Quick-Thoughts: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Screened at Harkins • ??? Viewing • Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Congrats to Romilda Vane for landing herself a spot on the Wizarding World’s FBI watchlist. 

It’s been nearly a YEAR since I got cucked from my in-cinemas Harry Potter marathon due to COVID-19 restrictions in the area, but alas, I’ve returned! The sixth year at Hogwarts somewhat revolves once again around Harry trying to find ways to figure out another mystery, one that, howbeit, doesn’t lead him to any profound revelation; the movie decides to keep him in the dark just for now to heighten the tension for its sequels. In terms of character development, he seems to have a new sense of pride and acceptance for his destiny. During so, he is also mildly alerted of his prejudice/bias mindset that the movie then sets up for him to have shattered in Part 2 of Deathly Hallows. I feel pretty confident in claiming that Half-Blood Prince is by far the most comedic and romantic Harry Potter movie thus far. Ultimately, it’s a blessing and a curse, granting us mildly amusing YA love triangles and friendship quarrels to chortle at that are further elevated by some quirky character gesturing, dispatching the overall film with a more sitcom-esc finish than its previous entries. However, this paramount of light-hearted tone fatally suppresses the drama of the film, maybe not to the extent though of it being as bizarrely balanced in tone as Mike Newell’s Goblet of Fire (2005), but it still remains roughly organized sequentially with its structure nonetheless. 

One could easily make the case that this movie was covertly Draco and Tom’s all along, with Tom’s backstory being placed as consummation for Harry’s shortage of personal journey, although, all this movie really does is convince me further of Voldemort’s tediously innate evil as if he were just some less justifiable Darth Vader, which makes him, again, not that interesting of a villain to me still. Draco, on the other hand, is just so underutilized in this; I guess him being a victim hidden in the shadows of circumstance is the point of his minimalist exploration, but him literally having to explain his situation quickly for us in dialogue during the climax indicates perfectly to me that even the screenwriters themselves didn’t think they gave the audience enough weight for us to empathize honestly with his struggle, one that could’ve been executed to a far more awakening and intense degree.

This is also one of the slowest films in the franchise due to its damning issues of inserting serious drama aimlessly in the midst of its spasmodic plot; some of the most awe-striking sequences in this franchise lie within Half-Blood Prince like when Harry and Dumbledore visit The Dark Lake, yet they are crowded into this tonally inconsistent timeline of prominently innocent affairs. And, I know that most of the Harry Potter movies pride themselves on having some sort of a plot twist in their climaxes, but I find the whole “I am the Half-Blood Prince” reveal in this one to be particularly pathetic as if its primary reason for existing was literally just to stick to the franchise’s tradition; the relevancy of that notebook’s content to Snape’s nickname of background does nothing for me in the moment of this actual movie, and even barely enough so to work as some metaphorical foreshadow of what we learn about Snape in Part 2 of Deathly Hallows — i.e. he was helping Harry this entire time and he’s an undercover hero marked evil. Frankly, I think the reason why this sixth entry decided to feature so much comedy and romance at the forefront of it is because it needed something to compensate or justify itself as something that works on its own rights singularly, considering an unfortunate majority of its themes are only here as set-up to be completed in the two following sequels, which ultimately damaged the film’s entertainment value for me.

Verdict: C+

Harry Potter Ranked

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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