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. Look at this article…..http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00018462.html…..it explains why they didnt use the battle scene and Dumbledore’s funeral. The reasons given are not good enough for me. they said that they didn’t use the battle scene because there is gonna be one in the 7th film and didnt wanna be repetitive. So they decided to cut out the climax of the whole book???? just to not be repetitive. why not have two. i can understand if they didnt have enough money or something but still leaving out the end of the story really disappointed me because this was probably my favorite ending before the 7th one came out. so overall pretty disappointed but still a pretty good movie

  2. @ Eric Rosenberg…100% agree with you
    I think that the budget may have been an issue because the actors are propbably asking for a lot more money this time around…but yea a dissapointing movie but still a good one

  3. I am a person who like the HP books, but the last time i read them was 3 years ago. So out of my memory I thought the movie was actually pretty close to the book. I understand that they need to change scenes (or cut them totally out) from the book to fit the movie. I am totally fine with that if it makes the movie better. But this movie they added all of the love in the first half. I love it when love is introduced and done well which it was, but it was dragging on WAY to long. Half way through the movie I thought I was seriously watching a love flick instead of a HP movie. Another thing that really got me mad was that they cut out the action scene in the end. Why would you cut out the climax?! I think there was the battle there but they cut it out (why would the Great Hall be totally empty and you would think some teachers would come when they hear shattered glass and it also never explained how the Death Eaters left the castle). I personally thought they turned the movie into a love movie more than a HP movie.

  4. Jayme ,
    they cut the out the climax because they have something very similar planned for the next film and they dont want to look like they are repeating themselves .
    Thats why they added the scene in the Barrows.
    to try to fill in the gap left out by cut scenes from the climax.
    as for the romantic comedy ,
    They had so much of it because the ending of the film was so dark .
    I think they are doing the best they can to make the last two films special.
    and if they have to change or reshuffle some things to do that
    Then, so be it .

  5. Well, I didn’t read the books and am hoping for a very good HP movie. I didn’t read Lord of the Rings but loved the movies, and from my understanding, there were some very important parts left out of that movie (i. e. Bob Bombadil’s resistance of the ring). Also, The Ten Commandments is one of my favorite movies but does not stay true to the story in the bible. These adaptations are there for entertainment value, and, IMHO, should be seen as such.

  6. @ Gary

    Just because they have something similar planned for the 7th film doesnt mean you cut out a climactic scene. The movie needed that because I thought it was building up to something huge and then it just never got there. It was a very monotone movie and a little fight and chase at the end wouldnt have been so bad.
    And the battle at Hogwarts in the 7th book is COMPLETLY different. Hagrid’s giant bros is involved, Lupin, Tonks, all the Weaselys, and pretty much all the characters come together. No way it would have been similar.
    I think that director David yates either (A)did not have the budget for a major battle scene (B)or knows he messed up and is trying to make excuses

    This movie is to Harry Potetr as teh Matrix Reloaded was to teh Matrix series, it serves as a bridge and is a decent enough of a movie but nothing special. Now the question is will the Hallows bomb like the Matrix Revolutions did?
    We will see in another year or so

  7. Hi,

    @John Nussbaum

    >As a teen who grew up with the books
    >1. Harry and Ginny – yes i know this wasn’t in the book… >JKR only teased at a romance between Ginny and Harry, and
    >then suddenly we jump ahead 25 years later in the last
    >book, they are married

    I think you must have a short memory. Harry and Ginny get together 1/2 through the half-blood prince. Harry gets detention with Snape for the sectum curse against Malfoy. This causes him to miss the last quiddich game, which is crucial b/c of the huge loss they took to ravenclaw after having McCormik on the team (b/c Ron was poisoned.) They needed to win by ~400 points. After the detention he rushes to the griffindor common room to hear the result. Everyone is celebrating b/c they won the cup. In the emotion of the moment Harry and Ginny kiss and they remain a couple after that. Part of my beef with this movie is that they touch on the McCormik sub-plot, play up the romantic comedy portion (which was never a prominent part,) then dump the whole thing 1/2 way through and have some cheesy scene in the room of requirement with Harry and Ginny as a replacement. If they had done away with the attack on the Weasly’s home and the stupid introduction with Harry at a diner they could have had time to finish this subplot! Personally I was looking forward to hearing Luna commentate a quiddich match “losers lurgey….” lol.

    >2. Dumbledoor- The title of the books are HARRY >POTTER….Dumbledore is and always has been a >secondary/supporting character.

    But in the book Harry idolizes him. He tells Scrimgeour (the new minister of magic) that he’s “Dumbledore’s man, through and through.” It’s totally out of character for Harry to stand around and watch him die. Dumbledore knows this, that is why he paralyzes him in the book. The movie mangled it.

    >3. [snip] The point of the burning of the weasly home and >Hagrids hut is to show how the death eaters tear apart >families and destroy the peace.

