Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Movie Poster Image
Terrific but intense mix of love, friendship, fear, sorrow.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 153 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 118 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 299 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Most of the messages are inspiring, since the protagonists are clearly "heroes" who accept help from others to overcome obstacles, learn the importance of being loyal to friends, and embody the idea that those who stand together for "good" can triumph over "evil," even at great cost. Themes include courage, perseverance, and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Professor Dumbledore is an excellent, selfless role model. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny are flawed teenagers, but that helps make them some of the most relatable characters in children's literature -- as well as admirable, since they're also loyal, brave, self-sacrificing, generous, and empathetic. On the flip side are the Death Eaters and the unreliable, enigmatic character of Severus Snape. Tom Riddle (Voldemort as a boy) is cruel, calculating, and cold -- but it's clear that most characters recognize these troubling qualities. Draco Malfoy, who has been "promoted" to Death Eater, is still shown as conflicted and scared about the task Voldemort assigns him. Professor Slughorn means well, but his head is turned by fame and fortune. Still, in the end, he manages to be brave.

Violence

As in the book, the sixth movie includes the death of a beloved major character. Voldemort himself isn't shown in this installment (young Tom Riddle appears instead). Aside from the one murder (via killing curse), there are several injuries and close calls: a curse severely bloodies a character, a character is bruised and beaten, two characters are accidentally poisoned, a main character is seen having a life-threatening seizure, and Death Eaters set a house on fire and destroy buildings and structures both in the magical realm and in the Muggle world (as well as kidnap a Diagon Alley denizen). Harry and Dumbledore must also fend off the very frightening, skeleton-like creatures during a dangerous mission.

Sex

Lots of flirting and "snogging" (kissing) among the Hogwarts students, both main characters and extras. Several discussions about attraction, romantic relationships, unrequited feelings, love potions, jealousy, and adolescent dating. Several kisses and instances of hand holding and longing gazes. Random couples are shown making out in the halls and at parties. Talk of getting together and/or breaking up threads through the whole movie.

Language

Mild insults/British slang like "daft," "dimbo" (which means dumb bimbo), "idiot,"  "bloody," and the like. A couple of uses of phrases like "good God."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Harry and his underage pals (the legal drinking age in England is 18) drink butterbeer, mead, and what looks like wine at the Three Broomsticks pub and a couple of dinner parties (it's unclear to those not versed in the books whether butterbeer is actually alcoholic). In one scene, as a celebration, a professor offers alcohol to Ron and Harry; the same professor serves drinks to several teens at a holiday party. Harry also takes a "luck" potion that alters his behavior in a way that seems slightly high, and Ron is thrown for a loop by a powerful love potion. Professor Slughorn and Hagrid get pretty deep into their cups in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is extremely edgy for a PG movie -- in all ways, it's very similar to the previous two movies, which were rated PG-13. This film continues the series' trend toward darker, more intense material. For young children, the death of a major beloved character could be extremely upsetting. Other characters are bloodied, kicked, and cursed in frightening ways, and a very scary scene involving scary, skeletal characters is sure to scare the pants off of little kids. There are also some big emotional upheavals and scary attacks. And there's notably more sexuality -- albeit playfully depicted -- than in the past movies. Because the characters are now teens, much of the interaction between them and their friends centers on getting a boy or girlfriend, and there's plenty of snogging (making out). While Harry and his friends continue as strong positive role models, other characters' motives and plans become more ambiguous. And there are also a few scenes that include alcohol consumption -- including one in which a professor serves his students.

User Reviews

Adult Written bydaniel.nicholas... July 15, 2009

Clearly Should Be Rated PG-13.

I do not know why the MPAA found it fit to rate this movie PG, when it is parallel to Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. Parents, do not be fooled, this m... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 13 year old Written byMiss Cybele July 23, 2009

PG-13 not PG

Not too sure about the amount of drinking going on. Whether the drinks were alcoholic or not, the word "beer" occurs and thats enought to get the mess... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 6, 2009

Why Wasn't This PG-13?

this was one of the best potter films yet! there is a lot more kissing in this one though. I thought the violence was strong for a PG movie, but its all to do w... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 27, 2015

I find it the best Potter in the entire series, but a very upsetting death.

This film is technically okay for ages ten and up if it wasn't for a poisoned drink, a curse and a seriously sad death of a key character, killed by a supp... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the face of Lord Voldemort's growing power at the start of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) asks Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to help convince retired potions professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) to return to his old teaching post. Once back at Hogwarts, Dumbledore tasks Harry with befriending Slughorn -- who plays favorites -- in order to recover a crucial memory of former student Tom Riddle (who grew up to become You Know Who). Meanwhile, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) deal with their growing attraction to each other, and the Death Eaters enlist Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) to assist Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) in carrying out the Dark Lord's evil bidding.

Is it any good?

David Yates, who took over the franchise with Order of the Phoenix, has created a mature, relationship-focused installment that masterfully sets the stage for the high-stakes final installments. (Deathly Hallows was so epic that it will be split into two movies.) Hardcore Potterphiles should know by now that not all of their favorite characters or scenes will make it into the film adaptations, and even movie-only fans will have to deal with no scenes set in Defense Against the Dark Arts class (Snape is finally the teacher), hardly any Neville or Weasley twins, and a bit too much foreshadowing in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

What Yates does offer is an incredibly human look at how adolescent wizards deal with their burgeoning hormones: "Won Won" lands his first girlfriend, Hermione acknowledges the extent of her undeclared feelings for Ron, and Harry realizes that his best friend's kid sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright, who really comes into her own this time), just might be his match. It's adorable -- and spot-on -- that even during the darkest times, teenagers still want to snog. Meanwhile, Broadbent is great as snobby, tipsy Slughorn, who still harbors kind thoughts for his once-favorite pupil. It's that empathy for the promising young wizard that Tom Riddle once was that makes it possible to connect the dots between Harry, Tom, and even the enigmatic Snape. As emotional as the film's climactic scene is, there's a small sense of relief in knowing that Harry still isn't alone. He has loyal, unconditional friends ready to risk their lives so that light can prevail over darkness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the best age for kids (and eager parents) to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and start getting into the Harry Potter series. Is it OK to read all the books (and see all the movies) at the same age?

  • What do you think of the way the movie depicts the teens' romantic relationships? Are they believable? Is the story too hormone-filled for younger viewers?

  • What do we learn about Voldemort's past in this movie? Does that change the way you feel about him?

  • If you've read the book, what parts of the novel were left out? Which were faithfully adapted? How does this movie compare to the earlier ones as an adaptation?

  • How do the characters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince demonstrate courage, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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