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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
Release Date: July 15th, 2009
Rated PG for scary images, some violence, language, and mild sensuality.
Running time: 153 minutes

David Yates (dir.)
David Heyman (prod.)
Steve Kloves (Screenwriter)
Based on the books by J.K. Rowling

Nicholas Hooper (music)

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Jim Broadbent as Professor Horace Slughorn
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
MIchael Gambon as Professor Albus Dumbledore
Alan Rickman as Professor Serverus Snape
Maggie Smith as Professor Minerva McGonagall
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Jesse Cave as Lavender Brown
Hero Fiennes Tiffen as 11-year-old Tom Riddle
Frank Dillane as teenage Tom Riddle

DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Our reviews below:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review By John C.
**** (out of 4)
The sixth installment in the excellent Harry Potter film saga is an incredible film. As you probably already know, it follows the story of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), as they go through their second-last year at Hogwarts. This time, not only must Harry deal with digging deeper into the mystery of “he who shall not be named” (Dark Lord Voldemort), he also has to deal with his own feelings of love, as well as dealing with his friends as they fall in love around him.

There are some very dark moments in the film, but it’s also easily the funniest of the six films. The bickering between students about who’s “snogging” who is quite hilarious, it at times felt like a romantic-comedy. It’s darker moments, like the ones between Harry and Dumbledore and the flashback scenes, are mature and suitably atmospheric and creepy.

Every scene of the film is visually arresting. The darker scenes with their grey undertones, are particularly stunning. The opening 12 minutes should be amazing in IMAX 3D, when the film opens in the IMAX format in two weeks. The musical score by Nicholas Hooper is excellent, adding in pre-existing John Williams’ themes from the first film.

This is the best live-action blockbuster to come out all year, and is sure to get some nominations in at least the visual effects categories come Oscar time. At just over 2-and-a-half hours the film never drags. From the opening scene I was entranced and stayed that way until the end of the credits.

As a fan of the Harry Potter films, I found this one to be right up there with numbers one-through-three. Numbers four and five are good, but more just serve as a bridge. This is certainly visually the best film in the franchise. Watching all the films practically back-to-back, it’s interesting to see how these actors have grown up with their roles, and how perfect they really are as the characters. Even some of the smaller characters from the other films make appearances here, and what’s most impressive is that they’re still the same actors.

The movies are also very close adaptations of the books, although those who haven’t read the books won’t feel left out. On screen, these are fully developed characters that we really come to care about. HP 6 has been receiving many rave reviews. It currently stands at 95 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes which makes it the only Potter film to receive a score in the nineties. It even got a positive review from the Vatican’s newspaper.

After the last scene, as the credits started to roll, I took my notebook from my pocket and wrote these words, “A stunning achievement, a near masterpiece”. Enough said, I stand by my words.
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince Review By Erin V.
**** (out of 4)
Briefly, this newest installment in the franchise sees Harry, Ron, and Hermione in their sixth year at Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore brings back a former Hogwarts teacher, Professor Slughorn, as he taught Tom Riddle, (now Voldemort), back when he had attended the school. It is Dumbledore’s hope that his memories of Voldemort as a child will reveal a weakness that they can use to defeat him. I won’t go into much detail, considering the fact that the majority of people probably already know the gist of it. Despite the fact that this could be considered one of the darkest films near the end, it is also one of the funniest in the middle. After a few rather intense opening scenes we go to Hogwarts, where the feel is lighter, and, considering their ages, there is romance is in the air. Thanks to love potions, the actors get to act very comedic. Towards the end, things grow more serious again as we lead up to the climax that sets us right up for the next (and final) two installments. HP7, part 1, is currently set for release in November 2010, and HP7, part 2, for Summer 2011.

Now, what I really want to talk about in this film is the way that everything worked together so brilliantly. Come Oscar time, I am sure that we will see some nominations - if not wins. Despite the seeming length of the following, please bear with me, I just wish to highlight a few points...