    And is completely unnecessary to the plot of the movie.

    >For example Dobby

    But in deathly hallows the plot line of house elves is important. Totally skipped over in this movie (although I can see why.)

    With regards to the minor characters, Luna, etc. they do feature in the last book as reviving resistance against the death eaters.

    As far as Snape goes, what was that look of remorse on his face at the end? It shouldn’t have been there. One of the things about Snape was that he’s fantastic at acting a double agent, as he is excellent at occlumency.

    As for other cuts, there is no scene at all where Dumbledore and Harry discuss what the other horcruxes might be, so the last 2 movies will have to take the time to come up with another explanation (which will further cut down on important plots.) In the book Dumbledore and Harry discuss that the last 3 are likely items belonging to the founders of hogwarts (ravenclaw and hufflepuff) as well as Voldemorts snake.

    This movie was a mangled mess, I’m quite worried about the next 2.

  8. @ Tormak

    Finally, somebody on the same page as me!


    I hate when studios or directors say “We’re changing the ending because we don’t want to repeat ourselves.” If that were the case then I don’t think that “The Chamber of Secrets” should have ended with Harry defeating Voldermrt. He already did that in the first one and that ending seems really played. Nobody thought that!

    Plus, it isn’t so much a battle at Hogwarts at the end of the sixth book but a skirmish. Like a total of fifteen people are involved and only bad guys died. Definitely not how the seventh book ends.

    And if they were so intent on showing the romantic side of this book, why not let Ginny and Harry have the actual relationship they had in the book? Where in the movie is the romance between Fleur and Bill? Or Lupin and Tonks? She calls him ‘sweetheart’ or some other term of endearment and we’re just supossed to take it on the fly?

    Even if they did not want to duplicate a non-existent battle, why not end with Dumbledore’s funeral? That is poignant and thoughtful. This movie ending seems to only exist to tie up loose ends… some things not even explained (ie who owned the locket before Riddle’s mom; what could the other horocuxes possibly be).

    Its “The Prisoner of Azkaban” movie all over again. Lets not explain who Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs are, but somehow Lupin knows that the parchment is a map. And when Harry writes to Sirius, for some unknown reason, he calls him Padfoot.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have reread the book before I saw the film but, come on. Give me the book I loved. The only thing this movie had going for it was how Alan Rickman steals every scene he’s in and the amazing bits of humor they used to off-set their PG darkness.

  10. Alan Rickman is fantastic.

  11. He did not kill Voldermort in Chamber of Secrets, put a hurt on him yes but never did away with him, go back and read the book and watch the movie and you would see that he never killed the dark lord. I hate when people make things up without knowing what they are talking about. As for the other points above, there are some valid points. Remember they only have 2:30 hours to make a movie out of a very long book, other wise they may as well just make two movies for the last 5 books since they are very long, it was entertaining and great special effects. No movie done after reading the book can make everyone happy. Just be glad we had some pleasure to take us away for a few hours. I bet a lot of our solders would have loved to see it and take them away from the hell they are in.


  12. @tormak

    I do admit, its been awhile since i read the HBP, so i forgot that little detail,I will admit to that. But never the less, I thought the scene that the substituted for the part of the book you described was a very touching moment and accomplished the same plot points only by a different means (btw does he get rid of the potions book in the novel i cant remember).

    On luna, i was missing that little bit, as well as her enchanted hat.

    The whole point of the book Half Blood Prince was about the gathering darkness of Voldemort (and if you want to get technical, he was in the film…only a younger version of himself). Even tho it isn’t in the book, the scene in the movie with the house burning down is meant to summarize the whole message about how the bonds of friendship an family are tested by Voldemort and his minions atrocities. They dont care who they hurt or how, whether they are muggle or wizard.

    Also why does it matter that she sets the house on fire, they are freaking wizards, they can wave their wands and it will be good as new. Just look at the scene with slughorn in the beginning.

    The movie is about HARRY Potter, so essentially everyone else is a supporting character. But i would probably rank the characters as so:

    Harry- main protagonist
    Voldemort – main antagonist
    Ron Hermione Dumbledore and Ginny – Secondary characters
    Malfoy – Secondary character/foil for harry
    Hogwarts Students Death Eaters Phoenix Members and Teachers – Extras and Supporting characters (depending on who they are)

    There are a million little sticking points about this movie. But sometimes i feel that with scenes like Ginny and Harry scene and the Christmas battle and the death of Dumbledoor as a director and a screen writer, you have to take some artistic liberties with what translates well onto the screen. As i stated in my last post, there are only so many sub-plots you can include before the audience starts to loose track of the main narrative.

    One more thing, i really have to give props to Daniel Radcliff for his improve work with the “good luck potion” that had me laughing and giggling in my seat for that entire set of scenes.

