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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Click here to read our exclusive interview with Daniel Radcliffe

Harry shaves! Harry snogs! But stay your wand, there are other forces of darkness besides late adolescence which are afflicting the poor orphaned wizard of Hogwarts and his hormone-raging contemporaries. For one, Voldemort’s allies, the aerial, ink-trailing Death Eaters, are ravaging London. Ping! Pling! There go the stanchions of the Millennium Bridge! And Harry has hardly been re-admitted to school, following the departure of Mrs Umbridge, last term’s knit-robed Robespierre, when Dumbledore teleports him to Tudor-relic Budleigh Babberton to meet and recruit one-time Potions Master Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent, disguised as a sofa).

False-memory syndrome is at the heart of this next stage of the fight against evil forces: Dumbledore’s phials of stored reminiscences have been polluted, and it is sly Slughorn’s recall of his past tutoring of a Horcrux-fascinated student which may hold a necessary and life-saving corrective.

Longer than the last, the sixth episode of the adventures of the increasingly burdened magic warrior of Privet Drive is a more human affair than its predecessors. It’s as full of the romantic dalliances of the maturing students as it is of warring set-pieces, creature shocks and detours down dark Dickensian alleys. We can already sense the two-part seventh and final saga on the horizon, and the whole less-frenzied affair is tonally and emotionally suggestive of a post-battle re-grouping before a final cinematic assault.

To this end, scriptwriter Steve Kloves, back after a one-film sabbatical, has ably summed up the JK Rowling doorstopper by omitting a major battle and axeing at least one character. Also, the fine, less showy work by new DoP Bruno Delbonnel and Nicholas Hopper’s non-strident second Potter score are in tune with director Yates’s laudable refusal to underline too forcefully moments of triumph and disaster. Togther, they allow space for as much human detail, intimacy, humour and, indeed, pathos as a family magical/fantasy action adventure will allow.

Thus – thrillseekers beware – the film’s memorable scenes are, interestingly, not necessarily the most momentous: the sad, assembled Weasleys regarding their crooked Norfolk tower; a lionine, wind-tossed Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) framed in the Hogwarts tower with all the grandeur of Powell and Pressburger’s ‘Black Narcissus’; poor Emma Watson’s Hermione crying in solitary heartbreak; blonde bombshell Draco Malfoy pitied in a picture of isolated evil. Rupert Grint’s Ron is still the leavening star – striking funny, victorious poses in the series’s last game of Quidditch – but Daniel Radcliffe’s less self-conscious and more self-deprecating Harry runs him a close second.

Click here to read our exclusive interview with Daniel Radcliffe

Written by Wally Hammond

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 17 July 2009

Cast and crew

  • Director:David Yates
  • Screenwriter:Steve Kloves
  • Cast:
    • Helena Bonham Carter
    • Emma Watson
    • Alan Rickman
    • Jessie Cave
    • Rupert Grint
    • Bonnie Wright
    • Jim Broadbent
    • Maggie Smith
    • Michael Gambon
    • Tom Felton
    • Helen McCrory
    • David Thewlis
    • Robbie Coltrane
    • Warwick Davis
    • Evanna Lynch
    • Natalia Tena
    • Julie Walters
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