Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, Helen McCrory, Timothy Spall, Oliver Phelps, James Phelps, Freddie Stroma, Jessie Cave, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, David Bradley, Matthew Lewis, Georgina Leonidas, David Thewlis, Natalia Tena, Mark Williams, Dave Legeno.
Written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling.
Directed by David Yates.
We muggles sure can make a mess of things, especially when it comes to transforming classic stories from the pages of books onto movie screens. That's the attitude I have whenever I see a movie based on a popular novel. I spend a lot of time wondering what will be cut from the books, what will be added, and how far the movie strays from the pages. It's also the reason I would rather see such films before I read the book, so I won't be so disappointed. Even so, I anticipated the belated arrival of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with some trepidation, having already conceded that none of the Harry Potter movies could ever possibly do justice to such and imaginative body of literary work.
Daniel Radcliffe returns as Harry, along with his best pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). The tale begins as Harry and his mentor Professor Albus Dumbledore recruit retired professor Horace Slughorn to come out of retirement and return to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dumbledore wants Harry to get Slughorn to divulge a secret memory concerning Tom Riddle, who would later become the Dark Lord Voldemort.
Tom Felton plays Draco Malfoy, Harry's school nemesis, whom Voldemort has been given the task of disposing of Dumbledore. Harry suspects Draco is up to something and tries to follow him around. Harry also finds an old potions textbook that once belonged to an unknown "Half-Blood Prince" who scribbled all sorts of cheats and detours around the official text, which Harry uses to get ahead in his potions class.
When Harry finally gets Slughorn to give up his decades-old memory of when he told Tom Riddle how to become immortal, Harry and Dumbledore set out to destroy the artifacts containing dark magic that helped Voldemort resurrect and torment the magic and muggle worlds.
Along the way, Harry falls for Ron's younger sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) as Ron deals with his own teen romance troubles, unaware that Hermione holds a flame for him.
As the heroes get closer to the secrets of Voldemort's powers of immortality, the dangers grow, and Harry must once again deal with the loss of a close friend as he prepares for one last campaign to rid the world of the Dark Lord forever.
As mentioned before, I went to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince expecting to be disappointed in the discrepancies between the pages and the big screen. As such, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince does as much justice to J.K. Rowling's classic as it can, and is every bit as good as any other Harry Potter movie.
True, there are many parts of the book which are conspicuously absent from the movie, but that shouldn't detract true HP fans. The children who grew up on screen as Harry and his friends have matured physically and in acting ability, most notably Rupert Grint as the hapless Ron, and Tom Felton as the burdened and troubled Draco. Alan Rickman reprises with great success his role as the mysterious Professor Snape, as does Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall and Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. It's good to have such seasoned and talented actors to support the younger Radcliffe, Grint and Watson.
If there are any qualms I have about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it's the middle battle scene at the Burrow (the Weasley home) between Harry, Ginny and a few Death Eaters (Voldemort followers) which is a major departure from the book, taking up precious time in an already long movie. The other small complaint I have is the lack of mourning that seems appropriate when such a beloved and major HP character is killed (I won't give away who, in the slightest chance that anyone hasn't read the book). I also wished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had taken on a little different look and feel than 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The teen romance aspect of the movie might be a little too silly for some mature adults, but for most, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a sweet tale of love, loss, and dark mystery.
I have grown to appreciate the actors who play the main characters in the Harry Potter movies as much as I have grown to love the characters I have always imagined as I turned the pages of Rowling's wonderful books. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is another classic movie version of another classic tale, and I'm confident most fans will grow even fonder of those beloved characters once they see the film.