Harry Potter (2009)
Primary Audience: Teens, Adults
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Length: 2 hr. 33 min.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Alan Rickman (Prof Severus Snape), Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis
Director: David Yates
Producer: Warner Bros. Pictures, Heyday Films
Writers: Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling
The Bulletpoint Movie Review: Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince
- Movie Making Quality – Best of the Series (Cinematography, Special Effects)
- Enjoyable – One of the more enjoyable in the movie series.
- No Character Development
- Plot Development Lacking
- Teenage Love Drama – Half of the film was all about crushes and love triangles, while the actual plot development and character development was lacking. Bad Priorities.
- Faithfulness to Book – Not very faithful to the book (large gaps and missing scenes)
- Very Dark Throughout– Not a film for the family. Kids would be scared out of their minds.
- Underlying Messages – Teenage Love Drama is “cute” but sends way too many inappropriate messages to the youth culture.
Some Themes & Questions about Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince
Is Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince appropriate for young children and families?
The movie is very dark. From beginning to end there is a sense of somberness and a lack of hope that lingers throughout the film. When we think “PG” we think Pixar or Disney (ok maybe not Disney…). This is not a “fun movie” to take your family to. It is serious. Characters make bad decisions. People get killed. There is visible blood.
Without going into details, there is a pretty disturbing scene of girl being thrown around like a rag doll, a scene that seems to be straight out of exorcism. There is a scene where gollum like creatures in mass volumes are crawling towards one of the characters. Both scenes being way too much for children.
Then there is this huge theme of teenage love drama…
Is there really that much teen love drama as been rumored?
Yes. The movie might as well been called “Harry Potter and the non-stop teenage romance drama”. Even Dumbledore, who you would think is pre-occupred with the end of all that is good, starts asking Harry Potter about his romance life.
While the the theme of “Half Blood Prince” was barely mentioned, the theme of love, girlfriend/boyfriend, and kissing is prevalent throughout the film. More time was dedicated to this drama then the actual plot at hand! I can understand that teenagers are going through that time in their life where their hormones are shifting but so much of the movie is dedicated to this theme that the actual ingredients of what makes a good story is lost. Consider this:
Where was the character development? Plot Development?
Harry is the same guy beginning to end. Hermione who was so strong, independent and most sensible of the three regressed to a girl held captive by her emotions for Ron. Ron was rendered insignificant. We also never grow in our attachment to key characters like Albus Dumbledore. I enjoyed the scenes with Draco Malfoy and his emotions, but again this could have been developed much more, perhaps showing scenes of his actual struggle with what he is doing.
In the book we get a good amount of background on, Tom Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort), probably the most fascinating character in this particular book. In the movie we only get short flashbacks and we learn very little other than that Tom Riddle is one freaky child. There is so much that could have been done with this, but wasn’t. Rather it felt like a full 30 minutes was given to driving home the very obvious point that Lavender Brown was obsessed with Ron (I refuse to use the word “love” here, this is not love). A full 2 minutes is given to her drawing a heart shape on a foggy glass in front of Ron. Also is it really necessary to show them kissing so many times especially knowing how young the audience was going to be? How about a little more info about the Horcruxes?
The Youth Culture painted by Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince
- Teenage Love theme heavily emphasized & romanticized
- Teenagers shown kissing in dark secluded areas
- Lavender Brown suggests to Ron Weasley that they find another private room..
- Ron Weasley mentioned that his lips are chapped (from kissing too much)
- Plenty of hand holding, going into secluded rooms as a pair.
- Underage drinking
Most people (especially Harry Potter fans) might instinctively think that mentioning these scenes is a bit overboard. I don’t think so. It really isn’t the explicit, shocking scenes that impact our culture. It is the more subtle scenes that shape what we consider the norm.
Power of Images: The Painting of the Norm
If you saw someone getting brutally murdered, you know that is wrong. You see a guy punch another guy because he was talking to his girl? Not as clear. Seems a bit justified. If you see it numerous times, then it becomes a little more acceptable. All the teen love emphasis in this movie is no exception. You see two teenagers that like each other holding hands entering into a room together. Seems so harmless right? Imagine your daughter who likes some guy who wants to have some time together in a secluded room. In the moment of decision, all the images fed to her through the media tells her hey, its not abnormal, it’ll be ok.
Teenagers who perhaps wasn’t thinking too much about romance is shown a world where the crushes seem so cute. The idea of being with a guy or a girl seems so alluring. It influences people, who influence culture which then creates peer pressure and the ball just keeps on rolling. Let’s be frank, it’s not just teenagers, grown adults get influenced by these themes as well.
Appealing to Teenage Rebelliousness and Desire for Independence
One “image” painted in this series (as well as in most teenage centric books) is the image of the main protagonist. One thing that really concerns me is the fact that Harry Potter is a very rebellious character. He doesn’t listen to authority well. He does basically as his emotions lead him to (which is not good considering he has anger issues). He thinks very highly of himself, trying to tackle more than he can chew. Yet despite all his bad decisions and mistakes there is surprising very little consequences. He goes after guys more powerful but does not get killed. He nearly kills someone but there is no repercussions. Talk about the perfect world for teenage boy.
Another Quick Worldview Consideration: Cheating
Is it ok to cheat? Of course not, but did you notice Harry was cheating throughout the film secretly utilizing his special book to get to the top of the class? How about Hermione conveniently helping out Ron so he could become the quidditch goalie. We just laugh and never think about what worldview these scenes are painting.
Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince: Last Thoughts
Lest you think I don’t like the Harry Potter Series, I do. I think it’s entertaining and it has some good characters and messages. I just think the image that it paints is not very constructive to our teenage culture. What is worse is that it did it at the cost of plot and character development that was sorely needed. I understand the book itself was not very action packed as some of the rest of the series, but the movie was already a bit off of the original story so why not use that creative flexibility to develop the story more rather than dedicate literally half the movie on crushes, love potions, showing tense moments of teenagers kissing?
- What did you think of the movie?
- Did you think the plot & characters were developed enough?
- What is your opinion about the heavy emphasis on teenage love?
- Do you think movies like this affect our culture? Teenage Culture?