1. Cinematography: from the opening scene, (sure to be stunning in IMAX 3D), we know that this is going to have really amazing shots. The camera swoops through the air, at the right moments settling for wide landscape/establishing shots. The use of these with the right amount of close-up’s worked well throughout the whole film.

2. Editing: part of the brilliance of the cameras was the way that it was all put together in the post-production process. During intense scenes, the close-cut editing is also particularly effective, as well as in dialogue scenes where we are able to see exactly the reaction shots needed, while not becoming a distraction with too much cutting back and forth.

3. Special Effects: Where do I even begin? The opening scene, the Quidditch match, all of the odd creatures, the fight scenes, all amazing! Also, of particular note, a scene near the end in a huge cavern was built mostly virtually for example, yet the crystal formations manage to refract what little (virtual) light in the room with amazing precision.

4. Lighting: the colour palette in this film really helps set the mood for certain scenes. We open on greyish-greenish undertones which make everything seem bleak and ominous. Even once we arrive at Hogwarts, the palette seems more drained than usually. Once romance starts to be in the air though, the colour warms up to a more inviting golden light. At the end, the greyish tones are back, but without seeing this usage for yourself, it is almost impossible to describe.

5. Music: the score to this film by Nicholas Hooper is stronger than his last outing for the franchise, HP5. He seems more comfortable in this position now, combining the original John Williams themes and new music with a greater ease. Like the lighting, the score is whimsical and fun at points, yet appropriately ominous at times.

6. Acting: the actors/actresses in the Harry Potter films are impeccably cast as usual. The main actors, most of whom have been with the series since the beginning, have grown with the roles in order to bring the mature performances needed for the characters. It would take too long to try to credit even five of them properly, so I will leave it by saying, great job to everyone.

7. And last, but certainly not least, Directing: David Yates, like Nicholas Hooper also worked on HP5. Again, like Mr. Hooper, his work on this film seems much more comfortable in the material. He seems to do a great job at getting good performances out of everyone involved. He is at the helm again for the last two, and I can’t wait to see how he handles things for those outings.

I could go through a complete checklist of things in this film, but I do not have the space here. So, this being said, I will mention quickly, screenwriter Steve Kloves does a wonderful job again in the adaptation for screen - not once during the 2h, 33m, does this film drag. Also a special mention to the costume designers and makeup artists, who also did a great job on this film. The set designers as well, succeed again in making the locations believable. I know I have not begun to cover everyone on this film. Maybe I should have done an article series instead... Anyway, see this film in theatres. That is the way it is so obviously meant to be seen, and as I thought just as it ended in theatres, this film was awesome in everyway!
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince Review By Nicole
**** (out of 4)
The newest Harry Potter film is fun and exciting. In this newest installment, we see a mix of both funny and terrifying things. The Death Eaters, frightening tornado type creatures, terrorize both London and the wizard universe. Dumbledore brings Harry back to Hogwarts, introducing him to Horace Slughorn, a friendly potions teacher, who knows secrets about Tom Riddle/Voldemort’s past. The potions textbook that Harry receives belonged to the mysterious Half-Blood Prince, who may not be good, and whose identity is surprising. We also see the Malfoy family play a bigger, and badder role than before.

However, this movie is not all that dark. Much of the film is a comedy. The characters, now 16 year olds, are starting to have romantic feelings. Ron Weasley, after a particularly good Quidditch game, gets noticed by a pretty blonde girl named Lavender Brown. When he starts dating her, Hermione, who likes Ron, gets jealous. To get back at Ron, Hermione goes out with the school jock. Will Hermione and Ron ever get together? Meanwhile, Harry develops feelings for Ron’s sister, Ginny, who is dating someone else. The funniest point in the movie is when Ron finds a box of love potion spiked chocolates. Seeing Ron with a stoned and infatuated look on his face was just hilarious.

