Is USA Today missing the mark with its Harry Potter analysis?
#1
Everyone is trying to say something great and glorious about Harry Potter this week. This is, after all, the last week we have in which to anticipate something big in the world of Harry Potter.

We've had the seven books (plus a few more).

We've had the theme park.

We've had all but 1 movie.

After this week all that remains to happen is J.K. Rowling's Pottermore fan experience and that has a sort of denouement aspect to it. Harry Potter won't be done but it will be transformed into something less than what it is today.

So this week we're being treated to the final final analyses on just what the franchise means and has done (although I suspect there will be plenty of theses and dissertations discussing Harry Potter for years to come).

In an article titled "How Harry Potter 'magically' Changed Film-making USA Today writer Claudia Puig says: "Who would have guessed a bespectacled boy wizard from the 'burbs of Britain could cast a spell powerful enough to radically change the way movies are made?"

Okay, but in order to support that statement you have to show how the changes have been positive for movies. Frankly, the examples she provides of Harry Potterbe movies such as "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Golden Compass" leave something to be desired. You can probably toss into that pot M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender" and "Percy Jackson and the Olympians".

Of course, I think only Percy Jackson is really trying to be a Harry Potterbe movie. The other movies are just trying to create franchises based on more well-established concepts. Percy Jackson is more-or-less contemporary with Harry Potter.

And yet, before Harry Potter we had other franchises: Star Trek, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, and Indiana Jones to name the four best known. None of them are like Harry Potter and Harry Potter is like none of them.

I think it's pretentious to argue that Harry Potter has defined the formula that all fantasy / science fiction movie franchises want to be like. Who wouldn't want to follow in the footsteps of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg?

The article weaves exception after exception into the story and dismisses them pre-emptively. Harry Potter has the same core cast through the 8 movies but certainly many guest actors have come and gone. It's a bit like James Bond, Star Trek, and the Marvel movie franchise all rolled up into one.

At the end of the day we can agree that Harry Potter has probably set a standard that few if any other franchises will meet any time soon. The Marvel movie franchise may come close with its ambitious multi-character theme movies (Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and others leading up to the Avengers and beyond). But we're not seeing the same characters evolve and mature through all those films.

I think what sets Harry Potter aside from other franchises is that J.K. Rowling set out to show her characters growing up and in some cases paying the ultimate price for freedom of will and expression. That is a rare step in literature and it certainly hasn't been brought to the silver screen except in Harry Potter. I don't really believe other franchises are attempting to follow in Harry's footsteps.

One franchise that might be able to do that is the John Carter series -- assuming it survives past the first three films. The books go on to feature Carter's son, daughter, and grand-daughter in their own adventures. Bringing all those stories to the silver screen with the same production company and core actors would be a major accomplishment.
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#2
Yep, the Narnia films wanted to go in that direction, but for a number of reasons really aren't. And that might or might not relate to studio issues, but almost certainly also includes the absence of epic/blockbuster plots in all but the first book. (Even my favorite, Prince Caspian, is basically centered around fairly small skirmishes between a few hundred troops on each side.)

And I agree, the comic book movies are something different entirely, since those have been around in various forms, never completely successful, for a long time. (e.g. the various live-action and cartoon incarnations on tv over the years, and attempts at spin-offs like the Supergirl movie.)

What they only touch on in passing in the article is how Harry Potter changed the world of publishing, with children actually admitting they read books, and being aware of when new ones came out. Transfering them to film, I think the ground-breaking aspect relates to the conscious aspect to film 7 novels in quick succession with the same cast. And those failed series above certainly wanted to do that...and the Twilight books (and True Blood on TV) have certainly done that, and that's something very new for Hollywood.

Although not unheard of, since that was basically what happened with the Bond novels. The article sort of skims over that the first decade of films came out with the same cast (one hero and some unimportant supporting but recurring characters) in quick succession, while the author was still writing new books, which were at the height of their popularity.

