Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Directed by: David Yates Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton Running Time: 2 hr 35 mins Rating: PG Release Date: July 15, 2009
Plot: It's the sixth year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter (Radcliffe). Now he's got Draco (Tom Felton), who is up to no good. Plus, Harry has feelings for Ginny (Wright), and Ron (Grint) and Hermionie (Watson) start to notice each other in a new light. There's also Voldemort's past and a mysterious Half-Blood Prince for Harry to deal with, so he's got a lot on his plate.
Who’s It For? Family fun for all. I'd keep the little kids away, because there is some dark death lurking. In fact, here's a good barometer ... can your kids read the books? Then they can probably handle the films.
Expectations Two years, two long years we've waited. Has the shine worn off? I'm a huge fan of the books, but with my poor memory, seeing the movies gives me the chance to remember things forgotten.
Actors: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter: We have no choice but Radcliffe, and actually I'm quite good with that. He's really come into his own. It's not a kid acting ... it's Harry Potter. He's got the comedic thing down this time around thanks to some sidekicks like Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and one memorable moment of luck. Being "The Chosen One" is no easy task, and luckily Radcliffe makes it work. Score: 8
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger: Just having her hand shoot up first in a class gives you a little laugh, but otherwise Watson doesn't stand out much, mainly because she doesn't have much to do. Her new feelings toward Ron look like they are coming from the right place, but it seems more or less that she's falling for him, because she does in the book. Score: 6
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley: Blimey, Ron used to be saddled with simply saying blimey. Not anymore, and Grint has grown into the perfect comedic sidekick for Radcliffe's Harry. Ron's getting things done on his own as well, with snogging girls and playing some spot on quidditch. Grint is very comfortable as the slightly lower class every-teen that allows us access into this wizardly world. Score: 8
Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape: Rickman - "So, you just want me to stand still, only moving my mouth, and make sure I talk really slow? That's it, that's all I have to do?" Yates - "Yup." (And it works incredibly well). Harry has always hated Snape, but now it would seem he has great reason for those feelings, beyond getting assigned too much homework. Score: 9
Michael Gambon as Professor Albus Dumbledore: For the first time since Gambon took over the role of Dumbledore after Richard Harris died, I thought he got it. Dumbledore always says the perfect thing, and it's required for us to believe in him as we go along on this journey. After all, he's protecting Harry right? Gambon and the big beard do this justice. Score: 7
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley: She just doesn't have a face full of emotion. That's not saying she can't one day become a successful actor. You tend to forget everyone started out so young when they began acting in these Harry Potter films. No matter what kind of moment is presented to Harry and Ginny, it's never something we can totally escape in, and typically Ginny has the same blank stare on her face. Score: 5
Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace Slughorn: What a wonderful addition. Broadbent might have mailed it in during his last job in Inkheart, but here he's the highlight of the film. Completely wild-eyed and looking like he's just barely holding it together, he joins Hogwarts and the Potions instructor with a secret that Harry must pull out of him. His effortless lines like, "All hands on deck, Granger," are an added delight to this film. Score: 9
Talking: There is a surprising amount of humor throughout the film, mainly involving some potential love. A moment that has nothing to do with love is Snape and Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) ... it's too bad they aren't given more on-screen time together, because I loved watching their hatred. Score: 8
Sights: Beautiful. The set pieces created here are fantastic as well. They actually look like lavish drawn castles, towns, etc. Plus, the way that Harry travels into the past memories of Tom Riddle, who grows up to be you-know-who is quite artistic. Plus, it's been a while, but quidditch is back and looking pretty great, with Ron and his goal-keeping skills being on center stage. Score: 8
Sounds: The score is nice but not as memorable as some of the other Harry Potter films. The sound effects, especially when spells are discharged from wands, are quite strong. Score: 7
Best Scene: Running through corn fields at night is just creepy, especially when an evil witch like Bellatrix is involved. Plus, it happens at the perfect time to interrupt a potential first kiss between Harry and Ginny.
Ending: I probably won't be the only one to say it, but the ending left me feeling a little bit empty. I think it's a combination of things ... first, off, it's sad. Second, they changed something I thought was kind of key. In the book, Harry is frozen under the invisible cloak, and that's why he doesn't act. Plus, they give the proper time to a death in the book with a funeral.
Questions: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is split into two parts ... why didn't they think of this sooner? I don't know of many fans who would complain about sitting through two, two-hour movies to tell a more complete story of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rewatchability: This past weekend, ABC Family Channel was replaying a bunch of the Harry Potter films, and after seeing this one, I'd easily put it on the top of the "Harry Potter Rewatchability Scale."
Hormones and danger. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince dive into both quite well. Sure we don't have much time for Hagrid, Tom Riddle's memories, or a Half-Blood Prince, but it's not so bad because we have teenagers in love. That only sounds condescending, I swear. The hormones lead to perhaps the funniest Potter film yet. Broadbent comes in and steals the show just like Imedla Staunton did as Dolores Umbridge, only not as evil. But, as far as the danger ... they finally gave Draco something to do that actually makes him worthy of being Harry's main childhood enemy. With this being the sixth film, it's impossible to separate book and movie for me. If ... sorry, when I reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Radcliffe is Harry, Watson is Hermoine, Rickman is Snape and so on and so forth. This film is a great complement to the book but of course never gets all the details. Half-blood Prince works though, because it captures the key tone of, "something bad is coming, so it's time to grow up." Yates is my favorite Potter director, he brings an intense feeling to these films and I'm glad he's taking me on the home stretch with Deathly Hallows.
Final Score: 8/10