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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Part VI — Pot VI — comes close to a complete cheat. The once child actors, children no more, are developing faster than the story, and indeed the foretold war with the Dark Lord tends here to be crowded out by assorted amorous hankerings among Hogwarts classmates. (Those broomsticks for games of Quidditch are now looking more phallic than at first.) Whatever climax we had built to by the end of episode five, directed as was this one by David Yates, is no longer in evidence, as we begin a new school year with a new guest star in the cast, Jim Broadbent (more or less assuming the prior guest spots of Imelda Staunton and Miranda Richardson) as the faculty’s new Potions Master, first introduced in disguise as an overstuffed armchair, a promising shape-shifting gift never glimpsed again. The laden production — muggy atmosphere, congested décors, piles of bric-a-brac, oodles of CGI — further gums up the plot machinery, impedes forward progress; and the infrequent action, when it comes, comes out of nowhere and quickly returns thereto. Toward the end, the sustained scene in the cavern does attain a degree of creepiness, not hard to do when you’ve got a battalion of the mutant offspring of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and this admittedly is followed by a Major Development. To get to that, however, oughtn’t to have required a two-and-a-half-hour running time. If anything, we seem further from a final resolution than we seemed at the finish of the previous episode, with two more still to go. The entire series shapes up as the exemplary opposite of economical storytelling, and the exasperated spectator can but concur with the character who declares at the curtain, “It was all a waste, all of it.” Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated PG | 2 hours, 33 minutes
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