REVIEW: HUGO

CAST

Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Ben Kinglsey (Iron Man 3)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ray Winston (Elfie Hopkins)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real Girl)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Jude Law (Spy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Men In Black 3)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Frances de la Tour (The Lady In The Van)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Michael Pitt (Murder By Numbers)

In 1931, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in Paris with his father (Jude Law), a widowed, but kind clockmaker who also works at a museum. One day his father finds a broken automaton, a mechanical man designed to write with a pen, at the museum, and he and Hugo try to repair it, his father documenting the automaton in a notebook. When his father is killed by a fire at the museum, Hugo is forced to live with his resentful, alcoholic uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), and made to learn how to maintain the clocks at the railway station of Gare Montparnasse. When Claude goes missing for several days, Hugo continues to maintain the clocks, fearing that he would be sent away as an orphan by the vindictive Station Inspector Gustave (Sacha Baron Cohen) if Claude’s absence is discovered. Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine still requires a heart-shaped key that his father could not find.Hugo is caught when stealing from the toy store owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), who looks through his father’s notebook and threatens to destroy it. Hugo encounters Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who offers to help get the notebook back. Hugo learns Georges has forbidden Isabelle from going to the cinema, and introduces the medium to her as his father had done for him. As their friendship grows, he shows her the automaton, and is surprised when Isabelle inadvertently reveals she wears the key as a necklace given to her by Georges. When started, the machine draws out a scene that Hugo recognizes from his father’s description of the film A Trip to the Moon. Isabelle identifies the signature, that of a “Georges Méliès”, as her godfather. She sneaks Hugo into her home, where they find a hidden cache of more imaginative drawings of Méliès, but are caught by Georges, who banishes Hugo from his home.Hugo and Isabelle go to the Film Academy Library and find a book about the history of cinema that praises Méliès’ contributions. They meet the book’s author, René Tabard (Michael Stuhlbarg), a film expert who is surprised to hear that Méliès may still be alive, as he had disappeared after World War I along with nearly all copies of his films. Excited at the chance to meet him, René agrees to meet Isabelle and Hugo at Georges’ home to show his copy of A Trip to the Moon, hoping it will invigorate Georges. On the scheduled night, Georges’ wife Jeanne (Helen McCrory) tries to turn them away, but René compliments Jeanne as Jeanne d’Alcy, an actress in many of Méliès’ films, and she allows them to continue. As the film plays, Georges wakes up at the sight, and Jeanne finally convinces him to cherish his accomplishments rather than regret his lost dream. Georges recounts that as a stage magician, he had been fascinated by motion pictures and used the medium to create imaginative works through his Star Film Company, but was forced into bankruptcy following the War, closing his studio and selling his films to be turned into raw materials. He laments that even an automaton he made that he donated to a museum was lost. Hugo recognizes this is the same automaton he has, and races to the station to retrieve it. He is caught by Gustave, who has learned that Claude’s body was found some time ago, and threatens to take Hugo to the orphanage. Georges arrives and tells Gustave that he will now see to Hugo, adopting him as his son.Some time later, Georges is named a professor at the Film Academy, and is paid tribute through a showcase of his films recovered by René. Hugo joins in with his new family as they celebrate, while Isabelle starts to write down Hugo’s story.Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is one of the best cinematic experience, I’ve had in years.  The visual effects, cinematography, art direction, just technically superb. Finally a smart, awe-aspiring family film, which are really rare nowadays. A definite surprise coming from legendary director, Martin Scorcese, who’s known for movies with a lot of swears, violence, drugs and other adult-themed subjects.

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REVIEW: INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE

CAST

Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible)
Brad Pitt (Fight Club)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Antonio Banderas (Puss In Boots)
Stephen Rea (The Crying Game)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)

In modern-day San Francisco, reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), who claims to be a vampire.

Louis begins by describing his human life as a wealthy plantation owner in 1791 Spanish Louisiana. He had lost the will to live following the death of his wife and infant child; one night he is attacked by the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) while drunkenly wandering the waterfront of New Orleans. Lestat senses Louis’ dissatisfaction with life and offers to turn him into a vampire. Louis accepts and is transformed, but he rebels against killing humans, drinking animal blood to sustain himself. He is disgusted by Lestat’s pleasure in killing and comes to suffer tremendously as a vampire. Louis finally succumbs to his hunger and kills his faithful house slave Yvette (Thandie Newton). Guilt-ridden, he tries to kill himself by setting fire to his house, but Lestat rescues him and they flee.

