Review: Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

So just how do you adapt a 600-page book into a two and a half hour film? Answer is: you don't.

David Yates has taken a lesson from Zack Snyder for the latest Harry Potter film; by exactly copying the main beats, whilst cutting out everything not completely essential, both Half-Blood Prince and Watchmen become nothing more than extended trailers for the books that spawned them, and what more could you want? The fans get to see all their favourite moments up on screen, while the unconverted get a damn good incentive to go read the source material. Far better this than attempt to take on the entire novel and fail, letting everyone down.

Like Watchmen, there are some moments you miss and others that are completely new. The big romantic reveal is completely botched, to say nothing of the blink-and-miss revelation of who the eponymous Prince is, while an opening sequence of Harry pulling a waitress seems utterly out of place. Nonetheless, this sets up the film as a more grown-up affair far better than the supposed "darkness" of its predecessors, and this tone continues. Yates has obviously learned from the numerous smirks unleashed in response to Warner's repeated proclamations that each successive offering was scarier and more intense than the last, unashamedly ramping up Prince's comedy elements to great success. This film has more of the tone of the books; a warm, family feel, despite the now well-known shock ending.

Though not a plot point, Yates' intentions are summed up by Harry's declaration to Dumbledore that, after all these years, he's just going with it. Rather than whining about his destiny the whole time, now Harry's having some fun. Daniel Radcliffe remains a hard-working actor and is far better at the jokey banter than the torment, which Tom Felton, as an exploited Draco, handles amicably this time round. However, the real surprise is one that, for once, was predicted accurately by the rumour mill: Emma Watson. She's grown to outshine all her cohorts and it's no longer just the closet paedophiles who are starting to find something attractive about her.

With Yates upping his game, I'm feeling far less worried about the franchise's future, even after the news that it would be extended by the splitting of the final part into two. Roll on the Deathly Hallows.

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