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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (****)
directed by David Yates
written by Steve Kloves, from the novel by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Principal Cast
Daniel Radcliffe -- Harry Potter
Rupert Grint -- Ron Weasley
Emma Watson -- Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon -- Professor Albus Dumbledore
Jim Broadbent -- Professor Horace Slughorn
Geraldine Somerville -- Lily Potter
Bonnie Wright -- Ginny Weasley
Julie Walters -- Molly Weasley
Helena Bonham Carter -- Bellatrix Lestrange
Alan Rickman -- Professor Severus Snape
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

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I've seen the new Harry Potter movie twice, but I'm still not sure whether it deserves four stars or three. It's an excellent film, fun to watch the second time around. The attention to detail is amazing. The three young stars have grown into their roles. Acting, direction, script, and special effects are all first rate. But I didn't cry at the end, as I did at the end of The Return of the King.

Harry Potter stories have always been better at comedy than tragedy, and the comedy here is excellent. Harry is a kid, not an adult, and he acts like a kid who has had adult responsibility thrust upon him, responsibility he is not really ready to handle. Daniel Radcliffe, who was the same age as the character when the series started, is now several years older than Harry, but he is completely convincing in the role, as are the other actors who started this series as children and now hold their own with some of England's finest.

The return of writer Steve Kloves is welcome. He wrote all of the Harry Potter movies so far except Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the shortest and weakest of the series. Order of the Phoenix recounted the plot. Half-Blood Prince tells the story. It is true to the spirit of the books, if not always to the letter.

There is a huge amount of plot here -- it's a huge book -- but the film never feels rushed. One technique Kloves uses to keep the audience in thrall is that he trusts us to fill in the transitions, so we don't mind that the next scene begins in the middle of the action. He also trusts us to notice things going on in the background and around the edges. Characters who had speaking parts in earlier movies have small parts in this movie, which helps Hogwarts feel like Hogwarts.

The only thing I fault the movie for, aside from the ending, is the stingy use of "Hedgwig's Theme" by John Williams. "Hedgwig's Theme" is the haunting, beautiful music most identified with Harry Potter, but in this film we hear only a few notes.

The other two first rate genre films so far this year, Star Trek and Watchmen, each had a smashing climax. A real climax is the only thing Half-Blood Prince lacks.

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Copyright © 2009 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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