“Half-Blood Prince” shines

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is cinematically stunning to watch, if anything else. It grossed $104 million worldwide on its opening day and broke many records to become the second largest grossing film to open on a Wednesday.

This is the sixth installment in the “Potter” series and a great lead into the next two, and last, films in the series.

Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is a story of blossoming love and the ongoing fight Harry has to kill his sworn enemy since birth, Lord Voldemort.

Most people who have read the book will likely compare the two. Harry Potter fanatics shouldn’t waste their time. The film on its own is great and the Hogwarts trio have grown up and become much better actors over the years. If you must compare, do yourself a favor and try to realize that the production probably had to decide where to spend their money. That might help if your favorite scenes from the book didn’t make the film, and there are many.

Harry is joined early on by the Head of Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore, played by Michael Gambon, who took over after the deceased Richard Harris. Although Gambon may have grown on “Potter” fans as Dumbledore, he doesn’t have the grandfatherly feel that Harris did.

Much of the action in “Half-Blood Prince” revolves around the main character falling in love, which is handled well enough that it doesn’t take over the film entirely. There is a spectacular Quidditch match, a rampage by some Deatheaters, a few trips through the Pensieve and enough humor to keep the story moving.

Some fine acting is turned in by the supporting case, which always seem to be the case.

An underused Maggie Smith, who plays Professor McGonagall, is still amazing after all of these years. Jim Broadbent takes on the role of Horace Slughorn with panache. Helena Bonham Carter is delightfully creepy and menacing as Bellatrix.

Alan Rickman, also underused, has the role of Professor Snape down pat. He doesn’t even have to say anything anymore; just one look from him and you KNOW what he’s thinking.

Other notable support cast members include Julie Walters, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis and Robbie Coltrane.

The direction by David Yates does move along swiftly for a two-and-a-half-hour film and even though a lot of the book isn’t in the movie, it makes sense on its own. A couple of the scenes that were missing should have been in the movie, but go without. The film was very good.

Tom Andrew is a City Times staff writer

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“Half-Blood Prince” shines