Film Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

16/07/09 | Posted by MattPage

Since the relaunch of the rejesus blog at the start of the year I've been reviewing new movies that relate to Jesus in some way. Whilst it's not always easy to find films that fit into that category, Harry Potter should have been straight forward. After all it's humble hero is an exceptional miracle worker, who is born to be the chosen one. The problem... was me.

 Harry Potter 6 spends as much time looking at Harry’s friendships as it does on magic

Despite the seven books in the series being the most widely read stories of the 21st century I haven’t read so much as a chapter. And even worse than that, the only one of the films I’ve seen is the first. But when I suggested to my editor that someone else might be better suited to review the film he had a better idea. “Review it from that perspective. It might be interesting someone coming to it fresh or with reservations”.

I don’t really have reservations. I’ve never bought in to the reasoning of those that thought Harry Potter would breed a generation of wannabe Satanists. After all, if kids can, presumably, suss out that there isn’t really a prickly green ogre called Shrek, or a talking sheep-pig called Babe, then it seems unlikely that they’re going to try and whizz off on a broomstick just because some kid in a book can. No, my problem was much less theological. The first film just didn’t engage me.

Sadly the same can more or less be said about “The Half Blood Prince”. At 153 minutes it’s pretty lengthy for a film whose target audience includes kids, and whilst I imagine the challenge of slimming down a 600 plus page novel must have been considerable, what remains, seems to be rather drawn out. Harry discovers a bit more about Voldemort and concocts the odd potion, Ron gets a girlfriend and Hermione gets jealous about it (seriously? Over Ron?). But suspense is distinctly lacking. Things aren’t helped by the flatness of Daniel Radcliffe’s acting, or by director David Yates making every scene seemingly last forever in a vain attempt to give the film some gravitas. To be fair, the film is setting things up for a grand finale in part 7, but that was also true of the The Empire Strikes Back which is arguably the best of the six Star Wars films.

Having said all that, the visuals are rather impressive, in particular, the opening scene where the camera switches from floating high above London to swooping down into the city and zipping chaotically through its narrow streets. The magic is good fun, and the special effects, in general, are fairly convincing.

And the similarities with Jesus? Well whilst Potter may carry off the humble-servant aspect of Jesus’ character, it’s hard to imagine people following him for any reason other than his fancy tricks or his position as the chosen one. And Harry’s a very passive character here, initiating almost nothing. Of course, the sacrificial saviour aspects will presumably come more to the fore in the final instalment, but, on the basis of this film, I’m not sure I’ll be around to appreciate them. 

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