Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Passing Puberty at Hogwarts! HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE.

Jul 15, 2009 (Updated Jul 15, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:This script does far more justice to the book than the last three.  Surprisingly good.

Cons:Very few.

The Bottom Line: This captures the magic of the first two; the kids are growing up, and it is great to watch.


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009) Directed by David Yates, from the novel by JK Rowling.

Albus Dumbledore: You must be wondering why I brought you here.
Harry Potter: Actually sir, after all these years I just sort of go with it.

Yes, as you can see from the quote Harry is growing up.  So are his friends.  (Okay, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are all legal age now, but I mean the characters.)

Harry is going on secret missions with his mentor, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).  His first one, at the cost of date with a hot Muggle girl, introduces him to Hogwart's newest teacher, Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).  Former Master of Potions he is returning to the position.  The current teacher, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is at last fulfilling his ambition of serving as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, a position long coveted, though it seems cursed.

Dumbledore has a purpose in inviting the social climbing Slughorn back to Hogwarts; he is the only person with the key memory that will allow Dumbledore to figure out exactly what Lord Voldemort is up to.

This is one of the major themes; Harry has to get next to the elderly potion master.  Of course, it is a dream come true for Harry; Potions stood in the way of his becoming an Auror, the Wizard Police.  Now, with a teacher who does not hate his guts he has a chance.

His old manky book provides him more than a chance.  The property of the Half Blood Prince, the book is chockfull of marginalia.  Harry follows the alternate directions with great results.  Suddenly, instead of his worst subject, he is considered a potions prodigy! 

Of course, it is not all secret missions and secret cheat sheets.  There is more in the air than a sense of impending doom.  Love is in the air.  Of course the course of true love rarely runs smooth; Jenny Weasley is dating Dean Thomas, and Ron is snogging with Lavender Brown, much to Harry and Hermione's chagrin.  At least they have each other to commiserate with.

However, Harry and Dumbledore are busily working to take an active role against the Dark Lord; they are going on the offensive, seeking to cut his power from under him.

Alas, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and while Harry Potter might be the Chosen One destined to stand against Lord Voldemort, Draco Malfoy has been chosen as well, with a mysterious mission of his own, one that has tragic consequences for a few of Harry's class mates.

The lads and lasses of Hogwart's are growing up, and discovering their school is not the safe sanctuary of yesteryear.  Growing up means standing on your own two feet, it means fighting for yourself, and it means facing loss.

The Analysis.

As the Potter books got longer, their movie adaptations got more...adaptive.  It is hard to shove 700 pages into two hours.  The third, fourth and fifth movie truly suffered from this phenomena.  However, this installment, at a healthy 153 minutes, actually seems longer.  A clever short hand has been developed.  They show the effects of the Pensive, the magical memory viewer, once in detail, and then use the effects to wed the secondary uses, not wasting more than a few seconds to let you know they are viewing memories.  It is far more effective than going through the full effects every time.  And rather than dwell on the assaults the Death eaters are raining upon the populace, they use two incidents, symbolic, and not in the book to show how bad things are.  The first is the destruction of the walking bridge across the Thames, to show that Muggles suffer at their hands as well, and the other is the burning of The Burrow, the Weasley's ramshackle home.  Few things could bring it home to the audience how very serious this war is getting.

The art direction is still top flight; no Potter movie has ever let down the team on that respect, but honestly, this is my favorite since Chamber of Secrets.  There is a delightful baroque and gothic sensibility that adds a layer of richness to the student's lives.

And as far as the actors themselves go; my, how they have grown!  And I don't just mean physically (Only a cad would suggest you go and google Daniel Radcliffe and Equus.  Go right now and google Daniel Radcliffe, Equus.  Trust me.)  They have grown as actors.  Especially Rupert Grint.  As the cutest kid in the world that wasn't mine, Ron Weasley could mug away at the camera.  As an adult, he needs different skills.  And he has developed them.  His face is as plastic as Jim Carrey's and far less annoying.  And he's getting a little buff!

Another delight is Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)  Draco was a cute little snot.  But puberty kicked him in the face.   His more serious, less perfect features far better suit the tormented character Malfoy is in this incarnation.  And Mr. Felton, a bit one noted in the earlier works, adds quite a depth of character.

This is the best performance any of these kids have turned in.  As kids, well, they were kids; the first two movies worked because they were cute, and the tale fit the movie.  Now, they are good enough to squeeze in extra subtext and help carry the picture through the necessary short hand.

Which brings us to the last point; can you understand the movie without reading the book?  Well, yes.  However, I really think you will get more from it if you have read the book, which means that while they have corrected a problem with earlier movies, they have not yet perfected it.

This is the movie of the summer.  Forget Transformers, its Wizards all the way this season.  Go see this.  Today. 

Check out the other Harry Potter classics:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part I
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part II


Read the Book!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows


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