Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Over the years there have been a lot of franchises created for the movies. Everything from adventurers to detectives has become the source of a series of popular films to the delight of their loyal fan base. Starting in 2001 one of the most popular and lucrative film franchises began; ‘Harry Potter.' The story of this boy wizard commenced in the imagination of author J.K. Rowling who would wind up producing a total of seven novels in the series each longer, more mature and sophisticated that the one that preceded it. Parents around the world rejoiced at having a set of book that they can enjoy alongside their children. The books are perfectly planned out to cover about one year each in the life of the titular wizard as he goes through this magical education. The sale of the books made Rowling into one of the richest women in the world. The film adaptation of the books well just as fanatically well received with record-breaking box office pre-sold before the movies even opened. Fans would wait in line for days to score a place in the first showings of the movie. We are now in the home stretch with the sixth book out now on Blu-ray and DVD and the seventh novel in production as the final two films in the franchise. What elevates any franchise above the typical crowd is whether each film in the series can stand on its own from a cinematic standpoint. Naturally, there has to be a good deal of connective tissue to bind the movies together, and in the case of the Potter movies, there is more than usual. Still, as with the previous films, this one is excellent and can stand on its own merits, while we all wait for the first part of the last novel to hit the Cineplex we can enjoy ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ available on both standard DVD and high definition Blu-ray.
One of the many reasons for the success of the film franchise is how it maintains the integrity and attention to continuity exhibited in the novels. This is of vital importance especially with a favorite series were the fans can quote the books verbatim. Naturally, there have to be some changes to accommodate the difference between the written word and a film. Almost all of the screenplays were a close collaboration between Ms. Rowlings and Steve Kloves. The advantage of this was very evident in the previous films, but when relating the penultimate novel, the fans need to know that people providing the screenplay know just what to retain for the con conclusion to make sense. Characters that had relatively minor roles initially become major components in this film. One example is Ginny Weasley played from the start by Bonnie Wright. Since at its heart this is very much a coming of age story with the actors growing up as is the characters they portray. Initially Ginny was just Ron’s (Rupert Grint) kid sister who had a crush on Harry (Daniel Radcliffe). As happens in real life there comes the point in life where a teenage boy may begin to see your best friend’s as a young woman instead of a little pest. Once a relationship starts to blossom between Harry and Ginny in this film she demonstrates one of the primary characteristics of a Weasley woman; aggressive defense of family and loved ones. By this time Ron has a similar revelation concerning Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) as they both acknowledge the feeling they have for each other and Hermione takes her place as an honorary Weasley woman. Throughout the story, the implication hinted at that Hermione was not very close to her family. Although not an orphan like Harry, she found the Weasley’ home not only warm and welcoming but a place of safety and security is overflowing with love and loyalty. This family openly supported the use of magic praising Hermione for rapid progress and ingenuity.Without the establishment of these relationships in the earlier scripts, none of this would make sense. By having the author work in close collaboration with the scriptwriter, the seeds for everything meticulously introducing them at the ideal time and place.
Normally teenage angst and being in the middle of puberty would be more than enough to keep a group of friends busy but not for the most famous young wizard and is chums. Now that the return of the nefarious Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) was so obvious it forced his presence to be acknowledged by the Ministry of Magic. His minions, the ‘Death Eaters,' escalated the aggressiveness of their attacks, especially against Harry but extending their reign of terror to the regular muggle world. Harry is reluctant to come back to Hogwarts, finally enticed by his mentor Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). Among the classes Harry and the others have to take is the potions course given by Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent). Harry finds an enchanted textbook that makes him the best student the professor has ever had. Of course, the book carries a curse of the ‘half-blood prince, and Harry has to delve into the past to determine the identity of the wizard who is crucial to unlocking the secret. One result of this investigation leads him once again to Tom Riddle, the student that will become ‘He who must not be named.' This part of the epic provides just enough answers to re-peak fan’s interests and raises, even more, quandaries to carry on to the conclusion. Faithful to the nature of this film as a transition to the conclusion it is much darker and emotionally intense. This will make this movie a bit too much for the younger Potter fans in the household so let them re-watch one of the earlier films.
I did get a chance to see this in the theater and have to admit that the high definition Blu-ray is a much more satisfying experience. In keeping with the darker mood and tone here, the cinematography reflects this, and it takes the full 1080p to get the entire scope and detail. I did have to make sure the brightness and color were properly calibrated, so I pulled out my copy of Joe Kane and tweaked my system a little. Once that was done the audio and video was mind-blowing particularly in the battle is scenes. And the visiting this review after several years because of a new release that pertains directly to it. It is not unusual after a long, successful series of films has been completed that the event celebrated by the studio with a special commemorative edition. In the case of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. released an elaborate 31 disc set in the event in a package made to resemble the traveling case like one that would be used on the Hogwarts Express. With a price tag over $500, this was quite a hefty investment, especially since most fans already have purchased the films in Blu-ray already. Needless to say, once the passionate collectors obtained a copy those willing to pay such a large sum dwindled. Warner Bros. didn’t do something not frequently seen but exceptionally prudent. They released the second without the toys and collectibles, and 19-pound packaging which included just the discs. This put it in such a price range that even those who have a complete collection of movies would want to have the extra material provided. The automatic found most noteworthy in which prompted every visit to the film of the penultimate book, was that besides the Blu-ray and DVD variations of this movie there was a Blu-ray 3-D edition. Quickly checked other regions and cannot find a 3-D addition of this movie anywhere. I did discover that Warner Bros. had filmed key scenes in native 3-D. One example here is the ballroom. As magnificent as it was in regular 2-D, it receives a new level of excitement once the illusion of depth infused. What is unusual that a 3-D disc was not released in any other fashion, it is well worth investing in this set down for the last three films appearing in 3-D but also for the plethora of adding information and behind the scenes details.
Posted 12/18/09 12/21/2014 03/25/2017