Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review

Published 6 years ago by

Short Version: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince might be the best Harry Potter film yet.

harry potter half blood prince review Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Review

Screen Rant reviews 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'

If you really care about Harry Potter, Ron & Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger as living, breathing characters then you’re going to love Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Disclosure: I’ve only ever read the first book and while I’ve thought the previous films were “OK,” I’ve never been a huge fan of the series. This latest film was directed by David Yates, the same fellow who directed the previous film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – and for perspective, I don’t even remember was that one was about.

Having said that, I believe this latest installment is arguably the best Harry Potter film that’s been released so far.

This is the sixth year Harry and Co. will be attending Hogwarts and they’ve all come a long way from the kids we saw back in the first film. They’re certified young adults now and it’s a pleasure seeing them on the screen with much more depth and complexity in themselves and their relationships with each other. As a matter of fact those relationships are what make this movie shine.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, of course) finds a book on potions that has copious handwritten notes by “The Half-Blood Prince.” Whoever this person was, he was brilliant and creating potions – subtly modifying the recipes in the book to make them all work perfectly, was one of his skills. Harry’s newfound “skill” at potion-making draws the attention of newly re-recruited professor Horace Slughorn. The professor is played by Jim Broadbent, who gives an excellent and surprisingly nuanced performance considering the (apparently) comedic nature of the role.

It turns out there is a very important reason that Slughorn was enticed to come back to Hogwarts, and professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) enlists Harry to pry some hidden information from the returning professor. Professor Snape (Alan Rickman, whose brief time on-screen is reason enough to go watch this movie with his mesmerizing screen presence) is involved, and his true(?) purpose becomes clear by the end of the film.

Much of the film is dedicated to the interrelationships between Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny. There is much teenage romantic angst – something that would normally trigger my teen-soap-opera-eyeball-roll reaction, but it’s handled so sweetly and deftly here that it’s a pleasure to watch and really draws you in to what they’re all going through. Emma Watson, Bonnie Wright and Rupert Grint all do a fine job.

In combination with that, the gorgeous, muted cinematography and fantastic visual effects (not just in execution but style as well) is just icing on the cake.

Is this film perfect? No. One complaint I’ve heard from others is that over the course of 2 1/2 hours nothing much happens to move the story forward – and that the ending of the film (which has a definite Empire Strikes Back vibe) could have been a bit more effective. However these points detract very little from the overall enjoyment of what I think is the best summer blockbuster film of 2009.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is rated PG and provides a few scenes that might be a bit intense for the littler ones, and there’s one jump scene that will probably get them – but nothing too over the top. And frankly it was a pleasure to watch a movie aimed at the same age group as Transformers 2 without a single word of foul language to be heard nor anything that’ll make a parent squirm while watching it with a child.

This may be the first Harry Potter film that I end up watching more than once.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. I have just been to see the film tonight and I thought it was quite bizarre. I havent read the books but the film was totally nonsensical, there was no story at all from start to finish. I was left with 2 1/2 hours worth of questions about what was going on. I kept thinking that eventually all this will be explained…and then the film just ended.
    2 1/2 hours of filler between HP5 & HP7, no wonder the cimema was half empty.

  2. Sorry but I feel this latest film to be weakest of all the movies with the third installment to be a more complete and entertaining film.

  3. Boring as hell.

    It’s an awful film, there’s no direction at all. It’s a bunch of scenes sticked together without a strong plot.

    A clear example, did the first scene, the one with the bridge collapsing, really matter? There’s not a single consequence with that. And it’s my impression or the scene where Draco open the cabinet it’s recicled over an over again?

    The audience was almost sleeping.

  4. @ JM

    Yea there was really no point to the bridge scene. They are just trying to show us how the Death Eaters are effecting the entire world (muggle and Wizardry)…Unfortunately nobody cares about the muggle world in these books and films and they realy have no relevance and therefore the bridge scene shoudl have been left out. Instead we should have had it replaced with a scene of Harry with the Dursleys
    The vanishing cabinet in the room of requirement was indeed overdone and the whole conecpt could have been portrayed to us in one short, brief scene.
    I think the problem here is that we had the same director direct the movie for the first time in the series. He gave us his action scenes in Order of the P and thought that he could continue on the same story in teh 6th without adding any action or pausing to explain who certain people were and why certain things were happening.
    The director assumed too much, he assumed that the crowd was familiar with all the characters and themes of the books and did not stop to explain anything. The relationships were overdone and not as significant as teh horcruxes and Voldemort. The movie is a very mellow and slow paced movie and is certainly not intended for kids. I think that Director David Yates problem was that he was trying to make an artistic film rather than a summer blockbuster. He was trying to make a film that could appeal to the academy awards crowd first and teh fans and children second.
    Be that as it may I was VERY dissapointed the first time I saw the film, but the second time around I actually enjoyed it. Yes, it does have many, many flaws and in my opinion is one of the weakest film adaptations in the series but nontheless it is still a somewhat enjoyable movie.

