Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)



Critic Consensus: Dark, thrilling, and occasionally quite funny, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is also visually stunning and emotionally satisfying.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Photos

Movie Info

Adolescent wizard-in-training Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for another year of schooling and learns more about the dark past of the boy who grew up to become Lord Voldemort in this, the sixth installment of the film series that originated from the writings of author J.K. Rowling. There was a time when Hogwarts was thought of as a safe haven, but thanks to Voldemort's tightening grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, that simply isn't the case anymore. Suspecting that the castle may even harbor an outright threat, Harry finds his investigation into the matter sidelined by Dumbledore's attempts to prepare him for the monumental battle looming ever closer on the horizon. In order to discover the key to Voldemort's defenses, Dumbledore enlists the aid of resourceful yet unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, who may have a clue as to their enemy's Achilles' heel. Meanwhile, teenage hormones cause the students at Hogwarts to lose focus on their true mission. As Harry and Dean Thomas clash for the affections of the lovely Ginny, Romilda Vane attempts to woo Ron away from Lavender Brown with some particularly tasty chocolates. Even Hermione isn't immune from the love bug, though she tries her hardest to suppress her growing jealousy and keep her emotions bottled up. But there is one student who remains completely aloof from the romance blossoming all around, and he intends to leave a dark impression on his classmates. With tragedy looming ever closer, it begins to appear as if peace will prove elusive in Hogwarts for some time to come. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Daniel Radcliffe
as Harry Potter
Emma Watson
as Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint
as Ron Weasley
Tom Felton
as Draco Malfoy
Helena Bonham Carter
as Bellatrix Lestrange
Jim Broadbent
as Professor Horace Slughorn
Alan Rickman
as Professor Severus Snape
Michael Gambon
as Professor Albus Dumbledore
Maggie Smith
as Professor Minerva McGonagall
Robbie Coltrane
as Rubeus Hagrid
David Thewlis
as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters
as Molly Weasley
Helen McCrory
as Narcissa Malfoy
Robert Knox
as Marcus Belby
Jessie Cave
as Lavender Brown
David Bradley
as Argus Filch
Bonnie Wright
as Ginny Weasley
Warwick Davis
as Professor Filius Flitwick
Frank Dillane
as Tom Riddle (16 Years)
Hero Fiennes Tiffin
as Tom Riddle (11 Years)
Timothy Spall
as Wormtail
Oliver Phelps
as George Weasley
Rob Knox
as Marcus Belby
James Phelps
as Fred Weasley
Cormac McLaggen
as Freddie Stroma
Alfred Enoch
as Dean Thomas
Freddie Stroma
as Cormac McLaggen
Evanna Lynch
as Luna Lovegood
Scarlett Byrne
as Pansy Parkinson
Jamie Waylett
as Vincent Crabbe
Joshua Herdman
as Gregory Goyle
Matthew Lewis
as Neville Longbottom
Anna Shaffer
as Romilda Vane
Devon Murray
as Seamus Finnigan
Afshan Azad
as Padma Patil
Shefali Chowdhury
as Parvati Patil
Amelda Brown
as Mrs. Cole
Paul Ritter
as Eldred Worple
Natalia Tena
as Nymphadora Tonks
Mark Williams
as Arthur Weasley
Gemma Jones
as Madam Pomfrey
Rod Hunt
as Rowle
Katie Leung
as Cho Chang
Dave Legeno
as Fenrir Greyback
Joerg Stadler
as Male Inferi
Caroline Wilder
as Female Inferi
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Critic Reviews for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

All Critics (281) | Top Critics (74)

I think it's the best of the series, fairly easily, and a testament to why occasionally throwing a massive budget at an endeavor of this scope can be considered a reasonable decision.

May 6, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

If Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a roller coaster, it's the tiny train meant for only the very youngest kids, the one that seems to go round and round forever without really ever picking up any pace.

July 22, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

All in all, despite the verve that drives the grander set pieces, it's hard to avoid the sensation of a film toiling overtime to convince itself of its own solemnity.

July 20, 2009

Director David Yates presides over some gorgeous CGI set pieces, but all the real magic comes from the scrum of ace British character actors.