  13. I don’t think any Harry Potter fan was seriously expecting a blow-by-blow rendition of the book – after 5 films, if you weren’t used to it by now, then you need to give up on book/film adaptions altogether!


    This particular film misses SO much information that I’m not sure it even makes sense to a non-Potter fans. Dumbledore’s hand is shown as injured early on, and he says “that the tale is thrilling and I’ll tell you later…etc..etc” and its not heard from again during the film. There’s a shot of the ring going into a drawer but again, the ring is not explained as to what it is/was, why it is there and where it came from. I’m sure non-Potter ppl watching thought “what was that?”

    Attacking the Burrow wasn’t the way to show Voldemort’s rising power (if that what the scene was for). Yates played this card too early. The Burrow is the only other place, other than Hogwarts, where Harry feels “safe” and he needs that place in the next book/film. The attack in the 7th book at the wedding smashes Harry’s last safety line – and he knows he has to get Voldemort or die in the attempt ‘cos he’s got nowhere to go & hide.

    The subplot of Greyback would have done perfectly to show Voldemort’s rising power – a nasty werewolf (as opposed to the “nice” Lupin) who specialises in biting children and who actually likes what he is….and he is WORKING for Voldemort…says alot.

    So many potentially juicey acting bits wasted (Harry V Snape at the end) that I wondered if their hearts are really in it anymore and they just want to get the series done and move onto other things….and if hardened Potter nuts (like myself) are scratching their collective heads, then what are the non-Potter fans thinking?

  14. @John Nussbaum

    >btw does he get rid of the potions book in the novel i cant remember

    He does, he manages to get into the room of requirement and hides it in the cabinet (the same one Malfoy is using.)

    I get what they were trying to convey with the burning of the burrows, but I still think it was pointless, we basically got the same impression from the beginning of the movie and little mentions that people are disappearing.

    I understand who the movie is about, but Harry doesn’t do really any of this by himself, he gets a lot of help and all of his friends have important roles to play. As far as artistic liberties, that’s a given, you can’t fit a book that size into 2.5 hours, just not possible. My main beef is that the director wasted time on events that were meaningless, cut off sub-plots 1/2 way, paid important plot lines only lip service (how does Snape know Harry is looking for who the Half-Blood Prince is? and that is resolved in 1 line!) and handled the climax in a way that is not true to Harry’s character (which as you point out, the movie is about Harry; you can’t re-write important scenes and have him act in a way contrary to his nature.) Where is the drama in Dumbledores death? Where was the emotion? This is Harry’s idol for crying out loud! Harry is completely 100% loyal to Dumbledore, there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for him! A better climax would have been to have Harry frozen under the invisibility cloak and to show him straining and tears rolling down his face as he struggles to help Dumbledore. That combined with some camera effects and the right score would have made it a powerful moment. Instead, it’s a yawner! What a tragic waste. My only hope is that there is a directors cut that comes out, is 3 hours long, and fixes these issues.

    The luck potion was funny (although a luck potion that makes you act like a drunkard is curious) I did laugh as well, it’s too bad that he isn’t a better actor all of the time.

  15. I don’t understand why the director feels the need to change scenes and remove crucial parts of the story from the movie. From when Harry and Dumbledore find the horcrux on the movie was absolutely horribly done…Harry was supposed to be under the invisibility cloak and frozen still by Dumbledore, the scene was supposed to happen in front of the main door to the castle, and Snape never tells Harry to be quiet in the book.

    That’s not even mentioning the worst parts that they completely removed the Hogwarts battle, the Snape/Harry fight was pathetic in that Snape was supposed to get extremely pissed at Harry for calling him a coward, the removal of Dumbledore’s funeral completely changed the tone of the end of the movie, and Dumbledore’s wand is supposed to be buried with him since that’s a major part of the next book.

    Apart from those gaping holes the movie was alright I just feel the directors have not the books justice since the first 2 films (the best depictions of the books in my opinion) which followed the books pretty much religiously.

  16. @fgreco12


    They made the fact that Snape is really a “good guy” much too obvious. It’s going to ruin the surprise in the next two movies. The director should have made it more ambiguous.

    I think the last battle between Harry and Snape was ok. Although the emotion of the charge of cowardice could have been better but by that time w/ Snape telling Harry to be quite it would have been much too obvious. The director bungled the story by changing it too much. I’ve heard that the last book is going to be 2 movies so that they can follow the book more closely. I certainly hope that this is true.

