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Darker and Better
SnoopyStyle23 December 2013
Darker than ever, Lord Voldemort has been revealed in the 'Order of the Phoenix'. The forces of darkness are gathering strength. Fear has spread throughout the wizard world. Harry Potter is now investigating Voldemort's plans through his old teacher Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).

Director David Yates returns and will for the remainder of the series. It has a more serious tone. The teenage love drama is heating up especially for Hermione and Ron. It comes to a head in this one in a satisfying melodrama.

The reveal of Voldemort's plan is a bit confusing. More effort is needed to explain what a Horcrux is. A scene with Voldemort creating one of the Hocrux would solve the problem. For the big death climax, the action is rather lacking. It needs more drama. I'm reminded of 'Empire Strikes Back'. In that movie, the big scene gets the most iconic treatment. Something like that is needed here. But it still works while following the book. That's probably more important.
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Love and other wars
kosmasp21 September 2009
If you don't know the book (like me), but watched the trailer before you watched the movie, you could be excused for feeling a bit cheated. The trailer actually promises something that doesn't really happen (real world). But try to free your mind of that. I was a bit confused, but it didn't really throw me off the movie.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should watch the other Harry Potter movies before you watch this. While there is pretty light humor to be found here (and some love stories), it all gets spiced up, by some really dark undertones and some things that happen. I wouldn't say that Harry Potter is getting into an adult phase, but he definitely gets wiser with every movie. Which can't be said, for all his friends. But then again, some are there for comedic relieve, which is pretty obvious. And not a bad thing at all. The effects are great (not that you should have expected less) and the story moves along "fast" (the running time doesn't seem to be a problem or a drag). Of course some might say that he is still too childish (or the whole feeling is childish), but that would be beside the point. The movie does not hide what it's intentions are ...
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The binding is really fragile … Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
jaredmobarak13 July 2009
It's a real shame that I could never give a film featuring Harry Potter the status of a perfect film. Each tale relies so heavily on those that came before or after that one can never be a truly all-encompassing work. Sure, the three-act structure can be utilized, but without the background info, nor the knowledge that more will be coming, watching a middle installment alone will leave you confused and disorientated. The reason I bring this up is the fact that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is good enough to warrant the praise and to put the idea in my head about whether to call it a masterpiece. The tone is perfect, the laughs are many, the darkness is charcoal black—how could this be the same director as the abysmal—in comparison to the rest of the series—Order of the Phoenix, David Yates? Two words … Bruno Delbonnel.

Who is Delbonnel you may ask? Well, he is the brilliant cinematographer behind the camera. I may have blamed the failures of the fifth film on its screenplay as Steve Kloves was glaringly absent, (he being the writer of each other film, including this new one), but a film is a team effort. Therefore I guess maybe I shouldn't put all the accolades on one man now; I just feel absolutely compelled to do so because so many moments linger in my mind due to the beauty of their composition and use of their environments to stay interesting and exciting at all times. Visually, you cannot be bored. It just goes to show that it is never the director alone, but also the team he or she brings along. I like Yates and was surprised at how much I disliked his first foray in the Potter universe, granted, I felt the book itself was sub-par at best. Thankfully, he did not disappoint with his second of three, (make that four as book seven goes to a two-part finale), because, as it was with the novels, Half-Blood Prince is by far the best of the series—until Deathly Hallows of course. And adding the pedigree of a guy like Delbonnel, with films such as Across the Universe, A Very Long Engagement, and Amelie in his back pocket—all stunning works of art—only makes his job easier.

I can't get over the use of close-ups throughout, or the multiple instances of framing used to hide something on screen. Oftentimes, the camera pans or cuts to reveal something in the fringes, to highlight the focal point when it's not centrally located, or literally move our eyes to exactly where the filmmakers want them to be. The blocking is superb with some scenes blurring the edges and keeping only our main object of interest in focus, timing and positioning executed with aplomb. And did I mention the close-ups? (Yes, I know I did.) One sequence, with Harry and Ginny running through a field of tall grass after intruding Death Eaters, is shot with a high speed pan to keep the characters crisp as the foliage darts and blurs in their wake. I'd be remiss not to mention the special effects as well, especially when dealing with the black smoke trails from Voldemort's flying goons as well as the wispy pensieve. Whether completely computer generated or practical dye clouds in water, the effect is pitch perfect, even dissolving each memory in sections, leaving important pieces, like young Tom Riddle, to be lingered on just a second longer than the rest.

