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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Helena Bonham Carter, Bonnie Wright, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, David Thewlis

Director: David Yates

'He's covered in blood again. Why is he always covered in blood?' wails a lovestruck Ginny Weasley of Harry Potter (Radcliffe), as growing pains hit the young cast of the Potter films - and the sixth episode of the franchise. Much kissing and cuddling in corners ensues at Snogwarts - sorry Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as Harry's battle to kill the evil Lord Voldemort continues.

One of the film's problems here (one that probably didn't beset the books) is that Radcliffe and Watson have built up such a simpatico rapport with each other - watch them at the formula balcony scene at the end - that the romances between Ginny (the rather vapid Wright) & Harry and Hermione & Ron (Grint) seem awkward and forced. And there sure is a lot of mooning about, as love potions and tears flow at the expense of the central plot.

Still, Radcliffe and Grint both get a chance to play comedy, which they do amusingly - Grint could be a young version of Michael Crawford as Frank Spencer - special effects are as good as ever (if familiar) and there are a few exceptionally bright patches, notably the scene in which Dumbledore (Gambon) and Harry are besieged by devilish creatures on a rocky islet in a sequence that pushes the bounds of the 12A certificate.

One or two doubles-entendres also lighten the gloom of this rather dull chapter. 'Did you and Ginny do it then?' asks Ron, about the dispatch of an evil book - to be greeted by a distinct double-take from Harry before matters are cleared up.

Alan Rickman, too, is at his snarling best as Severus Snape. Is he on the side of the Dark Lord or isn't he? We'll have to wait until episodes seven and eight to find out. Like Harry, though, they'll need fresh inspiration.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
153 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 Jul 2009