Wandering the streets of New Orleans, amid an outbreak of plague, Louis finds an ill little girl in a house who has not realized her mother is dead. He bites the girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), whom Lestat later transforms into a vampire “daughter”. Lestat hopes that Claudia’s transformation will discourage Louis from leaving. As thirty years pass, Claudia matures psychologically but still remains a little girl in appearance. She has become a sadistic killer who closely bonds with Louis. When she finally realizes she will never grow up and have an adult body of her own, thus being trapped in the form of a child forever, she is furious with Lestat and finds herself deeply hating him for making her a vampire. She tricks him into drinking the blood of twin boys she killed by overdosing them with laudanum, knowing that blood from a corpse is fatal to vampires. This weakens him, and she slits his throat. Claudia and Louis dump Lestat’s body in a swamp and the two plan a voyage to Europe. However Lestat returns on the night of their departure, having drained the blood of swamp creatures to survive. Lestat attacks them, but Louis sets him on fire and is able to safely board the ship with Claudia.

After travelling around Europe and the Mediterranean, Louis and Claudia settle harmoniously in Paris. Louis encounters vampires Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas) by chance. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Théâtre des Vampires, where the vampires stage theatrical horror shows for humans, similar to the real Grand Guignol which existed in Paris from 1897–1962.

Claudia rightly accuses Louis of wanting to abandon her for Armand. She demands he turn a human woman, Madeleine (Domiziana Giordano), to be her new protector and companion, and he reluctantly complies. As punishment for Lestat’s murder, the Parisian vampires abduct all three; they imprison Louis in a metal coffin. When freed by Armand the next night, he learns Claudia and Madeleine have been exposed to sunlight against their will and turned to ash. He returns to the Theater and avenges Claudia and Madeleine by burning the vampires as they sleep and bisecting Santiago with a scythe. Armand arrives in time to help Louis escape and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis refuses, knowing that Armand choreographed Claudia and Madeleine’s demise to have Louis all to himself, and he leaves Armand for good.

As decades pass, Louis explores the world alone, still grieving for Claudia, before returning to the United States. In 1988, he returns to New Orleans and finds Lestat, a mere shadow of his former self. Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves.

At this point, Louis concludes the interview, declaring that his existence is empty, detached, and unfeeling. Molloy is shocked by this statement and openly declares his desire to have had Louis’s experiences as a vampire. He asks Louis to transform him. Louis is outraged by Molloy’s complete disregard for the pervasive suffering caused by vampirism outlined in the interview. Louis attacks Molloy but in the next instant, he vanishes. Molloy hurriedly runs to his car and drives away, feeling happy with his interview as he plays it through the cassette player. Just then, Lestat appears and attacks him, taking control of the car. Revived by Molloy’s blood, Lestat offers him “the choice I never had” to become a vampire, as they drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.Slow paced it may be, but there are enough jumps and scares to keep you awake until you get drawn into the riveting story.

REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH

CAST

Helen McCrory (The Queen)
Phoebe Fox (Black Mirror)
Jeremy Irvine (war Horse)
Adrian Rawlins (Harry Potter)

40 years after the events of the first film, bombs drop down on London during the Blitz of World War II. Eve Parkins joins her schoolchildren and the school’s headmistress, Jean Hogg, to evacuate them to the countryside town of Crythin Gifford. On the journey there, Eve meets dashing pilot, Harry Burnstow, who is stationed at an airfield near Crythin Gifford. Upon arrival, Eve is confronted by a raving madman, Jacob, and flees.

Though Eve and Jean do not approve of the place, there is no other alternative. That night, Eve has a nightmare of how she was forced to give up her baby when she was younger; when she awakens, she hears the noise of a rocking chair coming from the house cellar. There, she finds a message, scolding her for letting her child go, and sees a woman dressed in black. The next morning, one of the children, Edward, who has been mute since the death of his parents in a bombing, is bullied by two other children and sees the Woman in Black in the nursery. Eve feels that something is wrong when Edward starts constantly carrying around a rotten doll. That night, one of the boys that was bullying him is drawn out of the house by the Woman in Black; Eve finds his body on the beach.

Eve later sees the Woman in the graveyard, where she finds the grave of Nathaniel Drablow. She chases the ghost to the beach and is overcome by visions of Nathaniel’s death. At the house, she and Harry establish the story of the ghost through an old record made by Alice Drablow before her death at the hands of the Woman in Black: it is her sister, Jennet Humpfrye, the mother of the child she adopted, Nathaniel. Jennet is haunting them because of Nathaniel’s premature death, and is punishing Eve in particular for giving up her baby. Eve journeys into the abandoned town to confront Jacob, who is blind and therefore unable to be killed by the ghost, as he cannot see her. However, he has been driven insane by the deaths of all the other children and tries to kill Eve before she escapes.

