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. Well I have read all the potter books and while the other films had only minor changes, I feel this was a let down as there where many changes in this film, maybe this was due to lack of funding???? Who knows?
    Although a good film in total was disappointed by the verying plotlines of the book and the film….
    Looking forward to the other 2 releases and hope they are more like the book!!!!

  2. Finally got to see it this weekend. While I did enjoy it, it was a bit disappointing. The movie seemed to build up to something that really didn’t seem to take off. Let me elaborate:

    We all know that Draco was chosen for some purpose by the Death Eaters. I assumed it was to kill Harry, and if he didn’t accomplish his mission, Snape was suppose to do it. Instead of fighting Harry, his mission was to find the disappearing closet and kill Dumbledore, which, of course, he didn’t. Now many have complained about there not being a funeral but I thought the wizards holding up their wands and the face of Voldemort disappearing from the clouds was very sombre and paid tribute to the greatest wizard of Hogwarts. But the ending was kind of blah, although the Phoenix flying around was touching. We all know that this film is the bridge to the final installment but so were the first 2 Lord of the Rings movies and the ending to those 2 were very good.

    I didn’t think the teen love situation was overly done, as I have read from some people. In fact, the tension between Ron and Hermione I felt was very well done; and like Vic said, Ginny’s bravery showed just what she is willing to do for her man.

    ***** END SPOILERS! *****

    I felt that this was a good installment but I still feel that Chamber of Secrets is still the best. I would give this one 3.5, maybe even 4, out of 5.

  3. @ Gottarhyme
    I read all the books and I also enjoy to read read from time to time BUT that is not to say that I think that people who DO NOT read are ignorant. You dont have to read a book to enjoy a movie and visa-versa.
    As I said before I was very let down with this movie when I saw it. So what I did this weekend was watch it again and I have to say the second time around it was a bit more enjoyable. It is STILL a let down in my mind but not as bad as I initially thought. There are many flaws and weak points in the movie and the lack of action and magic is quite apparent but overall it does have good replay value.

    I just want to know how Hogwarts has changed SOO much in the past 6 films. The first few films had ghosts and craetures lurking the hallways, lots of magic being used, and a great sense of adventure. These past few have progressively toned down the magic.
    Personally I think that they DO NOT have as much money to toy around with. Now being that the actors are all older and vital to the films they are prob demanding more money which leaves less for special effects and action.

    Look at the GOBlet compare to the Phoneix movies portral of Sirius Black in the fire place. The first time around the effects were incredible and very well done probabably costing the studio lots of money. The second time the effects were so poorly done that it looked like something that was made in 1990.
    Furtheremore take the Half Blood movie for another example. Here when Luna repairs Harry’s nose, we dont actually see the repair happen, why not? Studio is trying to maintain their budget.

  4. no they are not lacking a budget dummies…potter makes alot of money. The reason they didn’t show the nose break was for the sake of kids watching it, and director felt it wasnt really important to show anything gross, don’t ask me why but that’s his view. In goblet of fire, sirius scene in the fire had to look good due to not having the actor available to play the part and hid that fact by making a cgi face popping from the embers and coal in the fire whereas the fire scene in order of phoenix is much more accurate to the book’s description of a face dancing in the flames. Half blood prince book just didnt have many grand scenes like the triwizard tournament to show and so this film didnt require as much cgi, even though when they did it was far better looking than other past installments…so there it is.

  5. When they’ve got a narrative that is chock full of character, plot and detail, I just dont see the need why they needed to mess about with the story as much as they did in HBP, or to leave scenes in and to do them so poorly – why change it when all the drama/action/feeling is already in the pages? Sure they have to cut stuff but change things to the point where Harry isnt frozen at the end?? We need to see the DVD version with the director’s interview to get his side of the story!

