Saturday, July 18, 2009

Half Blood Prince

The end has almost arrived for Harry Potter.

As the sixth movie adaptation of a seven book series, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince does a great job of setting up the final act to come. Uh, it should go without saying that if you haven't seen the movie or read the book, spoilers abound.

The movie opens where the last one left off and we are quickly reminded that Harry Potter is one of those kids that has been forced to grow up a lot faster than your typical 16-year-old. I guess that's bound to happen when he survived an attempted homicide before he was two and became a legend before he was even aware of who he was.

We are also quickly introduced to some magical action and prepared for the premise of the film. Harry's mentor, Albus Dumbledore, is after some information. The old wizard is convinced that only Harry will be able to get that information. In the process, Harry enters into his sixth year at Hogwarts, where he rejoins his best friends, Ron and Hermione.

But things are different within the castle walls. Our main characters are now obviously teenagers with very obvious hormones. Obviously, this leads to many a heartbreaking scene, but a few heartwarming ones as well.

And then there's Draco Malfoy. In the past, Malfoy has been a thorn in Harry's side, but merely as a bully. He's never been a true threat. He's always just shown up to cause trouble and make snide remarks at our hero's expense. But now he's been promoted from annoying bully to full-fledged bad guy. He Who Must Not Be Named has given Draco an assignment. And though we can see the anguish tormenting the kid, he is driven to prove himself to his new master.

In the end, Malfoy is unable to perform his given task. Therefore, Professor Snape is forced to step in after making an unbreakable vow to protect the boy. In the end we find out that Malfoy's assignment is to kill Dumbledore. Draco is able to smuggle a few dark wizards into the school, but that is the extent of his ability. Snape pulls the trigger (or, in this case, waves the wand) and Dumbledore is dead. It's the end of an era at Hogwarts.

So really, in all of that, what's accomplished in this film? Well, we're introduced to the idea of the horcrux, an object that a dark wizard can apparently use to make him or herself immortal. Apparently, Voldemort has created several horcruxes, therefore he cannot be killed until all these items are found and destroyed. Thus far, only one has been destroyed. Harry himself destroyed it back in the Chamber of Secrets, of course at the time he had no idea that he was destroying a piece of Voldemort's soul.

The final scene of the movie has Harry explaining to his friends that he won't be returning to school for his seventh and final year. Instead, he will set out to finish the mission that Dumbledore began. Harry will take it upon himself to find and destroy all of the horcruxes so that Voldemort can be stopped once and for all. Ron and Hermione, being the loyal friends that they are, refuse to allow him to do this alone. And so the stage is set for book seven, which will be broken up into two final films.

I'd like to tell you that this movie is a good one for anyone to go see. But I'd be lying if I told you that someone with no knowledge of the Harry Potter universe would enjoy it. Without reading the books or at least seeing the previous films, it's nearly impossible to follow along. But then again, you may just be interested in special effects action, in which case you'd probably like it.

I thought it was great. Not my favorite of the movies, that honor still goes to Goblet of Fire. But it was pretty good in its own right. Better than the last one. And, if nothing else, it has inspired me to reread the books. I'm curious to see what was left out of the film adaptation and what was changed from the original.

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