Harry Potter

Adam Howard and the Megafranchise Part 2

The second half of the Harry Potter series is in many ways far more interesting than the first, particularly on the screen. All these upcoming films were directed by David Yates, a man not particularly famous for a few TV movies and miniseries, including the excellent State of Play. But more interestingly, it’s with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that the actual story of Harry Potter begins. It turns out, everything that’s come before has been setup. Now, Lord Voldemort is risen, the wizarding world is in crisis, and Harry and his friends are in far more serious danger than before.

More interesting to me, though, is the fact that, apart from some elements of the story here and there, I didn’t really know what was going to happen watching these. As I said in my last post, I had read up to Goblet of Fire, and I’m fascinated to see how this would affect my experience of these films. The books are all over 600 pages, so the films have an awful lot of plot to get through, and I’ve no doubt that there will be some shorthand used in translation from page to screen. But how much, and whether it ruins the experience, is crucial to assessing these films as films, rather than just companions to the books.

Suffice to say, spoilers abound coming up.

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Adam Howard and the Megafranchise Part 1

The novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling was first released in 1997. I was 11 at the time and on holiday in Spain with my family, and my friend Thomas Drew, who was coincidentally on holiday in the same area, lent it to me. I was instantly hooked – as a child who desperately wanted magic to be real (something I’ve never been able to fully get over) the story of an lonely boy who discovers that not only is magic real, but that he is in fact the messianic saviour of a magical universe that has previously been hidden from him was irresistible. I devoured the next three installments, getting Chamber of Secrets as soon as I came home and getting the next two on the day they came out.

But by the time Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released, I had lost interest. By then I was a pretentious fifteen year old, suddenly painfully aware of the limitations of J.K. Rowling’s writing and more interested in reading angsty, “deep” novels like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Girlfriend in a Coma. I completely lost interest in the books, and didn’t bother with the films either.

But lately, Pottermania has been taking its toll. My understanding that after Goblet of Fire the series takes a much darker, more epic turn intrigues me to say the least, and I’m totally over the idea that it’s somehow unworthy of criticism just because it’s not art. A good story is a good story, and I want to assess, as an adult, how good a story Harry Potter is.

That been said, I have stuff to do, and this is a film blog, so I’ll skip the books, thank you. Instead, I’m going to watch all the films – first, the four I’m familiar with, then the latter four while Deathly Hallows Part 2 is still in the cinema. It’s this second half of the series which interests me the most, especially as I want to know how clear the story is on screen for those who haven’t read the books. Harry Potter may be a massive franchise now, but the backbone of it will always be those seven novels, and I suspect the films won’t take newbies into account.

Anyway, without further ado, we start with…

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