No need to hurry to see the latest version of Harry Potter |

No need to hurry to see the latest version of Harry Potter

(L-r) EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger, DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter and RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince."
Jaap Buitendijk |

The urgency professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) feels about guiding Harry Potter along in his wizarding abilities mirrors the urgency Daniel Radcliffe ought to feel about evolving into his subadult character. Radcliffe, Britain’s richest 19-year-old thanks to this series, is too tightly wound to pour himself into the dramatic aspects of Harry’s situation, but he comes winsomely close to life during two comic bits in chapter six. The actor’s difficulty conveying Harry’s efforts to fit in while gearing up for a confrontation with the dark forces, is punctuated by his diminutive size, causing Radcliffe to appear childlike in the company of his teen friends.

Yet, the challenges Radcliffe must surmount are far from the film’s biggest problems. At the expense of both plot development and coherent storytelling the screen adaptation is overly enamored with the jealousies plaguing its teen characters when the real point is to establish the crisis caused by attacks from Voldemort’s death eaters.

A promising opening sequence reaffirms the powers of J.K. Rowling’s imagination and of the film’s special effects department. Charcoal wisps descend upon London’s pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge, a sort of mini-Golden Gate Bridge slung across the Thames. They snap its cables, killing dozens of stranded muggles and putting the wizarding world on notice that all’s fair in love and war.

Through the memory of Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) and#8212; Hogwarts newly reappointed professor of potions and#8212; we learn Voldemort has splintered his soul into seven pieces. Six of those splinters inhabit objects known as and#8220;horcruxesand#8221; and#8212; a circumstance poorly explained by this film. In order to defeat the dark lord, Harry must find and destroy all six horcruxes along with the seventh soul fragment dwelling in Voldemort himself.

A belabored two-and-half-hours establishes these facts as secondary complications intruding upon the principle characters’ romantic yearnings. There’s little excitement to be found in all the tears, whining and befuddlement accompanying the demi-gothic pining save for that arising from the occasional Quidditch match promoting Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) as Hogwarts’s most valuable athlete. Best friends Harry and Hermione (Emma Watson) cheer him on, but the latter has fallen hard for Ron’s tongue-tied jock.

Whenever director David Yates manages to shoehorn in an important plot point, the film quickly returns to its love triangles before coherently discharging its storytelling duties. By the time we reach the two-hour mark, the temptation to nod off becomes almost overwhelming. This viewer resisted primarily to see whether the telegraphed death of a major character would actually befall the same character suggested early in the film. When he finally does succumb, both the method and the camera angle on his catastrophic fate are eerily reminiscent of Gandalf’s great fall in Peter Jackson’s and#8220;Lord of the Ringsand#8221; series.

Apart from the film’s suspiciously Gollum-like death eaters (Jackson’s LOTR again!), the abandonment of Rowling’s creatures is a major disappointment. From the beginning of this series we’ve been fascinated by her invention of a magical world and#8212; but not this time. There may be two more films scheduled based upon Rowling’s final tome, but the spell is broken.

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