Author - J. K. Rowling
Rating [Books] - 5 out of 5 stars
Rating [Films] - 4 out of 5 stars
It is time for the holidays people, get excited. To get the blogosphere in the mood for the season I decided to review the books I love the most and even some I really hate just because the holidays can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes.
The books chronicle the adventures of a wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry's quest to overcome the Dark wizard Lord Voldemort, whose aims are to become immortal, conquer the wizarding world, subjugate non-magical people, and destroy all those who stand in his way, especially Harry Potter.
To start this little journey, I have chose the biggest selling book series of all time with more than 400 million copies sold world wide and the films alone have made a freaking massive $7,706,147,978 (my brain fails to comprehend this number right now) and to top it all of the whole franchise is only second to Star Wars. I am of course talking about Harry Potter. Now I know it is not every ones cup of tea, but when the whole potter universe is worth more than $15 billion you know they gotta be doing something right.
When I decided to review Harry Potter I decided to read (cheat and listen to the audio tape) pretty much all the books, making mental notes of all the things I disliked about the books and since the films are such a big part of the Potter experience I will also be comparing the two.
Trying to find negative things to say about Harry Potter seemed like an immense task especially since I had idealised the books for such a long time but when comparing parts of the book it became apparent that my subconscious had hidden things I disliked so as to get me to be more in love with the books.
So things I like about Harry Potter (get ready for some gushing happiness). For me Harry Potter is really where the love affair with books really began. I read it and suddenly I was there, I was a student at Hogwarts. The Potter books create this magical world that gets in your heart and head and refused to leave. It create dreams because, lets face it we all have, at one point or another wanted our future to be different. To wake up and be magical and powerful, that is what fundamentally gets people hooked. The idea that the underdog can wake up and find that he is not as helpless as he has always thought himself is a powerful lure indeed.
The world of Hogwarts is simply magical, Rowling's style of writing presents a delight to the senses. It engages the mind to be as creative as possible even while the tale is told through, essentially a child. For those of us that started reading this at a young age it made us relate and for the adults that read it to us, it became a mix of fascination and curiosity. "What next is?" really the most important question a reader can ask.
The films of Harry Potter are a visual delight, I am especially fond of the way the first two films were directed. So full of colour and intrigue. Simply marvellous. My favourite film and arguably my favourite book is The Prison of Azkaban. The reason being, for the first time in the Potter franchise things got darker. They were suddenly more mysterious than before, this book is really why the phrase 'and the plot thickens' was created. I really loved the addition of Sirius Black in this book, it gave the book more depth than just 'I am Harry Potter, my parents are dead and the only family I have hate me'. With the introduction of Sirius, the book suddenly becomes filled with hope (even with the dark setting). This book also shapes Harry into a more rebellious fighter (remember how he kicked Snape's arse) and Hermione well into a smarter Hermione.
This book also introduced one of my favourite Potter creatures of all time, The Dementors. Now am not sure whether I love them or despise them with a passion but either way they are the best of what Ms. Rowling's mind can come up with. They are simply magnificent, they remind me of a weird interbreeding of The Grimm Reaper and a succubus and the best part, if they kiss you they suck out your soul.
My favourite family in the book are the Weasley's. Apart from being a realistic portrayal of a family, they also have the twins which are possibly the best doubly act since Laurel & Hardy. They simply crack me up and they are a very good point to stop admiring and start criticising. In the final battle of Hogwarts Fred's death is left unseen as is the death of Remus and Tonks. They are very big character's and the fact that their deaths were left unseen is disappointing. I mean don't you remember the sadness that you felt as you watched Dumbldore or Dobby die, well I think as major characters they deserved their deaths to be mourned by the fans/
This not the only time the films have left some important things out, for example the Dursley in the films are rather two dimensional. They are not explored very well and can seem rather cartoonish. While preparing to write this review I was reminded of how cruel they really are and I was disappointed that this was not explored as much as it could have.
Continuing on the theme of things that were left out, I believe most fans would agree with me when I say that the films underplayed the role of the house elves in the world of Harry Potter. In The Goblet of Fire the elf Winky was an important plot revolver but she along with Dobby were left out and seriously marginalised over the course of the series. Hermione's pet project S.P.E.W was completely forgotten which is very disappointing because this project showed her not as a teachers pet high achiever but as a caring person who took initiative to fight for the rights of the house elves.
If you have read through that long list then it will become clear that most of the issue with the Potterverse is in the making of the films rather than the writing of the books but there are few things that are in reverse. J.K. Rowling is a truly great writer but she does not have the best fight scenes, she uses the same few fighting spells which can become rather tedious after a while. The films allow the directors to drop some of these words and work with images. I especially love the affects created when two spells hit each other and the patronus charm come to life but perhaps the biggest visual delight in the whole series is the battle of Hogwarts. While watching it in 3D did not make the effect any more special than it actually was, watching it in the big screen really showed the amount of time spent on the effects so they were simply delightful.
The Harry Potter books are great, for many reasons but one thing that really blew me away was Rowling's foresight when it came to writing them. Yeah like all books there are some continuity errors but some of the things that have been hidden within the books so that they make sense only after you are near to the end. The best example for this is Professor Snape. The fact that Snape is not as evil as he had seemed for so long took me by surprise to say the least. I actually remember what it felt like when I found out so many years ago.
Alright I feel Like I have been writing forever and by this time am sure pretty much everyone but a die hard Potter fan has stopped reading. I don't feel like I am being fair in giving this a rating since I do idealise the books but rate it I will but since I reviewed the films as well as the books I will give them a score too.
I gives the books 5 out of 5 because while they do have their mistakes, they are written in a way that is very impressive and captures the imagination of children and adults all around the world.
I give the films 4 out 5 stars, while they are fantastic some of my favourite things were left out of the films which made me just a little bit sad.
Before I leave I would like to leave you with one final thought in the word of Minerva McGonagall “Ever child in our world will know his name!” and indeed those words seem to have come true.