    Lets hope that Yates does not mess up the final installment in the series because he will be bashed by many fans for destroying one of the best franchises out there

  5. Tasauli

    I agree with wat u just said . U could enjoy parts of the movie – as a movie- but as an extension to HP series it was a disappoinment for most of us( a few exceptions @ oscar ) I just hope the last movie does not end up like this ! wen i think of all that the director needs to cover in the next ones – well i am going to keep my fingers crossed !

  6. Im afraid i am inclined to disagree that this is the best harry potter film so far. Dont get me wrong i enjoyed it greatly but i was still left disappointed. I am very aware that things must be left out in order to make the film flow and remain under 4hours, However as an avid harry potter fan i found that the film wasnt as close to the book as it could have been. It appeared to focus more on Ron and Hermione’s relationship, than the actual plot. I couldnt understand what the death eater attack at the burrow was all about?!?! This isnt even in the book and in my opinion is just a waste of time when something more important could have been put there! Yet scrimgeour’s talk with harry at christmas was left out, as were Dobby and Kreatcher’s convo with harry about finding out what malfoy was doing, as in the book harry became obsessed with Malfoy’s intentions, surely this should have taken precidence? Although i was really impressed with the portrayal of Malfoy’s inner turmoil in the room of requirement. For me i felt the film didnt flow as much as it could have. And i pray that the next two harry potter films make up for the mistakes made in this one! or there will be a lot more angry harry potter fans than there was this time round!

  7. This reviewer is a moron. Before making an idiot statement about this being the best HP movie yet, he/she should read the books! Half-blood Prince is my favorite book, but now my least favorite movie. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again. It is impossible to include everything from a book in a movie, no question. But this movie added stuff that wasn’t even in the book! That’s just asinine. For a book with so much to offer why on earth would the writer and director add scenes? Especially when those scenes are absolutely worthless. No, I’m sorry, I don’t have any qualms with calling out a reviewer who hasn’t even read the book. It makes the person sound like an idiot and I don’t like using that word. Go read the book and tell me that movie was a worthy rendition of the book.

  8. Let me save you from some embarrasment Matt, before Vic comes in here and rips you a new hole. Theres been soooo many times where Vic has said that it doesnt matter what the hell the book is about or what differences between the two are, he reviews the FILM. IN HIS OPINION this movie was the best in the series and alot of people agree with him, then there are idiots like you who believe that the book and the movie are the same thing. THEY ARE NOT, VIC DOES NOT REVIEW BOOKS, VIC REVIEWS FILMS! See you later alligator.

  9. That’s very kind Oscar. I appreciate your looking out for my well being. I’m touched. If a movie is based on a book, as this one was “supposed” to be, then it should come close to the that book. Don’t call it something it is when it clearing isn’t. I don’t care what Vic, is his name, uses for his guide when it comes to reviewing movies. Don’t call this a good movie because it wasn’t. And don’t call it the best of the series because again it isn’t. I didn’t say Vic was an idiot. I said he sounded like an idiot.

  10. It’s sad that you don’t understand the difference. I can tell that you probably won’t let anyone change your perception so I’m just gonna leave at that. This is a film not a book, if you don’t like his review then just gtfo of here.

  11. yeah… I didn’t like the review either, but if the reviewer is any kind of reviewer, he will respect a debate based on his words, not take offence. It’s cool to create controversy with your words, better than no-one hearing you at all, right?
    You really cannot dismiss the books when you review a movie like Harry Potter, they go hand in hand, at least they did till this crap movie came out anyway… It’s disrespecting the time and effort we put into investing our time in them, by having them sh*t all over it on screen.
    Although, Matt G… dude? “This reviewer is a moron” was a little harsh lol

  12. @Matt G

    If you’re a fan of the books and the film doesn’t match up to the story I can understand your frustration with it. But as Oscar pointed out – reading a book is NOT (I repeat, NOT) a required pre-requisite to watching or reviewing a movie. A book is a work of art that stands on its own and a movie is also something meant to be judged as a work on its own, separate from the source material.

