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‘Half-Blood Prince’ brings audiences ‘Half-Way’ to a magical finale

ENTER MOVIE-HARRYPOTTER 2 MCT“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth installment in the Harry Potter franchise, opened July 15 and quickly secured its spot as a summer blockbuster. According to Boxofficemojo.com, as of August 30, the film has grossed $895,958,075 worldwide.

The film follows Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) as he returns to Hogwarts after the battle with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) at the end of “The Order of the Phoenix.” Dumbledore takes Harry to visit Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), the old potions teacher at Hogwarts, to try and convince him to return to his position. He agrees to return after talking to Harry, as he had Lily Potter as a student when she was at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, Harry’s longtime adversary Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) has been given a task to carry out for Lord Voldemort, although it is unclear why.

After arriving at school, Harry rejoins his best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) for the start of another year. Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) suggests that Harry and Ron sign up for Slughorn’s potions class, and they reluctantly follow her orders. In the classroom, Professor Slughorn instructs the boys to get two textbooks out of the cabinet, and inside, Harry’s book is inscribed as “Property of the Half-Blood Prince.” The book contains notes that add to or sometimes defy the potions listed, but are always successful. Rapidly, Harry rises to the top of the potions class.

Meanwhile, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) begins to show Harry a series of memories regarding Tom Riddle (Lord Voldemort’s given name as a child) and his time at Hogwarts. He shows Harry a memory that has been tampered with by Professor Slughorn, and instructs Harry that he must find a way of uncovering the memory, as it holds the key to defeating Lord Voldemort.

Though the film is mostly informational (as in, no climactic showdowns with Lord Voldemort like in the previous two films), and sets up the rest of the adventure for the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” that shouldn’t suggest that “Half-Blood Prince” isn’t enjoyable.

On the contrary, as the students enter their sixth year at Hogwarts, they begin to experience all the hormones and mood swings that come along with being 16, which is fun to behold. After watching these actors grow up, the audience has formed a bond with the characters, and can feel mad, for instance, when Ron can’t tell that Hermione likes him.

The special effects are good, as always. The Pensieve, which Dumbledore uses to inform Harry of Lord Voldemort’s youth, is the tool used to show memories. The memories themselves are kept in small glass vials, which are clear and glittery in composition.

Though the Pensieve was introduced in the fourth installment, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” it doesn’t really become a vital tool until now. The contents of the Pensieve do not flourish until a memory is inserted into it, at which point a cloud of smoke becomes the surroundings where the memory took place. When the memory is happening, there is almost a fog-like quality to the picture – as if mimicking a dream.

Familiar characters also reappear, such as Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). New characters, such as Ron’s girlfriend, Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) and Draco’s mother, Narcissa Malfoy (Helen McCrory), also appear. As serious as the film is, there are also touches of humor in it, to help lighten up some of the often dark situations. Voldemort’s followers, (referred to as the “Death Eaters,”) are at large and yet, Harry still finds time to develop a crush on the youngest Weasley, Ginny (Bonnie Wright).

Per usual, the film ends with Harry saying something inspirational about friendship and the journey ahead of him. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” simply sets up for the final installment by explaining the methods in which Harry will try to defeat Lord Voldemort.

Director David Yates, who joined the series with the “Order of the Phoenix,” will also be directing the final installment, which will be split into two films: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” which is planned for release on Nov. 19, 2010 and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” which is to be released on July 15, 2011.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is currently still in theatres and is rated PG.

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