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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Movie Review

Movieguide Magazine


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Imagine Movieguide giving a Harry Potter movie Minus Two instead of a Minus Four. The reason is simply this – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the mildest Harry Potters in terms of violence and in terms of witchcraft. The witchcraft is less fun and appealing, and more of the state of being in a fallen world. Both the good witches and the bad witches don’t look like they’re having fun. There are also some direct encouragements toward cardinal virtues, such as Tom Riddle being told when he comes to Hogwarts not to steal.

That said, it should be noted that even criminals have their own codes of honor and every religion has some virtues. So, astute Christians have to discern between Christian virtues and similar, but lesser counterfeits found in other religions and philosophies.

This Harry Potter movie divides its time between the new attacks of Voldemort acting through his Death Eaters and the adolescent, incipient romances blooming among Harry’s classmates. By going back and forth between these two storylines, the movie appears to be meandering and episodic. Instead of jeopardy holding the viewer’s attention, it’s like an old magic show where the special effects and magical sleights of hand are supposed to keep the viewer involved in the story.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with the three Death Eaters, a bad warlocks and two bad witches in the service of Voldemort, attacking London. They cause a lot of damage, but no one is hurt.

At the same time, Professor Dumbledore interrupts Harry as he is considering a waitress’s invitation to come up to her apartment. Professor Dumbledore takes Harry to visit a former Hogwarts professor, Horace Slughorn. Slughorn is a vain old potions professor who likes to brag about the famous students who were in his classes. One of them was young Tom Riddle, who became Voldemort. Dumbledore wants Harry, as The Chosen One, to allow the reinstated Horace Slughorn to capture Harry’s image so Harry can pry important information about Tom Riddle out of Slughorn’s memories.

Meanwhile, Harry’s long-time adversary, Draco Malfoy, has joined the Death Eaters to destroy Harry. Professor Snape appears to make a pact with the Death Eaters that he will protect Draco at all costs. This all happens while Harry is falling for Ginny Weasley, the youngest of the Weasley clan who already has a boyfriend. Ron Weasley is being pursued by Lavender Brown, which makes Hermione simmering with jealousy but determined to hide her feelings for Ron.

For long periods of time, while the love stories are being played out in a mild way, the story forgets entirely about Draco and the warfare between the good and bad witches. Then, the good and bad witches appear, there’s a big battle, and the movie goes back to the love stories. It’s almost as if there’s no effort to sublimate one of the two plots into the other so that the movie would be more exciting.

Even so, many critics at the press screening seemed to be fans of the characters and the movie and enjoyed every new little revelation and personal peccadillo. Those not enamored with the Harry Potter mythology yawned and waited for the less-than-interesting final credits.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is clearly a bridge to the climax of the Harry Potter story, so there’s no real climax to it. There’s no doubt, however, that the movie will do well, because it’s turned into a cult phenomenon like Michael Jackson.

Whether it deserves its fame and fortune is highly questionable. The dialogue seems stilted. Some of the acting was really goofy. And, when all of the actors, including some of the great English actors, have problems, then the responsibility rests with the director. In several scenes, the actors, like Maggie Smith and Jim Broadbent, seem like mannequins in the background of the story.

The special effects in this Harry Potter outing, however, were terrific. Also, many of the sets and costumes were delightful.

In this episode of Harry Potter, magic and witchcraft are less about being God yourself and exercising power over others than it is a mechanistic tool to accomplish certain goals to survive. The big problem with using magic, of course, is its rebellion again God’s Power and His Law. This episode contains many attempts to insert morality. For example, the good witches have a code of honor and the bad do not. Also, the students at Hogwarts are taught bravery, courage, honesty, and other virtues. But, these virtues are not, on closer inspection, quite like Christian virtues. They are relative to the plot problem that the character faces. For example, honesty is good, but only up to a point, and sometimes stealing is okay. Thus, there’s a limit to the virtues and how consistently they are applied. In other words, man is the final arbiter of what is good and bad, not God. And, there is no God or biblical base for the story and the characters.

So, in the final analysis, the Harry Potter characters are not worthy role models for your children. Movieguide still urges your family to go see a more positive movie instead, such as Ice Age 3, UP or the upcoming G Force, rather than set before your children’s eyes the witchcraft, moral relativism and rebellion of Harry Potter.

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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become