Film Review: 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'

Updated on April 23, 2018
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Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.

Background

In 2009, David Yates released Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, based on the 2005 novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling, as the sixth film in the Harry Potter series. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis and Julie Walters, the film grossed $934.4 million at the box office.

Synopsis

Despite accepting the return of Voldemort, the Ministry of Magic finds itself powerless to stop him in his current form. In the meantime, Harry Potter learns more about Voldemort’s backstory and discovers an old potions textbook with spells and notes identifying itself as owned by “The Half-Blood Prince.”

Review

A decent film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince serves as a notable bridge between Voldemort fully exposing himself to the wizarding world and completely engrossing it in war. Throughout the story, characters on either side are preparing for said war. As Harry’s side mounts their defenses and figures out strategies, Voldemort’s side is gathering followers and preparing for a first strike. As each side moves toward the inevitable first clash with each other, the film exhibits an unending tension felt even in quiet moments. Harry also finds himself with a myriad of questions to answer, such as who the Half-Blood Prince is and what Horcruxes are and how they could be the key to defeating Voldemort.

The tension the film exudes is further seen visually. Many scenes have little to no color in them, as if the film is pointing out there is no color in an uneasy world on the brink of war. This lack of color can easily be seen in the latter half of the film, with Harry and Dumbledore in an almost monochrome world as they work to retrieve the Horcrux. The scenes at the end, following the first blow of Voldemort’s forces, is almost completely desaturated, too.

As always, the film presents audiences with a new teacher, with this one named Horace Slughorn. However, Slughorn moves into the role of Potions Master with Snapetaking over the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Slughorn also becomes the new Head of Slytherin and fascinatingly doesn’t behave like viewers would expect. He’s still ambitious, though it displays itself as favoritism and singling out talented and connected students. Yet, Slughorn does so without any prejudice towards other houses or people other Slytherins would deem unworthy and is ashamed of what he did to unwittingly help Voldemort in his first rise to power.

While the acting hit its highest note in previous films, this film does see some good acting. The most significant performance is Radcliffe as he is under the effects of the Felix Felicis potion. Instead of his usual performance, playing Harry as he’s constantly thinking about what’s coming next, Radcliffe depicts him as overjoyed and upbeat. He does this in all the scenes showing Harry under the potion’s effects, giving off a vibe of being under the influence and it’s the most memorable part of the film.

3 stars for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Awards/Recognitions

bold indicates reception of award/recognition

Academy Awards

  • Best Achievement in Cinematography

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA – Saturn Awards

  • Best Fantasy Film
  • Best Costume
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Special Effects

AFI Awards, USA

  • Special Award (The Harry Potter series marks the final triumphant chapter of a landmark series)

Art Directors Guild

  • Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award
  • Excellence in Production Design – Fantasy Film

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

  • Top Box Office Films

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects
  • Best Visual Effects

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Production Design
  • Best Special Visual Effects

British Society of Cinematographers

  • Best Cinematography Award

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Favorite Film Franchise

Gold Derby Awards

  • Visual Effects

Grammy Awards

  • Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media

Irish Film and Television Awards

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Film

Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA – Golden Reel Awards

  • Best S Sound Editing – Foreign Feature
  • Best Sound Editing – Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR in a Foreign Feature Film

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Best Villain (Tom Felton)
  • Best Movie
  • Best Male Performance (Daniel Radcliffe)
  • Best Female Performance (Emma Watson)

National Movie Awards, UK

  • Best Family Film

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Production Design
  • Best Visual Effects

People’s Choice Awards USA

  • Favorite Movie Fan Following (Potterheads)
  • Favorite Movie
  • Favorite On-Screen Team (Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe & Emma Watson)

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Live Action Family Film

Rembrandt Awards

  • Best DVD Release

Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards

  • Best Film

Russian National Movie Awards – Georges Award

  • Best Foreign Action Movie

Satellite Awards

  • Best Youth DVD (Harry Potter: The Complete 8 Film Collection)
  • Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media

Scream Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Rupert Grint)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Evanna Lynch)
  • Best Villain (Helena Bonham Carter)

SFX Awards, UK

  • Best Film

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice Movie Actress: Fantasy (Emma Watson)
  • Choice Movie: Fantasy

Visual Effects Society Awards

  • Outstanding Matte Paintings in a Feature Motion Picture

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Actress in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress (Evanna Lynch)

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