By Jenny Peters
In this sixth installment of the “Harry Potter” film series, things get dark and dangerous as Harry grows into manhood while finishing out his education at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Director David Yates (who also helmed “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”) wisely jumps right into the story, without bothering to explain what has gone before, assuming that audiences watching “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” know exactly where we are in the saga created by J. K. Rowling. It’s the end of the summer between fifth and sixth year at Hogwarts, and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is definitely a teenager, who has spent his vacation chasing girls and not thinking about the dark forces that are massing around the evil Lord Voldemort.
Those halcyon times are short-lived, of course, as Hogwarts headmaster (and super-powerful wizard) Dumbledore appears and pulls Harry out of the world of Muggles and back into the magical – and increasingly dangerous – realm of the wizard world.
Following the novel as closely as a film can (which means some of the wonderful elements of Rowling’s vast imagination are lost, of course), “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is a compelling story that melds the encroaching wickedness of Voldemort and his Death Eaters that threatens to take over the world with the lighter tale of the burgeoning teen hormones that have taken over the minds and bodies of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the sixth form teens that populate Hogwarts.
But those light moments are few in this 2.5-hour story, for this is the heart of darkness of the Harry Potter saga. The evil forces are strengthening, even threatening Hogwarts itself, and it is up to Harry to stand against them, at the risk of life and limb.
Of course, our intrepid hero and his two best friends soldier on as the credits roll; they will return in the two-part finale of this chronicle that began in 1997 with the first novel, and will end in the summer of 2011 as the second part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” arrives in theaters. We plan to see both (the first half hits in 2010), and will be very sorry to see Harry go. His is one of the greatest stories ever imagined; J. K. Rowling is a genius.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Jim Broadbent, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith
Director: David Yates
Studio/Official Site: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthehalf-bloodprince/