American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The climactic scene in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" takes place in one of those underground caverns with a lake and an ominous gondola as the means of transportation, popularized by "The Phantom of the Opera." At first I thought -- no gondola! But then, one appeared, dripping and hulking. In another movie I might have grinned, but you know what? By that point, I actually cared.
Yes, this sixth chapter is a darker, more ominous Harry Potter film, with a conclusion that suggests more alarmingly the deep dangers Harry and his friends have gotten themselves into. There was always a disconnect between Harry's enchanting school days at Hogwarts and the looming threat of Voldemort. Presumably it would take more than skills at Quidditch to defeat the dreaded Dark Lord.
In one of the opening scenes, we find Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) late at night in a cafe of the London Underground, reading a copy of the Daily Prophet which poses the question: Is Harry Potter the Chosen One? By the film's end, he acknowledges that he has, indeed, been chosen to face down Voldemort (whose name should properly rhyme with the French word for "death," mort; also, since their word vol can have meanings such as "thief" and "steal," Lord Voldemort is most ominously named).
Harry is distracted from his paper, however, by an instant flirtation with the young waitress, a saucy cutie who informs him, although he asked only with his eyes, that she gets off work at 11. She indeed waits for him on the platform, but the Chosen One must respond to his higher calling from Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), who either materializes, gets off a train, or has a pied-a-terre right there in the Underground. I for one will be disappointed if that waitress (I think her name is Elarica Gallagher) doesn't turn up again in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," whose two parts will conclude the series in 2010 and 2011.