    Here’s one for you – should you not be able to appreciate or think Iron Man was a good movie if you never read the comics? No – it stood or fell as a movie, on its own.

    So do me a favor and disagree if you like, but keep words like “idiot” out of your comments or you’ll find them deleted.


  13. @ Vic
    Hmmm, but Iron man DID stand on it’s own, it wasn’t film 6 of a 7 part franchise. It was a complete film in its own right. You can’t just watch half blood prince on its own, it would make no sense. Actually, it made no sense even given the preceeding films… It’s like they just decided to veer right off course and start setting up for arcs (like burning down the burrow that seemed so senseless) that are going to be featured in the next two films. As a movie, in terms of standing on its own, I think it fell. Hard. Bored being my most frequent emotion whilst sitting through it.

  14. Fair enough Vic. I apologize for the idiot remark.

    I do take issue with the Iron Man example. Plenty of people thought it was criminal that there were things that didn’t jive with the comics. Its far more difficult to make a movie match a series of comics that could be a thousand deep. This is why X-men has been so controversial, there are so many different versions its hard to make a movie or movies that stay true to all of them. Same for Iron Man. But with a book, one simple book that can only be interpreted a single way, it shouldn’t be asking too much for the writer and director to hold true to that. That’s my beef with the movie. I concede if the book never existed the movie would be okay. Since that isn’t the case, I just can’t endorse it. Again, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you Vic, but it bugs me to see this movie getting kudos from people who aren’t familiar with the books.

    @Oscar! – does this mean we aren’t friends anymore? We started so well.

  15. @Matt

    No worries, I understand completely what it’s like to be passionate about either a book series or film. As I’ve said many times, I encourage debate and discussion as long as people are polite and civil about it. I’ve slipped up a time or two on my own rules myself, though. :-P


    Sorry, for me, as a film it worked. And I’m not alone, check out these review aggregation sites where the reaction to the film was overwhelmingly positive:




  16. Movies and books totally different things. If you like the book stick to it.

    A film must be reviewed by itself. Then in a further analysis can be compared with the source material.

    Even a fateful recreation on the screen of a good book can be an awful film.

    Check out Watchmen.

  17. I’m not sure what to make of the film. Just went to see it today and sure the special effects are flashy but they don’t make the film. The characters all seemed very bland to me and some characters were hardly in the film at all. Lupin, Tonks and the Weasley’s were in one scene each and the werewolf(Greyback) was in 3-4 scenes however, he never spoke and his name was mentioned once. If you hadn’t read the book you wouldn’t know who he was. This was the real issue with the film for me. I’m not too bothered about comparing it with the book but the ending was very unsatisfying as they missed out an entire battle which even as a film on it’s own it would of added something. Although, Dumbledore’s death was handled well and of course Alan Rickman was the best actor in the film as always, =)

  18. @vic

    I tihnk the only way this film “works” is as a quirky, goth styled teen romcom – everything else around it is either alluded to and never followed up (the ring, Dumbledore’s hand), or handled so briefly that without book knowledge you’d be hardpressed to figure it out (Draco/Harry fight in the toilets, Harry’s confrontation with Snape after Dumbledore’s death).

    Its a real shame since there’s so much good stuff in the book to draw from, there really is no need to invent scenes that make no sense even to lovers of the series.

    I understand you review films, not books – its just alot of us Potter nuts are dissapointed it turned out the way it did :) Thanks for enduring the rants though ;)

  19. @Timbo

    Thanks. I imagine if they’d gone in some odd direction with Iron Man that was way different from the comics I’d be saying a lot of the same things.


  20. Some critics have expressed dissent toward some of the darker tone and general brooding in these later episodes of the series. Personally, I never felt that the world of witchcraft and wizardry was all that welcoming an environment. After all, Rowling has created a universe with not only a forbidden forest, but also a restricted section in the library.

    Read my full review at http://cfilmc.com/harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince/

  21. Hey Vic, I' m with you all the way.
    This movie has great characters and beautiful cinematography…crap like GI Joe has nothing but 0 quality “entertainment”.

  22. It’s not the best potter film(Thats POA) but it’s a good film. Can’t wait for DEATHLY HALLOWS!!!!!

  23. I’m an avid harry potter fan, reading the books 3-4 times each qualifies me to be one. with that said, this movie was REALLY good and probably the best so far(POA is also quite good). I’m not disappointed in the least. The story is told really well, and I love the approach that yates (the director) took with this film and making it about the characters. I’d be willing to bet that he drew in many new fans to the series by doing so. The best movies ever made were the ones where you can actually begin to care about the characters in it!