If my friends and family are any indication—and the legions of Hogwarts fans online tell me that they are—the latest Harry Potter movie is being greeted with a great amount of anticipation. My sister-in-law planned to dress up as an Inferius and drive three hours to join friends at a midnight opening. And at least two other groups of friends have been holding ad hoc Harry Potter movie festivals over the last couple of weeks, watching the first five movies in the series in preparation for the sixth—Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
That movie-watching effort will be rewarded in the first moments of Half-Blood Prince as it picks up in the immediate aftermath of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There are clues as to what just happened in those opening moments as Harry stares against the flashbulb-induced glare of a gathered crowd—newspaper headlines report Voldemort's return, for example. But anyone who hasn't seen the previous movie—or doesn't remember it (it has been two years since the last release in the series, much to the chagrin of many fans) will be at a distinct disadvantage. Though, as Harry tells Dumbledore not long after the wizened wizard shows up and starts making demands with little in the way of background information, you learn to roll with it.
As with previous movies that have introduced us to a new faculty member, Half-Blood Prince quickly introduces us to the addled Professor Slughorn, played by an always-excellent Jim Broadbent. Dumbledore manages to recruit Slughorn to return to his old post as professor of potions at Hogwarts by raising the prospect of the prestige that could be his for teaching Harry, now known in HP lore as "the Chosen One." "He will try ...1