Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – David Yates

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends at Hogwarts are ready for another year at the magical school, one that will shape them, and set them on a course towards a final confrontation with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and will change everything.

The sixth film in the series once again ups the stakes for all of the characters as the evil Death Eaters are on the rise, and war seems imminent.

Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) has Harry help him to recruit a professor, Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to Hogwarts, in an effort to access his memories of Voldemort as a student, when he was simply known as Tom Riddle. Along the way, Harry comes across a potions book labeled the property of the Half-Blood Prince, which will lead to a stunning revelation.

There are plans in action to oust Dumbledore from Hogwarts permanently, and both Malfoy (Tom Felton) and Snape (Alan Rickman) seem to be involved despite the fact that the Order of the Phoenix says Snape can be trusted.

And then we learn that Dumbledore has been attempting to track down horcruxes, items into which Voldemort has sheltered pieces of his shattered soul so that he may remain immortal – setting up the hunt to follow in the final two films.

Fantastically paced, the film also plays up the beginning (finally) of the romance between Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermionie (Emma Watson) and that Harry may have finally clued in to how he feels about Ginny (Bonnie Wright).

The series continues to be vastly entertaining, smart, and enjoyable, letting the characters have the moments that define them, and layer them out, and still delivers a horrible gut punch at the end of the film, leaving us in darkness as we movie into the last pair of films.

Everything’s working in this, the cast, the gorgrous production design, the effects, the story, and the way the characters have grown over the past six films. They really are magical experiences, and I have really loved revisiting them, some I haven’t seen since their original release!

Sure there are differences from book to screen, and there are minor plots and moments that don’t make the leap, but the stories themselves remain very close to the source material, and once again, the viewer is left to feel as if they are growing with the characters.

These actors, all of them, have come to embody their characters, especially the leads, as we have literally watched them grow into these roles, and that, for me, made the stakes feel so much higher, and although I loved the experience of the Half-Blood Prince, I was already worrying for the characters , and what they would be confronting in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

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