    I just dont think they are building Voldemort up to be “evil”/”disturbed” enough for the massive one-on-one at the end. We’ve missed now alot of information about his backstory that non-Potter fans will have to recognise “the villian” ‘cos he’s the one without a nose (so he must be the villian). In the 7th book he’s killing people all over the place, and there’s the scene at the Malfoy Manor with the Hogwarts teacher rotating slowly over the table, held up with Voldemort’s magic. Its stuff like that I think they need to put it to show how twisted he is to justify the rants between Harry and Voldemort in the final battle (plus it looks soooo good – in my mind anyway :) ).

    Its all there in the pages

  6. @Daniel F:

    It is my experience as a teacher that people who don’t read books are ignorant, and do not do as well in exams. They lack the intelligence to assimilate information, and to make critical choices. Even mathematicians read monographs about theory! I am not talking about ‘steeet smarts’ or kinesthetic intelligence, (Physical intelligence) I am talking about using the brains God gave you.

    By reading, we expand our horizons, we question, we learn about history, we begin to understand that all human endeavour is built upon the knowledge of great human beings that have lived before us.

    If academics who call people who refuse to read ‘stupid’, or ‘lacking in intelligence’, so be it.

    When I say ‘refuse’ I mean just that. People who refuse to read books, and actually take pride in that fact, are the ones I am addressing this diatribe to.

    I am not saying that they HAVE to read Harry Potter in order to enjoy the film. To me, film and text are two different mediums.

  7. gottarhyme that’s extremely narrowminded and fairly insulting of you. Some people simply don’t enjoy reading. I disagree with you completely. I think you can “expand your horizons” just watching TV and movis. It’s still a story being told just a different format. Hell we even have a history channel. I’m an avid reader and I’m insulted by what you say.

  8. @ Daniel F:

    I am not the only one who says it. You can be as insulted as you like. Watching a T.V loooking at a screen does in no way make up for using your imagination.

    If you do not read, quite simply, you are not using your brain. The results in exams speak for themselves. Intelligence doesn’t just ‘happen’, it has to be nurtured by reading.

  9. @gottarhyme & Daniel F
    Come on guys. Please, let’s not turn this into a debate on the values of reading. Both of you have valid points but this is about the HP movie.

  10. @ Gottarhyme
    I never read when I was younger for leisure, always used cliffnotes to do school readings and I think I turned out far better than most, including teachers. Somehow I had a 3.75 gpa in college, took the gmats (half of the test is reading comp btw) and received a 690 (better than 10%) and took teh Lsats and received a 162 (all reading test). Oh, yea and I make VERY good money…and trhe funny thing is I did NOT start reading up until 3/4 years ago. You shoudl keep your vicious and IGNORANT comments to yourself. This is a forum for people that want to talk about the harry potter experience and people do not want to hear someone’s views on why reading is fundamental

  11. @ John Kahless. Finally someone like me that thinks Chamber of Secrets is the best HP film.

    @ Gottarhyme. Sure that is a modern stereotype (zero reading= ignorant), but there are people out there who don’t like to read or don’t read at all that do well in exams or in their jobs or in their lives. But don’t get me wrong I 100% support reading, and tying this to HP, I praise JK Rowling for rising reading in kids all over the world. Here, let me recommend you a trilogy of books called The Doomspell (they consist of The Doomspell, The Scent of Magic and The Wizard’s Promise). They are quite good, don’t know if you have already read them.

    As for the issue of the main climax of the film, I also think that Yates’ excuse was lame and stupid, as that battle is something quick and in general very minor compared to the very Battle of Hogwarts at the end of Deathly Hallows. Heck, in Half-Blood Prince that happens in over a chapter or so, while in Deathly Hallows it lasts like for 4-5 chapters.

