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“Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” {Blu-ray}-(Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
12/08/09
Special Features:

Featurettes, inteviews,Maximum Movie Mode with Daniel Radcliffe

Review:

Any series faces the danger of collapsing like a house of cards if those working on each sequel attempt to only duplicate what made the first film successful in the first place. As enjoyable as Chris Columbus’ first “Harry Potter” films were the fidelity to the literary source and their genre direction would have prevented further adventures if not for the popularity of the J. K. Rowling’s bestselling books. Luckily, after Columbus stepped away as a director the studio and Columbus (as producer) attracted top notch talented directors who could direct exceptional films that weren’t reliant on the reputation of the books to keep the series afloat. Each succeeding film in the series was an improvement on the first and, more importantly, each director didn’t shy away from cutting material that didn’t fit into the main narrative of the film cutting the umbilical cord to the source material as much as possible allowing them to stand on their own AND weren’t afraid to delve into the dark themes that Rowling began to introduce with each succeeding book. ***

“Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” continues that trend. The latest chapter in the Potter saga is the best yet in the series with some truly complex performances from the principal cast members and an examination of a variety of themes that tie in nicely with the characters conflicted feelings about becoming teenagers. What’s truly remarkable though is the performance by Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter; a boy when the series first began he has both grown into the role and expanded his craft as an actor providing subtle shading to the character of Harry. Complimenting Radcliffe in a much different way actor Michael Gambon who took over the role of Dumbledore moves his character into similarly unexpected territories. I hate comparing novels to films but it is notable when a character or actor moves his portrayal beyond its literary source. That can be risky business particularly when there is such a devoted following of a character of series of novels like this. Gambom never gives up on portraying the dignity and power at the heart of the character of Dumbledore while also portraying the weariness and inability to come to grips with his own life mistakes a very different take on the much more reflective Dumbledore of the novels. Gambom’s portrayal tends to give Dumbledore an additional dimension missing from the character in the novel. ***

As established in the previous film the evil Voldemort has returned. Sirius Black Harry’s guardian has died at the hand of one of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Harry faces Voldemort more alone than ever; sure he has the support of Dumbledore and Ron’s family but he discovers that defeating Voldemort may be his task alone. Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) returns from retirement to become Potions Master again at the school while Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)finally achieves his goal of becoming Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. ***

Slughorn’s return remains a mixed blessing while he is undoubtedly one of the finest professors that Hogswart has ever had, he indulges his ego allowing his students to worship him to a certain extent which helped Tom Riddle (Lord Voldemort) to rise to power. Slughorn also holds key information as to how and why Voldemort became who and what he was. It’s up to Harry to convince Slughorn to share this memory and for Harry to decipher the meaning of it and how it can help him ultimately defeat Voldemort. What’s more Harry isn’t sure he WANTS to be this messiah figure that all the rest of the magic world wants him to be. ---

Image & Sound:

Magic had nothing to do with the sharp, extremely good transfer to Blu-ray we have here. Even during the darkest scenes (and there are plenty of those in ANY Harry Potter film), detail remains remarkably strong. Black levels are solid throughout and colors remain true to the heatrical presentation of the original films. Skin tones are remarkably consistent and natural looking throughout (well, as natural as a dark looking film and one that stays on the cool side of color can be). ***

With a remarkably active, strong Lossless mix "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" is among the best sounding Blu-ray discs on the market at the moment. I dare say that this is a demo disc for the most part. Audio remains crisp and clear for dialogue throughout the film and activity for the surround speakers remain consistently high even during scenes that are dialogue driven.

Special Features:

The Blu-ray has a number of exclusive special features as well as those included on the DVD. These include-Maximum movie mode- Daniel Radcliffe takes you on a unique personal exploration of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince while you watch the movie, picture in picture, focus featurettes, scene comparisons; Exclusive features via bd-live; Be the first to see footage from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"; J.K. Rowling: a year in the life: a personal look at the journey in creating and launching the final book;

What's on your mind?lightning, round q&a with cast/crew; Additional scenes not shown in theaters; Cast members are your personal guides to aspects of moviemaking that include editing, makeup, stunt, set, design, props, costumes; Get a sneak peek at the wizarding world of Harry Potter at universal Orlando resort; One-minute drills, cast members sum up their characters. ---

Final Words:

A strong entry in the "Harry Potter' franchise the latest flick continues to demonstrate that sequels in a popular series don't necessarily have to be worse. Luckily, the "Harry Potter" films have a solid foundation in J.K. Rowling's popular novels (heaven forbid if she had only written a couple and Hollywood had to rely on its own lack of creativity to continue to expand on the popular characters). We finally get to see Harry and friends feel "love's first sting" (to paraphrase Dumbledore).Highly recommended.

 

 
 
 
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