As for the leads, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson are solid as usual, (Radcliffe showing some solid comedic chops after taking luck elixir), and Rupert Grint's Ron Weasley gets some room to break free. But it is the supporting roles that deserve notice. Helena Bonham Carter will scare children, so kudos to her, and Michael Gambon's Dumbledore will win even more hearts as his leader finally allows Potter into the inner circle of the plan to rid the world of Voldemort, it now being a circle of two. It is newcomer Jim Broadbent, however, as Professor Slughorn who steals the show. Broadbent is known for his many comical expressions and his rubber face is utilized to great effect here. A blowhard and man with many "friends", his jubilant smile and need to collect powerful and famous wizards for his Slug Club are ever-present, bringing some levity as well as effectively hiding the dark secret that lies beneath.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince succeeds in the details. It is an exercise in minimalism and showing only what is necessary to the plot. Condensing the novel better than ever done before, Kloves has given Yates the tools to make a film and not just a visual representation of the words. What had previously been done best by Azkaban's Alfonso Cuaron, this one works better at retaining more subplots and not stripping it quite so bare. Subtle hints are planted so no longwinded exposition is needed to make us, as an audience, feel stupid and lectured to. Instead Yates and crew allow us to show our intelligence and ability to use our eyes and memories to piece things together, making the experience more enjoyable as we believe we are solving the mysteries and not the director who is skillfully guiding us through. I'd say it couldn't get better than this, but my confidence in Yates has been renewed and my hopes that Deathly Hallows is treated with respect is at one hundred percent, so who knows what the future has to offer?
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Reaches neither the depth nor the complexity of the book but still pretty damn impressive
MairegChernet16 July 2009
HP6 is a dark and emotionally thrilling masterpiece. It combines magical awes that appeal mostly to children as well as mature and dark themes that appeal to almost everyone. It discovers the dark and mysterious past of you-know-who and leaves the audience aching for more as its two and half hours run time go by in a flash. The film contains dazzling visuals and terrific cinematography. It is indeed a satisfying experience that will please just about everyone. One thing is for certain though: in resemblance to the Rowling novels, the film series seems to get darker and more mature with every passing film while keeping an incredible PG rating (in the exception of HP4 & 5). This film not only has some bangs and booms but also explores the theme of teenage love as the three protagonists find themselves tangled in teenage romances. Overall a top notch film worth seeing over and over. Cant wait for the arrival of the Deathly Hallows.
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It's Love Potions That Are Most In Demand
bkoganbing29 August 2011
Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince sets a couple of milestones in the film series. Harry and sidekicks Hermione and Ron are coming a bit late into puberty which is understandable considering all the adventures they've had. But they're now starting to see what the opposite sex is all about.

Helping them along is an old colleague that Dumbledore has brought back to the Hogwarts one Professor Slughorn, a new character into the Potter saga played by Jim Broadbent. Slughorn (how I do love J.K. Rowling's use of Dickensian names in the Harry Potter series) is a master of potions and of course when you talk potions, it's love potions that are most in demand. But they do have only a short term effectiveness and at least one of the trio gets overdosed on it. And the cure almost kills as well.

The Half Blood Prince also provides us with some insight into the life of the younger Lord Voldemort back when he was a Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle. Broadbent and he bonded back in the day and that's why Dumbledore wants him back.

The Half Blood Prince keeps up the high standard of film making that the Harry Potter series is known for. It even got a nomination for Cinematography from the Academy. Broadbent is a nice addition to the Hogwarts stock company even if only for the two remaining films in the series.

No sense telling you to see it, you probably have and enjoyed same.
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Dark, funny, and not weighed down by too much exposition.
joestank1519 July 2009
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - A footnote: Funny thing about Harry Potter reviews. If you peruse enough of them, you'll notice that "lack of nit-picks" is a substitute for praise. Everyone comes from different points of view when they go in to see these films. Some people read the books, some haven't. Everyone has their favorites, or hates the films in general. I have never experienced the films without having read the books first so I cannot comment on how hard it is to follow any of them. For some they are too long, for some not enough. I have enjoyed all of the films to varying degrees all for different reasons. David Yates continues from where he left Order of the Phoenix, arguably the weakest of the seven books but one of the stronger films.

In the sixth Harry Potter, Harry works with Dumbledore to unlock a key secret about Voldemort. To do this, Harry has to get close to Professor Slughorn (played with aplomb by Jim Broadbent). What interested me most about the way this is played out are the quiet similarities presented between Harry and Tom Riddle. Dumbledore actively wants Harry to act more like Tom in an attempt to defeat him. This enhances the idea posited back in the 2nd film and book. The sub-plots surrounding this are delightful. Quidditch has never been done so well. The Slug Party is also delightful. Harry's fancying Ginny and Ron's troubles between Lavender and Hermione round out the film. A small downside of this is there is less room for some of the best talent in the UK, many of whom merely supply the garnish on a good meal.

Michael Gambon is wonderful in this turn as the greatest wizard Dumbledore. He just needed the screen time to shine. I hope this nails the lid on the doubters. Alan Rickman plays Snape to perfection, much as it would have been fun to see him momentarily lose his cool. Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltrane have wonderful cameos. I seem to be the only person that appreciates Daniel Radcliffe post-Equus. I think the young man has really come into his own. Rupert Grint has also become a fine comedic actor. Tom Felton slowly freaks the hell out as a young man given an impossible task. My favorite little scene stealer is Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood.

The film plays fast and loose with the source material, and, unlike with Prisoner of Azkaban, the results are not disappointing. On the contrary, this might be, next to Goblet of Fire, my favorite of the films. Part of the reason this time is the film's atmosphere is so appropriate, the characters so well acted and written, that it makes us yearn for more of everything that IS in the film, not lament what was cast aside. I can forgive plot simplification as film is a different medium. I would not have made all the choices Yates has, but he nails the beginning and end of the film, includes many touching character moments, and the movie on the whole is FUNNY damnit! True Potter fans should see that Yates has broken the letter to preserve the spirit of Harry Potter.

