The Popcorn Reel
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All Grown Up: Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in David Yates' film "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince", which opened this morning in special screenings across the U.S. and Canada, and is also showing in IMAX 3D in select theaters.  (Photo: Warner Brothers)

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

Adulthood Beckons: Harry's Rites Of Passage, In Full Flow
By Omar P.L. Moore/   SHARE
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Potterheads fear not: David Yates delivers again with "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince", the second-to-last cinematic installment of J.K. Rowling's mega world-famous wizard-student, and this edition balances light and dark, lust and longing, as our boy Harry is now our man Harry, his portrayer Daniel Radcliffe having a deeper voice and a stronger urge for the ladies.  This time Hogwarts School of Wizardry has a student Draco (Tom Felton) who may have connections to the Dark Lord Voldemort.  Although this is the main story of the film, Mr. Yates focuses much more on the fun and frolic of growing pains of the adolescent trio of Harry, Hermione and Ron, which forms the most enjoyable part of the film, as does its eye-popping cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel.  Perhaps self-consciously the film references the obvious changes in Mr. Radcliffe: "I remember when you were just a boy in this school," says one character to Harry, or words to that effect, during the film.

"Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince", for those (like this reviewer) who are unfamiliar with Ms. Rowling's books, will be a welcome surprise: neither overshadowed by special effects nor childish pranks, "Half-Blood" has good acting by all the participants, but especially Michael Gambon, back once again as Hogwarts' most esteemed mentor and scholar Professor Dumbledore.  Jim Broadbent is entertaining as Professor Horace Slughorn, with Alan Rickman again in fine form as Professor Snape.  There are moments when this latest film (and Steve Kloves' screenplay) drags, drifts and wanders but the atmosphere and spirit of magic, mystery and malevolence are a treat.  This "Potter" even has time to poke some gentle fun at itself, refreshing for a film that will abruptly turn the corner as real-life will hit Harry and Hogwarts smack in the face.

Mr. Yates improves at conveying the visual side of Ms. Rowling's powerful imagination, opening up a world of wonderment and discovery.  His direction is an improvement over 2007's "Order Of The Phoenix", his debut directing of the Potter franchise.  There were lots of effects in that film, which was also in IMAX 3D, and while there are many effects here they aren't as extravagant -- or at least they seem to arise within the demands of the story and not solely to capture your attention or keep you awake, which you won't have trouble doing.

With: Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters and David Thewlis.

"Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince" was greeted early this morning across the U.S. and Canada at special screenings with large crowds dressed in Hogwarts wear that would have put Jim Carrey's "Yes Man" get up last year to shame.  The film opened on 35mm screens as well IMAX 3D in select theaters.  The film is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.  Duration: two hours and 33 minutes.

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