Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Helena Bonham Carter and Robbie Coltrane
Director: David Yates
Time: 153 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: It is the sixth year at Hogwarts for Harry, Hermoine and Ron - and it's no longer kids' stuff now. Besides sorcery, magic and Quiddich, they must also grapple with their raging hormones and growing attraction in the opposite sex.

These adolescent romances (read: puppy love), plus a well-planted kiss somewhere in the movie, should help to sell this sequel - and give it an advantage over its predecessors. Of course, it is pretty obvious that director David Yates has been going all out to please Harry Potter fans by being as faithful to J.K. Rowling's book as possible - and he has done a great job of it.

THE SKINNY: Voldemort is tightening his grip on power and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects that dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defences and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), whom he believes holds the key to uncovering a major mystery about a student .

Meanwhile, Harry, the Chosen One, finds himself drawn to Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), sister of his best friend Ron (Rupert Grint) who, in turn is besotted by Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), or is it the delectable Romilda Vane (Anna Shaffer)? Hermione (Emma Watson), meanwhile, simmers with jealousy but is determined not to show her feelings. Love and romance may be in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

HITS & MISSES: Inevitably, the main cast are still a major draw, and while Radcliffe has lost his boyish charm, he has become a more confident actor. Grint still gets the laughs, but it is Watson (pictured right) who has matured enough to become the most watchable star of the show. Inevitably, she will be winning more fans at the movie's premieres. While the previous instalments featured fascinating 'critters', this one teems with nubile youngsters that should excite even the 'Twilight' crowd.

Unlike the previous five movies, The Half-Blood Prince is more languorous (and sometimes draggy) in its narrative and lighter in its action. This is because it is the anxiety-ridden prelude to Harry’s final confrontation with Voldemort in the next book. The mood is further darkened by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel although two fiery set pieces — the Death Eaters’ attack on the Weasley home and Harry and Dumbledore’s scary cave excursion — set our adrenaline pumping.

Those unfamiliar with the Harry Potter series may feel a bit let down by the ending. The movie could also have been trimmed to make it more compact. As it is, Yates has skipped some interesting parts of the book. We will have to wait for the two-parter conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (scheduled for 2010 and 2011) to enjoy the big confrontation.

THE LOWDOWN: A bit drawn-out but a good sequel and build-up to the climactic Deathly Hallows.


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