Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Dave Legeno, Geraldine Somerville, Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters, Helen McCrory, Timothy Spall, Oliver Phelps, James Phelps, Freddie Stroma, Jessie Cave, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Elarica Gallagher
Written by: Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Directed by: David Yates
MPAA Rating: PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality
Running Time: 153
Date: 06/07/2009
IMDB

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Spells and Snogging

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Newcomer David Yates somehow landed the job of directing the fifth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), and while the result was passable, it was a typical newcomer's job. For the new sixth film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Yates returns refreshed, and much more intuitive and confident. Better still, the series' regular scribe Steve Kloves returns after taking the last film off, and his skill at balancing the books' gargantuan plots and characters is still apparent.

The filmmakers continue in the vein of the series' best film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), veering into darkness and terror, with inky shadows and muted colors. This year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) becomes convinced that Draco Malfoy (a tall, gaunt Tom Felton) is up to something sinister. Then, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) gives Harry a special assignment: get close to the new potions teacher, Professor Horace Slughorn (a remarkable Jim Broadbent), and find out what he knows about Lord Voldemort.

That's all well and good, but the real focus of this film is the raging hormones of the teenage witches and wizards, cluelessly falling in love, and unknowingly breaking each other's hearts. Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are very definitely crushing on one another, but neither knows how to say anything, and each must deal with advances from other parties. Harry also has a problem: he likes Ron's sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright), but Ron has showed nothing but contempt for Ginny's other boyfriends.

Fans may wince at how much material had to be cut out of J.K. Rowling's 650-page tome (published in 2005), but the movie version moves very nicely, deftly planting seeds of suspense and mystery and keeping them growing throughout the powerful amorous entanglements. Of course, it's not much of a stand-alone movie; viewers who haven't seen the previous couple of films will be lost, and much depends on the breathlessly-awaited, two-part conclusion (to be released in 2010 and 2011).

In 2011, Warner Home Video released a super-deluxe Blu-Ray Ultimate Edition, with a cool cover. It comes with a little hardcover book and character, character cards, and two discs. The first disc has the movie and an interactive, Maximum Movie Mode setting. The second contains a new documentary, and lots of other stuff.