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PCR #487 (Vol. 10, No. 30). This edition is for the week of July 20--26, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"  by Mike Smith
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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Michael Gambon
Directed by: David Yates
Rated: PG
Running Time: 2 hours 33 mins

You have to give Warner Brothers credit. After snapping up the rights to the “Harry Potter” books they took their time making sure the film adaptations were not only faithful (or at least as faithful as possible without turning out a five hour movie) but well done. Many times in Hollywood a literary classic is rushed out to the public in order to strike while the iron is hot. For every “Godfather” there is a “Bonfire of the Vanities.” However, the makers of the Potter films have avoided any backlash by turning out quality products. And the newest film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” is no exception.

The film opens with an intense scene of Death Eaters attacking London. Already apprehensive about returning to school after his last encounter with the Dark Lord Voldemort, Harry (Radcliffe) is persuaded back by his beloved headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Gambon). Dumbledore also introduces Harry to a former colleague, Professor Horace Slughorn (the brilliant Jim Broadbent) and is delighted when Slughorn agrees to return to Hogwarts to replace Professor Snape (Alan Rickman at his nastiest) as the new Potions teacher, moving Snape to Defense Against the Dark Arts. Even as Hogwarts is being fortified to protect the students from the Death Eaters, Snape enters into an unbreakable vow with Draco Malfoys’ mother, not only promising to protect him but to carry out his task should he fail. While in Potions class Harry stumbles across a textbook complete with notations. In it is written the words, “This Book Is the Property of the Half-Blood Prince.” As Harry and his friends try to discover the mystery student they also begin to battle their emotions. Ah to be 16 again.

What has always been impressive about the “Potter” films is that the producers have always seemed to find the right director to guide J.K. Rowling’s vision to the big screen. The first two films, which introduced the characters and the fun times at Hogwarts were directed by “Home Alone’s” Chris Columbus. Number three, which began to narrow the story, was directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Film four gave us Mike Newell and his talent for mining gold out of relationships. David Yates has been handed the reigns of number six (as well as the two film finale) and the succession is seamless. The tone is much darker now and the fun and games are few and far between. Credit screenwriter Steve Kloves with once again taking Rowling’s words and crafting them into a script that holds your attention throughout. The young veteran members of the cast have grown into their roles and the characters have become like second skins to them. Add to them a virtual who’s who of England’s best actors (Gambon, Broadbent, Rickman, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, Timothy Spall and Robbie Coltraine, just to name a few…believe me, I could name more) and you have the best cast to be found in a movie this year.

As I mentioned earlier, the tone of the film is much darker then the PG rating let’s on. Bad things (and people) abound and some of the books’ fans, though they know the story, may be shocked when confronted with the death of a major character. That being said, there is still a great game of Quidditch and plenty of “snogging” to get them over it.

I’m proud to say that in looking back I’ve been pretty consistent on my reviews of the “Harry Potter” films, which is a testament to the talents involved in creating them. On a scale of zero to four I give “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

This week's movie review of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.