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Romance rocks wizard world in new Potter movie

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Fans in costumes pose as they enter the movie theatre for the world’s first premiere of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” in Tokyo July 6, 2009.


Romance rocks wizard world in new Potter movie

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LONDON (Reuters) – Romantic comedy meets the wizarding world in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, the sixth instalment in the hit movie franchise in which hormones, as well as hexes, are on the loose at Hogwarts school.

And with filming on the final two pictures due to wrap up in 2010, the young actors who spent much of their teen years on set and coping with the superstardom their success has brought are finally looking ahead to life after Potter.

“It was nice to be back and to know that this film is, to me, more of a romantic comedy than ever before and that we would have a chance to focus more on that side of things,” said Emma Watson, who plays the feisty bookworm Hermione in the films.

“Sometimes I have to bring myself back with Hermione, because she is so innocent and so naive and she really is very vulnerable in this film,” the 19-year-old actress told reporters on Monday at a press conference to publicise the movie.

“She really does get her heart broken by Ron and Lavender and that whole situation.”

Director David Yates, who also made the fifth movie “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, added: “Our cast are just getting that little bit older now and the hormones are starting to fly and for me it marks a real transition point between our cast as children and our cast as adults.”

In Half-Blood Prince, out in theatres on July 15, Hogwarts is increasingly vulnerable to attack from Lord Voldemort, wizard Potter’s nemesis.

Professor Slughorn, played by Jim Broadbent, joins the cast, and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore places more and more trust in his star pupil Potter, determined to prepare him for his inevitable showdown with Voldemort.

Meanwhile, love blossoms, with Harry drawn to Ginny and Ron attracting the attention of Lavender Brown as a heartbroken Hermione looks on jealously.

The first reviews of the movie have been positive.

Variety magazine described it as “dazzlingly well made and perhaps deliberately less fanciful than the previous entries” while The Hollywood Reporter said “a jerky start of exposition and backstory gives way to vigorous storytelling.”

END IN SIGHT

The films, the first five of which have earned an impressive $4.5 billion at the box office, are based on British author J.K. Rowling’s seven-book Harry Potter series, which has sold an estimated 400 million copies worldwide.

There will be eight films in all, with the final volume, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, divided into two.

“We’re working at the moment on Deathly Hallows, and I think we’re all aware that this great juggernaut is reaching the end of its journey in a way,” said Yates, who is also directing Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two.

“We finish shooting next spring and everybody comes to work … with that knowledge in the back of their mind.”

According to Hollywood studio Warner Bros., the seventh film is scheduled to hit cinemas in November, 2010 and the eighth in the summer of 2011.

“I’d like to continue acting, really, if I can,” said Rupert Grint, who plays Ron.

“It’s kind of all coming to an end now and I suppose you’ve got to start thinking about that kind of thing.”

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry and has starred on the Broadway stage, also plans to go on acting.

“Hopefully just keep acting is the plan. I just want to keep going for as long as I can and I’ve had a fantastic time with Potter. I will be very sad to leave it.”

Watson is going to university in the United States.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to a bit of normality for a while, it would be nice,” she said. “But that by no means means that by going to university I’m never going to act again.”

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: the critics’ verdicts

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: the critics’ verdicts

It’s already looking like it may rival Transformers for the title of biggest film of the year at the UK box office. But what do the critics so far think of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth instalment of JK Rowling’s tales of witchcraft and wizardry? Well, they’re not exactly bowled over, but few seem willing to condemn David Yates’s second effort in the director’s chair out of hand.

Most seem of the opinion that Half-Blood Prince is a perfectly entertaining if somewhat workmanlike addition to the canon; that Yates is capable of some transcendent action sequences, and while the actors playing Harry and his pals are still not quite there – one wonders now if they ever will be – the supporting cast is still made up of the finest British thesps available. Helena Bonham Carter, as the insane Bellatrix Lestrange, and newcomer Jim Broadbent as the slimy Professor Horace Slughorn are singled out for praise.

The consensus seems to be that these films are never going to be remarkable standalone cinematic experiences – fans of Alfonso Cuarón’s startling The Prisoner of Azkaban might disagree – but that the Potter phenomenon is so unstoppable that they remain enjoyable experiences nonetheless.

“The latest instalment is more of the same tried and tested formula to be sure, but it’s a formula that produces pure gold as far as the fans are concerned,” Wendy Ide writes in the Times. “The Potter movie experience is bigger than the sum of the individual talents that contribute to its making. David Yates, the director, orchestrates the picture with dizzying energy and confidence, but the might of the Potter phenomenon dwarfs his individual artistic contribution.”

“Voldemort never actually appears, and there are surprisingly few action sequences – adapter Steve Kloves, back in his chair after a one-film absence, has taken the surprising decision to junk the one big battle in the book. But those there are – a chase in the corn between Harry and the Death Eaters, the scene in a forbidding cave where Harry and Dumbledore seek to unravel Voldemort’s secrets – crackle with a chilling sense of threat.”

“Director David Yates knows how to play all the cards,” writes our own Andrew Pulver. “Although a touch ungainly, his film is solidly constructed, with lots of fine effects. If, as Potter approaches his final confrontation with Voldemort, the wizardly battles begin to resemble Lord of the Rings, it’s hardly a handicap; this is tried and tested cinematic language, and does all it needs.”

Perhaps the most damning review comes from Ella Thorold, 15, who the Independent have drafted in to offer a teenage perspective.

“The scriptwriters bungled several key set pieces, including the funeral scene,” she writes. “Although they almost make up for it with a magical passage where students and teachers raise their wands in tribute. Tears poured down many faces in the cinema at that moment.”

She added: “The Half-Blood Prince is frightening, funny, romantic and entertaining but as the end credits rolled, I still felt disappointed. I had waited all year to see my second-favourite Potter book brought to life. If I wasn’t a die-hard fan, I’m sure I would have loved it. My gripe is that the film was simply too different from the book – the writers inserted pointless scenes and took out others crucial to the narrative. It just could have been better.”

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, Ella’s peers can hardly contain their excitement. “Gosh! i cant wait for Harry Potter! after 1.5 year. emma watson looks so pretty! so relief rupert is kicking swine flu’s ass!” wrote francescaarchie.

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