One note from the Potter die-hard within the competent film critic: it is disappointing to miss out on one crucial flashback that would have given Ralph Fiennes a terribly awesome scene to do with Michael Gambon. As for the rest. Potter-ites, Yates has this well in hand. Put aside the canon-charts, and enjoy watching small variations on a story you know and love. I know, given the choice, I prefer a story that pops to life over one nailed down to a strict regiment of plot points and exposition. A-
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Powerful and stunning! One of the best fantasy films ever made
Red_Identity19 July 2009
I have always been a big fan of Harry Potter, both the books and the films. Half-Blood Prince is my favorite of the first 6 books, and now I can say that the film is as well. First off, the film does cut a lot of things out. It cuts some of the Horcruxes that are talked about, and some of the memories of Tom Riddle, but even without them, this is an incredibly powerful film. The opening sequence I loved and I was glad that the writers would include such a scene. It shows the danger of the world that everyone lives in now that Voldemort is back. David Yates is back directing the 6th film after the fantastic Order of the Phoenix, which I thought he created a much more moodier and grittier Harry Potter adaptation. In Half-Blood Prince, Yates directs with much larger confidence and maturity, one that is shown much throughout the film. This Potter film is the first to actually make me smile and laugh along with it. It has a lot of whimsical, light and genuinely funny moments, which I thought were brilliant and stayed true to the book. When the film requires it to, it gets darker and more menacing, which I also thought was balanced very nicely with the tone of the book. I like judging the Harry Poter films more as films, not always as adaptations. There will always be some people who are disappointed, but I am grateful for the things that were in the film, that they were well-made and stayed true to what I imagined while reading the book. This film succeeds in that. Steve Kloves is a very talented writer, to cut all those things out of the book but for it to stay with that same tone that J.K. Rowling marks on them.

What helps this film are the performances to a great extent. The adult cast as always is great. Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, and Helena Bonham Carter all deliver high-worthy performances. They should all be considered for Oscar consideration come the end of the year. The young cast is brilliant. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have all grown very comfortably into their characters, and they know their strengths and weaknesses. Bonnie Wright also becomes more important in just the right time, since she is also very good as Ginny. Evanna Lynch is fantastic again like in the last film. The young kids playing Tom Riddle are spot-on. But the biggest surprise for me had to be Tom Felton. His character is more important here than in the other films, but Felton really was masterful. He portrays everything about Draco Malfoy that was intended by Rowling: his fear, his anger, his remorse. Malfoy is in a very dark place, and Felton goes up and beyond what I would have expected from him. The strongest of the young cast.

The other aspects of what make this film brilliant are the technical aspects of course. The cinematography must be what is most amazing. It is so well-done, captures every shot right and with powerful meaning behind it. The different color textures and lighting really are beautiful. Also, Some truly amazing shots in this film. Like always, the set designs are wonderful. The visual effects are strong, but not to a point that they detract from the film. If the Academy does not recognize at least the technical side, then what can they recognize?

Overall, I simply loved Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Yes, the ending was shorter here than in the book, but I thought it still worked well, and certainly not anti-climactic. The death was very well done, and I thought was handled better than in Order of the Phoenix (while still a great film, lacked the emotion for Sirius dying). The ending was perfect, left me feeling sad and happy at the same time, and cannot wait for Deathly Hallows! The best Potter film yet.
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The weakest film in the series
cricketbat22 August 2018
This movie proves the Harry Potter world has become pretentious. The filmmakers are so concentrated on showing off their special effects, getting cool shots or displaying the sets that they forget to actually tie scenes together, tell the story and, at times, make sense. Plus, they cut out important elements of the book so they can make more room for the never-ending romantic subplot and they even add in pointless scenes that were never in the book! This is the weakest film of the series.
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Far and away the best in the series
The_Amazing_Spy_Rises14 July 2009
Harry Potter. The name alone induces screams across the world, and may make movie theater managers such as myself fall on the ground when the prints arrive in the building. Just because I did get to watch it early does not mean I didn't do my share of waiting around the theater. More than 7 hours after I got off work, I was still at the theater and ready to watch what I had been waiting for ever since the wonderful 'Order of the Phoenix' two glorious years ago. Not only was 'Half Blood Prince' my favorite book in the series, it was also one of my favorite books of all time. My expectations could not have been higher, possibly the highest for any movie I'd ever had.

So is it absolutely crazy that my expectations were still surpassed?

Whether it be the shockingly wonderful script from Steve Kloves, the perfect acting across the board, dazzling effects, or the absolutely excellent direction and cinematography, 'Half Blood Prince' is EASILY the best film in the series, and is a great cinematic achievement that becomes the first Harry Potter film, in my opinion, that stands alone as a fantastic film, one that could even be Oscar worthy.

It appears as if the book series finally being finished has done wonders for the films, as this is the first film produced since the end of the series. Steve Kloves' for films 1-4 were average at best, as he often struggled to write compelling dialog for the younger characters. Not only has he vastly improved, but for the first time in the entire series, I was more interested in the younger characters than the absolute gems of characters played by the adults. 'Half Blood Prince' probably has the least amount of action in the series, but it is by no means boring. Kloves' script assures us that this ride is just as mental as it is physical. There are some minor problems, such as the backstory of the title character, the Half Blood Prince, not really being explained at all, but these flaws are outweighed by Kloves' seamlessly weaving plot points from both 'Half Blood Prince' and 'Deathly Hallows'. Some characters, such as Rufus Scrimgeour, Bill Weasley, and Mad Eye Moody are sorely missed, while others, such as Ginny Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange, benefit from much more to do than they had in the book. To put it simple, Kloves' adaptation this time around is his best yet.

To me, the lines a writer writes are only as good as the actors that say them, and this flick boasts what could be called the best ensemble cast of the year. The bright points for me were Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, and Bonnie Wright, who both really got the chance to flesh out their characters in this one. Wright nails the passionate, hot tempered Ginny very well in brief opportunities, while Rickman is once again perfect as the icy Severus Snape, though to reveal why he's perfect would be robbing the viewer of a wonderful show. Felton packs a world of emotion and nails the character once again. The main newcomers to the cast were all excellent. Jim Broadbent is perfectly cast as Horace Slughorn, while Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane are positively chilling in their cameos as the younger incarnations of Lord Voldemort. Dillane in particular is nothing short of brilliant in his two scenes. Helena Bonham Carter's over the top performance as Bellatrix Lestrange is something that would only work in a Harry Potter film, as she is hilariously psychotic and sadistic in her role. The biggest surprise of all is Michael Gambon, who plays Dumbledore to perfection this time.

