236) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) Dir: David Yates Date Released: July 2009 Date Seen: August 3rd, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5
Because the sixth Harry Potter film is about proving one's allegiances through declarative actions, the bulk of its 153-minute length is spent watching the characters build up their nerve by striking poses of anguish. While director David Yates has Rowling's characters pantomime their way through their pathos more than they should--far-away, glazed-over looks and unnaturally stiff gaits relate that in this film, deciding who to snog is just as important as who to befriend and who to kill--he's got the right idea. He just doesn't always apply it proportionally.
Translating a 652 page tome requires a kind of of visual precision that Yates at times proves himself more than capable of. His skill at arranging the series' seasoned cast of amateur and veteran actors alike cannot be understated, deflecting a hungry gaze or betraying a mischievous wink skillfully.
Yates' measured "mise en scene' is capable of acting out our wizards' emotions for them and mostly only harms the performances of cast members incapable of discerning emoting from vamping it up. Daniel Radcliffe, the black hole at the center of the franchise, luckily gets by thanks to grandiose images of him plummeting, leaning and carefully tiptoeing around Yates busy lens. Dave Legeno, Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Watson aren't so lucky (Watson's just a younger Scarlett Johansson--killer curves but only a modest amount of talent).
The most accomplished of Potter's theatrical thesps., like Michael Gambon or Alan Rickman, , handily meet the demands of Yates' operatic vision as they are accustomed to looking iconically Byronic. That weighty task unfortunately can be punishment for a promising but unpolished performer like Tom Felton. When he needs to really turn on the angst, he really shines but when it comes to uninspired longshots of him standing across the hallway from his bespectacled rival, he doesn't stand a chance.
The actor that shines the most under these potentially adverse conditions has to be Jim Broadbent. Broadbent's greasy Prof. Slughorn flounders about pathetically, incapable of looking completely at ease even when he's holding court with his favorite students. His character is incapable of posing, naturally tactless and winningly uncouth despite his wan attempts at puffing his chest out. Undoubtedly, this has much to do with the fact that he's only the most important accessory in the film and does not have to perform as if he were Atlas. Then again, nobody really told Broadbent's character how to act.
Additional Notes: For my money, the kid actors that held their own with their larger-than-life emotions were Jessie Cave (Lavender), Rupert Grint (Ron), Evanna Lynch (Luna) and Freddie Stroma (Cormac).
I'm wondering, considering the nature of the novel, who comes across as the bigger martyr, Snape or Dumbledore. I like to think Snape but thats because he has less time to look pained in the film despite his integral role in the film, making him more of a likable candidate.