Back at the house, Jean finds one of the girls trying to strangle herself under the Woman’s spell. During an air raid, the girl suffocates herself using a gas mask. After this death, Harry takes them to his airfield, which is revealed to be fake. Eve realizes the Woman has followed them. Edward flees, where he apparently dies by walking into a fire basket. Eve finds out that Edward is still alive and at Eel Marsh House. Realizing the Woman in Black wants her alone, she drives to the island, where she finds Edward walking out into the marsh to drown himself where Nathaniel died. She crawls after him, but they are dragged down into the mud by the ghost. At the last minute, Harry arrives and saves them, though he is dragged down to his death instead.

Months later, Eve has adopted Edward, and they are living in London. Although they believe they are free from the ghost, once they leave their house, she appears again and smashes a picture of Harry.It does what it says on the tin, and there’s nothing wrong with that – and it’s a damned sight better than many horror sequels that are simply remakes of the first movie. Yes, it could have been better, but it zips along quite briskly and yet still manages to pack a punch when it needs to. Not bad at all.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Dinnerladies)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Ciarán Hinds (Munich)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Bonnie Wright (The Sea)
Jim Broadbent (Superman 4)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)

After burying Dobby, Harry Potter asks the goblin Griphook to help him, Ron, and Hermione break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts bank, suspecting a Horcrux may be there. Griphook agrees, in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Wandmaker Ollivander tells Harry that two wands taken from Malfoy Manor belonged to Bellatrix and to Draco Malfoy, but Malfoy’s has changed its allegiance to Harry.In Bellatrix’s vault, Harry discovers the Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff’s cup. He retrieves it, but Griphook snatches the sword and abandons the trio, leaving them cornered by security. The three release the dragon guardian and flee on its back. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort killing goblins, including Griphook, and learns Voldemort is aware of the theft. Harry also realises there is a Horcrux at Hogwarts somehow connected to Rowena Ravenclaw. The trio apparate into Hogsmeade, where Aberforth Dumbledore reluctantly instructs the portrait of his deceased younger sister, Ariana, to fetch Neville Longbottom, who leads the trio through a secret passageway into Hogwarts.Severus Snape hears of Harry’s return and warns staff and students of punishment for aiding Harry. Harry confronts Snape, who flees after Minerva McGonagall challenges him to a duel. McGonagall gathers the Hogwarts community for battle. At Luna Lovegood’s insistence, Harry speaks to Helena Ravenclaw’s ghost, who reveals that Voldemort performed “dark magic” on her mother’s diadem, which is in the Room of Requirement. In the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione destroy the Horcrux cup with a Basilisk fang. In the Room of Requirement, Draco, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle attack Harry after he finds the diadem, but Ron and Hermione intervene. Goyle casts a Fiendfyre curse and, unable to control it, is swallowed up by the flames while Harry and his friends save Malfoy and Zabini. Harry stabs the diadem with the Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the Room of Requirement, where it is destroyed. As Voldemort’s army attacks, Harry, seeing into Voldemort’s mind, realises that Voldemort’s snake Nagini is the final Horcrux. After entering the boathouse, the trio witness Voldemort incorrectly telling Snape that the Elder Wand cannot serve Voldemort until Snape dies since he killed its last owner (Dumbledore); he then orders Nagini to kill Snape, which Nagini does. Before dying, Snape tells Harry to take his memories to the Pensieve. In the chaos at Hogwarts, Fred, Lupin, and Tonks have been killed.Harry learns from Snape’s memories that Snape loved Harry’s late mother, Lily, but despised his father, James, who had bullied him. Following her death, Snape worked secretly with Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort because of his love for Lily. Harry also learns Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him, and that the Patronus doe he saw in the woods that led him to the sword had been conjured by Snape. Harry discovers that he himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort originally failed to kill him and that Harry must die to destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul within him. Harry then surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse upon Harry, who finds himself in limbo, where Dumbledore’s spirit meets him and explains that the part of Voldemort within Harry was killed by Voldemort’s own curse. Harry then returns to his body, determined to defeat Voldemort once and for all.Voldemort announces Harry’s apparent death to everyone at Hogwarts and demands they all surrender. As Neville gives a defiant response and draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, Harry reveals he is still alive. While Harry confronts Voldemort in a duel throughout the castle, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall, and Neville decapitates Nagini, leaving Voldemort mortal. Harry and Voldemort’s fight ends with Voldemort’s own Killing Curse rebounding, killing and obliterating him. After the battle, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione that the Elder Wand had recognised him as its true master because he had disarmed Draco, who earlier had disarmed its previous owner, Dumbledore, but instead of claiming the Elder Wand, Harry breaks and discards it. Nineteen years later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco proudly watch their own children leave for Hogwarts at King’s Cross station.What an amazing achievement to faithfully bring Rowling’s epic saga to the big screen with the same cast and largely the same crew, maintaining the brilliant quality right to the end.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Fracture)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Frances de la Tour (Hugo)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Toby Regbo (Reign)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Camelot)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)

The Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, addresses the wizarding media, stating that the Ministry will remain strong even as Lord Voldemort gains strength. Harry, Ron and Hermione prepare for a journey to find and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes, with Harry watching the Dursleys depart and Hermione wiping her parents’ memories of her.

