Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes to us two years after the release the hugely successful Order of the Phoenix, the longest wait we’ve had between Potter films. Originally the film was set for a November 2008 release date but Warner Brothers pushed it back to July ‘09. The reason? Apparently the studio felt that the film would do better with a summer opening after the enormous success of The Dark Knight. This was frustrating news to Potter fans all over the world especially because the movie was completed and ready to go. In the end it was worth the wait and the film grossed one hundred million dollars in its first day alone.

first_look_harry_potter_and.jpgThe movie opens where Order of the Phoenix left off. An exhausted and disheveled Harry, who just witnessed the murder of his Godfather, Sirus Black (at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange) and experienced a painful possession by Lord Voldemort, is escorted through the remains of the Ministry of Magic by Professor Albus Dumbledore. We witness a group of Death Eaters (Voldemort’s followers) soar through London and destroy a bridge full of Muggles before blasting their way through Diagon Alley. Death Eater and Werewolf  Fenrir Greyback kidnaps wand maker Ollivander as the rest of the members proceed to cause chaos and mayhem.

We find Harry reading a copy of the Daily Prophet at a local café which is not only reporting the latest Death Eater news but proclaiming that Harry is the ‘Chosen One’ who will defeat the Dark Lord and liberate them all. After making arrangements with a cute waitress, Harry is whisked away by Professor Dumbledore (thus missing his date) who is now sporting an injured hand.  They arrive at a home with a broken door and upon entering find blood, shattered windows and broken furniture. Suspecting that all is not what it seems, Dumbledore takes a closer look at an arm chair that is fully intact. Turns out its Horace Slughorn in disguise, an old friend and former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. His reason for theatrics he reveals is that the Death Eaters have been looking to recruit him.

With a wave of his wand, Dumbledore repairs the home and asks that Slughorn reconsider his offer to return to Hogwarts as the new Potions Professor. Horace turns him down but after speaking with the famous Harry Potter, changes his mind and agrees to come back to the school.

In this film we are introduced to Narcissa Malfoy, wife to Death Eater Lucius Malfoy and mother to Draco. She and her sister Bellatrix Lestrange pay a visit to Severus Snape where Narcissa pleads with him to sway the mind of Lord Voldemort, who has given her son a very secretive and dangerous mission. Snape makes an unbreakable vow to protect Draco and if he should fail, Severus will fulfill his duty. What is the penalty for breaking an unbreakable vow? Death.

After following Draco and his mother and witnessing their suspicious behavior in Knockturn Alley, Harry Ron and Hermione board the Hogwarts Express and prepare for their sixth year of Wizard education. The school’s atmosphere is very different and the castle is now armed with protective spells and on high alert. Harry and Ron re-enroll in Potions at the suggestion of Professor McGonagall and for the first time in his life, Harry finds himself excelling in this class thanks to notes written in his text book by someone calling themselves ‘The Half-Blood Prince’.

Hormones are raging as Ron and Hermione’s relationship turns flirtatious and Harry notices how much Ginny (Ron’s younger sister) has grown. The film also marks the return of Quidditch, something that hasn’t been seen since a brief scene in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Ron joins the team and after winning a game, finds himself in the arms of classmate Lavender Brown, thus breaking Hermione’s heart.

Harry begins having private sessions with Dumbledore who shares with him his memory (via Pensieve) of his first encounter with a young Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort. He is also in possession of a memory given to him by Slughorn of a teenage Tom asking him about forbidden magic. Unfortunately the memory is incomplete and inaccurate due to Slughorn’s shame of what actually occurred. Dumbledore asks Harry to retrieve the memory for him as it contains valuable information and feels that Harry could obtain it since Professor Slughorn was fond of Harry mother (his former student) and enjoys basking in Harry spotlight.

After several unsuccessful attempts and strange occurrences involving a cursed necklace that hexes classmate Katie Bell and poisoned wine that nearly kills Ron, Harry guzzles a bottle of Felix Felicis otherwise known as good luck potion. He finally gets Slughorn’s memory and Harry and Dumbledore discover that Tom Riddle questioned the Professor about a Horcrux which is the method of splitting your soul and placing it in an object for safety and immortality. The only way to split your soul is to commit murder and Tom inquires about making not one, not two but seven Horcruxes. Dumbledore informs Harry that he has all ready found and destroyed one Horcrux (a ring) and points out that Harry also destroyed one years ago in the Chamber of Secrets (Tom Riddle’s diary). The Headmaster tells Harry he believes he has found the third one and needs his help retrieving it.

Dumbledore and Harry journey to a cave on a dangerous mission to retrieve the locket. Using his blood to enter the cave, Dumbledore must drink a potion before reaching the bottom of a basin where the locket is. Following the Professor’s instructions, Harry forcefully makes him finish every last drop (although it is driving him insane) and after getting his hands on the necklace they are attacked by an undead army, otherwise known as Inferi. Although weakened, Dumbledore fights them off using a powerful spell and the pair returns to Hogwarts.

Dumbledore tells Harry to fetch Professor Snape and as Harry leaves, Draco appears and we learn that his mission is to kill Professor Dumbledore. Dumbledore offers him an alternative and just as Malfoy lowers his wand he is joined by the other Death Eaters. Snape also joins them and Albus begs him with a simple “Please” before Snape executes him using the killing curse. We watch as Dumbledore’s body falls from the Astronomy Tower and the Death Eaters make a run for it. Harry follows after them and attacks Snaps with a spell he learned from his text book and Snape reveals that he is in fact, the Half-Blood Prince.

