Jewish World Review July 20, 2011 / 18 Tamuz, 5771
Good riddance, Harry Potter
By Barry Koltnow
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Am I the only one who's happy to see the Harry Potter movies come to an end?
After eight movies, including the latest – "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2," which opens Friday, I have grown so tired of feigning interest in the boy wizard.
You might ask why I don't simply ignore the phenomenon like other reasonable adults who shun all things Potter? Well, that's the curse of the entertainment reporter. Yes, we occasionally get to eat lunch with a hot young actress who wouldn't have talked to us in high school, but the price of that access is that we have to see every movie that comes out, and we can't even walk out of the bad ones.
In the case of a successful film franchise like "Harry Potter," which has made more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office, I definitely can't miss a single movie because over the last decade, I have interviewed various cast members, directors and producers.
It's considered tacky to be uninformed in an interview, and there's nothing worse than mentioning the Romulans in a conversation with Daniel Radcliffe.
I want to emphasize that I am not a Harry hater.
In fact, I salute author J.K. Rowling for inspiring millions of kids to read. People who read have always been important to people who write because they used to grow up to become newspaper buyers. I'm not so sure about that anymore.
I am not one of those people who read Harry Potter books. To be honest, I have never read one Harry Potter book. But the millions of people who do are loyal readers. They count down the days until the publication of each book, and then line up like they were waiting for Lady Gaga concert tickets to go on sale.
Not reading the books was a defensible position on my part because I believe that movies based on books should stand on their own. The movies should not be an inside joke for a closed society of book-readers. The best comic-book movies are the ones that appeal to a wide audience that stretches beyond the average fan-boy.
And that in a nutshell explains my problem with the Harry Potter movies. True, the movies looked wonderful, with spectacular production values, and they seemed to be innocent fun. Other than that, I found nothing remarkable or memorable about any of the movies.
There, I've said it out loud.
Two days after seeing any Harry Potter movie, I forgot the movie completely. It did not resonate with me at all. As stand-alone movies, I found them completely unsatisfying, particularly the last one, which was a total rip-off (the studio split the final book into two movies for financial reasons). I felt cheated because it was only half a movie. Advance reviews on the new movie have been very good, but that's only because the previous one was so frustrating.
I have found it interesting to watch actors Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up on the big screen, but it wasn't as if I held my breath to see what might happen to their characters in their next adventure. Most of the people who flocked to these movies already read the books, so they knew exactly what was going to happen. I never understood how the book readers could enjoy watching the movies when they knew what to expect.
As for the secondary characters – including Voldemort, Dumbledore and whoever Alan Rickman plays – they will not live on as great cinematic characters. I couldn't tell them apart on a bet.
I feel bad about this confession because it might be hurtful to my niece Mercedes. She and her mother Laurie are true Potter fans (books and movies), and they always called me to find out if I had seen an early screening of the newest movie.
I think she knew that I didn't read the books, but I always raved about the movies because I could tell that the fan base would like them.
Clearly, I was not the fan base, but I'm not the fan base for a lot of movies that I enjoy because they are well-made films with universal themes and characters I recognize.
Still, the Harry Potter film franchise is quite an achievement, and my position will not be a popular one.
The books and movies have legions of fans, and by the very definition of the word "fan," those fans are obligated to love these movies unconditionally. At the same time, they will condemn me for not falling into line.
But this is a big week for both of us – they're excited because the final Harry Potter film will hit theaters, and I'm excited because the final Harry Potter film will hit theaters.
Harry Potter fans and I have a lot in common.
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