We gave it an A-
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Directed by: David Yates
Release date: July 15*
Let’s sum this up in one word: finally. Warner Bros.’ adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s penultimate Potter novel was originally scheduled to be released last fall, but the studio moved the flick to this summer for strategic financial reasons. Furious fans protested with petitions — and pranksters mocked their outrage with viral videos, including one that cast Hitler, in his bunker scene from Downfall, going apoplectic over Potter‘s delay. But at last, the wait will soon be over.
”You know the headline on this one, of course,” says Robbie Coltrane, a.k.a. Hagrid, of the franchise’s sixth installment. SPOILER ALERT! ”It’s the one where Dumbledore [Michael Gambon] pops his claws.” (If you’re not hip to Coltrane’s lingo, well…mystery preserved.) END OF SPOILER ALERT! It’s also the one where we learn Voldemort’s origin story — although there’s much less of it in the movie than in the book, where Harry and Dumbledore jump into pools of liquid memory to observe the bad guy’s evolution. Citing the need for narrative economy and dynamic drama, screenwriter Steve Kloves says he chose ”a few key memories instead of attempting to include all of them.”
Half-Blood Prince also emphasizes Harry’s relationship with Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), the Potions teacher who holds a secret to Voldemort’s past, plus teen-romance intrigue involving Harry (Radcliffe) and Ginny (Bonnie Wright), as well as Ron (Grint), Hermione (Watson), and newcomer Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave). ”The last film was quite intense with all that battle stuff,” says Grint. ”This one is a lot lighter and much funnier.” Not that the film lacks thrills. ”I worked with a giant spider,” says Broadbent. ”Bloody marvelous.”
*Release date changed from July 17, 2009