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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

31 Monster Toys #21: Harry Potter Lego – Fluffy

October 21st, 2013 No comments

Lego long had been reticent to license other intellectual properties, but that changed in 1999 with the introduction of a Star Wars theme. Even with that success, it took a while for them to place their bets on another outside property. Aside from some Disney-themed preschool sets, their next major license was one that–like Star Wars–had multigenerational, international appeal: Harry Potter.

The initial Potter sets were timed to coincide with the first of the feature films, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Sorcerer’s Stone. Among them was the Forbidden Corridor, featuring this charming representation of Fluffy, the three-headed dog.

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31 Monster Toys #9: Harry Potter – The Monster Book Of Monsters

October 9th, 2013 No comments

One of my favorite gags in both the book and movie versions of the Harry Potter series was the most vicious textbook in all of Hogwarts, The Monster Book of Monsters. So, how could I resist a plush version that angrily vibrates when its tongue is pulled?

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Graduation Weekend

July 17th, 2011 No comments

I wish to doff my Sorting Hat on the occasion of the opening weekend of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the purportedly final* installment of the film series. It’s a remarkable achievement: eight big-budget fantasy flicks released over a ten-year period. Despite this rapid-fire production schedule, the movies improved in quality over time as both the storylines and the young stars grew up.

As I hoped, splitting J.K. Rowling’s seventh book into two installments makes for a tense, exciting second half. With all of the tent-sitting out of the way, there is plenty of time for a spectacular Battle of Hogwarts featuring hordes of dark wizards, giants, spiders, mugwumps, gorbats, smumpsmumps and ¬†kitchensinkasauruses.

Ralph Fiennes’ Lord Voldemort is in full-on “kneel before Zod” mode, which makes his ultimate comeuppance even more satisfying. There are several “fuck yeah” moments, with our audience reserving its applause for the star turns by supporting players Neville Longbottom and Molly “not my daughter, you bitch” Weasley.

The trouble started when Voldemort was a child. Someone said, "Got your nose!" and never gave it back.

The movie improves on the book in a couple of ways. The business over the Elder Wand’s true ownership left me puzzled at a crucial point in the original narrative; here, the explanation is saved until the dust settles. Co-conspirators Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, who were married off to random tertiary characters in J.K. Rowling’s post-novel interviews, instead make a more satisfying love connection with each other. (Though I still think Luna and Harry would’ve been a better pairing; one of the major disappointments of the books was that Rowling went with the entirely predictable choice of Ginny “hi, I’ll be your love interest” Weasley.)

I’ll be honest with you, I teared up during the “19 years later” epilogue. I’m going to miss these kids and their world. They’ve been among the few bright spots of the last decade.

*At least, until they make Luna Lovegood: A Spell of Murder. Luna is a tabloid reporter turned private investigator who, with her Crumple-Horned Snorkack named Erasmus, specializes in Muggle mysteries. Call me, J.K.

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Harry Potter And The Campgrounds Of Azkaban

November 28th, 2010 No comments

We were both a little uncertain about seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Vic is allergic to movies that last more than two hours. As for myself, I was afraid that it might replicate a little too well my least favorite part of the book: the lengthy section in which Harry, Ron and Hermione sit in a tent and sulk.

Happily, while the film did indeed capture the magical world of camping, both Vic and I felt that it did a good job of interspersing the sitting and sulking with more exciting events. To my surprise, she declared it the best of Harry Potter movie series to date, 150 minutes or not.

What I like most about the adaptations is that I’ve been able to watch both the actors and the films themselves mature over time. Compare the fresh-scrubbed and twee world of the Sorcerer’s Stone with the bleak landscapes and deadly serious business of the Deathly Hallows.

This is a story that pulls few punches. Well-loved characters and even pets are maimed and murdered. A Muggle-loving witch is tortured, then devoured by a giant snake.

As the forces of Lord Voldemort carry out loyalty tests and rigged trials in the service of ethnic cleansing, I find myself wondering just how many Harry Potter fans are also supporters of real-life anti-immigrant measures. Do they draw the parallel between the Ministry of Magic pumping out piles of anti-Muggle propaganda and the thinly-veiled racism of their favorite television bloviators?

While there have been accusations that The Deathly Hallows was split into two parts for reasons primarily financial, I’m glad that it was divided. Next July we’ll have a balls-to-the-wall, apocalyptic battle for the soul of the wizarding world. And not a tent in sight.

Harry Potter And The Hormonal Rush

July 20th, 2009 No comments

For all of the changes it made to the text, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had a lot in common with the book. Nothing much happens in either one.

Half-Blood Prince was my least favorite of the Harry Potter novels. It felt as if it was mostly filling in backstory and setting up Book Seven. The previous stories had strong hooks: Who’s trying to break into the Chamber of Secrets? Who’ll win the TriWizard Tournament? The hook here should’ve been the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, but the answer wound up being a throwaway. Instead, the burning question the book posed was this: Will Harry convince Professor Slughorn to ‘fess up, and how long will it take? Several hundred pages, as it turned out.

The film version even does away with much of the backstory of Tom Riddle, so what was left? A whole lot of snogging. That’s okay, hormonal issues were very much a part of the series, and it’s good that the films acknowledge their ever-maturing characters. It’s just that the film became very focused on the budding romances. A scene near the end had Draco Malfoy headed down a Hogwarts hallway on a sinister errand, and off to the right of the screen there were several sets of snoggery-engaged students. The shot succeeded in depicting Draco’s isolation from his classmates, but by that point the clouds of testosterone had become so thick that for a moment I thought I might see some headmaster-unapproved heavy petting.

Make no mistake, I did enjoy the movie. I like spending time in this world, I like the characters and the actors that portray them. It’s been fun following them through adolescence. And I always get a kick out of an appearance by Luna Lovegood. (I still think that Luna would’ve been a better match for Harry than the bland and predictable Ginny.) By now, the filmmakers have become so good at this stuff that the magic seems almost effortless. And Half-Blood Prince is arguably the best-looking of the movies; they took a page out of the Lord of the Rings films and color-graded the heck out of each shot.

Looking forward to the next film in the series. Hopefully something will happen in that one.

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Well, I Certainly Missed That Subtext

October 29th, 2007 No comments

Not that I could possibly care, but…Dumbledore is gay? Wha?

“Jo Rowling calling any Harry Potter character gay would make wonderful strides in tolerance toward homosexuality,” a Potter site webmaster is quoted. Sure, and it would’ve been an even bigger stride if she’d done it anywhere in her 4,195 pages of prose rather than a Q&A three months after the final book was published.

Just seems like it would’ve been worth mentioning.

UPDATE: Time columnist John Cloud generally sums up my feelings about the “outing” of Dumbledore, except that I’d add that doing so well after the hype of the final book died off seems uncharacteristically gutless for Ms. Rowling. Plus, by withholding this information from the text, it plays right into the fears of those who believe that closeted gays are after their teenage boys.