After a two year break, Harry Potter and company are back for their sixth adventure, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."
As Harry, Hermione, Ron and all the rest head back to Hogwarts, you can't help but flash back to their initial journey and reflect on how much they've grown. Not only grown, but matured. Where in episodes past we had mild flirtation, now it's full-blown teenage infatuation laden with angst.
All of this unfolds as the school is re-introduced to Professor Horace Slughorn, brilliantly and delightfully played by Jim Broadbent. Dumbledore is determined to draw him back to Hogwarts, not only for his professorial skills, but the Headmaster believes Slughorn could be a major key in fighting The Dark Lord.
There is no way I can cover even major plot points here, but suffice it to say a critical and highly emotional climax concludes this film and truly leaves you devastated. I hasten to add that those who have read the books will absorb the final moments a little differently.
The only real problem with this film isn't the cliffhanger end, it's the stand-alone factor. If you haven't seen, much less retained, all of the information from the previous films, it's easy to get swamped here. Oh, and the real diehards will wail about the drifts from the book, but it's forgivable because it's unavoidable.
I'm giving "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" 3 ½ stars, and unlike "The Order of the Phoenix," this movie is rated only PG.