- Running time:
- 153 minutes
- Daniel Radcliffe -
- Harry Potter
- Rupert Grint -
- Ron Weasley
- Emma Watson -
- Hermione Granger
- Helena Bonham Carter -
- Bellatrix Lestrange
- Jim Broadbent -
- Horace Slughorn
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has survived another showdown with Lord Voldemort, but no one is safe now that the evil wizard’s return from the dead is a matter of public record. The students at Hogwarts school know that they can trust headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), who introduces Harry to retired professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) as part of a plan to uncover secrets from Voldemort’s past. Meanwhile, Harry and his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are growing up and dealing with hormones racing faster than broomsticks at a Quidditch match.
The buzz: Some people are just wild about Harry; others, not so much. By now you know who you are, so plan accordingly. This penultimate installment in the boy wizard saga arrives in theaters a little later than hoped for (it was originally due last fall) but possibly just in time to save a summer overstuffed with creatively disappointing sequels. Director David Yates is back after delivering the series’ tightest entry, “Order of the Phoenix,” while longtime screenwriter Steve Kloves returns after sitting out on “Phoenix.” Their unenviable task: satisfy fans with an appropriately cinematic adaptation of a talky flashback-heavy book that famously contains the dramatic death of a beloved character.
The verdict: Maturing even more rapidly than its stars, “Half-Blood Prince” takes the “Potter” series to places deeper and darker than ever before. Film number six is soaked in dread (you don’t need to have read the books to know things won’t end well—or with any sense of finality), but nicely balanced by the lightness of the teen romances. As chaotic and unpredictable as the world they live in has become, Harry, Ron and Hermione are still kids finding their way into adulthood, and it’s the human connections that make this magical tale so emotionally rewarding. Credit Yates (and exceptional new cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel) for ensuring the experience has the visuals to match—this is the series’ most eye-popping entry since Alfonso Cuarón’s “Prisoner of Azkaban.” The ensemble cast remains as reliable as ever, led by Gambon’s strongest work yet (though book purists may lament how much Harry/Dumbledore bonding has been excised) and newcomer Broadbent nailing every bit of Slughorn’s hilarious vanity and poignant regrets. Already past the point when most film franchises would be wheezing their way toward irrelevancy, “Harry Potter” keeps going strong with a sense of purpose and ambition that puts most of Hollywood to shame. Remember to enjoy it now. All good things do eventually come to an end.
Did you know? The 11-year-old version of Voldemort is played by Hero Fiennes Tiffen—nephew of Ralph Fiennes, who plays Voldemort’s monstrous reincarnation.
[“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will also open in IMAX theaters in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York beginning July 15 and nationwide July 29.]
Movie theaters and showtimes for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in Nashville.
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