Blockbuster Movie Month: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" Review

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"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is the sixth installment in the J. K. Rowling novel-based film series. Set during his 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) discovers an old book labeled "the property of the Half-Blood Prince" and subsequently begins to learn more about Lord Voldemort's dark past. The young wizard must also deal with emerging romantic relationships and emotional confusion typical of his age as he readies for the final battle. "Potter" stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint also reprise their roles in the 2009 installment.
4

Rating: PG

Length: 153 minutes

Release Date: July 15, 2009

Directed by: David Yates

Genre: Adventure / Family / Fantasy

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is the sixth installment in the "Harry Potter" film franchise and is based on the book of the same name written by J.K. Rowling. In the film, Harry is once again lured into a face-off with his nemesis, Lord Voldemort. After a fierce fight, Harry, Ron and Hermione are left vowing to get revenge for the death of one of their friends.

 

Plot Summary

In the opening scenes of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Harry Potter's nemesis – Lord Voldemort – instructs Draco to carry out a secret mission and casts a spell to ensure the plan will not be interrupted. Meanwhile, Harry accompanies Albus Dumbledore – the headmaster of Hogwarts – on a visit to see Professor Horace Slughorn. After talking Slughorn into returning to teach at Howarts, Dumbledore and Harry go to the Burrow where Harry is reunited with his friends, Ron and Hermione. 

After returning to Hogwarts, Harry and the others begin preparing for Slughorn's potions class. During these preparations Harry stumbles across a textbook that belonged to someone named the Half-Blooded Prince. The book contains many notes and instructions for spells. Intrigued, Harry closely studies the new information. 

After the Christmas Holiday, Harry, Ron and Hermione resume their classes. Soon after arriving, Ron is sickened after drinking something laced with a poison. It is quickly learned that the poisoned drink was intended for Dumbledore and that Draco was the one behind the attempted murder. 

Determined to take on Draco and Voldemort, Harry uses some of the spells written in his textbook to fight back. However, he ends up being too late to save someone close to him who is murdered by an unlikely killer. In the end, Harry, Ron and Hermione begin to plan how they will exact revenge for the death of their friend. 

 

Cast

Like the previous films, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" features great acting from the entire cast. As the film is the sixth installment, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have perfected their portrayals of their respective characters. This film is slightly different from some of the other installments, as it has a darker tone and several events that leave the main characters devastated. Consequently, the lead actors are given more opportunity to reflect a range of emotions. 

One of the best performances is Michael Gambon's portrayal of Albus Dumbledore. In this installment, the character takes on a very active role in the plot, and Gambon rises to the occasion. 

 

Film Analysis

The plot of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" flows very well and the developments are laid out in such a way that the ending is unpredictable. The events in the film also closely follow the book, but a few changes are made that narrow the focus. All of the changes greatly enhance the film, and none of the omissions detract from the story in any way. In fact, some alterations even prolong the revelation of the killer's identity, which keeps the audience guessing until the final moments. 

During the film, the main characters develop further and begin to evolve as young adults. Harry and Ron each end up falling in love, and Hermione is left upset that her friends have other focuses. Despite the distractions, the characters become even closer when they lose their friend. The ending of the film is very satisfying, despite the death of a central character. The final scenes focus on Harry, Ron and Hermione planning their next move, which gives fans something to look forward to in the next installment and guarantees the next film will be full of action. 

The special effects in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" far exceed the previous films. Director David Yates uses CGI to create new sets and make the backgrounds more in tone with the events of the film. The scene that takes place in the cave is one of the best examples of the special effects. Although everything but the opening to the cave was constructed purely with special effects, there is no way to tell the setting is not real. 

The filming techniques used in the film complement the use of special effects. The camera angles change rapidly during the more suspenseful scenes, which allow the audience to see everything that is happening. There is also a great combination of tight close-ups and sweeping shots that punctuate the emotional nature of the film. The lighting throughout the film also alternates depending on the events that take place and the mood of the characters. With so much attention to detail, it is not surprising the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and a BAFTA Award for Production Design and Visual Effects.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" adds yet another chapter to the story of Harry Potter. This installment is one of the most exciting to watch and the film ends in a great way that leaves the audience excited to see the next film in the series. Overall, this installment is a must-see for fans, and moviegoers who are not familiar with the film series will also be able to keep up with the story.