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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Once again I must ask too much of you, Harry

Directed by:

David Yates

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 153 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: 12A

For a while there, I was one of those girls who pre-ordered their Harry Potter books and waited around all day for them to arrive, marking out a few days in my calendar to dedicate to reading as quickly as I could so as not to be “spoiled” by an eager fellow Potter fan or a wayward news report. Then life got the best of me, and I still haven’t finished the last book in the series. I had forgotten a lot, going in to this sixth installment of the Potter film franchise, but watching it, the magic was back, and I remembered why this was my favorite of all the novels.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), Ron (Rupert Grint), and the rest of the gang are back for another year at Hogwart’s, but it’s a much darker, scarier place these days. Death Eaters are all about—even hurting Muggles—and there’s a definite air of impending badness hanging around. Plus, everyone’s in love with everyone else, which just seems to complicate everything. Throw in on top of that Harry’s mysteriously powerful Potions book—former property of the “Half-Blood Prince,” Draco Malfoy’s increasingly strange behavior, and a search for the tiny pieces of Voldemort’s soul that have been divvied up in pieces all around the world, and Harry and his friends are in for a battle they could never have anticipated, even in a world full of magic.

Like I said, this was my favorite of all the novels, and I believe it could also be my favorite of the films. Even at two-and-a-half-plus hours, though, there’s a lot missing that was on the page, so literalists might be disappointed. The best thing to do is just enjoy the movie as a separate entity altogether—and with this interpretation, that’s easy to do. Screenwriter Steve Kloves is back on board (he’s been with the franchise for five out of six films, skipping only the last installment), so everyone seems a little more themselves than they did in Order of the Phoenix. It seems, also, that as the story has matured, so have the performances of the leads (and special mention to Tom Felton as Draco, who I never expected to break my heart—but he’s that good), and it’s great to see the balance between magic, romance, and dark, dark stuff.

Lest it seem I’m an enraptured fangirl though, there were some issues. At times, there’s a disjointed feeling to the scenes that, while it works in some ways as a method for tying all the threads together, it also leaves one somewhat discombobulated. Probably my biggest complaint, though, is with the ending; regardless of the book, even as a penultimate entry in a film series with what should’ve been a heart-ripping climax, it falls a little flat, with other emotional moments packing a much bigger wallop. Overall, though, it’s 153 minutes that fly by, well worth its ticket price.

It's Got: Awesome effects, Alan Rickman, magic teens in love

It Needs: little more action at the end

Summary

An all-around thrilling experience, even at two-and-a-half hours, this Harry Potter installment only whets our appetite for the final act(s) with touches of humor, romance, adventure, and a little bit of scariness.

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