Review: 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'

Mischief managed, faith restored. In his second outing, director David Yates strikes the right balance between overplot spectacle and the character relationships that will undo the Dark Lord himself.

Starting his sixth year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is famous once again, as no doubt remains that “you know who” has indeed returned. Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is closer than ever to unraveling the mystery of Voldemort’s undoing, but a missing clue may reside with Hogwart’s new potions master, Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent). While enduring the relationships of his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), Harry himself will have to split his time between befriending Slughorn, keeping a suspicious eye open for Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), and sorting out girl troubles of his own. But at least potions class will be easy, thanks to the previously written notes in an old textbook once belonging to someone calling themselves “The Half-Blood Prince.”

To say that things were missing from Order of the Phoenix would be saying magic is mysterious. Important elements were introduced without explanation on top of special effects that undercut J.K. Rowlings well-crafted rules of magic merely for the sake of spectacle. The filmmakers get it right this time around, cutting swaths of spectacle out to get to core story lines and put the series back on course. Nonetheless, a running time of two and a half hours goes by very quickly, and considering the infamous ending of book six, extreme care was taken to make the ending matter while still sending audiences home with Harry Potterish hope.

The cast is again spot on, with everyone slipping easily into their characters. With plenty of opportunities in the dialogue to wink toward the camera at revelations such as “Why is it you three are always in the middle of all the mischief,” our three heroes feel like family since audiences have watched them grow up together. On the other side of that coin, the Death Eaters have become embolden to strike when and where they like, and even the world of muggles is becoming aware that something terrible is coming.

Like the films before it, The Half-Blood Prince also manages to introduce yet another part of Hogwarts previously unseen for staging the action in, while old familiar locations feel like home. Unlike the previous films, however, it’s also clear that the school for wizards and witches no longer feels safe and that our heroes have already grown beyond it. More than a few things were set up for the final chapter in this film, and while things were left out of The Half-Blood Prince for time (speaking with the Prime Minister, the assault on Hogwarts, the significance of Fenrir Greyback), a few of them are somewhat repeated in the final chapter and hopefully will be covered in detail when that time comes. In the meantime, six down and two to go.

(a three skull recommendation out of four)
3 out of four skulls

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About Grim D. Reaper

Host of MovieCrypt.com. With my likeness being used in hundreds of films without permission, film critique isn’t dead until I SAY it is.
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4 Responses to Review: 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'

  1. SPOILER!

    Warning: do NOT read the following comment if you have not seen the movie, did not read the book, and are the last person on earth who doesn’t know how this movie ends!

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    Did anyone else think that Dumbledore falling to his death eerily resembled Alan “Snape” Rickman’s own slow-motion plummet at the end of the original “Die Hard?” Just saying. (suggested by @thejohnblog on Twitter).

    End Spoiler!

  2. Rayann says:

    I’m sorry to say, but I was disappointed in this movie. The book was tense and riveting. This movie failed to bring it to the screen and it glossed over many of the books plot drivers. I’m not sure how they can even hope to get the Deathly Hallows to meet reqired plot points when so much of this movie ignores or skates over some important bits of action.

  3. But even with what they DIDN’T get to, the film was STILL over two and a half hours long. As much as I would have enjoyed seeing a miniseries or seven seasons of television that encompassed every whim of the author, it simply isn’t done… well, not yet.

  4. kindragon says:

    I think the review for this one was about spot on. Although I did need to talk to a friend of mine who reads the books to get a few points cleared up.

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