Harry Potter & Me

Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling’s series about wizards. The series was turned into movies, has tourist attractions and is one of the biggest fictional universes to grace our world. The author has gone on to voice controversial opinions and the actors of the main characters have pursued successful careers since.

My Grandma used to be a huge fan of Potter, as were my sisters which meant I got a fair bit of time with the early movies. As a joke we still wind the older one up when it’s a birthday or Christmas, I’m sure she never grew out of it.

My own opinion of the series is that the first two movies are the best, I keep trying but I find the later movies hard to get through, they change in tone and the Weasleys end up being the only source of any joy by Goblet Of Fire. I tried reading the books when I was young but was bored into giving up (I had already read Lord Of The Rings multiple times so it wasn’t due to ability). I had also tried some of the early PlayStation games but my recollection is vague. I did do a bit of Potter art at one point.

I bought the Lego Harry Potter games for Xbox a while ago and left them on a shelf, still in the plastic wrapping. After finally getting around to playing years one to four I saw how good the games were, spoiled only by my own lack of knowledge. As a result I decided to sit through the movies again, all of them this time to know the stories for when I start the later Lego years.

The earliest movies have a Dahl’s Matilda feel to them with a child that has a horrible family going to school, meeting nice people and discovering magic. The characters are instantly unique with Potter being a bit of a new kid, Ron being incredibly likeable and Hermione being a stuck up try hard, plus the BFG Hagrid and the old wise professors including the brilliantly creepy Snape. The whole thing gels together as a well done feel good family film introducing the magic to the viewers with the world being full of interesting creatures and obstacles for the heroes to overcome.

By the third one the family feel starts to waver and I really struggle to get through any after. I am forcing myself to sit through them so I’ll just bullet point a few thoughts:

  • Goblet Of Fire is full of action and Ron’s bad side emerges slightly. The Polyjuice potion in the plot is very cleverly done, when you know what’s going on a rewatch gives it away plenty of times. This is the one where Voldemort properly emerges.
  • The Order Of The Phoenix is a bit of a filler movie, showing how hard it is for Harry to gain experienced wizards as allies because they’re all power mad. Dudley gets attacked by a Dementor early on and shows how he trusts Harry by staying with him which was an interesting change of character. The film is really just placing Harry as a leader and a growing up film more than anything else.
  • The Half Blood Prince is the best movie for plot. What Voldemort is finally starts to get some explanation with characters like Malfoy and Snape finally becoming more than side characters. Dumbledore gets more involved and it really is the point where Voldemort becomes the villain rather than just a legend. This movie is where the series gets proper direction to become more of an epic tale of dark versus light.
  • Deathly Hallows Part 1 is more action, more intensity and more importance put upon the villains. A sad moment near the end comes before Voldemort cements his power. Harry and friends find a reason to go it alone which leads most of the movie to be a pointless struggle to weaken old Voldy. Another tone change that gave a lot of build up but whatever comes next is clearly more important.
  • Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the end of the series. It does well to bring out the complexities of both Snape and Malfoy, plus there’s a fantastic performance from HBC. Voldemort is a let down for me because he never comes across as intimidating or even as bad as his followers, he’s the big bad but I felt like I’d seen worse. The fate of the Elder Wand ties in well with the message of the Philosopher’s Stone.

I still have some prejudices towards Harry Potter from my youth but after watching it with a more open, yet focused approach I have gained respect for the series. I also now understand the colour scheme a bit better.

Maybe now I can complete my Lego games and eventually consider trying the books again.

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