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Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince review

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
12Acertificate 12A
Running time: 153 minutes
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Timothy Spall
Rating 8 out of 10
All is not well in the Muggle and wizarding worlds as Harry Potter and his pals start the sixth year at Hogwarts. Despite all the unwanted attention from Voldemort and his Death Eaters, love is in the air for our heroes and they won't let any curses get in the way.

Teenage hormones and the new found ability to concoct love potions make for a pretty interesting first term for the young wizards. Ron Weasley's sister Ginny has now grown into a beautiful young woman and is the apple of Harry's eye - not that he's planning to do anything about it. Ron is equally dopey in his failure to see Hermione's feelings for him but will love find a way?

Meanwhile Professor Slughorn has returned to the school as Potions Master and Dumbledore asks Harry to go on a secret mission to discover all he can about Slughorn's relationship with Tom Riddle - the boy who would become Voldemort. While in class Potter opens his text book to find it was once owned by the mysterious Half-Blood Prince and that text has been altered to improve the magical recipes making Harry top of the class in the process.

Gaining Slughorn's confidence, Potter discovers that Voldemort has created Horcruxes - a series of hiding places for his soul thereby making him immortal as his soul will live on even if his body is destroyed. Dumbledore has begun the task of tracking down and destroying the Horcruxes but realises he needs Harry's help to annihilate them all.

The special effects are impressive, with a superb opening sequence showing the destruction of parts of London including the Millennium footbridge which proves to be more than a bit 'wobbly'. The ghostly Death Eaters swirl in palls of black smoke and instantly create a feeling of dread that will leave young viewers heading for cover.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is very much a film of two halves. It begins upbeat with plenty of laughs - mostly at Ron's expense (Grint has perfected affable clot role to perfection and the film is all the better for his increased on-screen time). Later the mood turns black as friendships and loyalties are put to the ultimate test.

It's a testament to the skill of David Yeats' direction that he can take a film series that has been running eight years, based on the most successful books of all time, and still make the subject matter feel fresh and exciting. Where other sequels fizzle out like damp squibs, the Harry Potter franchise marches on, conquering all before it. Now that's true movie magic.

Rob Andrews

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