The faces of the Harry Potter franchise are the three actors that now appear to have grown up with their characters long enough to actually be them. Emma Watson is at her best for once as Hermione, while Rupert Grint brings everything back to the table after basically taking a movie off. Daniel Radcliffe tops what was his best performance in 'Order of the Phoenix' in this one, but for different reasons. Radcliffe is showing real all around talent as an actor, as he exudes the sarcastic confidence that he's always been missing that is integral to Harry's character. It should be noted that Radcliffe is definitely the best at comedy of the trio.

While I viewed it to be perfect, this might be because I've read the book and plugged in what few leaks there were. All the non-readers I saw it with said that they didn't have that many problems keeping up, and that this one really gelled with the previous installment. I credit that, and the movie's overwhelming excellence to David Yates, who really just gets this franchise. He has recreated the magic I felt when first reading the book again and again, with classic moments meant for readers that non-readers will still find entertaining enough.

This movie definitely strays the furthest from the book, but I really didn't care. I didn't miss any of the things that were cut, nor did I object to any changes in the movie. In a word, it was perfect. Bruno Delbonnel does a marvelous job with the cinematography, which is amongst the most beautiful camera work I've ever seen, especially with the colors and lighting. The art direction is equally brilliant.

'Half Blood Prince' is an exciting thriller, that is as charming and sweet as it is mysterious. It is as suspenseful as it is angsty, and that's saying something. Hormones and chaos are abound at Hogwarts, and Yates manages to handle it with perfect grace, as his film does not, for the first time ever, feel choppy or rushed. The film flows wonderfully, and builds to a climax that will keep your emotions running high for at least 20 minutes. I really could not have been more pleased with this movie.
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Abrupt decline in quality
educallejero11 July 2020
Visually awful: trying to show how Voldemort's darkness was consuming Hogwarts, they made ugliest Potter movie to date. Slow: With little actuallly happening (as important as it might be), the movie becomes tedious and boring. Overtly melodramatic: Almost tv quality of melodrama all over the place. Maybe justified in the books, the constant whining and crying from some characters made it harder to enjoy. Awful new characters: The annoying Jim Broadbent as the annoying proff. Horace Slughorn was... annoying in every single scene. And we had too a young Voldemort, the typical "sociopath kid" with the cliché and annoying sociopathics faces and remarks.

In the middle of all of that, there was some great comedic/fun scenes here and there related to the teen drama, and what it was told was important to the overarching story of the saga.
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"Half-Blood Prince" Is a Half-Assed Movie
evanston_dad19 October 2010
I've enjoyed watching the Harry Potter films (I've not read the books), but this is the first one that began to try my patience.

"Half-Blood Prince" doesn't make sense if you've not read the book it's based on, a crime for which I cannot forgive movie adaptations. The first half of the film deals with the adolescent romances of the Hogwarts students, treated as an aside by the entire film series but somewhat of a welcome relief from the dark brooding of Harry and his battle with Voldemort. However, the last half of the film lurches into action and seems completely disconnected with everything that came before it. By the time Dumbledore and Harry were off to find another piece of Voldemort's soul, I was lost and didn't much care about being found.

Grade: B-
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An engaging set-up for the final episodes
javaman-716 July 2009
Java Man Reviews "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" Originally appeared in LakewoodBuzz.com July, 2009.


The film opens with our hero, Harry (Radcliffe), hanging out in a late night café perusing his copy the Daily Prophet and flirting with an eye-catching waitress. They make a date for the end of her shift, but Harry can't keep it because he is whisked away by His Beardness, Professor Albus Dumbledore (Gambon). They soar into the night and arrive at the home of Horace Slughorn (Broadbent), a former Hogwarts lecturer who Dumbledore is trying to persuade to return to his old job as Professor of Potions. Slugborn, with his unique technique of recovering past memories, may be the key to the psyche of one Tom Riddle, a former student who has morphed into the vile Lord Voldemort. Thus begins the sixth adventure of Harry and his conjuring cohorts Hermione and Ron (Watson & Grint) as they divide their time between studies in sorcery and the looming confrontation with Voldemort.

Oh, and that crazy Slugborn mixes one humdinger of a love potion.

REVIEW: 3 1/2 of 4 Java Mugs

Other than the fact that they are both British, and that each is destined to save the world, Harry Potter and James Bond have one other thing in common: Their movie franchises have logged the highest box office totals ever, with Potter likely to pass Bond by the time you read this. Another item that may please the Potter fans is that there will be ten Best Picture nominees this year instead of five, giving the Potter cast and crew a pretty good chance to work some magic on the red carpet.

The story is basically a set-up for the final episodes of the series; an engaging set-up, but a set-up nonetheless. Yet it works. I sensed that most of the patrons of the sold-out midnight showing I attended would have plunked down good money to watch the next two films until dawn.

There is more attention paid to character than in previous Potter outings, but some of our favorite villains make only token appearances. Those dynamic Death Eaters and the deliciously evil Bellatrix Lestrange (Bonham Carter) are in far too few scenes; and Voldemort appears only as a threatening cloud formation. Not to worry, though. We will certainly see more of them in 2010 and 2011 when the series wraps up with the filming of the final book in two parts.

The performances are up to the series high standards. Radcliffe and Watson are fine, as usual, and Grint has much more to do this go-around and does it well. Of course the Hogwarts faculty, portrayed by British acting legends such as Smith and Gambon, are a joy to watch. Rickman as Snape and newcomer Broadbent as Slugborn are standouts.