July 17, 2009 | Full Review…

With its deft handling of teen yearning and affection, Half-Blood Prince maneuvers mysteries of heart and hankering that resound in worlds magic and Muggle.

July 17, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4

David Yates is a solid hand as director, he does nothing but let the taps run, leaving us with little more than a bath full of comfortable if lukewarm water.

July 17, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


When I reviewed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I described the film as "the beginning of... the long, slow consolidation of the franchise." After four films of varying quality under three different directors, the series found a workmanlike happy medium under David Yates, who delivered a film which had promise and interesting ideas but struggled to get through all the plot. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince continues the transition of the series into a holding pattern which is both problematic and reasonably entertaining. Yates' direction is marginally improved, and the film benefits greatly from the brilliant performance by Jim Broadbent. But many of the issues which plagued its predecessor are still on show, namely the episodic plotting and the feeling of deliberately and needlessly delaying the inevitable. People have written a lot about the gradual darkening of the Harry Potter series, in both the books and the films. When the sixth book was published, some critics worried that the stories were getting too "grown-up" for people in their early teens who might not have matured with the series. Yates and his collaborators have clearly sought to convey a sense of gathering dread, ramping up the blues and blacks in the colour scheme and with more night scenes than in the previous instalment. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel is mainly known for his work with Jean-Pierre Jeunet; having lensed Amelie, at the brighter, more whimsical end of magic, here he broadens his CV to deliver darkness on screen which is at times almost suffocating. While the darkness may be welcome on a general level, there is a problem with how Half-Blood Prince applies its desire to be dark and bleak. Underneath all the technical jiggery-pokery, there has to be some form of narrative pay-off, a dramatic climax or the stakes being gradually raised which will make the darkness seem palatable. Shooting everyone in shadow or making them wear dark clothes will get you so far, but in order to truly accept that the world is getting darker, there has to be a moment where the evil or obstruction becomes fully realised. In short, we need a strong indication of the storm into which we are heading - or at the very least, confirmation that there is a storm in the first place. It is entirely possible to make a film which ends on a sense of open-ended dread, in which the manifestation of evil is implied or otherwise takes place off-screen. Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, which came out in the same year as this, did a brilliant job of hinting towards the carnage of World War I through unexplained and horrifying events which were difficult to fathom. Half-Blood Prince, on the other hand, feels like a false cliffhanger, in which we are left frustrated that we have to keep waiting for the inevitable showdown between Harry and Voldemort, which could and should have happened long ago. Much of the fans' disquiet about Half-Blood Prince surrounds the death of Dumbledore - referred to euphemistically as "the unhappy event" by Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode during their film reviews on BBC Radio 5Live. In the book, Harry is physically unable to stop Snape from killing Dumbledore; in the film, he simply stands there in shock, waiting under the stairs where Snape told him to remain in silence. Like so many details in the Potter series, this is a moment which should have enormous gravitas, but in Yates' hands it feels more arbitrary even without the changes in Harry's response. This is extremely surprising given the intensity of Harry's previous scenes with Dumbledore. In an interview with Daniel Radcliffe after the series had ended, J. K. Rowling described Dumbledore's relationship with Harry as "John the Baptist to Harry's Christ"; his great deeds and "voice crying in the wilderness" prepare the way for the greater, deeper work of the one who comes after. Dumbledore is increasingly aware in the later films of his own frailties, shortcomings and mistakes, and the search for the horcruxes epitomises his desire to put things right. For all my criticisms surrounding Dumbledore's predictable role within the plots of the earlier films, his relationship with Harry has become one of the films' most consistently redemptive qualities. One of the highlights of the film is the scene in the cave, where Dumbledore is forced to drink a painful potion to unveil a locket believed to be a horcrux (more on that concept later). Much of the plaudits have focussed on the technical aspects of the scene, such as the rendering of the zombie-like inferi or Dumbledore's fiery apparition. But what is truly memorable is the anguish on both men's faces as they endure horrific pain to complete the task. The pain of the characters is genuine and gives weight to what otherwise could come across as a meaningless McGuffin to pad out the plot (again, more on that later). The