It's Harry's third year at Hogwarts; not only does he have a new "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher, but there is also trouble brewing. Convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped the Wizards' Prison and is coming after Harry.
In the sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, and in both wizard and muggle worlds Lord Voldemort and his henchmen are increasingly active. With vacancies to fill at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore persuades Horace Slughorn, back from retirement to become the potions teacher, while Professor Snape receives long awaited news. Harry Potter, together with Dumbledore, must face treacherous tasks to defeat his evil nemesis. Written by
Only the most unyielding literalist Potter fans will not enjoy this film as it has it all: exquisite cinematography, a brilliant soundtrack, imaginative direction, and the best acting from both veterans and young guns we've seen so far in the series. All are put to brilliant use as Dumbledore and Harry conspire to discover Lord Voldermort's secrets whilst simultaneously straining every sinew to contain outbreaks of rampant hormones and potion-taking at Hogwarts.
Some of the sets are breathtaking, in particular Weasley Wizard Wheezes. The film is hilarious throughout, Rupert Grint excelling with superb support from Jessie Cave, Freddie Stroma (as Cormac McClaggen) and Evanna Lynch. Bonnie Wright and Tom Felton are allowed to step out of their two-dimensional characters, Wright delivering sensuousness and strength and Felton giving an outstanding all-round performance. Daniel Radcliffe continues to carry the weight of both the part and the franchise with effortless ease, and Emma Watson is once again a delight as the emotionally embattled focus of the superb trio, who have now added a facility for comedy to their formidable acting skills.
The veterans pull out all the stops, Michael Gambon is exceptional, becoming a truly charismatic and compelling presence by the end of the film, and of course, perfectly pitched performances from the likes of Bonham Carter (terrifyingly seductive), Jim Broadbent (funny and pathos-filled), and Alan Rickman (unreadably malevolent). And, despite being on the screen for what seemed an instant, both David Thewlis and Helen McCrory successfully convey their respective characters' desperation and edginess.
The film never lags because when you are not being gripped by visceral Quidditch or battle scenes you are laughing your head off at the comedy which ranges from broad and physical to witty and acute.
The film is all the more satisfying because there is a very strong sense of place, and the characters are three-dimensional, and utterly recognisable. And, it is truly multi-dimensional, part romcom, detective story, rites-of-passage teen adventure, magical, scary-horror, political, and, above all, about love and friendship. All Rowling's stories are multi-layered but this is the first film to really capture the complexity and fun of the series.
You cannot wish for more from a film than it both stays in the mind, and, the first urge you have is to want to see it all over again. Half Blood Prince delivers on both counts, and more.
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