Jul 16, 2010

A few thoughts on the Harry Potter series

I don't know if there has ever been a situation as unique in film and literature history as the Harry Potter franchise. And what I mean by that is I don't know if there has ever been a series of immensely popular novels that have been published followed so quickly by a series of immensely popular film adaptations. The films have always been a few entries behind the novels in the series, but they have been astonishingly close.

And the fact that the producers of the films were able to cast them so perfectly and keep the cast together (mostly) for seven films is even more remarkable. I don't know if you noticed, but three of the six Harry Potter films so far made it onto my 5 Star Cinema list the other day. I liked both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but they mostly felt like children's films to me. Then Alfonso Cuarón got his hands on the franchise and made the third film in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I was hooked.

The next two films, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, were just as well-done, dark and...well...more grown-up for my taste.   They were also the first films in the series that I saw AFTER I had read the books.  Yeah, soon after the third movie I decided that I needed to give these books a try.  And I found that I was enjoying them more and more as the series went on just as I was enjoying the films more and more.  I think JK Rowlings became a better writer as the she progressed.  And I think her talents especially came through in making us care about these characters.

So I was genuinely excited to see the sixth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when it came out last year.  Especially since that it was my favorite book of the series so far.  There was soooo much going on in that book.  In fact, one of my very first blog posts over at Slyde's joint was a glowing review of this book.  Like I said, it was my favorite and I just knew it was gonna be the best Harry Potter film yet.

Except it clearly wasn't.

Don't get me wrong.  I still kinda enjoyed it.  But I think the problem with it, and maybe with the previous film if I allow myself to look at it honestly, is that Rowling's books started to become more packed with important information to the reader than some of the earlier novels.  There was some background filler, Qwidditch matches and general growing up stuff in those early books that were fairly easy for the filmmakers to remove while keeping the integrity and storyline of the series.  Not so much with the last film.  It just seemed like so much was left out.  It doesn't seem possible for a film that ran 2 and 1/2 hours, but I just felt that it did.  And it was a big letdown for me.

I found myself wishing that the filmmakers had made it into two films.  Just to flesh it out properly.  Harry Potter fans wouldn't mind.  Hell, they would have loved it.  And, knowing the immense popularity of the series, it would have made even MORE money for the studios.  But I felt cheated.  Cheated out of the proper adaptation of my favorite book of the series.  The film series, which had been getting better and better, had crashed and burned.

Now I'm started to get excited again.  Because the last book in the series is being handled EXACTLY how I wanted the penultimate adaptation handled.  Two films.  One released later this year (a day after my birthday, thank you very much), and the second released next Summer.  In a lot of ways, I wasn't overly thrilled with The Deathly Hallows.  I thought it was a great ending to the series and all, but it just didn't grab me like The Half-Blood Prince did. 

But I'm hoping the film adaptations will make it all worth my while.  Even if they are in freakin' 3-D.

Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. Don't worry...I'm still gonna make fun of all of you who read those Twilight books.


Water Logged Canine said...

First bitches!

Verdant Earl said...

Doggie - Really? A "first" comment. I expect better of you. ;)

Paticus said...

Looks cool.
Did they ever offer an explanation as to why Voldemort doesn't have a human nose?

RW said...

Yeah my wife is a big Harry Potter fan. She and one of the daughters saw every movie. I hear they're pretty good.

Slyde said...

you sir, are a prick.

i finally started reading Harry Potter yesterday and i was going to post about it this morning.

Now you ruined it...

Verdant Earl said...

orsted - Thanks spammer dude!

Paticus - I guess it happens when you are EVIL!

RW - I stayed away for a long time, but my nephew got me into it. It's fun popcorn.

Slyde - So? I'm not the boss of you. Write away.

Heff said...

I saw the first movie, and honestly, I couldn't get into it...

Verdant Earl said...

Heff - The first movie was okay. More like a kid's flick. But they got darker and more grown-up as they went along.

Dave2 said...

I have tried really hard to like both the Harry Potter books and films because everybody I know is in love with them, but I just can't.

Sure they're imaginative... and I think the movies are beautiful productions... I just can't stand the stories. Even from a child's standpoint, I find them to be far too deus ex machina at every turn. Oh no! Gryffindor is losing in points to Slytherin! TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR FOR SOME CHEESY AND OUTRAGEOUS LAST-MINUTE REASON JUST SO THE GOOD GUYS CAN WIN! HOORAY!


I'll take Timothy Hunter and The Books of Magic any day. :-)

sybil law said...

I've never read any of the books, but I definitely like the movies, which surprises me.
Twilight - I just fucking refuse to go there, in any manner. The fans make me want to hurl.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I read the first two, out loud to my kids and somewhere along the way my kids grew up, and began reading them alone.

I just have no appetite to keep going, but I think after reading this I may watch the movies first.

Thanks Earlsie

Verdant Earl said...

Dave2 - Ah, Timothy Hunter and the Books of Magic. Now you are talking! I'm with ya right there, brother. Have you read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell? Not very similar, but when I was first given it I was impressed.

Sybil - I thought you were Team Grohl? ;)

Candy - I hope you like them.

Kevin Spencer said...

Bless you for no spoilers on Deathly Hallows as I haven't even read it yet. Mind you I really don't read anything these days and DH is about number 47 on my list of books I own but haven't read yet. Go me!

Kat said...

I'm probably not on the popular side of this but I could really care less about Harry Potter or anything like it. Just doesn't do it for me. I've tried to watch the movies several times and they just bore me. I get the same feeling from these films as I do most musicals, "gawd....is it over yet?".

white rabbit said...

I've never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie.


Mrs. Hall said...

kinda of late here, but.

i like that this book really isn't anything like anything else. because all writers take the same creative writing classes and therefore most stuff out there follows the same formula.

whereas the author of Harry Potter, she had no formal training and this really shows in the twists and turns.

plus, this book came to her, while she was on a train, and she was too shy to ask for a pen so she worked out most of it in her head.

very original stuff.

and it makes sense that as the books go on, it gets darker and more grown up, because that is what the kids are going through, the process of growing up and realizing darkness is part of life.

and adults, even head wizards, don't know everything and can't always help.

but, I guess for me, I can't quite sink my teeth into it. Because I am a people person, i like stories that are centered on people. This book is a wee bit unbalanced in that respect for me. Lots of magic and goings on. Not enough people centeredness

But, maybe this will change. I mean, my kids are a little young for Harry Potter. When they get into it, I will be right there with them. I'm sure my opinion will change a bit by then.


see, I had to hold all of that in all yesterday because there was no time to comment!!

i feel better now ;)

Verdant Earl said...

Kevin - I forgot to spoil it? Damn! ;)

Kat - To each their own. Doesn't make you a bad person. Wait...does it?

Wabbit - Now you have something to look forward to.

Holly - I'm gonna disagree with one of your posts. That the series was original. It's not. It's sooooo not. If you've read anything...almost anything in the fantasy genre, you would see how derivative the Harry Potter series is. It's all been done before. This was done well, but it's definitely NOT original.

hello haha narf said...

i had a comment to post, yet lost it in laughter when you told slyde that you aren't the boss of him.