Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Director: David Yates
Plot: 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.

Nom. for 1 Oscar - best cinematography.
Runtime: 153min
Rating: PG
for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.  

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth out of a projected eight films from the wildly-popular long-running fantasy series which began its cinematic life in 2001. Adapted from J.K. Rowling’s original novels of the same name, the Harry Potter films have, over the years, been helmed by four different filmmakers: Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and David Yates. Newell’s The Goblet of Fire (2005) remains the weakest of the bunch thus far. But ever since Yates took up the directing job for The Order of the Phoenix (2007), the series is looking at a revival. The Half-Blood Prince confirms that revival. 

The Half-Blood Prince starts out excellently with the establishment of the villainous Death Eaters led by Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), and a key scene with Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) who plays an important role in the film’s climax. After that, the main plot begins: Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) finds a book belonging to a mysterious half-blood prince and dwells deeper into a dark conspiracy involving the pos
sible murder of Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Hogwarts’ headmaster. The best performance goes to Rickman who gives his most complete Snape portrayal thus far - eerily calm and chillingly precise with his lines. 

This film focuses more on the rel
ationship between Harry and Dumbledore to an extent that Harry’s friends - Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine (Emma Watson) - become less important to the narrative. In fact, they are largely consigned to peripheral roles that explore, more than anything else, the ups and downs of romance and infatuation in a college setting. The Half-Blood Prince takes on a different direction from the previous five prequels. Here, Yates refuses to succumb to the temptation of making an all-out action fantasy extravaganza. Instead, he concentrates on developing the characters and advances the story quickly, sometimes at the expense of entertainment. 

This is important because ultimately
this is a ‘setup’ film which paves the way for an eagerly-anticipated finale. It may disappoint Potter fans or the casual moviegoer, but the film is likely, in retrospect, to gain appreciation after the whole series is completed. The lack of action is compensated by excellent production design and art direction, perhaps the best thus far. The dark, ominous mood continues since The Goblet of Fire and is felt the strongest here. With The Half-Blood Prince, the magic and innocence that filled Hogwarts has disappeared, but Yates’ bold, new direction for this film will be rewarded if not sooner, then later.


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