After my lacklustre response to the previous Potter (what number are we on now anyway? Six? Five? Two hundred?) I approached this new instalment with a “meh” attitude. I am a rare non-reader of the Potster, but I knew this was the one where “someone” dies (sorry to spoil it for non-readers of the book… but “someone” dies. There. And no, sadly it’s not Potter) so was mildly curious as to how.
As a non-reader, wading through these films is like walking into the sea with an inflatable around your waist. It gets harder the further you go and you never get to appreciate the depths of the story because you only ever see the surface. The longer the book, the less sense the films make. From what I can make of it, The Half Blood Prince is when everyone’s trying to bone everyone else, then Potter and Dumbledore go on a random quest to fight a group of gollums, before a wet flannel finale and an open ended finish.
As such, there are some amusing teenage romance moments, some slightly creepy bits, and a slight advancement on the plot. At least something actually happens in this one, compared to the previous film (Potter: the moody years) but it very much feels like a run up to the final flick, which has been split into two in order to make more money - sorry – I mean because the book is too long.
Acting-wise this is still painfully patchy, Radcliffe’s face sometimes so blank it looks CGI’d. And because of the gaps in the plot most events seem disjointed or unremarkable, or often just plain stupid (“hey Harry, let’s go to this random place for no reason and put you in peril. Again.”) But it pulls together just enough to hold your attention (saggy middle aside) and the likeable Grint and Watson are at least fun to watch, even if their characters don’t do anything at all.
If you haven’t read the books then I would rate this at CF-1. As a stand alone film it is disjointed and unclear. My book-reading companion appeared to enjoy it more, however, so I suspect a more enthusiastic recommendation would go out to those immersed in the Potter world already. But then, if you’ve read the books you’ll probably see it regardless of what I say, like a lamb going to cinema slaughter. So I’m sticking with CF-1. Up yours people who read Potter! Up yours!