Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.4/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 7/10


The truth about Voldemort's return has finally spilled, and the Ministry of Magic is slowly losing its grip to the dark forces, as the Death Eaters slowly engulf the Wizarding and Muggle world. In the brink of darkness, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) seeks help from Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) once again, in addition the help of an old friend, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).

Using Dumbledore's pensieve, Harry learns about the boy named Tom Riddle who became the widely known Voldemort. Looking through all the memories, Harry might just discover the secret to destroy the Dark Lord once and for all. During his sixth year at Hogwarts, Harry comes across a mysterious potions textbook, owned by an individual called the Half-Blood Prince.

To start, the film opens brilliantly, literally joining with Order of the Phoenix to continue the story.

Being the only Harry Potter film nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography, The Half-Blood Princeis the most gorgeous-looking installment out of them all. Blurring practically everything on screen except the key items, the camerawork is also assisted by color-correcting, giving certain locations an overall tint and glow. In every dark "nighttime"-like shot, the lighting is exquisitely used, and the framing of certain shots will remind critics of Alfonso Cuaron's vision of Prisoner of Azkaban. Even when a lot of the sets were already seen in previous entries, the cinematography manages to present them under different light. The prettiest hallways now look more ominous and Gothic-looking than ever. All of it enhances the visual experience of Half-Blood Prince, as well as Harry's dark journey.

Surprisingly, Half-Blood Prince is the funniest film in the series as well, and none of it is contrived or forced to make the kids laugh in any way. By now, the films have matured and the substance has progressed. It is all adolescent drama. The script this time around is arguably one of the best -- every conversation between Harry and Slughorn is perfected with careful dialogue, and every conversation between Harry and his friends that involves love has enough awkwardness to be entertaining. The pacing is inevitably slower than its predecessors, but the storytelling is compelling enough for it to not be a problem. However, some may argue the opposite because of "a lack of action scenes." The entire film holds the mystery of Voldemort's past, and that alone magnetizes the film's narrative.

To make things simple, the characterization of Harry, Dumbledore, and Slughorn carry this entry on its own. If you have not noticed already in the previous entries, Dumbledore's character resembles more and more like the father Harry never had. For Gambon's acting ability, he proves that he still has a plethora of tricks up his sleeve. As for Slughorn, his personality and motives are definitely questionable, but nevertheless shameful, and Broadbent portrays him wonderfully with great accuracy and consistency. The scariest thing about the film's characterization is the very fact that Voldemort used to be a student just like Harry, who wandered in the same halls and lived under the same roof. They say homogenous lines of dialogue, again hinting the similarities between the Dark Lord and the boy who lived.

Half-Blood Prince is also the pivotal entry that truly displays the connection between Harry's experience at Hogwarts and the imminent threat of the Dark Lord. Furthermore, it confirms that Harry is indeed the Chosen One, the one who will stop Voldemort. At this point, when someone dies, he is not dying for Harry, but dying for something greater. And as the penultimate story comes to an end, Harry seeks to finish what Dumbledore started, casting him and his friends out into the outside world. Without a doubt, the film brings a terrific transition to the final installment.

In conclusion, The Half-Blood Prince is a terrific continuation of The Order of the Phoenix, and reveals key plot lines to the conclusion. It amps up the risk and danger of Harry and his friends while at the same time giving our loved characters a spark of hope. Once again, the acting is improved, ranging from Emma Watson to Tom Felton, and Nicholas Hooper's music score is spellbinding. For the die-hard Potter fans who read the novels, this sixth installment may be frowned at for deleting scenes and adding new ones. However, it makes Half-Blood Prince a refreshing contribution to what is already a magical film series.

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