    Some other problems for me, like for other peoples here, is the final 20 min or so. I mean I really found stupid how they showed the Death Eaters entering the castle if there were no obstacles and no professors guarding. Five thing here:
    1) What, teachers didn’t hear all the scandal that Bellatrix made?
    2) If there was no battle, why would the Death Eaters even bother to go? Draco and Snape would have done it alone.
    3) If I haven’t read the book before I wouldn’t have believed Snape when telling Harry he was the Half-Blood Prince. Because there was no build-up to that plot it came as something careless, even though it was supposed to be a major plot looking at the title of the film, but yes they decided to pay more attention to the romantic sub-plots in the book (here in the movie they are major plots).
    4) Dumbledore’s death was so… well was not moving and had no momentum for me. And the secen was sometwaht stupid too because, why didn’t Harry do something if he was free to move? I mean, Bellatrix was there! So you’re telling me that during the attack at the Burrow he chased her really enraged but later he just says there doing nothing?
    5) The absence of the funeral was a bad choice, they instead preferred having the student and teachers raise their wands, something not worthy of the wise late director everyone loved.

    I liked the movie overall, but towards the end there were some parts where I started to cringe. I personally found the end of Goblet of Fire much more moving than this one. I also hated the guy that played the teenage Voldemort, I thought he was the worst actor in the film. The quest for the Horrocruxes was something very very minor in the film, and they didn’t even bother to speculate what the others could be.

    Just to finish I think Yates and the creative crew will have a hard time making the final two films. For example both Kreacher and Dobby should have been showed a little more throughout the series and not just until Deathly Hallows. I just wonder if the Dursley’s will be in it since I havent’ heard of the actors signing for it.

    I know the films cannot be exactly like the books, but if the books have clever ideas then the movies should stick to them (like Harry being paralised by Dumbledore at the tower). Personally I thought Half-Blood Prince was an easy book to adapt and translate to the big screen but it wasn’t a good adaptation. On the other hand, as a stand-alone film, I thought it was perfect until after the cave, where it became a let-down. This is also my favourite book of the saga, so you’ll guess… Good movie? Yes, but I found Star Trek much more satisfying.

  12. @ Iron Knight

    I pretty much agree with you.
    Star Trek was def the movie of the summer and HP6 was a pretty good movie but yet a poor adaptation.
    Leaving out the Dursleys was also a major issue that I had with the film; They were also left out of Goblet but the circumstances were different in that book. Nevertheless this is teh 2nd to last book and they should have been in it. The whole scene with Harry in the train coudl have been trimmed down and been replaced with a 2minute scene with teh Dursleys.
    The Dursleys MUST be in the 7th fim in order to allow for continuity in teh films. If the adults do not get signed on, at the very least have him at the Dursley’s house with his cousin Dudley in the beginning of the film. If you remember, back in the 7th book we finnaly see Dudley show Harry some compasion and sympathy with a big hug and tears when him and HArry separate.
    Dobby and Kreacher also are another problem. We have not seen Dobby since the 2nd film and Kreacher had a brief and nearly irrelivant (as opposed to the book where he is the one who rats out Sirius Black) appearance in the 5th. Their roles are more essential now in the 7th book so what will Yates do?? Change the story some more? didnt work the 1st time.

    Yates’ problem is that he focused TOO much on the the relationships in the film; but still did not have Harry and Ginny dating as it was in the book. Hermionne, LAvender, and Ron’s relationship could have been watered down, we got the idea. He should have focused on the mystery behind the halfblood prince and the Horcruxes, like the book did.

    As I said earlier though, if you read the book and watched the movie and did not enjoy, watch it again. The 2nd time IS more enjoyable I believe. The film most definetly had its problems as a continuation in the series and as a film adaptation but as a stand-alone film it is still very watchable.

    I too thought that Goblet’s was a very moving ending and thought that this book would have been much more moving but I was wrong. I think that they shoudl bring back the director of Azkaban or Goblet for the final 2 films but the films are already in shoot with Yates.
    Lets just hope he redeems himself with teh final 2 films and gives us another masterpiece like Order of the Phoniex

  13. I agree; Star Trek is still the best movie this year. But, of course, I haven’t seen Moon and Avatar is still on the geek radar.

