Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
d. David Yates / 2009 / UK-USA / 153 mins
Viewed at: Odeon – Switch Island (Liverpool, UK)
With Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, David Yates has delivered the most uneven – and weakest – film of the series so far. Not only that, he’s done it after producing one the best …The Order of the Phoenix. For me, Yates’ decision not to follow the books to the letter seems to have been a grave error indeed.
Apparently its not as bad if you’ve read the book – I guess because, with all the background knowledge, you actually know what’s going on – and having only made it to Prisoner of Azkaban, I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that there is something deeply unsatisfactory about this film. Instead of providing the usual seamless transition from drama to action, something we’ve come to expect from the HP films, Half-Blood Prince suffers from the kind of chronic unevenness that even Hollywood rarely deliver into cinemas these days.
On balance, the film is at its best during the lighter phases. Its fairly innocuous, gentle comedy, sure, but after following these characters over the course of six films, its hard not to laugh at a love-potion-struck Ron and a drunk Hermoine. Unfortunately for Yates, whilst watching the later, fairly laboured action sequences, all I wanted him to do was go back to the funnies.
With Yates in charge of adapting The Deathly Hallows (the final Potter book), the fact that it will hit cinemas in two parts could really go either way. We’ll have to wait until July 2011 to find out wether Harry Potter leaves the cinematic realm with a bang or a whimper.