Severus Snape arrives at Malfoy Manor to inform Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters of Harry’s impending departure from No. 4 Privet Drive. Voldemort commandeers Lucius Malfoy’s wand, as Voldemort’s own wand cannot be used to kill Harry, because the wands are “twins.”

Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix gather at Privet Drive and escort Harry to safety, using Polyjuice Potion to create six decoy Harrys out of everyone else. During their flight to the Weasley family home at the Burrow, all are ambushed by Death Eaters. They kill Mad-Eye Moody and Harry’s owl, Hedwig, injure George Weasley, and knock out Hagrid. This forces Harry to take over and drive his flying motorbike while fighting Voldemort. In the process, destroying some power lines that causes a blackout to the city. After arriving at the Burrow, Harry has a vision of the wand-maker Ollivander being tormented by Voldemort, who claims that Ollivander had lied to him. Ollivander claimed that the only way Voldemort could kill Harry was by using another person’s wand.

Scrimgeour arrives at the Burrow with Albus Dumbledore’s Will and distributes three items to Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Ron receives Dumbledore’s Deluminator, Hermione a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry the first Golden Snitch that he ever caught in a Quidditch match. Scrimgeour reveals that Harry was also bequeathed the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. The minister states, though, that the sword was not Dumbledore’s to pass on and, in any case, is missing.

Next, the Death Eaters assassinate Scrimgeour and replace him with their puppet Pius Thicknesse. Thicknesse, under the influence of the Imperius curse, begins persecuting Muggle-born witches and wizards. Then the Minister disrupts the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, by sending a patronus charm to tell everyone what they did and attack them. Harry, Hermione, and Ron Disapparate to London and find sanctuary at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. There they discover that the “R.A.B.” from the false Horcrux locket is Regulus Arcturus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Black. Kreacher, the Black’s house-elf, tells them that Mundungus Fletcher stole the real locket. Kreacher and Dobby apprehend Fletcher, who reveals that the locket is in the possession of Dolores Umbridge. Under the disguise of Polyjuice Potion, the trio infiltrate the Ministry. In the courtroom, Umbridge is interrogating a Muggle-born witch and threatens her, which enrages Harry, who says to her “You’re lying, Dolores. And one mustn’t tell lies.” He then stuns her and Hermione successfully retrieves the locket. The trio escape from the Dementors by fleeing into the wilderness after accidentally revealing the location of No. 12 Grimmauld Place to Yaxley, a Death Eater.

Unable to destroy the Horcrux, they take turns wearing it to dilute its malignant power. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort interrogating Gregorovitch, a renowned wand-maker, who claims that a teenage boy had once stolen the legendary Elder Wand from his shop. While Ron wears the locket, he is overcome by his negative feelings and after arguing with Harry, he leaves, upsetting Hermione. Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric’s Hollow, where they visit Harry’s parents’ graves and the house where they were killed. Next Harry and Hermoine visit Bathilda Bagshot, who they believe has the Sword of Gryffindor, which they deduce can destroy Horcruxes. They are surprised by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, who has been possessing her corpse. Hermione accidentally breaks Harry’s wand as they escape into the Forest of Dean. Hermione is able to identify the mysterious thief seen in Harry’s vision as Gellert Grindelwald.

When evening falls, Harry sees a Patronus in the form of a doe which leads him to a frozen pond. Gryffindor’s sword lies beneath the pond’s ice. Harry breaks the ice and jumps in to reach the sword. The locket around his neck attempts to strangle him, but Ron arrives to rescue Harry. Despite the soul inside the locket attacking both of them, Ron manages to destroy it with the Sword of Gryffindor. Hermione is angry with Ron at first but then reconciles with him.

The trio then visit Xenophilius Lovegood to learn about a symbol seen several times on their journey. He tells them that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Lovegood betrays them to the Death Eaters in an effort to have his kidnapped daughter returned.

