Sunday, November 20, 2005

My Trouble With Harry

So, is it just me or is Harry Potter among the lamest but most celebrated protagonists of all time? He's like the Forrest Gump of fantasy. Just mulling through pleasantly, experiencing magical or dangerous events and always coming out smelling like a rose, regardless of what he does or does not do. The maddening thing is that he never takes initiative (pushed into it often by villains or teachers or powerful magics), doesn't ever show any intelligence (that job is outsourced to Hermione), and rarely wins (though he always does triumph) without overdetermined plot machinations or deux ex machinas doing the work for him.


Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I mean it's nice to see them keeping it up in terms of production values now that Alfonso Cuaron saved the series from complete irrelevance with his very well wrought Prisoner of Azkaban edition. Mike Newell, the series third director isn't as inspired but he doesn't drop the ball either. But still... Harry, damnit. Wake up! Do something. Make me interested in you as a hero. Because as it stands now I only get through these movies because I like the fantasy genre and it's fun to watch all these acclaimed thespians hamming it up in bit roles.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

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adam k. said...

"Outsourced to Hermione". Hehe. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more, just so long as we're discussing the way Harry is portrayed on film. I've been severely disappointed by all the HP movie, mainly because how short they fall from the standard set by the brilliant books.

Gerard said...

The child acting in this movie was just so horrendous.

The film as a whole was okay.
Effects and Production Design were very good, as were Fiennes and Richardson (though both needed more screentime).

I think Harry Potter is a very well written series, though the character himself is indeed a bit blah.

Javier said...

Though the first two films were horrendous, I've been a fan of the series ever since Cuarón imbued it with pure magic last year.

And of course, just seeing Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney was enough to send me into heaven. If they can keep up with the cinematic gusto of the 3rd and 4th entries, i think they're up to something.

javi said...

oh and i adore michael gambon as dumbledore! sorry i just had to say that given that it's fashionable now to say that harris IS dumbledore. beep that. gambon finally brings dumbledore to life - with wit, ability and an awful lot of LIFE.

David Shultz said...

My problems with the film went beyond the lack of true heroism in its hero. In a way I've always felt that Harry was supposed to be rather normal/average, and that all heroism stems from the outside to symbolize the pains of being an instant celebrity without much to show for it besides what initially caused the fame in the first place. Maybe that's why I find him to be an interesting character, but only when I can relate to him. Mike Newell never allowed the characters to blossom like Cuaron did in the last film. Everything was plot machination. The film never stopped to allow me to connect emotionally. I just didn't really care that much.

Cal said...

Harry isn't a every likeable 'hero' I admit, and has ZERO common sense. I think Rowling has played well with the fact he's meant to be half human and half wizard though. He does have qualtiies of both, even though he lacks a lot of initiative.

Anonymous said...

Goblet isn't out here til Dec. 1 but if it's anything like Prisoner of Azkaban i'll be thrilled. Hated the first two. Loved the third.

-Glenn

Anonymous said...

While I've so far enjoyed the books, it must be said that it took whole six of them before Harry woke up, smelled the coffee, and actually did something for himself. Passive protagonist can only take you so far.
Radcliffe, as an actor, is pretty much a void and as such I've always felt him to be a fitting choice for the part.

Anonymous said...

I think you're kind of missing the point of Harry Potter. The whole point of the character is that he doesn't want to be the hero and that he's forced into it and rises to the occasion. This is especially evident in this film, and in the 4th book, because Harry's heroics get him in trouble with his friends.