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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009)
Emboldened by the return of Lord Voldemort, the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that new dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. He needs Harry to help him uncover a vital key to unlocking Voldemort's defenses critical information known only to Hogwarts' former Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn. With that in mind, Dumbledore manipulates his old colleague into returning to his previous post with promises of more money, a bigger office and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter.
For more about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray release, see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, Dave Legeno, Elarica Gallacher, Jim Broadbent, Geraldine Somerville
Director: David Yates
» See full cast & crew
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray Review
One of the series' best summons an excellent Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 9, 2009
Sorry to begin by stating what Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is not, but I've found myself growing increasingly frustrated with the complaints being leveled against what is, in my mind, an exceptionally rich and mature entry in the Potter franchise, not to mention a smartly written, wonderfully performed, and artfully directed film in its own right. The Half-Blood Prince is not an aimless, uneventful bore. It's a measured analysis of its hero and his destiny; a rewarding dissection of his friendships and fears. It's not a bloated, despairing downer. It's the inevitable calm before the storm; the shifting of pawns preparing for the coming clash of their dueling kings. It's not a tiresome, overwrought waste of celluloid. It's an unexpectedly arresting character study, a tense mystery, and a shocking tale with lasting, tragic consequences for its protagonists. In short, the latest Potter film is not a letdown. Its once-young cast proves their mettle, its themes take tremendous leaps forward, and its dramatic weight is a palpable burden series fans will be more than happy to bear.
In his sixth cinematic outing, fledgling wizard and would-be world savior Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) finally comes into his own. Absent is his sniveling extended family, gone is the awkward blend of comedy and tragedy that held such sway in the series' earliest films. In their place comes a cold, oppressive veil of hopelessness teased in Prisoner of Azkaban and refined in Order of the Phoenix; a murky sense of dread that permeates every character and locale fans have come to know and love. The mysterious macguffin Harry stumbles upon this time around is a textbook whose previous owner, a former student who identifies himself only as the half-blood prince, had a vast, frankly frightening understanding of magic and its many applications. Keeping the book secret from all but his closest friends, mainstays Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Harry tries to decipher its clues. Meanwhile, Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) tasks him with convincing a legendary professor to give up a memory involving the once-and-future Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle, and with putting a stop to the dark sorcerer's servants, Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and rival classmate Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), who are hatching a seedy plan of their own. But Harry's challenges don't end there. He has to find an assassin targeting Dumbledore, deal with his feelings for Ron's sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright), determine where Professor Snape's (Alan Rickman) loyalties lie, help Hermione come to terms with her attraction to Ron, and save Ron from a pack of ravenous girls and a deadly poison.
If it seems like the weight of the world is crashing down on Harry's shoulders, it's because it is. Thankfully, director David Yates' command of the camera, screenwriter Steve Kloves' intimate understanding of the characters and their plight, and Radcliffe's exceptional performance grants the film poignancy and power. They effectively transform Harry from a wide-eyed hopeful into a weathered warrior; a boy who had little choice but to grow up when a number of unspeakable horrors began beating down his door. They even manage to blend Harry's innate sweetness, his affection for Dumbledore, his desire to bring an end to Voldemort's shadowy reign, and the tenuous balance of rage and justice boiling just beneath his likable exterior into an endearing whole. Despite the magic mumbo-jumbo and otherworldly set pieces, Radcliffe registers as a real teenager; a fully realized young man with genuine doubts and familiar insecurities. Grint and Watson, though off camera for the majority of the film, are equally strong, lending Ron and Hermione a charming, believable relationship that makes their scenes a heart-aching joy to watch. Their fondness for and loyalty to Harry continue to propel the series forward, and their interplay with Radcliffe exudes a chemistry often lacking from young ensemble casts. Even Wright, thrust into a central role by Rowling's plotting, holds her own and shows immense promise as the love of Harry's life. Their collective performances are outstanding, their talents undeniable.
