Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) Review

Time: 153 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

As Death Eaters wreak havoc in both Muggle and Wizard worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven for students. Though Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects there are new dangers lurking within the castle walls, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is more intent than ever on preparing the young wizard for the final battle with Voldemort. Meanwhile, teenage hormones run rampant through Hogwarts, presenting a different sort of danger. Love may be in the air, but tragedy looms, and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

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After The Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros was dead set on director David Yates doing the rest of the Harry Potter series. Having seen the next movies, I’d say that this was a very good call. The Half Blood Prince is a well balanced, dark and effective movie, and for sure one of the best movies in the series.

Half Blood Prince has a rather dark story and so had a dark tone, this is established in the first scene of the movie. It’s evident throughout. With that said, the movie is not devoid of lighter and humorous moments. A big part of this movie is the characters growing up, with teenage romance all about and more. While on paper it sounds like it could turn out really poorly (especially with it being based on a YA novel), it all feels really natural here. Goblet of Fire delved slightly into that but it came across as being a little annoying, Half Blood Prince handled it much better and it was actually fun to watch. There are some things cut from the movie, but that’s come to be expected with the movie series. What matters is whether the movie still works on its own as a story. Although I will admit that I would’ve liked to have seen more glimpses at Tom Riddle’s past and backstory, as we only see 2/3 moments of that in flashbacks. It would’ve been interesting to see and learn more about Riddle, however it’s wasn’t necessary for the story. Half Blood Prince does have however feature a sequence that wasn’t in the movie, that being the Death Eater’s attack on The Burrow. While it isn’t necessary and the story could’ve worked without it, it did remind us once again about the danger that’s very apparent in the Wizarding World, the movie is better with it. This is a pretty long movie, at about 2 hours and a half long but all around it’s actually really well paced and never really drags.

Acting is all around in this movie is good. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are played well once again. I feel like Harry doesn’t really get much to do here compared to some of the previous movies, though he does have some great acting moments, especially in the third act. The romance between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is very out of place and just comes out of nowhere. It’s like we missed a storyline with them in between movies, and we are only seeing it for the first time, and it just comes across as being really awkward. I almost feel like Grint and Watson got more chance to shine, a lot of the aforementioned coming of age elements are especially present with them and they have great chemistry. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy gets to do more here than in any of the other Harry Potter movies, with him receiving a task to kill Dumbledore. We see more sides to him and he’s shown to be more than just one of the more dislikeable characters in the Harry Potter series, and he’s shown to be much more complex. Michael Gambon gives his best performance as Albus Dumbledore, he seems close to the end of his lifespan and he’s particularly focussed on for this story. Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, the new potions teacher who is integral to the story, was played well and was perfectly cast.

David Yates does yet another great job with his direction of the movie. This movie has some great cinematography. One criticism about it however is that its so dark looking (borderline black and white at times) and washed out, that at certain moments its hard to see what’s going on and I can definitely see it. It’s really the only Harry Potter movie that I have problems with regarding the colour and the lighting. I know the movie is supposed to be quite dark but even the next films in the series don’t have a colour pallet as dark as this. Most of the time it’s fine, at times it can be a little distracting. It does well however at giving an off-putting feeling, and in that it does it very well. And the cinematography is among the best in the entire series to be fair. The visual effects are done really well, as to be expected they get better with every film. There is a segment in the third act in particular which was done very well. The score by Nicholas Hooper is once again great and adds a lot to the movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince surprised me, it was actually pretty great and one of the best in the series. While there are some additional things I would’ve liked to have seen in the movie and some of the colour pallet is a little too washed out and distracting, almost everything in this movie works greatly. I’m so glad that Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates, it really paid off.

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