Harry Potter should have married Hermione, admits J K Rowling

Via CNN and The Independent.
Harry, Hermione and Ron
Now at this point I could be saying “I told you so,” because I said something similar when reviewing one of the movies. (I was deliberately watching the movies while not reading the books.)

Obviously Harry and Hermione are the best matches in terms of intelligence, ability and good looks. From a storytelling standpoint its always more satisfactory when the prince marries the princess.

However just to be contrary I’m going to offer some reasons why the canonical ending might be better, at least from Hermione’s standpoint:

  • Harry might make a bad husband. He’s moody and self-centered. He’s a celebrity bound to be pursued by groupies. And he grew up in a dysfunctional family from which he probably absorbed all sorts of bad patterns. He might make a good partner someday but he’ll probably have to go through at least one failed marriage first.
  • They’re both Type A personalities, hard-driven and high-achieving. It would be hard for Hermione to be #2 in the relationship but that’s what she would have to settle for. She might be happier with a goodhearted hard-working guy who’s a bit dim but worships her.

Board of Education Inspection Report: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Via Slate comes a damning report on a school that obviously should be shut down at once.

Behaviour of students is very poor indeed. Staff seem to maintain their grip on the school using threats of violence, and yet student disruption is at high levels. Most of the worst behaviour seems to be focused around one particular ‘house’ within the school’s pastoral system, but despite this clear correlation, no positive action has been taken. Bullying is a very common occurrence and is not dealt with very well by the pastoral team, which consists of some of the strictest staff members in the school. Often the bullying between students can become physical aggression very quickly, with some students causing each other actual bodily harm. The bullying of students by staff is at unacceptable levels, with some students singled out from an early age for grudges that seem to date back decades.

Furthermore:

This summer, the school was disrupted by riots and pitched battles between rival sectors of the community. Whether the school was an incidental victim of this outburst of aggression, or an active part of it, is unknown to the inspectors. Siginificant damage was wreaked on the school buildings, with certain wings now closed for repairs. In short, at present Hogwarts is a very unsafe environment for all students and staff.

Read the whole thing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2–Movie Review

4 Stars

The final movie in the series provides a well-executed and satisfactory conclusion. As expected the bottom line is as follows:

  • If you have seen the 7(!) previous movies then you will definitely want to see this.
  • In the unlikely event that you have read all 7 books but have not seen the movies, you might still be interested in this.
  • If you have neither read all the books nor seen all the movies this is no place to start.

I saw the first movie after reading the first book and decided at that point to skip the remaining books and just watch the movies, avoiding spoilers as much as possible. Thus I went into this movie without knowing how it ended (although I wasn’t exactly expecting to see Voldemort triumphant.) I think this is a useful perspective. I think it is acceptable if a movie requires you to have watched the earlier movies in the series, but if a movie cannot be enjoyed without having read the books on which it is based, this would mean that the movie itself isn’t very good, just a collectable item for obsessed fans of the source material.
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1–Movie Review

3.5 Stars
The penultimate movie in the Harry Potter series is, like it’s immediate predecessors, primarily aimed at those who have already read the books. I have not read the books but I have seen the earlier movies, which was sufficient for me to follow the plot, though I occasionally had trouble keeping the lesser characters straight and I undoubtedly missed many of the subtle points. If you have neither read the books nor seen the earlier movies, don’t waste your time here.

The movie is fairly dark, but it didn’t feel as dark as the last three movies in the series. For one thing Harry, Hermione and Ron are no longer kids; they have left school behind them and taken responsibility for their fate. The result feels more like an adventure movie, without the disturbing undertones of children being tormented.

Nevertheless this movie is not recommended for young children. It’s pretty violent. (It could be worse. I’m told that some of the more gruesome scenes from the book were left out.)

There’s some good stuff here. The story has some powerful mythic elements. But that also leaves me frustrated, feeling that if the movie had been made differently it might have been much more powerful. There is far too much reliance on computer-generated special effects. I’ve reached the point where CGI makes me yawn. It’s definitely no substitute for great writing and great acting.

I’ve held out this far, so I’m going to wait to watch the final movie this summer in order to judge how the movie series stands on its own. Then I may just try reading the books to see if the story is told better in its original form.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince–Movie Review

4.5 Stars
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth movie in the series, and I actually liked it more than the previous two. It is dark, stylish and witty. Like the early movies in the series it tries to impress us with the richness of its imagination, as opposed to just overwhelming us with pyrotechnic special effects.

Unlike most of the audience I have not read any of the Harry Potter books except the first, so my opinion of the movie is based solely on the movie itself. I can recommend it highly, but with one big caveat: if you have neither read the books nor seen the earlier movies in the series you are going to be pretty lost. No real attempt is made to fill in the backstory, and a lot depends on us already knowing the characters and what they have been through previously.

The ending leaves a number of questions unanswered. Rather than being a complete story in itself, this seems more like the beginning of a grand closing arc that will be completed in the final two movies.

The movie delivers the usual spectacular scenery and state-of-the-art special effects, but it also has subtler pleasures. I particularly like how the characters are gradually maturing. For a 17-year-old boy surrounded by adults who expect the world of him, but won’t give him a straight answer, Harry seems commendably self-possessed. He’s less angsty than he was in the last film and he seems well on the way to becoming an adult hero.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

2.5 Stars
I’m probably not representative of the target audience for this movie. I only read the first book in the Harry Potter series, though I have seen and enjoyed all of the earlier movies. I suspect that most of the audience went into the movie having already read (and perhaps memorized) the book it is based on.

Thus I have no way of knowing whether flaws in the move are due to flaws in the book, or are the fault of the director. Part of the problem may be due to the fact that it is a very thick book. The movie feels like too much material has been crammed into too little time. Plot points are checked off rather than developed and key events rush by almost unnoticed.
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