Summer is in, school is out, which can mean only one thing: a serious influx of movies designed with the kids in mind. But I’m not talking about some crap involving aliens in the attic, or silly little guinea pigs with a mission in mind, no, he’s back. No, not the dreaded Vol…, sorry, I can’t say his name… The chosen one, Potter. Harry Potter.
The sixth installment of the J. K. Rowling/Warner Brothers franchise sees schoolboy Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returning to Hogwarts at a time of great unrest in the wizarding world – Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters are continuing on their rise to power. In fact their reign of destruction is so great that even us muggles are involved in on the action, with London being torn apart by their misdemeanours; seeing the Millennium bridge wobble its way to ruin is a humorous reminder of its first unveiling.
There is plenty of humour involved in Harry Potter and The Half Prince, coming mainly from the affable Ron (Rupert Grint) and his newfound status as not only a Quidditch legend but also as somewhat of a heartthrob. There are so many laughs to be had that for about the first three quarters of the film you’d be forgiven for forgetting that there is a more serious undertone to the plot. Naturally there are plenty of darker elements interspersed, which become greater later on, but the laughter provided was a welcome surprise to a devoted fan (to book and film), like myself.
This a sentiment echoed by the stronger consideration given over to the burgeoning romances between that of two couples – Harry and Ginny (Bonnie Wright), and, more admirably, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). Of course the diehard aficionados know the ultimate outcome, and it is somewhat predictable for all the rest, but their fleeting glances are tender and well directed (perhaps with the exception of a shoelace incident) – and enough to remind you of what it is to be a teenager in love again.
Unfortunately, however, these kids have more to contend with than just the fear of bad breath or rejection, the dark lord is always around to blight their youthful follies. This time around though the infamous Voldemort is nowhere to be seen, not he’s got himself a new recruit within the walls of Hogwarts in the shape of Harry’s long-term enemy Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). What exactly he’s been recruited for remains a mystery, and yet he always seems to be around when something goes awry, shame Harry fails to prove it to his somewhat naïve professors.
Although there isn’t much action to be seen in the classrooms this time around, there is a welcome addition to the teaching staff in the shape of Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), a professor hell-bent on having the very best students as part of his clique. Naturally, Harry is next on the list, but who happened to be on it years ago is of slightly more importance to this installment's adventure… and exactly why Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) sought to employ him. But the big question is, can Harry extract the missing piece of the puzzle? Or is it already too late?
Certainly The Half Blood Price is the darkest of the complete septology yet. Despite the laugh-out-loud moments involving Ron and his daft antics at the start, there are plenty of moments that warrant the adult advisory tag added to the 12 rating. As the child actors have matured into young adults – and into none too shabby thespians – so too has the plot and the sophistication in the style of this movie franchise. Indeed, increasingly Harry Potter is becoming less of a kids movie and one more for its (I say this from looking around the audience) predominantly adult following.
There might not be half as much of an impetus placed upon the magic this time, but Harry Potter remains magical nonetheless – and not just someone that’s “just a bit of a tosser really”.