The most cinematic of the Potter films & perhaps the first to really translate its themes into images (a bird cage within a bird cage etc) as opposed to just illustrated text. The tone is still uneven & often expositional, but there's a much greater emphasis on the emotional journey of characters; the sense of loyalty & betrayal, & how these tie into the greater narrative that weaves throughout the series as a whole.
The first film where the next chapter can't come soon as characters get killed or change loyalties. The story gets pretty gripping in this series but anyone thinking this was a family movie have to rethink themselves now as this film show now how much depressing and disturbing the films have become. By this installment there is also no chance anymore to jump "onboard" that one is either a fan or never will be one.
Ralph Fiennes absence was felt, but it was great seeing Voldemort back to when he was 'just' a student. The set pieces (the Astronomy Tower, the Cave) were quite nice, and the film's palette of warmer tones gave it a distinct look by comparison to other entries of the saga. In the end, Dumbledore's death still felt a bit anticlimactic to me and Drako's inner conflict should have been better explored.
I think this is the first time Harry Potter gets really, really mature for real since this saga changing its tone in Prisoner of Azkaban. Half-Blood Prince is dark, engaging, exciting, and it's a slightly improvement for this saga. The interesting part is when this movie showed a little information of Voldermort's childhood. I feel the editing or transitions a little bit rough. But the cinematography is stunning!
The movie of the penultimate book. This is an interesting movie as it brings back a bit of the fun and humour ahead of the dark finale. It's also the last of the movies to really show the kids at Hogwarts before they go off on their adventure in the Deathly Hallows. Prof. Slughorn is great and I enjoyed watching Harry and Dumbledore trying to influence him.
These films really highlight the subjectivity of the phrase, "spirit of the book". Here is an overall lack of action, which could be confused with dull. But this film is completely, maybe to a fault, focused on characters - which they get mostly right - and their relationships, which felt real. Action sequences, exuberance, and flow be damned if it means caring about the people we're watching.