The film gets very exciting toward the end. The scene with Harry and Dumbledore in an old cavern, has some great jump moments, as well as heart stopping suspense. The very end of the movie, where the Half Blood Prince’s identity is discovered, has surprising and tragic results. (This is in no way graphically depicted.) The very ending leads right into the next story. I can’t wait to see the next film.

This film is one of the best this summer. The casting and acting is superb. The visual effects are stunning, the story is excellent, and the score by Nicholas Hooper is absolutely amazing. See this movie in theatres this summer. This is one movie you don’t want to miss.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review By Maureen
**** (out of 4)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a really well made, exciting, suspenseful, visually beautiful and often very funny blockbuster of a movie. I loved this film from start to finish. As a newcomer to the series (never read the books and only recently watched the first five movies) I wasn’t sure what to expect. The result was an amazing just over two and a half hours theatre experience.

From what I’ve been told, the storyline in this latest installment remains faithful to the storyline in the book. The film starts on a darker note with the death-eaters terrorizing modern day England. The opening scenes are shot in a greyish tone that visually sets the mood for the darker events that Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) must face as he assists headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) in his quest to protect Hogwarts from dark forces. Harry also faces figuring out the Half-Blood Prince’s true identity and the tragic consequence of that discovery.

This film isn’t all darkness however. With all the principal characters well into their teenage years it makes sense that budding romances (assisted with love potions at times) would play a big part in this movie. Some of the funniest scenes involve Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and his love potion enhanced infatuation. Hermione, (Emma Watson), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) and of course Harry also have their brushes with romance.

The cast for this movie is excellent as always. The acting is strong all around and it’s interesting to see the character development that takes place from one movie to the next. There are new characters in this story and they are also fun to watch.

Everything about this movie worked for me. The visuals and special effects are really good. The scenes with Harry and Dumbledore in the cavern are some of the best in this movie. The music score (Nicholas Hooper) enhances the many moods of this movie perfectly. My only complaint was that it was all over before I knew it. Whether you’re a long-time Harry Potter fan or a newcomer like me, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a must see this summer. Yes, it’ll be on DVD eventually but the theatre experience is amazing. Go see it.
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince Review By Tony
**** (out of 4)
Never having read the books or seen any previous Harry Potter films, we recently watched the first five films on DVDs for the first time in order to prepare to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth in the franchise. It is a fine film in anticipation of the final installment of the saga to come in two parts over the next two years or so.

We assume that the films have followed the books reasonably well, so fans will know what to expect and others won’t care, so I will not try to outline the plot too much here. Consistent with the coming of age of the main characters, we are treated here to various scenes of romantic comedy among them, with a bit of “snogging” (making out) here and there. Rupert Grint as Ron is particularly amusing at this, while Emma Watson as Hermione is left sulking in the background. Despite his friendships with Hermione and Luna Lovegood and a growing attraction to Ron’s sister Ginny, Harry is distracted by his greater mission with Dumbledore to defeat Voldemort, who has chosen the increasingly alienated Draco for his murderous plans. Draco’s mother and evil aunt Bellatrix have gotten Snape to take an Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco and do what he must to ensure his success. The appearance of Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) is particularly charming. Despite the light tone of many scenes, there is some scary action. For example, the film opens with terrorist Death Eater attacks on the Millennium Bridge and other landmarks (sure to be awesome in IMAX 3D), and the Quidditch matches are more exciting than ever.

As with the other films, the rest of the cast and all aspects of the production are first-rate, though some may miss some of the more whimsical touches of the early installments–no ghostly head-tipping John Cleese for example. The musical score by Nicholas Hooper is particularly effective, adding much to the original John Williams material.
RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley, DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter and EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
Consensus: This stands up as one of the best Harry Potter films yet. This is a must-see-in-theatres Summer blockbuster. Congratulations to the whole team behind this one. **** (Out of 4)
(L-r) EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger, RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley, and DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

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