The trio escape into the wilderness once more, but Snatchers appear and chase them. Harry has a vision of Voldemort learning from Grindelwald that the Elder Wand lies with Dumbledore in his grave. They are then captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix Lestrange imprisons Harry and Ron in a cellar, in which they discover Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook the goblin. Bellatrix tortures Hermione for information on how they got the sword of Gryffindor. After Dobby apparates in the cellar to save them, and incapacitates Peter Pettigrew, a short battle ensues; Harry duels and disarms Draco Malfoy. Narcissa Malfoy’s wand is taken by Dobby who says “Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf. And Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends.” Dobby is killed by Bellatrix right after he helps Harry and the other captives escape. Meanwhile, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand.You know that this will end in a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it is, whetting your appetite to devour Part 2 , just so to witness how the film franchise of our generation will fittingly conclude.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Jim Broadbent (Brazil)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Katie Leung (One Child)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)

Lord Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the wizarding and Muggle worlds and has chosen Draco Malfoy to carry out a secret mission. Severus Snape makes an Unbreakable Vow with Draco’s mother, Narcissa, to protect Draco and fulfill the assignment if he fails.

16-year-old Harry accompanies Albus Dumbledore to visit former Potions professor Horace Slughorn, who has gone into hiding but agrees to return to teach at Hogwarts. Dumbledore then takes Harry to the Burrow, where Harry reunites with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry believes Voldemort has made Draco a Death Eater, after seeing Draco taking part in a ceremony, but Ron and Hermione are skeptical. At Hogwarts, Harry and Ron are forced to borrow textbooks for Slughorn’s Potions class, and Harry is stuck with a copy that turns out to be filled with helpful notes, instructions, and spells left by the book’s previous owner, the “Half-Blood Prince”. Using the book, Harry excels in the class and impresses Slughorn. Ron becomes Keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and forms a romantic relationship with Lavender Brown, upsetting Hermione. Harry consoles Hermione, revealing that he now has feelings for Ron’s younger sister, Ginny Weasley.

Harry spends the Christmas holidays with the Weasleys. On Christmas Eve, Bellatrix Lestrange and Fenrir Greyback set fire to the Burrow. Back at school, Ron is nearly killed when he drinks poisoned mead, a drink originally intended for Dumbledore. While recovering, Ron murmurs Hermione’s name, causing Lavender to end their relationship. Harry confronts Draco and severely injures him with a Sectumsempra curse taken from the textbook of the Half-Blood Prince. Snape enters and quickly heals Draco’s wound. Fearing the book may be filled with more Dark Magic, Ginny and Harry hide it in the Room of Requirement and share their first kiss.

Dumbledore shows Harry memories of a young Tom Riddle and reveals that Slughorn retains a memory critical to Voldemort’s defeat. Harry eventually succeeds in retrieving the memory, and learns that Voldemort wanted information for creating Horcruxes, objects that contain pieces of his soul. In the memory, Tom asked if dividing his soul into seven pieces was possible. Dumbledore concludes that Voldemort eventually did this, and two of his Horcruxes have already been destroyed: Tom Riddle’s diary and his mother’s ring. After discovering the possible location of another Horcrux, Harry and Dumbledore travel to a seaside cave where Harry is forced to make Dumbledore drink a painful potion that hides the Horcrux, Slytherin’s locket. A weakened Dumbledore defends them from Inferi and apparates back to Hogwarts, where Bellatrix, Greyback and more Death Eaters have entered with Draco’s help through a Vanishing Cabinet.

Dumbledore instructs Harry to hide as Draco arrives, disarms Dumbledore and reveals that he has been chosen by Voldemort to kill the headmaster. However, he is unable to bring himself to do it, and Snape casts the Avada Kedavra curse instead, killing Dumbledore. Harry attempts to curse Snape, but Snape overpowers him and reveals that he is the Half-Blood Prince. Harry returns to the school to find the staff and students mourning Dumbledore. Harry later reveals to Ron and Hermione that the locket Horcrux was a fake. The locket contains a message from “R.A.B.”, stating that he has stolen the real Horcrux with the intent of destroying it. Rather than return for their final year at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione vow to seek out and destroy the remaining Horcruxes.Purist fans will most certainly complain bitterly about numerous sub-plots, events and characters that were cut from the movie and the odd scene that doesn’t exist in the book. But Yates’ truly gutsy adaptation really works and brings a depth and clarity to the main themes of the book that is quite extraordinary. He manages to capture the lingering lightness of that time before the serious business of adulthood sets in, alongside the relentless buildup to the final showdown between The Dark Lord and The Chosen One. And the lack of closure at the end of the movie is no accident, I believe. Just like the book, this movie leaves you aching to see how it all ends.