“I’ve never noticed how beautiful this place is,” says Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), surveying the grounds of Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Neither had we. Until now.
The first thing that strikes you about Prince are its visuals. The man responsible? DoP Bruno Delbonnel (Amélie, A Very Long Engagement), whose swooping cameras and rich, metallic palette give the students’ sixth year a stunning new sheen.
Along with David Yates’ dynamic direction, Stuart Craig’s spectacular sets and Nick Hooper’s accomplished score, you’ll be hard-pushed to find another of this year’s blockbusters that’s been so lovingly crafted.
Year Six sees Harry and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) searching for the secret to destroying snake-nostriled baldie Lord Voldemort. Key to this is new potions prof Horace Slughorn (a brilliantly barmy Jim Broadbent), whose memory holds the answers.
Then there’s troubled Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton, here getting his moment to shine), who’s on a murderous mission of his own. But all that has nothing on the drama of the Gryffindor common room. Hermione (Emma Watson) loves Ron (Rupert Grint) and Harry loves Ginny (Bonnie Wright), but they’re both facing stubborn competition…
It might sound like Yates has lost sight of the bigger picture, but Prince’s cheeky humour and relationship pratfalls make for a refreshing change. It also sees the three young leads flaunting previously unseen comic timing. And while the romcom restyling does take up a good chunk of the film’s 153 minutes, Prince isn’t short on spectacle.
Highlights? The Death Eaters’ assault on London’s Millennium Bridge, Dumbledore’s fiery Paradise Lost moment in a cave filled with pallid, zombie-like Inferi, the triumphant return of Quidditch…
But while Yates nails the teen angst, his handling of the grander moments isn’t as skilful. Gambon’s swansong feels strangely anticlimactic – certainly not the emotional gut-punch delivered by Rowling’s text. Let’s hope the director can up his grade for the upcoming Deathly Hallows two-parter…
The film’s blend of light and heavy reaches over to the second disc, too. The bulk of the generous extras are geared towards younger fans, with the best being a series of ‘Close Ups’ that see the actors investigating various facets of the production.
But there’s a marked change in tone for doc JK Rowling: A Year In The Life – a must-see for older Potter nuts. The author talks candidly about her difficult childhood and unease with fame, but what shines through most is her passion for the magical world she’s created, revealing how she’s had the whole saga mapped out from the beginning.
Like Yates and co, she’s all about the craft.
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