Director Yates and his team have created a bleaker and more ominous Hogwarts, no doubt setting the stage for the dark themes that are to follow. Atmospheric cinematography in Norway, the Scottish Highlands and dozens of English prep schools provide backdrops which are cunningly combined with outstanding visual effects.
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Hormones over excitement as part six is merely an appetiser to the double billed closure to come.
hitchcockthelegend19 September 2010
Death Eaters are running amok as Dumbledore has an important task for Harry and Voldermort has one for Draco; all set to the backdrop of raging adolescent hormones. While Harry also acquires a rather helpful book written by the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

Potter 6 is not as dark as the pre-release chattings suggested it would be. Yes there's the usual dark moments, including a shattering turn of events that sets it up nicely for the finale, but this instalment is mostly fun, gentle and even sexy. Harry, Ron & Hermione are more under threat from their own adolescent urges than they are from the swirl of a Death Eater or the appearance of one young & creepy Tom Riddle. This of course makes for good viewing to most of us who have grown with the characters, with the principal young actors having nicely grown into said characters. But can it sustain a two and half hour running time? No it can't is the ass numbingly honest answer. There's some quality set-pieces including Quiddich (for a change) and a swamp attack by the Death Eaters, but by and large it's talky and breezy in equal measure.

A filler Potter movie then, one that is far breezier than expected. Good but not great, but as a set up for the epic conclusion it hits all the right buttons. 6/10
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one more step to go
lee_eisenberg28 July 2009
Continuing the series' darker slant as it progresses, the current movie does a good job revealing more about the characters. The new character is Prof. Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), who knows a secret about Tom Riddle, before the latter became Lord Voldemort.

While the last movie allegorically focused on fascism (remember Dolores Umbridge?), I didn't see that in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". But certainly the Death Eaters look like the average anti-democratic entity. As for the characters, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are all maturing, especially in terms of relationships.

Having read the book, I could certainly see what they changed - namely the Death Eaters' rampage - although I think that David Yates has done a fine job adapting J.K. Rowling's novel to the screen. I look forward to the final movie.

Also starring Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Timothy Spall, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.
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Space Opera
tedg27 July 2009
Over on FilmsFolding there is a discussion on architecture in film and luckily enough this comes along as a great example of space used intensively and to support the definition of world and some narrative elements. It isn't art. It breaks no new ground and the elements of the story are insipid. But it is space.

The origin of this came early in the franchise and I believe Chris Columbus (who has a retaining interest) hired production designer Stuart Craig, who has been through every film. Together they apparently decided that the magical nature of the story had to be in part conveyed by the magical nature of the places. The fruits of this commitment have been visible in every film in the series, dependent on the notions of the director. But as this is a "many billions of dollars" franchise, the directors have little freedom.

Here, the handling of space matters. It isn't just the way that the Hogwarts buildings are highlighted. It is the matter that we are not given kids in a place who do stuff, we are given an environment that is spatial and more. The space has an order to it, accompanying the "space" of the larger magical cosmos and the forces that govern it. This is a movie about that cosmos and the grand shape it has. The kids are within this space, being governed by its laws and constraints.

As I say, this is just borrowed here, but look how every shot is established first in the space and then you see the people involved. Context first, context embodied in place. Even the game is spatial in nature. Even the disappointment in love, where Hermione's blues and subsequent wrath are birds.

As far as summer diversions go, it doesn't get any better than this: Redheads, Orreries, Spatial framing (and other spatial adventures), Liquid imaging and Multiple embodiment. And the extra dessert? The players here play relatively simple and uninteresting archetypes, but many of them have played profound characters in my film experience, and I bring that association to this, enriching far, far beyond the magic they imagine.

Michael Gambon was the "Singing Detective," possible the most intelligent accessible on screen weaver of memory, futures and parallel fictions. Helena Bonham Carter will always be the confused real observer in "Fight Club" while we are tricked. (She is also burned in my imagination in a similar role in "Wings of the Dove.")

Alan Rickman played the villain in the summer blockbuster ("Die Hard") that provided a template for every holiday excess since. That, incidentally was a film that required spatial awareness in the plot. And Jim Broadbent will never escape association as the befuddled director, the on screen filmmaker in "Moulin Rouge."

Each of these roles helped me make this movie bigger than it was made, and even something important and essential.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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As a movie it's the most well crafted of the series. But as an adaptation of the book, it was by far the worst.
pgtmatrix19 July 2009
Let me say this. Half Blood Prince as a movie alone was very good. It stands it's ground as a film better than any of the others of the series. But only as a film. And only because there are so many parts to a film. This installment obviously stepped everything up a notch: the cinematography, the special effects, the darker score, the improved acting, etc... But the key element which was boosted this franchise into world-class fame, is the story. And in this one, it's just not there. As a fan of the books and having had no SERIOUS gripes with any of the other films, I must say i HATED the screenplay for this one. Everything that made the book amazing was ripped from the film, and instead replaced by annoying large quantities of romantic subplot. Yes, there is romance in the sixth book but not shoved down your throat. JK Rowling masterfully crafted a novel that was perfectly balanced. The romance was there although it didn't detract from the main plot and at times was intertwined with the larger goings-on at hogwarts. In the movie the romance takes up most of the screen time. Not to mention the ending of the film was brutally butchered.

So much time could have been detracted from the silly romances to focus on more important things which were completely ommitted or deliberately changed. The ending is extremely anti-climactic and once it's over it'll leave you in your seat thinking "it's over?"

My final gripe with this movie is that it really should have been PG-13. If you've read the novel then you know the subject matter is MUCH darker and the story would have been done greater justice with just a higher rating(and a better screenwriter, yes i'm looking at you Steve Kloves).

Overall as a movie i'd give it an 8 out of 10.