Potter is of course very different, since it's a continuing plot, with the characters aging naturally. Those big franchises - Star Trek, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, and Indiana Jones weren't based on popular pre-existing books (Conan being virtually unknown, chaotically edited short stories from generations earlier) and could easily have been 1-time films. (George Lucas's claims that he had pre-existing stories for 8 more movies not withstanding - he might more accurately have said "In discarded early drafts, I have vague ideas for the backstory and future story of these characters, and three trilogies sound like a good line to give to the press, especially since LotR was a trilogy, and I borred a ton of themes from it." :laugh: )

The bit with these being popular with all audiences, adults too, though, doesn't make sense at all, since everything from Bond to Star Wars was popular to do that very fact.
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#3
I think this article originally in the Orlando Sentinel (and syndicated throughout the McClatchy network) sums it up a bit better, focusing more on how the books changed the world of entertainment, including 8 back-to-back blockbuster films with the same cast aging and developing just as they did in the book, and as the actors did in real life.
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#4
I would like to see that full page ad the article says Alan Rickman took out in Empire in April. I'll have to look around for it.
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#5
Here you go: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/201...etter.html
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#6
That is so cool. I thought Rickman's performance as Snape in this final movie was absolutely brilliant and the ad makes it apparent that he was passionate about the character. He knew when Snape's moment would come and he worked toward making that a success.
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#7
inked
"Aslan is not a tame lion. Safe?
No, he's not safe, but he's good."
CSL/LWW
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#8
We did see it for a second time yesterday and I think I enjoyed it even more. Perhaps having lived through so many book-to-movie changes I don't care about the minor departures any longer. I cannot change them.

I think the film franchise deserves some recognition from the American film industry. I don't suppose it qualifies for an Oscar for Best Film since it was made in the UK but it would be nice if they would extend the same courtesy to Harry Potter that they extended to Lord of the Rings (which was made in New Zealand). David Heyman and Co. have done a tremendous job and the Harry Potter films have really not been accorded the recognition they should be by the American film industry.
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#9
Any movie can be best film - doesn't have to be an American one. The King's Speech, for example. :bg:

Most of the Potter films have gotten a few Oscar nominations at least. And from the broader "industry," there have been a fair number of awards from specific industry groups, i.e. Art Director's Guild etc.
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#10
Yes, but the franchise deserves to be recognized for how much it has accomplished. I always felt that the Academy waited for the third LoTR film to come before giving Peter Jackson serious consideration for an Oscar. They didn't want to reward an incomplete story.

As a standalone movie "The Return of the King" really has many deficiencies. It's NOT a standalone film (none of the three are). It's the closing act and I believe the Best Picture nod was as much for the trilogy as for the third film (and perhaps more).

Why can't they do the same thing for Harry Potter?
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#11
Well they absolutely could - all it takes is the votes. Smile
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#12
Seems that last month HitFlix argued that Alan Rickman should be nominated for an Oscar. I agree. I think his performance was absolutely fantastic. In fact, his portrayal of Snape throughout the entire series is enlightened because he was the only member of the cast and crew who knew from the start that Snape had a special connection with Harry.

Seeing Snape's pain through his memories is a unique film-making experience as far as I am concerned. It's not a "first" ("Brainstorm" showed us the memories of a dying woman, for example) but it's done in such a way that a whole new side to the character is revealed to the audience (even though most of us had read the book by then, I suppose). I just think they did a really great job in bringing Snape's story to the forefront of the whole conflict.

But there is so much more about the movie that needs recognition. Dan, Rupert, and Emma have really matured and progressed as actors. They deliver convincing performances, and as Helena Bonham Carter pointed out in one of the many "making of" pieces done for the series, it's hard to be serious when you're holding a wand in your hand (her expression was a bit more colorful). The actors really had to emote against a lot of green screen action throughout the series, but especially toward the end. I think their ability to deliver the performance that the story requires in order to be taken serious is key to the movie's success.
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