After they make their getaway, Harry forces his way through a stunned crowd that has gathered around the Headmaster’s body. It is a heartbreaking moment as Harry sobs and is consoled by Ginny. Professor McGonagall raises her wand and ejects a blast of white light into the night sky (where the dark mark is hovering over the castle). The other students follow suit and send enough light into the air to extinguish the mark of death in a symbolic move stating that although they are surrounded by darkness, the light shall overcome.

The film closes with Harry, Ron and Hermione atop the Astronomy Tower where Harry informs them that he will not be attending Hogwarts next year but will instead go on the search for the remaining Horcruxes. They also learn that the locket from the cave was a fake and a note was left inside the necklace from someone with the initials R.A.B. who took the real locket and replaced it with a fake one to tick off the Dark Lord.

Wow, that’s a long summary! I can’t gush enough how much I loved this film; as a huge Harry Potter fan (I’ve read each book twice) it’s always nerve wrecking when a new film is made particularly because Warner Brothers has a track record of switching directors. However this time around my nerves were replaced with excitement and anticipation; I felt that David Yates did a superb job with Order of the Phoenix and I knew the sixth film would be in good hands. He did not disappoint. The cinematography and scenery were gorgeous and the portrayal of young love was beautifully done. There are so many emotional high and lows in the film ranging from humor, to love and sadness and each pulls at your heartstrings. The actors have appeared to step up their game and truly give their best performances. I was particularly impressed with actress Emma Watson who has improved light years from her performance in Order of the Phoenix where she appeared to be agitated and race through her lines.

Naturally there are rewrites with every Potter film and the only complaint I have is I would have liked to see the movie close with Professor Dumbledore’s funeral. Perhaps that will be how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will open, which is the last in the movie franchise and will be split into two films. As of press time, part one will be released November 19, 2010 with Part two following July 15, 2011.

I give Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince five stars.



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  1. John Morales AKA Uglyhooker on

    I love this movie sooooo much!! I was freaking out in anticipation all yeah and was really happy with the end result.

    Best movie of the series and can’t wait to see Deathly Hallows.

  2. I saw it on Wednesday night. Although I enjoyed certain scenes and watching Ron and Draco’s characters evolve, I found the film itself to be flat. I got a kick out of watching the kids grow and discovering the tricky business of relationships, but I felt there was far too much time spent on this aspect of the book. I kept waiting for something big to happen and it just never did. Even when Harry and Dumbledore went to the island. Even Dumbledore’s death didn’t carry the weight I felt it should have.
    In the end I felt that besides “The Chamber of Secrets,” this was one of the weaker outings for Potter and his pals.

  3. Loved it up until the end. Everything after the tower was dissapointing and seemed very rushed and forced. There didn’t seem to be any energy or urgency to Harry rushing after Snape.

    Like Victoria said, hopefully they open The Deathly Hallows part 1 with the funeral.

  4. Not that i’m trying to start anything but i have to admit that i found it funny that John Berry thought they spent too much time on the book when the title of the movie is about the book.

  5. I liked ‘Prince’ considerably more than ‘Phoenix’ for sure, but I think ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ is still my personal favorite of the movies. The reveal of Snape as the Half-Blood Prince was extremely rushed, and not explained very well at all to those who only see the films. I could have done without Ron’s Quidditch subplot, and would have liked it better if they’d used that time to show us more of the memories concerning Riddle.

    Looking forward to Deathly Hallows and wondering what hoops they’ll have to jump through to explain all the things left out of the previous movies that should be fairly major plot points in Hallows (the Locket in Grimauld Place, the lack of Lily in Snape’s worst Memory from ‘Phoenix’, the absence of Dobby since ‘Chamber’, little to no mention of the Hogwarts founders since ‘Chamger’ etc, etc.)

    I think it was about a 3 star affair.

  6. I’m not a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and have only actually read the first four books. I went to the movie because I had seen all the other movies and my girlfriend wanted to see this one.
    I have to say I was disappointed. The movie barely kept my attention and I literally almost fell asleep from boredom at one point.

    Plus some things in the movie just didn’t make sense. Why did Dumbledore randomly send Harry to the Weasleys house? Why did the death eaters show up at the Weasleys house just to burn it down and mess with Harry a little? Why did Draco keep sending things through the Cabinet randomly (and for that matter how did the kid who played him get so much uglier between films)?

    Maybe I’m just ill-informed since I haven’t read the books but if I’m to see a film I’d very much like to be able to understand it without having to read the book first.

    Also the whole movie just simply felt like a build up to the next one (which I refuse to see in theaters after the poor quality of this one).

  7. I’m a Harry Potter fan, and I didn’t hate this movie, but some portions of the rewrites just felt very jarring. I will be seeing it agian soon mainly just to MST3K it. 2.5/5

  8. Why did Dumbledore randomly send Harry to the Weasleys house? ~~because that’s where Dumbledore always sends Harry when school is about to start.

    Why did the death eaters show up at the Weasleys house just to burn it down and mess with Harry a little? ~~Because Voldemort wants harry dead. They tried but weren’t sucessful (and it was a bad addition to the movie).

    Why did Draco keep sending things through the Cabinet randomly (and for that matter how did the kid who played him get so much uglier between films)? Draco was working on getting the cabinet to work properly without killing what went through so that the death eaters could sneak into the castle to kill Dumbledore.

  9. See but if Voldemort wants Harry dead then why did they not kill Harry at the end of the movie when they had the chance?

  10. Ah Crash, Bellatrix is about to kill Harry and Snape saves him: “No! He’s for the Dark Lord” (or something like that).
    I absolutely loved the backhanded way Hermione finally ‘defeats’ Lavender Brown, and takes posession of Ron – who is left saying “When did I break up with her?” I cracked up.
    I want to see more Ginny. In both 4 and 5 they showed her coming into her own, and her delivery of ‘Reducto!’ is the strongest. She is one of my favorite characters.

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