Saturday, July 2, 2011

Harry Potter and the Power of the Poisoned Keyboard…

Ok, I’ll ’fess up. I’m a Harry Potter freak. I positively love the fantasy series. I’ve read each of the books, at least once, and listened to them countless times in audio format. (I like to imagine that I’m multi-tasking, and audio helps with that illusion.)

For me, J.K. Rowling has caught the essence of much that I treasure in her lively tales of a boy’s coming of age: the nature of the evil that we all face in this world, and the absolute necessity of resisting it; courage and humor in the face of adversity; honor, in doing that which is right, not that which is expedient; and that freedom is worth fighting for.

Similarly to C. S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia series, Ms. Rowling has covered the great themes of life: friendship and loyalty; life and death; but, most importantly, that love transcends all. And she has done so with an exuberance and honesty which children of all ages recognize and respond to. Ah, the joy…I’d be willing to step through the Wardrobe, or onto the Hogwart’s Express in a heartbeat… But I digress!

Not the so with the films! (Best Minerva McGonagall beady-eyed glare).

Last night, my roommate (a shout out and a thank you!) brought home the DVD of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 from the local Library. It had just arrived, and she knew that I had recently watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It’s nice to watch sequels concurrently. I found both movies to be perfect examples of, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it.”

I enjoyed everything about the first three movies immensely. They retained the sense of wonder, humor and joy of the books, and I thought their casting, scripting, and pacing to be splendid. As with the books, I fell in love with the movie characters. It’s been some time since I viewed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so I won’t comment here. I don’t think that I’ve seen Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so again I won’t comment. Since I have watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, I am allowed to pontificate. Both movies are hampered by lack of love, lack of chemistry, lack of humor, and most fatally, they lacked pacing. They dragged!

I acknowledge that the latter books of the series become increasingly darker as Harry matures and confronts ever more dangerous situations. That’s life. It’s to be expected. It happens for all of us. However, where each book contained multiple ‘laugh out loud’ passages…regrettably most had been edited from the movie scripts. Both movies were overloaded with wiz-bang special effects that completely overshadowed the characters and their stories. For me, both the acting and the writing were stiff and wooden. The spark was gone, gone, gone….Harry Potter, you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling… I sincerely hope your producers find it again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. It will be a cryin’ shame if such a wonderful series concludes on a movie downer.

Note to future writers and producers: People watch movies and read books because they’ve fallen in love with the characters, and because the plot lines are good…not because of special effects! Ms. Rowling not only didn’t forget this in her books, she succeeded brilliantly. So, writers and producers, get your priorities in order. Focus on the primary elements of character and plot line. Keep special effects in its proper role as a supporting tool. When special effects upstage the story line and the characters, we all lose. Character is everything…both in fiction and in real life.

Happy Viewing, and God bless,


Who is actually back writing again.

P.S. For those of you who might be looking for good audio editions of the Harry Potter stories, may I suggest those narrated by Steven Fry as being superb. I find Mr. Fry’s command of character accents to be amazing, and his ability to convey the ‘ridiculous’ to be…slyly entertaining! In short, everything that the latter movies are not!