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Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
9 10

PLOT: When we last left our heroes...Lord Voldemort has returned and the wizarding world finally knows it. The Death Eaters are intent on destroying the world to prepare the way for the Dark Lord. Everyone is terrified and Hogwarts has been forced to take extra security measures. But no one can protect Harry, (Daniel Radcliff) Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) from the intensity that is being a teenager. While Harry, on a mission from Dumbledore, (Michael Gambon) attempts to pry a vital secret from the brain of his new potions master, he discovers he has feelings for Ron's sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright). Hermione, meanwhile, is still carrying a torch for Ron, who is busy snogging someone else. Violence and hormones...the little kids we first met back in HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE have grown up. Keep that in mind when you decide whether or not to bring the little ones.

A few mild SPOILERS ahead

REVIEW: I've got to start this by saying that, not only am I a fan of the first five...oh my god, there's been five...HARRY POTTER films, but I've read all the books at least three times. With anything else, that would make me a nerd, but there is something about the boy wizard that has kept people coming back. For five films! You would think this would all start to get old after a while, but the truth is, it hasn't. And film number six is the best of the lot.

That's right. The best. (And believe me, I was worried. When you change a release date like they did with this film, it's rarely a good omen.) I have to say, this was the most satisfying book-to-film transfer of them all. It never felt rushed. They took time to tell the story. The effects were wonderful, but not overdone. With a few exceptions, they included the major plot points from the book. I left just as breathless as I did after the first one.

That said, there are a few teeny tiny issues here. The used potions book that Harry uses to help him excel in class, despite being not so great in the subject, isn't explored as much as it could have been. I mean, it belonged to the Half-Blood Prince. It's kind of the name of the film. And the beginning of the film is a little heavy-handed with the “we are teens and our hormones are out of control”. But those are mere trifles in a beautifully executed movie.

Director David Yates gives the film a depth beyond the first five, including THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, which he also directed. He has taken these young actors to a whole new level. They started with stilted deliveries, a la the three younger MYTHBUSTERS, but they show an incredible amount of maturity in this film. Particularly notable is the scene with Hermione sobbing on the steps with Harry after Ron breaks her heart. (Please tell me this is not a spoiler for you. Because this is one of those cases where you MUST read the books as well. Do it. You'll thank me.)

Tom Felton has matured from Draco, the little bleach blonde asshole to Draco, a man with a secret that tortures him. His work in this film is leaps and bounds beyond anything he did in the earlier films. Although, I have to say, he really looks like an adult. Not sure how much longer he can pull off “high school student” thing. Grint's comic delivery absolutely shines, especially in the love potion scene. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with future, non-wizard roles. Not that any of these actors will have to do a damn thing after the eighth film. They can buy an island, name it Hogwarts, and Grint will be safe from another attack of the swine flu.

And now the Hogwarts staff. Jim Broadbent plays Professor Slughorn, a potions master with a dark secret. God, I've always loved this man, and he does a fantastic job here. Seriously, if you can pull off a role that starts as disguised armchair, you can do anything. And ah, Alan Rickman. The man obviously takes such pleasure in playing Snape that he's practically purring as he delivers his lines. A mere tilt of the chin had me laughing my ass off. If you know the story, you know that Dumbledore has some intense scenes in the end. Replacement headmaster though he is, I've always loved Michael Gambon in the role. He's brought the perfect mix of authority, silliness and calm. But here, he really gets to plumb the depths of the character. He and Radcliff work perfectly off each other. Again, kudos to Yates for taking his time with these scenes. He could so easily have rushed through them and plastered them with effects. The confidence in his work is really apparent. The final scenes in Hogwarts are absolutely heartbreaking, even if you know what is coming. I am thrilled that he's directing the last two films in the series.

Finally, wizardy love fest though this has been, I have one concern. Without giving you any spoilers, I think it's possible that the ending gives the viewer too clear a sense of the final outcome. If you've read it, you'll know what I mean. The book didn't give anything away. It doesn't spoil the film at all. And maybe it works better this way, since the final book is being stretched out into two films. But I am left to wonder...if I didn't already know the ending, would I have figured it out from what I was just shown? Hell, I'll just have to go watch it again. And believe me, I will be.

RATING: 9/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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