Until yesterday afternoon, it probably took being a monk to know less about Harry Potter than I did. Lea and I didn’t have children when the books started coming out, and by the time the phenomenon was in the stratosphere, there was too much catching up to do.
So, apart from trying 30 minutes of the first film on HBO and turning it off bored, I just never played. I got what anyone would get through osmosis. I knew he was a magical kid with a lightning bolt on his forehead (though I’d have probably called it a birthmark and not a scar). I knew he went to a school called Hogwarts. I knew non-magical people were called muggles, though I question whether I’d have even known that had it not been for geocaching. I could have come up with Dumbledore as a character name. I doubt I could have come up with Voldemort, though if you said it I could have identified it as part of the Harry Potter universe. Dig?
Then my friend BamaDan ordered the whole series on Blu-ray, and when he complained to the vendor about a couple of cases being damaged, they sent him a new one and told him not to worry about the old one. So that’s how I came to own the film series in high-definition for nothing. (Thanks, man!)
So who’s ever watched these movies without having turned a page of J.K. Rowling? Well, I have, now. Thanks to yucky weather and a three-day weekend, the boys and I have consumed the first four films. They’re really having fun with them. Aaron, in particular, is enthralled, which I’ve loved because he’s rarely an especially enthusiastic “fan.”
I am enjoying them well enough. They’re classic good-and-evil fantasy stories. I would have expected the production design to be pretty lights-out, and it is. The special effects mostly deliver. The writing isn’t particularly sharp, but it does a reasonable job remaining accessible to children without alienating adults (and that’s not the only way I’ve been reminded of Star Wars).
I just don’t have any emotional connection to these characters. I think “soulless” is too strong, but “cold” is in the ballpark. Now part of me says “if I’d read the books…” and I’m sure some of you said that too when you started this paragraph. But really, should that be necessary? Is it advisable to make a movie assuming someone has read the book on which it’s based? Shouldn’t it be its own thing? I think that both the recent Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings movies do a good job with that, though I can’t be certain because I’ve read those books.
So we’re through Goblet of Fire, which means we’re as far as Nathan has read (and wow, I’m grateful for that, because he has stayed just about to pop wanting to tell you what’s going to happen next). We’ll finish them in another week or so.