during these petty fumblings that The Half-Blood Prince feels overlong and indulgent, even though the humour is welcome. But once it gets back to the more serious stuff the film kicks into gear.
As Voldemort’s return inches closer, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is forced to resort to more dangerous methods to lure the forces of darkness out and, with Harry’s assistance, entice former colleague Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to return to Hogwarts to gain crucial revelations about Voldemort’s intentions.
The device allows for some genuinely moving interplay between Gambon, Broadbent and Radcliffe, all of whom rise to the occasion. It also ensures that the film packs a heftier emotional punch as, for once, the death of a character is given the gravitas it deserves.
What’s more, the set pieces really do thrill, even if the Death Eater attack owes more to Roland Emmerich than JK Rowling. Hopefully, the momentum can now be maintained over the final two films.
(PG) 153min , Out now on general release.