  17. I agree that the ending was very melodramatic and I feel that we were all cheated out of a great ending. Personally, I DO NOT understand why Dumbledoore didnt freeze Harry under the cloak like he did in the books because that would have had a better effect in the movie. We could have seen Harry struggle to get free in order to try and save his father-like wizard. In addition, Harry never really trusted Snape, why would he trust him now to go up there and save Harry? Does not make sense. Furtheremore, as Tormak said, when Dumbledore dies where is that great score and the passion in the scene. We are supposed to be moved by this scene and feel compelled to cry; instead I was very, very dissapointed. “Avada Kadabra” and that was it hmmm, I dont think so…

    And I could NOT believe that the Harry and Snape duel was so lame. 1 minute or so and then he walks over and tells him he’s the half blood prince…come on…In the book he tries to take the potions book from Harry and Harry gives him Ron’s, where was that?! That would have gave that statement some more substance.

    I dont think that David Yates and company should tamper with J.K. Rowling’s writing. She wrote masterpieces taht have been loved by many people these past few years and aside from the ending of Hallows nobody has complained about the books. So Yates shoudl keep the story the same and not try to and fix it.

    I am glad to see that so many people have the same problems with the movie that I did because when I saw everyone I was with really enjoyed it aside from myself and teh reviews seemed to be generally positive

  18. @Timbo


  19. @ Jeff

    Read back through Books 1 and 2 yourself… Harry doesn’t kill Voldermort in either. And I did not use the word “kill” but “defeat.” Two totally different conotations.

    “I bet a lot of our solders (sic) would have loved to see it and take them away from the hell they are in.” Really Jeff?

    I am not saying I am angry I saw the movie, just that with such a large following of fans the director and production company should have tried to stary truer to the book.

    I mean the book is called “The Half-Blood Prince” and that was a sub-plot in the movie.

    All I am saying is, it could have been better…but all movies can.

  20. what the (^%^&$ are you talking about??? this is the worst HP movie that i’ve ever seen!!! we waited in line just to go home very disappointed! the cinematics is good… the plot is just right… almost perfeect… but the ending???? it left us all asking is that it??? jeezzz!!!

  21. I just got back from watching the movie with my wife, who is a fan of both the books and the movies … I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, and so did my wife.

    I read the books a while back and had forgotten a lot of the details. I would not call myself a fan of either one, really, for several reasons I won’t go into here (irrelevant). I can understand why many people who are devoted to them might be peeved at the “missing” parts, some of them big … but since I didn’t have that kind of emotional investment, I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was … a continuation of the Harry Potter movie series. And a pretty funny one at that. After all the crassness and rediculous, gratuitous sight gags in Transformers 2 and (to a lesser degree) Star Trek, it was refreshing to see something where the humor was natural.

  22. Id give this film 4 stars at the most. Though it was better than Goblet of Fire it was still lacking. No I have not read the books, and no I don’t intend to either (mainly because I dont have the time). Hopefully the deathly hallows movie will actually show that potter has increased his magic skill and can do more than have “rage” bursts that cause damage to people. I really can’t see at this point HP defeating any one especially Voldamort or however you spell his name.

  23. Ok some people are saying that harry killed the dark lord in the 2nd book he did and did not tom riddles diary was horcruxes so he killed part of him change of subject they miss the biggest saddest scean whith dumbbledor funnerl

  24. I don’t get it. Critics trashed Transformers 2 even though it was an action packed great summer movie and they rave about the new Harry Potter which almost put me to sleep. Once again, Harry who can’t do magic still can’t do magic and the movie wasted 2 hours of my life.

  25. @ Guy P

    Transformers was intended to be a very very different kind of movie than Harry Potter … if you went into a Potter movie expecting the same explosion rate and amped-up SFX bonanza as the Transformers, I think you were misled somewhere along the way.

  26. If you want a very well done special effects movie go watch Transformers, but if you want to see a well crafted film with some great character development then Harry Potter is the film to see.

  27. Wow, i guess people will always complain. It doesnt matter that they changed some things, the movie was still good and so was the story. The acting was superb. There was nothing, NOTHING that should have been changed from this film. Everything fit in perfectly. Its funny how this film had more funny parts than most of the comedies that came out this year but it could still be taken very seriously. I would give this film a 4.8/5 :)

  28. I love it when people say they ‘don’t have time to read’ That’s like saying;

    “I don’t have time to eat, sleep,fornicate or sit in front of T.V”

    I don’t think it’s necessary to read a book to enjoy a film, however, people who:

    ‘…don’t have time to read a book…’

    Are essentially saying they don’t read, which indicates to me, and the reading public at large, how stupidity and ignorance are spreading.

    No, you don’t have to read ‘Harry Potter’ to enjoy the films, however, intelligence can be increased marginally in some people’s cases, if they get up from the instant gratification of magazines, T.V and the computer and attempt to improve their minds with a book!

    15 minutes a day is all it takes! (roughly a chapter)

  29. While I read alot Gottarhyme and very much enjoy it I see nothing wrong with people who don’t. They are neither stupid nor ignorant they simply don’t enjoy reading books. I can see why some people don’t. That’s honestly their choice they will miss out on a lot of good stories that will never be properly translated to film, but that doesn’t make them stupid.