HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE
(aka Harry Potter 6)
Directed by David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and every notable British actor alive.
Arriving as I have a tendency to do, ten minutes before the film begins, to a packed IMAX Theatre in Darling Harbour, for the midnight screening of the latest installment of the Harry Potter saga was not the smartest move ever. With the screening having sold out weeks in advance and the queue beginning to form in the mid afternoon, I was subjected to a torrent of abuse as I squeezed my way past and up the stairs to meet my waiting (and having arrived two hours before, obviously keen) friends. Lucky for me, most of the abuse was delivered in veiled (however thinly) Harry Potter references and whilst I do know what a ‘muggle’ is, I didn’t find it anywhere near as offensive as I apparently should have. And what a queue it was: owls, wizards, professors, griffins, dementors and even a golden snitch- all dressed both resourcefully and inventively and some in what (scarily) looked like mass produced and officially sanctioned Harry Potter garb! After all this is a midnight Harry Potter screening and I really should have known what I had gotten myself into.
In yet another gimmicky grab for cash, selected scenes were to be presented exclusively in IMAX 3D (only the first five or so minutes) so with glasses in hand we entered and took our place among the tiers of setting in front of the massive 8 story screen. After a few trailers and a safety lesson on 3D glasses, the film began to the loud cheers of teenage girls (and quite a few boys). For all the Harry Potter hatters out there I’m sorry to report but the films is (much like the rest of series) a solid, entertaining and surprisingly sinister piece of cinema. The strength of the Harry Potter lies not only in the great source material, great mix of emerging and established acting talent but also in the brave choice of directors (from American ‘Home Alone’ alumni Chris Columbus to Mexican Alfonso Curaon and now Brit David Yates – best known for his TV work included ‘State of Play’). Yates, now in his second film for the franchise, continues to weave a decidedly mature sense of dread into the film, and walks the fine line between scaring the kiddies senseless and maintaining the interest of an adult audience. Having not read this particular entry (I’m stuck a few books back), it’s pleasing to note that having read the novel is not a prerequisite for watching the film, although having kept up to date with the previous films is probably worthwhile.
The double gimmickry of both IMAX and IMAX 3D never really works and only five minutes of the latter doesn’t seem worth the effort. For such a large screen, I find IMAX to be a really intimate experience, which was unfortunately broken down by the giggles and squeals as Harry and co wade through the teenage relationship quagmire. At times it was like standing at the back of the year ten disco but the film does do a really good job of presenting teenage relationships as something worthy of more than just giggles and squeals, and the young cast are turning into especially strong actors, which must be unavoidable when your surrounded by the likes of Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jim Broadbent, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith.
No matter what you feel about the cultural phenomenon that is Harry Potter it is hard to deny the talent in the storytelling, and luckily this series makes sure the talent in the filmmaking matches.
You will love this if: you can handle the crazed teenage hordes.
You will hate this if: you don’t believe (even just a little bit) in magic.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is in cinemas now. Catch it in IMAX at IMAX Darling Harbour.