Harry Potter 1

The end is near. Harry Potter—love him or hate him—is about to complete his twenty-one year journey, from story inception to final big screen appearance. For those who read the books as they came out, your journey ended July 2007. But for everyone else, the tale comes to a close forty-six short days from today. (Unless, of course, Rowling decides to finally write the Electric Boogaloo installment, which I’m still holding out for.)

I was a late-comer to the Harry Potter phenomenon. I simply refused to read it at first. And it wasn’t because I hated it, or thought it was evil, stupid, or childish, or simply wanted to proudly avoid jumping on the latest bandwagon. (Those are the reasons I won’t touch Twilight.) No, the reason I held out for so long can be summed up in two words: plausible deniability. You see, I’d been trying (at the time) to write my own fantasy-ish novels for nearly ten years and I simply didn’t want to pollute my brain with good ideas. No, I wanted my brain full of stupid and pointless ideas to remain unsullied by others’ work. No one could accuse me of stealing anything.

But in 2001, I finally gave in. The soaring popularity of the series coupled with the impending release of the first movie finally drove me to the brink. Let’s talk about what happened next.

Book Review

The first problem I had with the book was the title. To this day it annoys me that they changed it from Philosopher’s Stone to Sorcerer’s Stone. “Oh, those stupid American kids won’t want to read about some old philosopher doodad. Sorcerer sounds way cooler.”

Now, if it were a simple matter of translating an unfamiliar chiefly British word to American English (e.g., “sacked” to “fired” or “lorry” to “truck”) I might understand the switch. But the Philosopher’s Stone is a proper name for a very specific artifact. You might as well change Raider’s of the Lost Ark to Raiders of the Shiny Gold Box Thingy so people will “get it.”

But I digress.

I liked the book. It had well-developed characters, a great setting, and lots and lots of food. Meal after meal that magically appears right in front of you and—the best part?—it cleans up just as instantaneously. Who cares about flying on brooms, summoning charms, or body-binding curses? Toast from nowhere is where it’s at.

Movie Review

With very few minor exceptions, the movie is a scene-for-scene replay of the book. Which really makes reading the book after the movie very difficult. Overall the movie is okay. I know of those who believe the first one is the best, but these people are—and I’m using the proper literary term here—wrong.

While Chris Columbus did a good job establishing the characters and setting, the first movie simply lacks depth. It felt like they had a checklist of scenes to get through and methodically checked off each scene as they went. “Baby left on doorstep? Check! Dudley falls through the glass? Check! . . . Harry and his friends win 160 points at the end? Check! That’s a wrap! Good work, everybody.”

At any rate, the movie is a good way to kill five hours on a Saturday when it airs on the ABC Family channel. In fact, I think it’s on right now. BBL.

In the meantime, stay tuned for my Chamber of Secrets review.

4 Responses to “Harry Potter 1”

Mark said
May 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Twilight I found not very good until book 3. After that it was ok. First book especially was working up to the big moment, only to have the main character fall unconscious and miss all the good stuff. But women and girls might feel differently.

    Charlie said
    May 31, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I remember a friend of mine asking, “What did you think?” after I announced I’d finally finished reading the first Harry Potter book. I had to complain that right at the book’s climax the protagonist passed out. 🙂

Kristen said
May 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Right now I’m working my way through the series (books first, then movies) in preparation for the BIG FINALE in July. I was a late-comer too- I think I started reading in 2004 or so, but ever since then have been in love and have read all the books at least twice and seen all the movies. The first movie, for me, is the weakest. Actually, same goes for the first book. I feel like as the characters mature and the stories become richer and more complex, the series gets better and better. I’m on book 4 right now in my current re-read, so I’m looking forward to your review of the next one (and maybe more- are you planning on doing the whole series?) while it’s still fresh in my mind.

    Charlie said
    May 31, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I decided to attempt the same. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to make it: not without an undo amount of effort. (I’m only about a quarter of the way through Azkaban.)