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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.

I could watch this movie again and again -- so long as I concentrated only on the spectacular images.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 7 years ago

Director David Yates's HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE is consistently visually stunning -- a real feast for the eyes. The story -- not so much.

Always entertaining but rarely more than mildly so, the movie takes over an hour of just taxiing around the cinematic runway before it attempts liftoff. The result is a movie that is never disappointing but rarely soars. And the ending is jarringly abrupt, serving mainly as a commercial for the next movie in the series.

On the good side, this adaptation of another of author J.K. Rowling's novels will satisfy the fans while never boring those who have never read any of the books. A warning is due however. If you haven't read any of the books and haven't seen at least some of the movies, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE is likely to leave you baffled throughout much of the movie, since it makes huge assumptions in how much knowledge you have going into the theater.

For the record, I've seen all of the films, with my favorite being HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, the previous one in the series, and have read none of the books. While I admire the film series, they generally seem to be preaching to the choir, assuming that the audience is filled, as it is usually is, with avid readers of the books. I did notice this time that, while my packed audience cheered loudly during the opening credits, as if a rock star had just stepped on the stage, the reaction during the ending credits was surprisingly muted, with only scattered applause, which is not like the reaction at most early screenings for Harry Potter movies.

The cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is consistently fabulous. The best visual sequences aren't the special effects shots, of which they are many extremely impressive ones, but the more simple ones. Rarely has heavy rain felt so dark and ominous and evoked such a strong, overwhelming sense of mood. I could watch this movie again and again -- so long as I concentrated only on the spectacular images.

There is nothing wrong with the story itself, but it is rarely compelling for non-Potter devotees. The best part of the plot is the introduction of an evil character called Tom Riddle. Riddle, at age 16, is playing with just the right amount of creepy wickedness by Frank Dillane. I won't tell you more about him, lest I give away too much.

The weakest parts of the narrative are the excessively chaste romances. In a movie populated with kids, most of whom appear to be about twenty-years-old, why are the filmmakers so scared that showing more than a microsecond kiss will scandalize the viewers? After all, the film is pretty happy to frighten the little kids in the audience, of which there will be many. One kid close to me screamed out, "Mommy, I don't like it!" during the terrifying opening sequence in which a major pedestrian bridge in London collapses, causing hundreds of people to perish quite realistically.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE is a don't-miss movie for Potter fans. That much is certain. For others, it is worth seeing if you are willing to commit to spending the full two-and-one-half-plus hours. You don't want to start watching it unless you are willing to see it all, since the second half is when the story finally starts picking up.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE runs 2:33. It is rated PG for "scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.