Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner15/07/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 150 mins

The sixth instalment of the Harry Potter series is neither the best nor the worst so far. The acting has improved considerably and the effects are better than ever but nothing really happens and there are some unforgivably slow stretches.

What's it all about?
Order of the Phoenix director David Yates returns for the sixth instalment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the penultimate book, although book 7 will be split into two films). With the evil Death Eaters wreaking havoc in London, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) asks Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to help persuade retired Potions Master Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to return to Hogwarts, with the aim of retrieving a buried memory from Slughorn's past that will prove crucial in the upcoming fight against Voldemort.

Meanwhile, Hogwarts has been hit by a flood of raging hormones: Ron (Rupert Grint) starts going out with Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), which upsets a jealous Hermione (Emma Watson), while Harry struggles with his feelings for Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) is behaving suspiciously, too, but he only seems to have eyes for a mysterious vanishing cabinet.

The Good
Radcliffe's acting has improved significantly, though he still has a tendency to lapse into gormlessness, particularly when not in close up. The old hands (Rickman, Smith and co) do their usual good work, but the stand out performance honours are shared between Broadbent, Gambon and Watson. Let's face it, Emma Watson has always been the best actor of the three leads.

The effects are excellent, particularly the opening attack on the Millennium Bridge and the whizzy Quidditch sequences. Similarly, Yates' direction is more stylish and effective this time round, notably during a suspenseful chase sequence in a wheat field.

The Bad
The main problem is that at two and a half hours, the film is way too long and there some unforgivably slow stretches in the middle that could have easily been trimmed. Similarly, finale aside, the action sequences don't really amount to anything (there's no sense of danger in the wheat field attack, for instance), so the tiny sub plots such as Ron's luck potion dilemma are actually more emotionally involving than the big dramatic events.

Worth seeing?
It's overly long and occasionally dull as a result of pieces being moved into place for the final films, but if you're a Potter fan you probably won't be disappointed.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (M)
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Content updated: 24/05/2019 03:00

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