AWFJ Women On Film – “Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince” – Susan Granger reviews

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This sixth installment in J.K. Rowling’s series begins ominously with storm clouds roiling over London while Death Eaters wreak destruction, terrifying onlookers and destroying Millennium Bridge. As Voldemort’s power increases, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore is understandably alarmed, using Harry’s reputation as the “Chosen One” to lure a retired Potions professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) back to Hogwarts.

Many years earlier, Slughorn taught young Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Voldemort – and played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Ralph Fiennes’ nephew) and he may know how and why the mysterious youngster evolved into the Dark Lord. While Harry’s arduous quest is clear, the element of peril increases, personified by sneering Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) under the sinister ‘protection’ of Severus Snape (Alan Rickman).

Meanwhile, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) are on hormone overload. Harry’s infatuated with Ron’s sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright) who’s “snogging” someone else, while Hermione’s keen on Ron, now a Quidditch hero under the spell of a coquettish classmate. “Oh, to be young and feel love’s keen sting,” muses Dumbledore as jealousy, betrayal and rivalries abound.

Adapted by screenwriter Steve Kloves and directed by David Yates, it pulls together previous plot strands like a good detective story, and it’s gratifying to see how the wide-eyed, precocious innocents of “Sorcerer’s Stone” have grown into savvy teenagers. Daniel Radcliffe still weaves amazing magic, while Emma Watson is brilliant and Rupert Grint is amusing, backed by stalwart veterans including Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, Warwick Davis and Helena Bonham Carter.

Like adventure classics of children’s literature – from the “Oz” novels to “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” – J.K. Rowlings has created an exquisitely detailed, completely credible realm of enchantment as background for this compelling coming-of-age, good vs. evil fable. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is a harrowing, suspenseful 7. While we’re still wild about Harry, this basically sets the stage for Rowling’s seventh – and final – book which will be divided into two different movies.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.