After almost a decade and six films, the Harry Potter series has turned into more of an adult/kid affair. Adults, teenagers and kids alike have taken to the boy wizard who is "the chosen one.”
But as the years go by and the films get closer to the end, the story is getting darker.
In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, everyone in the wizard and Muggle world is on high alert for the Death Eaters. These creatures have been going all over London, kidnapping members of the ministry of wizards.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) begins another year at Hogwarts with his fellow classmates and school faculty: Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Ronald Weasley (Rupert Grint), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Headmistress Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), and Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon.)
Harry and Ron take a potions class with new professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent.) While in the class, Harry comes across the potion book belonging to “The Half Blood Prince,” and it gives him a lot of insight into potions, which he uses to help him get ahead at school and fend off the dark forces.
Screenwriter Steve Kloves has written both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the next film in the series after Prince), and four Harry Potter films. In Half Blood Prince, he weaves a dark tale of callous death eaters who wouldn’t think twice about burning down someone’s house or destroying their place of business. But it’s not just the Death Eaters who are dark. It’s the dark places of Voldemort’s mind that scare the bejesus out of the audience members.
The darkness is also by the hand of director David Yates. This film has no light in it. Even during the day, there is a surprising lack of light. The dark film can really be a downer for someone who is looking for action, but gets somber instead. That’s what this film really is, a somber look at where the characters are now since we last saw them. There is so much despair and fear, it’s a wonder anyone feels any safety whatsoever in the Muggle and the wizard world.
What I did like about this script, however, was that it stuck more closely to the world that J.K. Rowling (the author of all seven books) had created many years ago. That’s what drew children into reading the books in the first place. They could easily get lost in J.K.’s world of magic and mystery.
I wish I had the space to critique the performances of all of the actors mentioned above, but I can’t. I will tell you, however, that Luna is still one of my favorite Potter characters. She’s completely out of her mind, but still makes perfect sense and comes through in a pinch.
I would also like to mention Rickman. The first time I saw him on screen was in Sense & Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version). He plays Colonel Brandon, who is lovesick over Maryanne Dashwood (Kate Winslet). Colonel Brandon is so nice, loving and gentle, it’s hard to imagine him as the dark Severus Snape, or even a terrorist in Die Hard. But that’s the beauty of Rickman’s acting, he can get away with that.
Other characters of note: Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) is still strange and scary, Narcissa Malfoy (Helen McCrory) who is sister to Lestrange and mother of Draco, is a mystery, Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) is either some kind of crazy or Cave is overacting (I can’t decide), and Felton as Draco has grown up so much.
All of the young actors have grown up on these films. They are all fine ladies and gentlemen with great talent. I can’t wait to be done with the Harry Potter series to see what these actors do next.
Rowling, who is obviously a genius at storytelling, is a great author. Her books have spawned so many franchises, films and hungry readers. The world that she has created is one of mystery and magic, which makes for great appeal.
But I have to ask director Yates if he wouldn’t mind making the last two films less dark, with more action. If the Deathly Hallows are as yawn and despairing as the last two films that have come to screen, we as the audience are in for a big letdown.