I sat for two and a half hours last night watching Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince and not once did I look at my watch. Not once did I find myself nodding off (which for one reason or another is a major concern for me these days). I was riveted. Is it because of all the new story developments? No. Is it because of all the action one would expect with summer fare? No. Truth to tell, when I left the theater and thought about it some more, nothing much really happens in this movie. Well, one things happens, and I'll spare the readers of that spoiler for now.
If nothing else, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince is a really nice postcard from an old friend keeping in touch. Unlike most sequels that speed up to try to engage audiences, The Half-Blood Prince slows down and focuses solely on the characters. And what a nice experience that was. Sure there will be a lot of people (my wife for one) who will leave the theater bored. Who will say that the movie was a bust. That there were no major battles. No giants. Or centaurs. Or flying cars. But not this guy. This was good old-fashioned storytelling, and it was like taking in a breath of fresh Spring air. Harry and Hermoine, the Weasleys and Dumbledore have all become characters we love. We've literally watched them grow up and grow old before our eyes. So it's not a ridiculous notion to think that when we get excited for the next Harry Potter movie, it's because of these characters. Not because of wizardry and giants and flying cars. And it's nice to see a franchise understand that.
In a quest for movies to be new and different, The Half-Blood Prince bests them all by not doing much of anything. And it has been the best surprise of the summer thus far.