Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

July 18, 2009 - This 2009 film picks up where the previous film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, left off. When last we saw Harry, the young wizard had just survived a battle with the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Though scarred in that fight, Harry now returns to Hogwarts, where it becomes clear that someone is out to get the beloved Dumbledore.

In between potions classes, Harry, Hermione and Ron realize that hormones are raging at Hogwarts. Harry finds himself attracted to Ron's sister, Ginny Weasley; Hermione likes Ron, but he has googly eyes for someone else. That relationship is put to a merciful end when Ron drinks some poison intended for Dumbledore and is taken to the school infirmary.

The poison is just one of a few attempts made on Dumbledore's life. Dumbledore enlists Harry's help and instructs him to follow his lead. Where Dumbledore leads Harry is on a search for a Horcrux, which contains part of Voldemort's soul. If they can find this Horcrux and six others and destroy them, they can defeat Voldemort forever. But, standing in the way are various death-eaters, Bellatrix and the Half-Blood Prince.

Overall review: ** Full disclosure here: I have never read any of the Harry Potter books, so I compare these films to each other and not to the books they are based on. This film maintains the cinematography and special effects standards set by the previous films. It's neat to look at. But, plot-wise and action-wise, HBP feels rather disjointed.

In certain places, the action seems to lack continuity. Characters start in one location, then there is an edit and suddenly the characters are at a destination point that wasn’t all that far away to start with. The movie runs 2:30 to begin with, so why not take a few more seconds and show the characters actually getting to where they’re going?

Overall, I felt that this movie – with the possible exception of the very end – does not do very much to advance the overall plot of the series. Mostly, it serves to fill in some background on Voldemort and to develop aspects of other characters that, I suppose, might come into play later on. Fans of the HP books will probably enjoy it, but it's not a great stand-alone movie.