By: ALYSSA HOLCOMB
Looking around the dark theatre, it is full of hyped-up Harry Potter fans, most of whom have been sitting in their seats for an hour and a half, and eagerly anticipating this day for two years. As the lights dim, screams of joy echo throughout the theatre; 12:01 A.M. on July 15, 2009 has finally arrived. They were all about to embark on the sixth dark, spiraling journey in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
While the film focuses less on action and more on dramatic tension, there is still enough wand-waving to get the blood pumping. There are multiple flashy action scenes, as in any of the Potter films, but these are particularly spectacular. Scenes move from somber dialogue to laughable character interactions, and is executed nicely. While this “scene jumping” may seem to detract from the film, it flows well with the storyline. The book itself has so many integral scenes that coincide with one another that it would be almost impossible not to do this. Director David Yates greatly implemented the importance of each character’s actions, from student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)’s scheming walks through empty corridors to the intense, wonderful romantic tension between main characters Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), as well as Ron’s younger sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe).
No Potter film is complete without an impeding sense of terror and intense mystery. Michael Gambon expertly displays this acute feeling of dread as Hogwarts leader Professor Dumbledore; the headmaster’s constant meetings with Harry give the young wizard a look into the past to find out the most terrifying secrets about the evil Lord Voldemort. Also displaying a great sense of terror, be it smaller than Dumbledore’s more prominent realization, is Professor Horace Slughorn (a wonderful Jim Brodbent). Slughorn returns as Potions master to teach the newest Hogwarts students. Brodbent’s slightly caught-off-guard facial expressions and seemingly unknowing commentary are comical and intriguing; it is obvious he is hiding a great secret, one that is particularly important concerning the “most dangerous wizard of their time”.
Perhaps the most striking performances come from mere memories of Tom Riddle at ages 11 (Hero Finnes-Tiffin) and 16 (Frank Dillane). These two are briefly in the movie, playing Voldemort as an adolescent in two collected memories, showing the frightening beginning to the villain’s reign of terror. The looks in both of the boys’ eyes are eerily identical, showing a scheming, sinister side that makes the younger version of the enemy seem even more frightening than the older counterpart.
There are little changes here and there that vary from the book, including the significant change in the ending, but it makes for a more dramatic storyline, and it works! Despite the alterations, it still ties together enough loose ends to leave room for the seventh movie to begin. Continually, the comic material is chock-full; there are many laugh out loud moments between the students, particularly involving Ron and Harry. There are no epic fight scenes, unlike the last movie, but that is not what this part of the story was essentially about. The dramatic scenes were the most important in this particular book, compared to the pivotal battle sequences in the fifth and seventh books. This is the film that “sets up” for the seventh installment, and it did justly so. Even for those who aren’t Potter fans, this is a worthwhile film, not to mention a great summer blockbuster. Unlike the heavy action films of the same category, Half-Blood Prince leaves room for the imagination and gives no boring filler. Every moment is intriguing, no matter what the mood is. The wait for the two-part series finale is a bit long, but with this as a stepping stone, audiences will be more than ready to watch the witches and wizards of the Potter world’s last adventure.