Forget magical spells, secret passages and mysterious prophecies. Love stinks, even for wizards who have survived Voldemort. That’s the moral of the newly released Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
In the sixth installment of the Potter franchise, Harry finds himself again at Hogwarts in the wake of Voldemort’s attack on the Ministry of Magic. Together with buddies Hermione and Ron, they… Actually I’m not sure what they do in the movie. They don’t attend many classes. They don’t hunt down Voldemort. They don’t really investigate mysterious goings on. They just seem to float from scene to scene, like a contemporary Odysseus with a wand. Oh that’s it. They spend the whole film trying to attract members of the opposite sex, and when they’re not doing that, they’re pining about unrequited love. There’s more teenage angst here than a vampire in high school.
Apart from love-lorn teenagers, there’s not much to this Harry Potter film. The movie suffers from trying to fit too much content into a small space of time. There’s no coherency between scenes and a great deal of prior knowledge is needed before you can understand what the hell is going on. At one point, we are told that Dumbledore is travelling, only to have him reappear in the next scene. The supporting characters whizz in and out like a game of Quiddich.
Going to the film with my non-Potter reading husband, I suffered through a series of glaring plot hole questions.
‘Who are those guys?’ he asked, stuffing his face with maltesers. ‘They’re the good guys,’ I said.
Five minutes later: ‘Who are those guys?’ he asked, pointing to a group dressed in black trying to kill Harry Potter.
‘They’re the bad guys.’
Ten minutes later: ‘Where did that giant spider come from?’
‘Shut up,’ I whispered. ‘I paid for your ticket. You have no right to complain.’
‘This movie sucks.’ And so it continued for the whole 153 minutes.
The young actors in the film look increasingly out of their depth when compared with such stalwarts as Alan Rickman, who revels in his role as the sneering Professor Snape. He’s one of the best things about the series, being perfectly cast as the ambivalent professor with a distaste for all things Potter. Solid actors, such as Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) and Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), are underused in what is a jilted, time starved and confusing film.
Some of the special effects are great, such as the ink drops forming memories and the initial five minutes of dementor destruction. But the ambience can only carry the film so far. As a Harry Potter fan, I enjoyed being back in the Hogwarts world once more, but as a film reviewer I can’t help but dislike the movie. I just wish I could cast Reparo over the entire film.