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Vol. LXIII, No. 29
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS OF HOGWARTS PLAN THEIR STRATEGY: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, right) confers with his best friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson, center), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) about the best way to foil Lord Voldemort’s latest attempts to wreak havoc at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Harry Potter Returns to Hogwarts to Foil Lord Voldemort Again

Kam Williams

Nothing I say here could have an effect on the faithful fans of Harry Potter who are flocking to see this sixth movie based on the series of novels by J.K. Rowling. Rather than read this review, Potter purists might prefer to read a discussion comparing the book to the screen version, because adapting any novel to the screen always involves making compromises. This is certainly the case when you’re condensing the 652-page book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where it is necessary to conflate characters and eliminate sidebars in order to distill the bestseller into a movie.

Therefore, this review is written for those people who are unfamiliar with the book series but are interested in knowing whether or not they’re likely to enjoy the movie.

I have great news. “Yes!” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince offers a compelling cinematic experience even for yours truly who doesn’t know the difference between a “Muggle” and a “Mudblood.” (FYI, the former is a term used to refer to a person without magical powers, while the latter applies to anyone whose parents lack magic powers.) The uninitiated need not worry about such fine distinctions in the Potter lexicon, since this film’s storyline is straightforward enough to follow without a glossary.

The movie was again directed by David Yates who reassembled all the members of the principal cast, including Daniel Radcliffe as the boy wizard who, in the book, is just reaching puberty. Rather than hide his 20-year-old star’s five o’clock shadow under pancake makeup, Yates has someone suggest, “Harry, you need a shave.”

Also approaching adulthood are Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, back reprising their roles as Harry’s best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively. Other returning cast members are Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, and Julie Walters as Molly Weasley. Noteworthy additions to the cast include Jim Broadbent as newly-appointed Professor Slughorn and Jessie Cave as Ron’s love interest Lavender Brown.

Picking up where the previous picture left off, the Half-Blood Prince opens with Harry recovering from his bloody fight inside the Ministry of Magic with his archenemy, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). And we see that Voldemort’s minions, the Death Eaters, are presently wreaking havoc all over London.

Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) encourages a reluctant Harry to return to Hogwarts and enlists his help in recruiting Horace Slughorn to teach a course there in Potions. Harry subsequently reunites with pals Ron and Hermione for a very eventful semester at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There are so many romances blossoming around the castle, you almost need a scorecard to keep track of them. Let’s see, Ron settles for Lavender when Hermione gives him the cold shoulder. Harry is interested in Ron’s sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright), but so is Dean Thomas (Alfie Enoch).

Harry is involved in monitoring the movements of his classmate Draco Malfoy and Professor Severus Snape whom Harry suspects are in league with the demonic Lord Voldemort. The truth comes out during a dramatic confrontation in the Astronomy Tower which sets the stage for the next sequel.

Excellent, 4 stars. Rated PG for violence, frightening images, mild epithets, and some sensuality. Running time: 153 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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