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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Released: 2009

Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Runtime: 2 hr 24 min

MPAA Rating: PG

Director: David Yates

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent

Harry discovers secrets about Voldemort’s past and falls in love with a witch during his sixth at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

A full-blooded fantasy epic.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

I was fairly cynical going into this sixth installment of the Harry Potter series. The film's release had been delayed by almost seven months, usually a sign that a studio is keeping a movie under wraps because they have a disaster on their hands. But – surprise, surprise! – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a full-blooded fantasy epic – the best Harry Potter movie since Prisoner of Azkaban.

Taking full advantage of the book's darker themes and visual possibilities, director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have crafted a swiftly exciting 153-minute adaptation. Most fans will be bowled over by how vividly the filmmakers have translated J.K. Rowling's book to the screen. Especially the final scenes, which looked almost identical to the way I'd imagined them in my head.

The heart of the story deals with the origins of Lord Voldemort, aka Tom Riddle, as the characters mature into late adolescence and start pairing off with members of the opposite sex. (No gay students at Hogwarts, apparently, though Rowling has confessed that their headmaster swings that way.) Ron (aka Won-Won) bewitches a witch named Lavender Brown, while Harry realizes that Ginny's feelings for him might not be as unrequited as he once thought. Hermione also pines for Ron, though I can't imagine her having any trouble getting him. Emma Watson has turned out to be the one casting choice that doesn't really fit with the character in the book; she's just too damn... hot!

My favorite character in the movies (though not in the books; my favorite character in the books will always be Snape) continues to be Luna Lovegood. She's played by Evanna Lynch, whose dreamy eyes and hilarious delivery remain two of the real treats of this series. All of the acting has improved from previous installments. I'd all but dismissed Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, but his work in December Boys and the reviews he got for Equus suggested he'd been hiding his gifts, and happily they're on full display here. Both he and Rupert Grint (as Won-Won) are particularly good in the scenes where their characters are high on magical drugs, for some reason.

To talk about much else would be too reveal too many secrets, but I guarantee you that thrills await. Jim Broadbent makes a big impression as the amusing but ultimately tragic Professor Slughorn, a man cursed by his own secrets. And the look of the film is particularly striking, with the castle captured in gloomy, richly evocative colors by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel. This is one of the summer's few sure bets.