Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Jim Broadbent, Emma Watson
Directed by: David Yates (“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”)
Written by: Steve Kloves (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”)
The popular boy wizard continues down the mysterious road of sorcery and wonderment that has entertained fans for the last eight years in the sixth installment of the J.K. Rowling’s fantasy franchise, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Who would have guessed that Harry’s most formidable adversary in the new film would be puberty?
Yes, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has developed into a young man, and just in time. In “Half-Blood Prince,” there’s far more to fear than acne breakouts and raging hormones. The Dark Arts flourish as Harry and best friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) continue on their quest to stop the evil Lord Voldemort (seen in this film only as a gothic-looking young student).
The story begins with Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) interfering into Harry’s life outside of Hogwarts as he flirts with a café waitress and sets up an impromptu date. Harry, who now knows he is “the chosen one,” doesn’t have time to enjoy the Muggle world as much as he would like. Dumbledore whisks him off to visit retired professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) so they can try to persuade him to return to Hogwarts. There’s something Slughorn is suppressing in his memory that can help Harry understand how to defeat Voldemort.
Along with Slughorn’s secrets, Harry must contend with a trio of smoky Death Eaters, who are terrorizing both the Muggle and Wizard worlds, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), who is coming into his own and doing so by following orders of the Dark Lord himself, and, of course, the romantic high jinks that seems contagious throughout the entire school.
While romance continues to blossom occasionally between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Ron and Hermione’s ambiguous relationship halts for a moment when another girl (Jessie Cave) begins to show interest in Ron. There’s no need for too many doses of love potion in the high school-like melodrama that plays out in the halls of Hogwarts. With all the heartbreak, jealousy, infatuation, and pitter-patter of youthful hearts, it’s really a treat to see there’s actual blood pumping through these characters as the story continues to unfold.
Directed by David Yates, who was also behind “Order of the Phoenix,” “Half-Blood Prince” is the most dialogue-heavy of the entire series. Yates and his screenwriting team slow down the pace considerably to uncover more of the emotional elements of everyone involved. However, there are still highly entertaining scenes comprised of impressive special effects and sprightly editing (you can’t have a “Harry Potter” movie without a weather-beaten game of Quidditch). “Half-Blood Prince” is also the funniest of the bunch.
While actual magic might be a secondary thought in Rowling’s text, “Half-Blood Prince” is a notable addition to the narrative as a whole. It all leads up nicely to the final installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows,” which will be released in two parts in 2010 and 2011 respectively.