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harry potter

“Harry Potter and the Enchanting 155 Minutes”


For a film whose purpose is to set up the grand finale, “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince” has an urgency that causes its two and a half hours to speed by like a Quidditch snitch. Unlike his last Potter film “Order of Phoenix”, Director David Yates is armed with a Steve Kloves screenplay, and the series has missed Kloves’ light humor, poignancy and nuanced relationships. Kloves, who has written every script other than “Phoenix,” is the gem in the Harry Potter library, the wand that spins the magic, as evidenced in juxtaposing this film with the last one.


A few months after barely surviving an attack by Dark Lord Voldemolt and his Death Eaters, Harry (Daniel Radcliff) is still recovering, avoiding the press and preparing for the gathering storm. The Death Eaters have been attacking both wizards and Muggles leaving death in their wake. As a new session at Hogwarts begins, Harry discovers some troubling things about his enemy Draco (Tom Felton), whose Death Eater father had been sent to Azkaban. Harry must uncover suspicious activities of Draco, who appears to have formed an alliance with the always untrustworthy Professor Snape (Alan Rickman).


There’s a new teacher at school, Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), a jovial potions specialist who once taught Harry’s mother and a young Tom Riddle (the once and future Voldemont).  Harry’s mentor Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) begs Harry to align with the potions professor and maybe uncover something troubling from the past.


There are more than political liaisons bouncing around the Hogwarts halls. Hormones have run more rampant than Death Eaters as Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Ron’s sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) discover their soul mates in the most awkward of places.


Director Yates’ vibrant colors and wild set pieces add awe to the evening.  From Hogwarts’ pastoral surroundings to the crashing waves that protect the hiding place of a valuable object, from Ron’s brother’s hijinks shop to the melancholy sight of beloved locales eviscerated, Yates has some lasting images.


Writer Kloves finds the humor in mundane situations, which gives this adaptation a lift despite the darkness looming.  He focuses on building relationships of characters audiences have invested in for almost a decade.


The cast has matured extraordinarily.  These adolescents have grown to adults and have acquired talent only hinted at in the first films. As the series reaches the terrifying pinnacles, the filmmakers are quite fortuitous to have hired such insightful actors when they were unformed.  Weighed down with a horrific mission, the usually thuggish Draco goes through vast life choices that Felton handles adroitly with panic in his eyes.  However, with only 10 minutes of screen time, Helena Bonham Carter as the marvelously malevolent Bellatrix Lestrange steals the film from everyone.  Cackling like a specter, rolling her eyes at those she considers beneath him, she’s a scrumptious villain.


Filming “Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince” must have been a daunting task.  With the exception of a tear-jerking ending, much of the circumstances are lead-ups for the final tale. Smartly, Writer Kloves and Director Yates avoid the film feeling like a placeholder and instead heighten the audience’s excitement for the last adaptation “Deathly Hallows”, being released in two parts in 2010 and 2011. Grade: A-

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