Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Rated 2.0

The sixth Harry Potter feature suffers from a major—and surprising—miscalculation: Writer Steve Kloves and director David Yates assume that we know the terrible news with which author J.K. Rowling ended her novel, and that we’re already depressed about it—so that climactic gloom permeates the entire length of the film. Kloves strips Rowling’s teeming plot to its barest bones, sacrificing much of its texture, and Yates’ sluggish pace makes it feel like a 90-minute story dragged out an hour too long. Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is washed-out and ugly; the movie is colorless in every sense of the word. Special effects are paltry, too—no ghosts or talking portraits this time around; could Warner Bros. be playing it cheap, knowing the Potter movies will make billions no matter how lousy they are?