But as a HARRY POTTER movie it gets 4 out of 10. And that's pushing it.

Well heres to 2010 to see how they screw up the finale. Oh wait, they already did. I didn't know there were 8 years at hogwarts...
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A Return to Form
gavin69424 May 2011
As Harry Potter begins his 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he discovers an old book marked mysteriously "This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince" and begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort's dark past.

After David Yates' last Harry Potter film (the worst in the series), the series gets back on track and Yates redeems himself. The story here is epic, with the old mystery I love. This puts a more human face on Draco Malfoy, too, which is a nice touch.

I am sad that directors Guillermo del Toro and Terry Gilliam did not direct or that actress Naomi Watts did not make it in. Helena Bonham Carter proves herself, though, and while I am not a fan of hers, I have to admit she is a good actress and plays her part well.
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Very dark, but very good
HotToastyRag17 June 2019
It's a wonderful experience to grow up alongside the child actors of the films, and even though I know I still would have enjoyed them had I been born earlier or later, I'm always glad I was the perfect age to watch each movie when it came out in the theaters. It was always a Thanksgiving tradition in my family, preceded by a month or two of my dad reading the corresponding book aloud to us, no matter how old we grew. So, even though this volume is quite violent, and there are a couple of scenes during which I have to look away, there's still a lot to love about the very dark sixth film.

It's almost impossible to praise Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because of the ending, but if you turned it off five minutes early, or were forced to write a review without giving away spoilers, you'd find there's quite a bit of quality to the sixth installment of the beloved series.

Tom Felton is the star of this movie. Yes, Daniel Radcliffe is still the title character, but as far as acting demands and emotional character growth, Tom truly shines. We've seen him grow up rather spoiled and immature, and at the start of this movie, he's tasked with something dangerous and upsetting. Throughout the rest of the movie, he's enormously conflicted about whether or not to go through with it. J.K. Rowling never really wrote about peer pressure in the earlier books, so if that's a pet issue of yours, this volume might be your favorite. There are some truly heartbreaking scenes as we see a character we were trained to dislike break down in tears and admit he's frightened. Younger kids probably won't understand what's going on, but I hope they were put to bed early and told to wait a few years before joining you for movie night.

In addition to Tom Felton's solid and unexpected performance, audiences are treated with Jim Broadbent as the "guest teacher" of the year. His character is layered and interesting, and he treats his scenes with care. Michael Gambon is also put to good use and given some meaty, upsetting scenes to deliver. They're very tough to watch, and I can only imagine how much more upsetting they would have been if the frail Richard Harris had made it this far into the franchise. Trust me, you're going to need to put the kids to bed early; no one wants to see Dumbledore screaming and crying.

Helena Bonham Carter returns and has a pretty prominent part in this movie, and while she does play her role as wild and as crazy as was written in the book, she adds a layer of seduction that feels out of place and uncomfortable both for young audience members and the young actors. There's no reason for her to press herself against Tom Felton's back and whisper her lines with a gaping mouth, unless she thought the teenage boys in the audience would get a thrill out of it. I recently watched these movies with my young nieces, and the older one grimaced as she asked, "Why is she flirting with Malfoy?" The younger one just rolled her eyes and answered, "She's weird." The older one might have been feeling a little protective, as she was at the age when she started noticing which of the cast members she found attractive; throughout the movie she found several compliments for Tom Felton, which was very cute.

With beautiful scenery and stunning special effects, it's easy to get completely wrapped up in this movie and forget that it started out as a children's franchise. There's violence and drama galore, as well as romantic heartbreak and interesting flashbacks that show how the villain came to be a villain. Unlike the previous movie, there's hardly any comic relief, but those few scenes are very precious. Daniel Radcliffe gets to show off his comic timing after taking a good luck potion, Rupert Grint accidentally eats a love potion disguised in a box of chocolates, and Emma Watson tries to dodge her date by eating odorous food. This is a very good movie, but it's just tough to watch over and over again.

Kiddy Warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, this one's pretty violent and upsetting for kids, so I'd wait until my kids were pre-teens or older before letting them watch it.
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Felt Like Harry Potter Again
Rainey-Dawn24 May 2020
This one felt more like one of the first Harry Potter films but much darker to me. We have plentiful of classroom scenes going on in between all the action and adventure. There is a surprise twist ending.

Who is the half-blooded prince? What does he have to do with Harry Potter? What is the surprise in the end? You'll have to watch to find out - I don't like giving away details of good movie.

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Perhaps the most unconventional 'Potter', it places almost all the emphasis on school-life espionage and is entertaining because of it.
Pjtaylor-96-13804430 April 2018
'Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009)' manages to keep the focus mostly on Hogwarts, giving Harry a mission to accomplish whilst also dedicating significant time to his friends and their teenage troubles. It also always delivers on the promise of an unseen threat looming close by. Indeed, it's perhaps the darkest in the series so far. This bleak tone is bolstered by a ballsy ending that provides little in the way of levity or triumph. The film balances this darkness with some lighter moments peppered throughout, which satisfy without overdoing it. The flick is perhaps the most unconventional of the bunch, taking things back to basics with school-life front and centre. It also has distinct, vaguely dream-like cinematography. Its somewhat left-field approach certainly pays off, though. The end result is a unique, wistful and entertaining experience that acts as a nice counter-point to the two films that follow. 8/10
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Harry Ponderous
Lejink4 January 2012
I'm a little behind with the film series having finished reading the Potter novels a couple of years ago so that the narrative wasn't as fresh in my mind as when I viewed the earlier instalments. This is a good thing as it meant I wasn't so critical about how closely the film adhered to the book and could give the film a chance to stand on its own merits. Oddly, while remember enjoying the book a lot, I found the movie somewhat slow and devoid of action.

