Movie review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009 (5/5 stars)
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, AlanRickman, Jim Broadbent
Running time: 2 hr. 33 min.
Dressed in a tie and cloak and gripping a wand, Kathleen Uyttewaal, 15, arrives at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo at 6:20 a.m. What could be so important that she would wake up at such an ungodly hour and then proceed to wait nearly 18 hours in line? Harry Potter, of course.
“We grew up wanting to go to Hogwarts,” said Uyttewaal. “I waited for my letter for so long.”
The sixth installment of the fantastically popular series premiered midnight Tuesday, promptly topping the $18.8 million record of “The Dark Knight” with an impressive $22.2 million, according to Warner Bros. studio Web site.
The films portray author J.K. Rowling’s fictional hero Harry Potter. Audiences watched as he learned of his magical abilities and his parents’ tragic demise. We then follow him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There he meets his best friends Ron and Hermione and mentor Albus Dumbledore; develops his skills in classes like Potions, Charms, and Defense Against the Dark Arts; and goes on all sorts of adventures while battling the evil Voldemort and his accomplices the Death Eaters.
Our glimpse into the magical world resumes with the sixth movie, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Dumbledore, a now 16-year-old Harry and their many valiant allies continue to fight against the rising power and destructive presence of Voldemort, evading death and gaining knowledge of the dark wizard’s past. Meanwhile, Harry’s devious counterpart at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy, labors to complete a task that has deadly consequences for the magical world.
The line outside the Fremont winds nearly a quarter of a mile around the block. Many fans are dressed up in pointy witch hats, Hogwarts-inspired school uniforms and fake glasses like the ones Harry wears in the first movie. People read the books and watch Harry Potter films on their laptops while the soundtrack from a previous movie plays from a nearby car. They stand in little clusters, leaning against the sides of buildings and huddling under blankets and munching on snacks.
There is an excited buzz radiating from the fans camped out with their friends as everyone waits to be let in to the theater. The midnight showing sold out, filling 823 seats in its massive hall with anxious and enthusiastic moviegoers.
It’s an intergenerational book and the messages apply to everyone, said Eileen Spears, 60, who dressed up in full witch attire complete with an owl on her arm.
“I think the message is don’t expect everything to be perfect. Life is never perfect,” she said. “You will have to strive; you will have to struggle, but in the long run things tend to turn out good for most people.”
Though the mood of the sixth film is undeniably darker, director David Yates still manages to make audience members laugh at moments filled with humorous antics from Ron and Harry and cheer when awkward teen romance finally culminates in a long-anticipated kiss.
“Still shocked I finally saw it but loved the tears and loved the laughs. Most emotionally stirring Harry Potter yet,” writes Cynthia Carrillo on Twitter.com.
People who haven’t read the books in awhile (or at all) might find the movie’s plot entertaining ; diehard fans weren’t too pleased with the inaccurate portrayal of the novel.
“It was a great movie, but for Harry Potter fans it sucked,”Matt Gamarra said.
Danica Duensing ranted about the film on Twitter: Just got back from Harry Potter. Hated it! Don’t worry about that 700 pages of existing story, just go make up your own.