The story itself unfolds more slowly than Potter fans may be accustomed to, but it also lingers more intensely after the credits have rolled. Yates takes several cues from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, injecting reality into a world that prides itself on being anything but realistic, and brings an authority and confidence to the film that allows each scene to evoke memories of adolescence. He doesn't struggle to balance whimsy with drama, nor does he prioritize special effects over the characters' emotional beats. Everything about his production, from the musical score to the cinematography, is blessed with a cohesiveness that can only be born from a steady-handed director like Yates. If anything, Half-Blood Prince suffers from Empire Strikes Back Syndrome: it's so dark, so weighty, and leaves its heroes at such a precarious, ambiguous low that it will leave some dissatisfied. As a linking entry in a sweeping saga, it succeeds. As a standalone film, it offers little respite or relief. Still, I couldn't ask much more from a series that could have developed into a hollow, superficial kiddie franchise. Half-Blood Prince will leave children yawning and shoot over the heads of younger teens, but will wow anyone who enjoys the things that have made the most recent Potter films worthy of their box office success and critical accolades. While it certainly won't appeal to everyone, I was absolutely taken with the strength and majesty of it all.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray, Video Quality
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an exceedingly dark film, and Warner's faithful 1080p/VC-1 transfer follows suit. Color is often absent from the palette, but the washed hues and inky blacks that remain are all the more haunting and beautiful for it. Contrast remains consistent regardless of how bleak the photography becomes, and delineation is always just as revealing as it should be. Detail is also stunning. Textures are crisp and refined, object definition is clean and sharp (without the help of any intrusive edge enhancement), and every instance of softness should be attributed to the filmmakers' intentions. Whether it be a collapsing bridge in the middle of a bustling city, a rustling grain field in the dead of night, or an underground cavern swirling with the flames of a fallen wizard, each shot and scene looks exceptional. It certainly doesn't register with the same impact as a flashy summer blockbuster, but don't be fooled by the reserved, somewhat grainy nature of the visuals. Warner's transfer is every bit as proficient as other more obvious head-turners on the market. Artifacting, crush, smearing, aliasing, and ringing aren't a problem, and the two issues that do distract -- a hint of white-flecked source noise dots a decades-old encounter between Professor Slughorn and a young Tom Riddle, and nearly unnoticeable banding pops up in two scenes filled with steam and smoke -- are short-lived and largely negligible.
Suffice to say, the Blu-ray edition of The Half-Blood Prince delivers a fantastic presentation. Its technical transfer should easily please any Potter fan who isn't taken aback by the film's subdued appearance or Bruno Delbonnel's overcast imagery. Some will surely complain, but I can't imagine the film looking much better than it does here.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray, Audio Quality
On the audio front, Half-Blood Prince's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is flawless. Yes, the film itself offers a quieter, more nuanced soundscape than previous series installments (particularly in regards to its musical score), but both power and ferocity arrive in force whenever called upon, and subtlety dominates the proceedings whenever evil is being held at bay. A collapsing bridge offers an early hint of the sonic majesty that is to come, but doesn't remain alone for long. Blazing flame serpents, a cursed young girl, a battle of wands, a crowded marketplace, Dumbledore's teleportation, a rush of recalled memories, a horde of undead guardians, an enraged master wizard, a harrowing field chase, and many other standout moments take full advantage of the LFE channel and rear speakers. Even when Harry and his friends retreat to a corner to whisper their plans and discuss their theories, the resonant halls of Hogwarts have a legitimate presence in the mix. Ambience, whether restrained or aggressive, accurately assaults the listener from every direction, producing a wholly immersive soundfield populated with smooth pans and precise effects. Dynamics, whether mounting an offensive or storming the gates, are bold and sternum-thumping. Dialogue, whether hushed or shouted, is crystal clear and perfectly prioritized; lines are never lost beneath the chaos and words are never drowned by the thundering magic that ensues. I may have two small nitpicks about Warner's video transfer, negligible as they are, but I can't conjure up a single gripe about the studio's magnificent TrueHD track.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Despite a few relatively minor disappointments, the 3-disc Blu-ray edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince offers a satisfying supplemental package. Granted, the highly-touted Maximum Movie Mode is simply a standard Picture-in-Picture track, but that shouldn't take away from what remains. All of the content -- from the PiP experience to the second disc's engaging bonus features -- is worth watching, and everything is presented in high definition.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will continue to divide audiences, but I found it to be one of the series' finest entries. With memorable performances, an evocative tale, and undaunted direction, it succeeds at every turn, maturing its beloved characters and franchise. The Blu-ray edition is just as impressive. Its video transfer is faithful and striking, its TrueHD audio track is impeccable, and its supplemental package, mild disappointments aside, is generous and quite extensive. Simply put, this 3-disc set will please fans, cinephiles, videophiles, audiophiles... yep, the whole gang.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Other Editions
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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Reminder: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Blu-ray Comm... - December 12, 2009
As previously reported, today, December 12, Warner Home Video will hold a worldwide audio-based community screening of 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', via BD-Live, hosted by director David Yates and actor Daniel Radcliffe. It will commence at 8 p.m. GMT ...
• Today on Blu-ray - December 8th - December 8, 2009
When the Harry Potter film series concludes in 2011, star Daniel Radcliffe will have aged 10 years since first appearing as the young sorcerer and, if the films' success continues, generated over $9B in world-wide box office receipts. Today, the sixth film in the ...
• BD Details for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - September 18, 2009
After the announcement yesterday, Warner Home Video has now revealed the full release details for 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', due out December 8. The Blu-ray will include a DVD and a digital copy of the movie, and will exclusively feature Warner's ...
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