Even the big shoot-out finale seems to be over quickly leading me to the conclusion that this film was probably one for the die-hards, ironically in light of my introductory comments, who watch the films to visualise the books. Certainly there's a slowness about the narrative, with lots of talking and little in the way of drama or until the search for the horcrux, any real sense of spectacle either to fire up the imagination.

Instead we get some very awkward acting from the young adults as their hormones kick in and they discover the opposite sex, so it's quite unconvincing and naturally slows down the action. Moreover some of the actors just look too old to be still playing schoolchildren, Draco Malfoy and Ron Weasley in particular. I also got the impression too that there was little depth in much of the playing, with the honourable exception of Michael Gambon, otherwise familiarity seems to be starting to breed contempt, no-one reaching into their characters although that was very possibly because the characters are now devoid of any more layers for an actor to explore.

Yes, the visuals are frequently superb, especially the secret lake which Dumbledore and Harry have to negotiate and some of the closing images of desolation at Hogworts after the downbeat ending, but you'd expect nothing less with the budget here and yes, now I come to think of it, the Quidditch match where Ron performs outstandingly in the novel, is too quickly got over.

I would therefore rate this as one of the inferior instalments in the franchise and while acknowledging the cliché as I write it, do think the book is a more exciting and interesting way to absorb the story here.
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Immensely satisfying for fans who can see the movie behind the book
maritza-1512 July 2009
I was lucky enough to see a preview of Half-Blood Prince three days before opening day. I saw it a second time with my son who is not quite ten, but who is generally mature for his age and doesn't scare easily. The two viewings give me the unique advantage of both the adult and the child perspective on the movie.

I only recently started counting myself a true Harry Potter fan after my son introduced me to the movies a couple of years ago. I finished the last book only three weeks before seeing the movie adaptation of Half-Blood Prince the first time.

With all the book details very fresh in my mind, I had high expectations of the movie. And Yates, the production crew and the cast definitely delivered. The movie impresses on many levels from an artistic point of view. The stripped landscapes and washed out colors convey a constant feeling of dread and foreboding. The standard train trip to Hogwarts was particularly stark, seen against a landscape scorched by a hot summer sun and dotted with dark pools of water. The usual lush greenery and joyous train ride are nowhere to be seen.

Personally, I felt the pace was spot-on and that the movie elegantly made time for all key plot points. But only if you enjoy a plot line driven by character and emotion. For the younger lot, looking for frightening wizard duels and attacks by magical creatures, the first hour and a half of the movie drags on a bit. My son certainly became fidgety, and didn't appreciate the finesse and sophistication of the plot and cinematic approach.

Most of the threatening and darkening tone of the movie was also lost upon him, whereas I reveled in the finer details contributing to a general sense of ever-encroaching darkness. There are worse things in life to be afraid of than big hairy spiders. My son missed seeing those - I was a lot more intrigued by the ominous undercurrents made palpable by the indomitable trio of David Yates (director), Steve Kloves (screenplay) and Delbonnel (photography).

Some people feel that the romantic comedy aspects played too large a role in the movie, but I felt this aspect added some much-needed lightness and human drama to the movie. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) all find themselves dealing with the vagaries of young love - from dealing with unwanted advances to finding love in unexpected places. The romance was aimed perfectly at the young teen market, and I found myself cringing ruefully at some of Lavender Brown's love-obsessed stunts and smiling wistfully at the tenderness between Harry and Ginny. Haven't we all been there at some stage of our lives?

All in all, Harry Potter is growing up. And so is the market for these movies. If you've seen all the movies up to now or read all the books, and your are at an age to appreciate the adult themes and movie techniques, this movie should fall pitch-perfect on your ear. You are likely to leave the cinema filled with a heart-wrenching sadness for innocence lost.

Purist fans will most certainly complain bitterly about numerous sub-plots, events and characters that were cut from the movie and the odd scene that doesn't exist in the book. But Yates' truly gutsy adaptation really works and brings a depth and clarity to the main themes of the book that is quite extraordinary. He manages to capture the lingering lightness of that time before the serious business of adulthood sets in, alongside the relentless buildup to the final showdown between The Dark Lord and The Chosen One. And the lack of closure at the end of the movie is no accident, I believe. Just like the book, this movie leaves you aching to see how it all ends (never mind the fact that you already know).

I must also commend the acting. The young leads have all matured in pace with the maturing content of the books and their acting shows it. Rupert Grint shines brightly in the somewhat Shakespearean love comedy he finds himself in, and makes the most of his new-found sport hero popularity. Emma Watson hits the spot, portraying Hermione's emotional vulnerability with gentle confidence and softness.

As for Radcliffe, it's easy to miss the evolution he's undergone as Harry, since there are other actors ostensibly given more to do in this outing, like Tom Felton and Bonnie Wright, both of whom get the opportunity to take their characters to a new level. Tom Felton, especially, does a remarkable job. But Radcliffe's task of playing the steadfast and courageous, yet not flashy or arrogant hero, remains a difficult one. Especially on second viewing, it becomes clear how his understated and controlled performance speaks very much to the type of man Harry Potter is shaping up to be. A man who is left with a tremendous responsibility at the end of this movie and takes it up without flinching. The boy-wizard is no more.

Of the older guard, Alan Rickman's Snape was a consummate performance, ... obviously. And Michael Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore never felt more right than in this movie. Jim Broadbent's Slughorn is deliciously played with just the right mix of off-putting sycophancy and endearing pathos.

