Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
PG
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +1/2

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, David Bradley, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Cave, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Frank Dillane, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Natalia Tena, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Julie Walters, David Thewlis, Bonnie Wright. Fantasy Adventure.  Written by Steve Kloves. Directed by David Yates.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was.  Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching.  Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort’s defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts.  Harry finds himself more and more drawn to Ginny, but so is Dean Thomas.  And Lavender Brown has decided that Ron is the one for her, only she hadn't counted on Romilda Vane's chocolates!  And then there's Hermione, simpering with jealously but determined not to show her feelings. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof.  He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one.  Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Okay, I’m going to get to the film in a minute, including a compliment to the production, but first, allow me a small sermon. Since Harry first enrolled in Hogwarts, I and many other Christian reviewers have been warning against the involvement in witchcraft. Considering the financial success of each successive entry into the series, and the fact that I’ve talked with many a church-going teen looking forward to this newest episode in the series, I’m wondering if anyone pays attention to the warning.

Given, Harry Potter isn’t really about wizardry, but more about storytelling and comradeship, about action and adventure, but the warnings against the acceptance of the occult can not be muted. According to several studies, the religion of Wicca is growing – hugely. (Members of Wicca teach a philosophy that embraces no absolute truth or sin and replaces the patriarchal male creator God of the Bible with a belief in both male and female gods. It instructs its members to embrace spirits and how to use spells and curses to control their lives and the lives of others.) What’s more, many youngsters are looking into the practice of sorcery out of a need for empowerment – or for other reasons, that if I were to go into here, would only seem like a form of belittlement of youthful brainpower.

Arguably, perceptive children can view such material without succumbing to the snare of the occult. But there are those who view films such as The Craft or TV shows such as Charmed and find themselves drawn to experimenting with the occult. Unhappy at home, unpopular at school, frustrated with the trials of life, many young ones seek solace in something supernatural. And since Christianity and Judaism often seem a fanatical part of their parents’ established world, they rebel by delving into the occult. Then, once ensconced in that dark culture, they find it governing their lives and ultimately destroying their souls.

In a television special entitled Hollywood Spirituality, which aired several years ago on E! Entertainment, Raven Mounauni, a professing witch and owner of an occult paraphernalia store, credited the 1996 movie The Craft with inspiring young women to explore the world of witches. “I get a lot of teenage girls in here. You can always tell when The Craft has been on TV, ‘cause we get a big influx of girls looking for supplies.”

So, roll your eyes all you want, but Ms. Mounauni, a practicing witch, said it all. Programs that contain occultic material cause an interest in young people. So, if one is not going to further their involvement in the occult, I suppose reading the Potter books and viewing the movies won’t be harmful to your spiritual development. That said, I would ask one question. After reading Leviticus 19:26 and Revelation 22:15, should we be supporting entertainment with themes that revolve around divination?

Well, you did good. You allowed me to vent. Now for the film. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has enormous charm, with extraordinary effects, and with heroic kids who save the day. It is simply a masterpiece of technical craftsmanship, with every dollar easily seen on screen. And Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography will be hard to ignore come Oscar time. This newest in the series should be satisfying for Potter-o-philes. However, those who have not read the books may find themselves having to pay close attention, as one can get lost amid the weird names and comings and goings that only make sense if you know the material before entering the theater.

Phil Boatwright is the author of MOVIES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE REALLY, REALLY BAD. For details on the book, go to the Preview home page.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: A crudely suggestive question from Ron concerning Harry’s involvement with a girl; some name calling by different students.
Obscene Language: Two or three minor expletives, but no harsh language.
Profanity: Two exclamations, where the speaker says, “oh, God.”
Violence: There are many jolting scenes meant to spook viewers; though most of the action is comic-book in style, there are many violence scenes and violent imagery; attacks by demonic beings; CGI effects are mightily used to create havoc and scary situations; Blood: Harry is kicked in the face, causing his nose to bleed; Dumbledore cuts his hand; some blood is seen.
Sexual Intercourse: The wizards-in-training are growing up and hormones are raging, but sexual situations temperedly handled; some teen kissing, but the situations don’t become graphic.
Nudity: Some demonic creatures look to be unclothed, with bare bottoms showing.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Lots of spells, including one from Hermione out of jealously (so, I guess white witches don’t always use spells for good).
Running Time: 153 minutes
Intended Audience: Older kids and up

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