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Film Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

BY RACHAEL LANDER | JULY 20, 2009 7:15 AM

**** out of *****

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was better than a three-way with Cedric Diggory, Fred Weasley, and Oliver Wood. Or for folks who enjoy witches — Hermione Granger, Fleur Delacour, and Ginny Weasley. The sixth installment of the series was by far the best yet — with a story line closely mirroring that of the book, brilliant special effects, and character development that hadn’t yet been introduced in the films. Not to mention an underlying humorous script that made the dark moments seem a little brighter.

Though it would be easy to sit and point out the films flaws (yes, of course there are some; the movie is based on a book after all), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the first of the six that deserves to be praised.

The flick launched with a shaky beginning (the Dursleys decided to skip this one) but quickly redeemed itself. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) shows up to take Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) on a trip to see former Hogwarts Professor Horace Slughorn, and they find him in the village of Budleigh Babberton (fake town) taking temporary lodging in a muggle (non-magical beings) house and transfigured into a chair — he’s on the run from the Death Eaters.

Speaking of Voldemort’s pesky followers, not only were they creepy (especially Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange), but they were the bearers of some of the coolest Harry Potter special effects to date. For those who have followed the films since the beginning, it’s common knowledge that effects were never really well-done. The changing of directors to David Yates in Order of the Phoenix certainly helped, and things have only gotten better since.

The Death Eaters — portrayed as flying, wispy, dark masses when on the move — destroyed the Brockdale Bridge (also fictional) in London as part of a symbol that both the magic and muggle worlds were beginning to be in control of Voldemort once again. Although the bridge’s destruction wasn’t necessarily as important as it was portrayed in the film, the effects still made it a memorable moment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince also sees the return of Quidditch (ridiculously popular wizard game). Though the Quidditch games have always looked fake and somewhat stupid, the latest match was about as realistic as playing a game on broomsticks can look — definitely a positive moment.

One of the biggest parts of the book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the focus on relationships. Although there’s always room for character development with movies (especially Harry Potter ones), the story line was still incredibly satisfying. Hermione’s heartbreak over Ron and Lavender (played fantastically by newcomer Jessie Cave) was tear-jerking and sweet. Harry and Ginny, meanwhile, had so much chemistry that viewers couldn’t help but desire to see them on the screen together.

Another notable thing about the flick was the attention to humor. Ron being put under a love potion by Romilda Vane (intended for Harry) or Harry’s comedic reaction after drinking a draught of Felix Felicis (for luck).

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince stands as one of the first films in the series where viewers may have left the theater without wanting to Avada Kedavra their date.


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