Running time: 153 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A
Watched at the cinema Saturday 18th July 2009.
***WARNING! ***PLEASE NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
First of all, let me say I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, I have, however, seen all of the films. I have found all of the films up to this one exciting, entertaining and enthralling, but with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince we have turned a corner into a much darker place. Don’t get me wrong, there is an awful lot of humour in this film as it also deals with the main characters discovering their sexuality, which always has some comical consequences. But Harry’s battle with the dark lord Voldemort is getting closer and this brings about some quite disturbing events in the life of the young wizard.
Just before the start of term Harry is visited by Dumbledore who takes him to see Professor Horace Slughorn, who is persuaded to join the staff at Hogwarts. Harry, Hermione and Ron start the term just like any other, although Harry has suspicions about Draco Malfoy. He is right, because Draco has indeed been drawn to the side of Voldemort. Professor Slughorn had taught at Hogwarts for many years in the past and one of his many students had been Tom Riddle, who became Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore asks Harry to get close to Professor Slughorn in order to find out more about Tom Riddle in the hope that there might me some clue as to where to find Voldemort. Harry takes classes with Professor Slughorn and is given a mysterious textbook with additional notes written by its previous owner, the ‘Half-Blood Prince’. Eventually, Professor Slughorn gives Harry the memory of a conversation he had had with the young Tom. In it, Tom talks about spell that will split his soul into several pieces and hide it in different objects. The only way to split a soul is to commit a murder, and Tom talks about splitting a soul into seven pieces. Dumbledore had suspected this and has located where one of the pieces is hidden. He needs Harry’s help to retrieve it and is badly injured in the attempt. Meanwhile, Draco’s treachery allows agents of Voldemort into the school and aided by Professor Severus Snape, who is the Half-Blood Prince, they kill a weakened Dumbledore. I found the scene after Dumbledore’s death where all of the students point their wands at the sky very moving. There, I said it was dark, of course, as I said at the beginning, there are, at times very amusing, sub-plots involving Ron and Hermione’s relationship(s), so it’s not all dark.
As we have become accustomed, the special effects are quite stunning, excellent cinematography and fantastic sets. Excellent performances from all of the main characters, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione. A particularly good performance from Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace Slughorn, who’s performance held the whole film together. Honourable mentions go to Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape and Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. Over all, a quite dark, but also very entertaining film. I left wondering what’s going to happen in the last two films. I may even break with tradition and read ‘The Deathly Hallows’ before the films come out.
My score: 8/10