  14. @ tasouli. Wow, you got me until I read your final line. Sorry, but I thought Order of the Phoenix was the weakest of all and overall the worst. I felt it was very poor and rushed in general. The battle at the Ministry is still the best climax of the series, slightly ahead of the cemetery in Goblet of Fire.
    Anyways, I really want to watch the film again because it’s been so difficult for me to rate. I do hope I enjoy it more like you said.

  15. Give it another shot and try to avoid comparing it to the book as I did. Most people that I know did not like the Order of the phoenix as well but I really like the whole Harry being on his own and alone theme and I thought the final 30 minutes were some of the best in the series, especially from when Sirius died and on.
    Another thing to point out, I do not think that Sirius’s role in Harry’s life was as significant as Dumbledoore’s so why is it when Sirius dies he looses it, breaks out into tears, chases after Belatrix adn gives her the cruciatus curse? hmmm…

  16. @tasouli
    Yeah, that’s true. It would have made much more sense in HBP if Harry was hit with a paralyzing spell from Dumbledore; since he is like a father figure to him, the director should have had Harry go balistic but if he were paralyzed, he couldn’t.

  17. Actually both were significant for Harry. Because Sirius was one of the best friends of Harry’s father and also Harry’s godfather, he resembled and was like a father figure to Harry, while Dumbledore was more of a grandfather figure, something like a really caring mentor. That’s what I’d like to thing, of course…

  18. @Tasouli:

    If you bothered to read what I said, I was commenting on a statement made in this forum about people not bothering to read.

    I am not ‘vicious’, why are you are to turn this into a personal attack!

    If you are smarter than your teachers, good for you. Yet another person who rags on the over worked and underpaid teaching profession is not uncommon. Join the line. We are used to it.

    I am not attacking anyone, merely buying into a debate. You are showing your ignorance by making personal slights against me. Please confine your remarks to the debate.

  19. I think the last film just felt a bit flat. I was hanging for a big ending to make up for it but even that was just so-so compared with how rich the book was. I KNOW you can’t really compare the two and I KNOW you will never truly capture the book on screen, but I’m in the circle of those who loved Order of the Phoenix, which I thought actually exceeded my expectations from the book. There was Sirius, of course, but Umbridge gave the film a very sadistic undertone, she played it great. But this film went nowhere and I never really felt any underlying danger. The scenes of the bridge etc were technically great but didn’t really add anything. We’ve never given a crap about the muggle world before, why would we care now? Lets stick to the wizarding would – our world sucks! The scene with Katie screaming and being thrown about like a poltergeist’s ragdoll was great, but I think the actors were probably looking at a blue screen, thinking about butterflies for all the fear or shock they showed in the supposed face of a girl screaming through that big set of chompers held impressively wide. It’s like they let the ‘kids’ all grow up and there was no cause or consequence or something. That ‘Bimbo’ scene with Hermione by Rons bedside was just awful, I don’t know if me or Michael Gambon were more embarrassed to be trapped watching that. I’m not sure how they make decisions on what to change, I know they have their movie-needs-to-follow-the-arc reasons, but I wish the scene where Harry has to go get the book for Snape – and Ginny defends Harry’s ‘sectumsempra’ to Hermione was still there, that to me was a big turning point in their relationship. He WAS about to use an unforgivable curse, but you wouldn’t realise that in the movie really. They obviously wanted to show that aspect of Ginny though and her allegiance to Harry so they turned it into Ginny yelling at everyone in quidditch to ‘Shut It’ I guess. And Harry knew not to touch the cursed necklace, if anything showed his emmerging wizardry knowledge it was the way he handled all that, like a true leader, which was taken away in the movie with Hagrid taking charge. He was such a nancy drew, whoops, I’ll say Hardy Boy, before anyone says I’m feminising him ;-) in the book, tracking down Malfoy, getting the clues together, but there was no big Scooby-Doo ending like ‘Ahaaaa! It WAS Malfoy and Snape you tools! See McGonigal?! Told YA!’ It was just a bit cold and empty at the end. (And just personally, I really wanted the merpeople, etc lamenting to the loss of Gandalf – oops I mean Dumbledore – at the end! :-P They may have helped make it a bit more memorable. Or they could have just cameo’d Legolas for some eye candy ;-) Heck, they cameo everyone else in England!

