(SPOILER ALERT – This review contains some details about the movie which may adversely effect your enjoyment if read prior to seeing the movie)
Short version: The movie is definitely worth seeing but only if you have seen those which preceded it.
Can you be impressed by a movie and still not be quite sure how much you like the movie? After seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince twice in the past two days I would have to say that it is most definitely possible.
On every level Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an exciting movie in the tradition of the previous five movies. The excitement and breakneck speed of the story is the from the moment Dumbledore appears on the screen and only really abates at moments set to increase tension or temporarily lull the audience before plunging them pell-mell back into another flight of magical mayhem. Of the Harry Potter movies so far this is probably the most fascicle of them and the least satisfying for Potter fans.
The Half-Blood Prince would have been better left to a longer run time (it is already 2.5 hours) to fit in some of the missing bits. At the heart of the matter Half-Blood Prince is a coming of age movie for Ron, Hermione and Harry. It is a movie that ultimately is a bridge from Order of the Phoenix to The Deathly Hallows. It is a continuation of pattern of self sacrifice for Harry, self denial for Hermione and comic relief from Ron. There is nothing wrong with any of that but it does not make it a good movie as a standalone movie. One could very easily watch any one of the first three movies completely removed from the story arc but not so with the most recent efforts.
For those of us who have watched the first five movies Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a wonderful way to spend some time in the cinema but be aware (SPOILER ALERT) there is nothing in the movie about Fleur and Bill. Fenrir Greyback is seen but no explanation of him is given, Dumbledore doesn’t explain anything about the rest of the horcruxes, there is no funeral for Dumbledore, nothing about Sirius’s will or Rufus Scrimgeour.