real emotional heart of the film, however, is Professor Slughorn. Whether through Rowling's characterisation, Steve Kloves' scripting, Yates' direction or a combination of all three, this character manages to be both particularly human and immensely complex in the ideas he represents. Slughorn's reluctance to give up his memory of the young Tom Riddle works so much better than the vague conspiracy of denial dwelt on in Order of the Phoenix. By focussing the dilemma onto one person, it becomes more palatable for an audience and ironically its impact appears greater, at least in relation to a man's conscience. Slughorn represents all the guilt, shame and regret that surrounds the wizarding profession with respect to Voldemort. He's a well-meaning but not entirely likeable person, whose nervous and eccentric manner belies a tendency to exhibit favouritism to his students and selfishness with regard to his own soul. Broadbent perfectly conveys the idea of a man haunted by knowledge, mindful that what he knows will help but terrified of the contents of said knowledge. If Dumbledore is John the Baptist, then Slughorn combines the misjudged treachery of Judas with the doomed foresight of Cassandra in the Greek Myths. Broadbent's enigmatic and melancholy performance causes a significant development in Harry's characterisation which would be touched on in the last two films - namely his relationship with power and how he handles temptation. By working from the Half-Blood Prince's book and outdoing his classmates (including Hermione), he feels for the first time like he has the skill and talent to live up to his image as 'the chosen one'. Throughout the film he is torn between his mission for Dumbledore (to recover Slughorn's memory of Riddle) and his growing hubris and curiosity which stem from the new spells he perfects. As before, then, the saving grace of Half-Blood Prince is its cast, with each of the three principals growing further into their characters and Tom Felton continuing to develop all that is snivelling and repulsive about Draco Malfoy. But the film still has its fair share of structural problems which encumber it, beyond its inability to have a meaningful ending. Not only is Dumbledore's death reduced to a mere incident, but the film never explains its title. As a result Snape's final words to Harry feel like they were crowbarred in to justify calling the film by such a name; for all the peeks into Snape's history that we've enjoyed, we've no idea why he should be called that or what it means in the wider context of the plot. The film also has issues with accommodating some of the magical concepts. The atmosphere Yates creates on screen is definitely more magical and mysterious than Chris Columbus managed in the first two films. But mood alone cannot be used to justify concepts like the Room of Requirement and the Vanishing Cabinet. Like the previous film, the idea is badly derivative and jars with the general attempt within Rowling's world for everything to have a logical basis; you cannot create dramatic tension if you can just magic something out of thin air when you need it. Then we come to the horcruxes, which serve as the driving McGuffin for The Deathly Hallows. Even taking on board everything I have said about Dumbledore and Harry's relationship, there are two big problems with this concept. Firstly, the idea is not particularly original, with both Sauron's ring in The Lord of the Rings and the puzzle box from Hellraiser being prior examples. And secondly, there is a simple plot hole to consider; if Dumbledore knew that Riddle's diary was a horcrux, why has he waited so long to search for the others? By introducing the concept so late, rather than, for instance, hunting one horcrux per film, it feels like a last-minute, back-of-a-beer-mat resolution to the story, with everything that has gone before serving to buy Rowling some time. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an enjoyable and atmospheric offering whose performances cover up its narrative and structural shortcomings. While the cast are largely excellent and the dark tone is welcome compared to the earlier offerings, it isn't put together with sufficient skill or ingenuity to deliver enough of a knock-out punch. At the three-quarter mark in this franchise, it's a middling but entertaining effort, and certainly enough to whet our appetites for both parts of The Deathly Hallows.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

The most mature book to date is adapted into a beautifully paced film with a greater focus on the characters' personal drama, and it may feel like not much is happening when in fact many conflicts arise. I only miss the glorious end of the novel, which becomes here a more intimate confrontation.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


It's a sophisticated, beautifully filmed movie that transcends its genre in every way, from the subtle humor, to the powerful acting, to the splendid cinematography. It is the most consistent of the Harry Potter films in terms of tone, and while the usual flaws are present, David Yates proves himself to be an excellent director. The entire saga is worthy of praise--each film having its own brilliant moments--but Half-Blood Princes stands out as one of the most mature and best developed of the eight.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

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