Harry Potter

What made Harry Potter such a phenomenon? A friend of mine suggested that the tipping point (read the book by Malcolm Gladwell if you haven’t already) was Rosie O’Donnell’s show. O’Donnell had her talk show at the time when the first book came out. She was a big fan and mentioned it several times. After it was mentioned on her show it got mentioned here, there, and everywhere. I don’t know if that’s true but it seems plausible.

I read the third book and decided I didn’t need to read any of the others (my memory from 10 years ago says I’d give it 3.5/5). I’m happy that kids are reading them and getting excited about reading. For adults, if you’re reading it because your kids are reading it or you want to be able to talk about it then that’s fine. But if you’re reading it because it’s great fantasy, then I respectfully disagree.

Just because you’re writing fantasy doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. It still has to make some sense — the world has to be internally consistent. J. K. Rowling brings in too many things into her stories that don’t cohere. Another book that fails this criterion is Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind, which I started reading not too long ago and didn’t finish.

For an adult reader, there are many better fantasy books available for you to read. In the past year, I read quite a few fantasy books. The best ones were A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice, The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy, The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams, and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. All of those are better than Harry Potter.

Of course, since I only read the one book it’s possible that other books are better. But I have heard people say that the third one is the best one.

As for the movies, I’ve seen all of them — they’re certainly worth watching once. I’m impressed with how good a job the young actors did — it wasn’t guaranteed that, chosen at a young age, they’d all be able to continue through the entire series. Part of the fun of going to a new Harry Potter movie was seeing them again. The movies varied in quality a bit — I’d give the edge to numbers 1, 3, 5, and 6. In particular, I noticed that nearly everyone loved the final movie — whereas I found it a bit boring. I will be interested to see what Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson do now — as well as Evanna Lynch, who was a breath of fresh air as Luna.

There were four different composers for the films. I particularly liked John Williams’ music from the first three films (especially “Harry’s Wondrous World” and “Hedwig’s Theme”) and Nicholas Hooper’s music from the fifth and sixth films (especially “Fireworks” and “Flight of the Order of the Phoenix”).

The Harry Potter series is currently the highest-grossing movie series ever (although with the Star Wars movies back in theatres in 3D, that could change).

The numbers…

  • {3.5/5} Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • {3/5} Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • {3.5/5} Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (book)
  • {3.5/5} Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (movie)
  • {3/5} Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • {3.5/5} Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • {3.5/5} Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • {3/5} Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • {3/5} Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

I gave some of these movies a higher rating on first viewing, but after seeing at least one of them a second time I’ve downgraded them a bit.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 at 9:17 pm and is filed under Reviews of books, Reviews of movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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