All in all - a triumph all around!
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Narratively flawed adaptation of the best book of the series
tomgillespie200224 July 2014
Defiantly avoiding the familiar sign-posts of the early Harry Potter movies (Harry's troubles with the Dursley's, the journey to Hogwarts, meeting the new Defence Against the Dark Arts), returning director David Yates and the franchise in general has firmly settled into it's dark, brooding persona. The trouble is, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his ever- present shadows Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) have developed into one-dimensional bores. Thankfully, The Half-Blood Prince is rich in snivelling villains and wise old wizards and witches, all portrayed by an embarrassingly rich line-up of British thesps, who liven up the proceedings somewhat and add that much-needed gravitas.

It's a cast so crammed with talent that the likes of two-time Oscar- winner Maggie Smith is reduced to a walk-on part. But the film is plagued by a lack of proper pacing, and Yates has trouble keeping a grip on the mixture of drama, comedy and action. Certain scenes that were utterly gripping in J.K. Rowling's novel whizz by without you realising what just happened, confusing the thick plot to the point that any audience members unfamiliar to the books, and have waited two years between the movie instalments, might be left scratching their heads at the mention of Horcruxes and Vanishing Cabinets. This time around, Harry and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) partner up to gain information from new teacher Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).

Seeking to destroy Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) once and for all, Dumbledore's biggest clue lies in a memory tampered with by it's owner, Slughorn. It's a conversation between him and a young Voldemort, Tom Riddle (Frank Dillane - son of Stephen), discussing a dark magic that Dumbledore believes to be the key to Voldemort's immortality. Harry is given the task to appeal to Slughorn's love of celebrity and reveal his secrets, and impresses the bumbling teacher in his Potions class after discovering a textbook marked with alterations by the mysterious 'half- blood prince'. But Harry also believes nemesis Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) has been made a Death Eater and is up to no good, much to the scepticism of Ron and Hermione.

It's the best book of the series, in my opinion, and it's a shame that screenwriter Steve Kloves, who has written every Potter apart from Order of the Phoenix and has always done an excellent adapting the hefty books, can't quite get this one right. The moments in which Harry delves inside the Pensive, an apparatus that allows one to physically enter a memory, are impressive. We finally get some insight into the past, and the two young actors playing Tom Riddle (as well as Dillane, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, nephew of Ralph, plays an 11 year-old incarnation) are excellent, showing us a younger, curious dark lord. But it isn't enough to stop the film feeling like it's dragging out the franchise that made many people millions of dollars, or allowing me to forgive the many narrative flaws and many moments of plain rushed storytelling.

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The Worst Harry Potter Film
claudio_carvalho20 November 2009
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) summons Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) in his vacation and they visit Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to convince him to return from his retirement to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft to give Potions Classes. Dumbledore is teaching Harry Potter about Tom Riddle a.k.a. Voldemort, and he uses the memories of Slughorn to understand the evil Voldemort. Meanwhile, Harry Potter finds a book that belonged to a mysterious Half-Blood Prince that he uses in Slughorn's classes. Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) protects the evil Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) due to an oath while Draco releases the Death Eaters to bring chaos and destruction to the world.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is certainly the worst Harry Potter film. The boring story is supported by CGI only, with an uninteresting romance and other minor subplots. The grown-up Daniel Radcliffe is very weak for the lead role and will be certainly doomed to this character along his career. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Harry Potter e o Enigma do Príncipe" ("Harry Potter and the Enigma of the Prince")
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Benefits again from an increasingly dark and quite scary tone that makes the slightly over-long narrative more engaging
bob the moo22 November 2009
I'm not entirely sure why the total Potter narrative has yet to really grab me and make me look forward to the next film, but I must admit that with each film the series is getting better and this film is no exception. Although it takes far too long to tell the story, Half-Blood Prince sees Harry return to Hogwarts to work with Dumbledore to try and uncover more about the dark Lord Volemort's past in order to learn of any weakness that may help him defeat him. Never having read the books at all I'm not sure if this loses a lot of the original story (I'm guessing it does) but for me the story did feel very condensed and simple at time. That said it does have a lot in the way of "big picture" battles as well as the hormone-inspired confusion associated with teenagers of that age.

With this in mind I'm not sure why it takes as long in the telling as it does, but it does feel like a film that could have done with things being concentrated into less time – indeed most of them feel that way. This is my quibble with it but I will stress that I enjoyed the film mainly because of how dark and threatening it has all become. There are moments that are genuinely creepy and scary while the whole film has dark cinematography and a dark tone that I really enjoyed. Some will complain that it is too dark for young children but the series has always had effects and scenes of peril that are probably not suitable for the youngest children – they are just a lot more pronounced as time goes on.

With the rather more "mature" approach the cast improve with it. There are still a lot of big names in here but it doesn't feel like I'm watching a pantomime in the way that some of the films did – where the faces were almost too distracting and too much "oh look it's etc" rather than being characters themselves. The lead three children turn out to have been a masterstroke of casting as they have all turned into pretty good performers within the context of these films. Radcliffe and Watson in particular seem more than able to cope with the demands of their material, while Grint is good albeit with less challenging stuff to do. Broadbent is a good addition because he can easily do serious behind a rather bumbling front – which is what is required here. Gambon, Coltrane, Carter, Rickman and many others continue to do good work as one would expect. Most impressively of all though is the work done behind the scenes. The film looks and feels great with very high production values throughout – with cinematography, sound design, costumes, sets, locations, effects it is hard to really fault it for how it was made.

What this leaves us with is a very strong family film. I still have niggles about the overall story and perhaps it is the early films that limited me getting into it from the start but now it is firing. Satisfyingly dark and brooding with high production values, this film has its faults but is still engaging and mature and bodes very well for the much anticipated conclusion.
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