  20. @ Gottarhyme

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

    This is a personal attack towards everyone on this website that does NOT read. These ARE vicious comments and YOU are the one making the personal attacks, NOT me. I am just on here discussing why most people feel that this movie was a dissapointment, and once again I’ll say that the second time around the movie was far better

  21. Oh, grow up!

  22. ok, so heres what i think. I have always been a fan of Harry Potter. This movie was very good, but i didnt like the ending. To me it seemed like the whole time they are leading you up to something, like something huge is going to happen at the end. (besides Dumbledoor’s death) So i was kind of dissapointed with the end. Other wise, I thought it was a pretty good movie. I would give it an 8 out of 10

  23. @Namrata, hey, ummmmmmmm Im a fan of the book and i loved the movie so your wrong there not all of the fans are complaining. The only ones complaining are the people who dont understand that the book is a book and the movie is a movie. They are both seperate works of art. And when did they say there were 6 Horcruxes instead of 7? All of this could be explained in the next movie, all they have to do is have Harry read a letter that Dumbledore left before he died. ITS THAT SIMPLE!!! I dont understand why alot of the fans are complaining when they got a movie that had alot of emotion, character, and had the right amount comedy and action mixed in. If your really that angry just go read your book and get over it :)

  24. That’s the problem with the movie though…the movie is supposed to accurately portray the book so that fans can enjoy the aspects of the book in a form of visual entertainment. The purpose of the movie is simply to portray the book on screen in an accurate manner and in this area it failed. Yes it was entertaining (to a degree) but as a fan of the books I wanna see the emotion, comedy, character, and feeling that was generated from the books in the movie…not what some director thinks should happen. And yes the books had character development and emotion, but were driven more by the story and mystery surrounding Harry and Voldemort and the overall plot. There is no reason you can’t have emotion and character development by sticking to the book and I could care less about what the director thinks should happen I just want to them to simply be true to the book which they were not in this film.

  25. hmm…its a little boring when i watch harry potter and the half blood prince. where has all the actions gone? where is the battling of wizards ? nothing much of that sort except for a few little actions when dumbledore and harry was on the journey of finding the horcrux.. well, i must say i’m quite disappointed in this 6th edition. The previous movies were well firmed. maybe i’ve too high of an expectation.. ^.^ hopefully the last movie will be a blast.. !! :-D

  26. Frank says:
    July 26, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I agree Frank, there needs to be some sort of loyalty to the book’s core thread. To me, Dumbledore immobilising Harry at the end was a massive deal. To Harry, yet another person sacrificed themselves for him; by Dumbledore wasting that second to cast that spell he saw it as Malfoy’s opportunity to disarm him, costing him his life. And there is no WAY he would just stand there and let Snape take charge. He never trusted him, why would he let Snape just “shush” him and let him go save Dumbledore while he stood there? It’s not his style, he is impetuous and headstrong and charges right in, it’s why he’s always in trouble and I love it… I think one of the reasons they didn’t release this movie was so that people could quickly forget it’s lack of substance once the DH’s come out. At least I’m hoping so, cos if they stuff up that one, I’m going to do my na-na.
    On the flip side, I did love Harry and Ron scuffling over the better copy of the book, and I loved Harry’s spider-pincer bit :-) I do think they got the humour right this time, or the actors seemed to be coming out of themselves a bit more.

  27. I actually just found out that they had the highest production budget of all films on HP6 of 250 million…I just wanna know where the money went…did they really give all the actors and dierctor that much more money? I mean there were barely any special effects and action scenes in comparison to the others. This makes no sense to me