Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Hogwarts #7)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but the first time reading it critically. I’ve tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book and its place in the series.

“Deathly Hallows” is a tad over a 100 pages longer than its immediate predecessor in the series as Rowlings completes her series with the climactic Battle of Hogwarts as Harry and Voldemort face off in their prophesied encounter. Along with Ron and Hermione, Harry chases after the remaining Horcruxes that Voldemort has left behind but eventually the trail returns the grounds of Hogwarts. However along the way, the friends not only have rough times with one another but also with the legacy of Albus Dumbledore. Yet a legendary set of magical objects, the titular Deathly Hallows, enter into the narrative that both hinder the quest of the Horcruxes while also driving the narrative forward to its ultimate conclusion.

[SPOILERS BELOW]
“Deathly Hallows” finds the series entering the endgame as the Wizarding World falling under the control of Voldemort as the Ministry falls to his puppet. Battles occur throughout the book, the first being when Harry leaves Privet Drive for the last time which results in the death of Mad-Eye Moody and the maiming of George Weasley. After the fall of the Ministry, Harry, Ron and Hermione go on the run until they infiltrate the Ministry to get a Horcrux from former opponent, Dolores Umbridge. Through the fall and into the winter, their quest is stalled until a turn of events at Malfoy Mansion makes them realize where another Horcrux is. After successfully infiltrating, grabbing another Horcrux, and escaping Gringotts the trio head to Hogwarts after Harry learns from his connection to Voldemort that Hogwarts houses a Horcrux. This return to Hogwarts sets in motion the destruction of the final Horcruxes and the Battle of Hogwart that ends with the duel of Harry and Voldemort. The major subplot of the book are the Deathly Hallows, two of which have been in plain sight for the entire series, but the most noteworthy is the Elder Wand that Voldemort covets to overpower Harry’s wand because what occurred at the end of “Goblet of Fire”. Harry’s obsession with the Hallows do affect the overall quality of the narrative because of their supposed importance is undermined by how late in the series we learn about them and do through shade over a very good book.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shows the Wizarding World entering a time of darkness as Voldemort has seemingly taken over but with Harry there is hope people cling to. Save for the late inclusion of the titular Deathly Hallows, the idea of which I believe should have been mentioned earlier in the series, Rowlings completes the overall story she began way back in “Sorcerer’s Stone” by showing how everything that happened before has led to the climactic moment at the end of the book. In the end, this final installment of the series gives the reader who has spent time reading the previous six books a very satisfied conclusion to the story of Harry Potter.

View all my reviews

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Film)


A Major Stumble for the Film Franchise

The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth in the franchise, follows the lead of the titular installment in the Potter book series by focusing not on Harry’s academic life but on his nonacademic pursuits yet fail to convey the importance of items and set the stage for franchise’s final installments as well as add and remove too much.

Though those in charge of production and direction claim “Half-Blood Prince” was boiled down to the essential plot and foreshadowing elements needed for future films likes its three predecessors it is untrue. Throughout the film, as well as in the books, there are two main subplots the revelations of the Voldemort’s Horcruxes and Draco Malfoy’s mission and while the latter was handled perfectly the former was botched with missing scenes that impact future installments. The addition of Jim Broadbent to the cast as Professor Horace Slughorn was a brilliant selection and the Slughorn secondary plot was handled properly in context to the overall Horcrux discovery. The climactic scene in the Astronomy Tower between Dumbledore, Draco, and Snape with Harry watching was brilliantly acted and portrayed making it one of the few highlights of the overall film.

Aside from the edition of Broadbent there were no other major cast additions, the younger cast members performed admirably with the material they were given which is not a slight on them but of the script. Of the older returning cast members of the cast both Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore and Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape were excellent given either their primary or major impactful roles in this particular film.

The sixth installment of the Harry Potter franchise is an uneven film, and in my opinion worse than “Goblet of Fire”. My assessment of this film for a non-book reader is that they would find the film incomprehensible as to everything going on, while book readers would question why important scenes were ignored in the Horcrux subplot that would be relevant in the “Deathly Hallows” along with the inclusion of new scenes that did nothing but try to be different from the book. In all honestly, I would rate this film 2 ½ stars instead of 3 if I had the option.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Hogwarts #6)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but the first since finishing Deathly Hallows and first time reading it critically. I’ve tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book (much younger than myself) and its place in the series.

“Half-Blood Prince” is over 200 pages shorter than its immediate predecessor in the series as Rowlings transitioned from focusing on the events in Hogwarts to worrying situation in the Wizarding World since Voldemort’s public appearance near the end of “Order of the Phoenix”.  Turning the focus away from what was occurring in most of Harry’s classes and more about his nonacademic life, especially in relation to his love life.  Once again the past history of the wizarding world is a central theme of the book, but this time centered on Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Voldemort, to understand how Harry can defeat the Dark Lord.  With considerable skill Rowlings crafted all these new elements in the series, but seemed to shortcut her development of major established characters that took something away from the narrative a tad.

[SPOILERS BELOW]
“Half-Blood Prince” finds the series’ overall story having entered into the Wizarding World in a time of war, fully transitioned into a darker mood that only gets darker with what is learned and what occurs.  Before even getting to Harry, we follow the Muggle Prime Minister and learn of Snape’s residence while learning about an order that Draco Malfoy is to carry out at Hogwarts.  Throughout the book, Harry and Dumbledore interact more than they ever have before as they navigate the past through other’s memories to find out how Voldemort survived his first encounter with Harry, through use of Horcruxes.  The major subplot of the book is Harry’s investigation of Draco throughout the year even though his friends and even Dumbledore tell him not to worry about it, however the events at the end of the book seem to prove Harry correct.  The academic develops in “Half-Blood Prince”, save for Potions, take a backseat to everything else going on which given how “Deathly Hallows” is written is foreshadowing what is truly important for the story as a whole.  The relationships of Ron-Hermione and later Harry-Ginny seem both confusing and rushed, but given Mrs. Weasley’s comments about Bill & Fleur it seemed that Rowlings’ gave herself some literary cover on this point.  As it turns out “Half-Blood Prince” is both a book in itself, but also setting up the events of the final book given the mission Harry commits himself to by refusing to return to Hogwarts.  And with Dumbledore’s death, the stage is set for anything to happen in the growing darkness.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince continues the dark trend the series is headed towards, though even as the Wizarding World gets embroiled in war, Rowlings shows that rays of light do pierce the night. Unlike “Order of the Phoenix”, Rowlings included only a few new additions that were strictly to help the narrative of the book along in certain places while also helping create important segments in the overall story.  While not as long as the previous two books, “Half-Blood Prince” is its own narrative while building the overall story towards the series’ climax and setting up for “Deathly Hallows”.

View all my reviews

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Film)

 Slight Missteps Don’t Harm This Very Good Adaptation

The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth in the franchise, brings darker themes to film that were prominent in the book to life both in and around Hogwarts as well as the wizarding world at large.
As with the last two films, “Order of the Phoenix” was boiled down to the essential plot and foreshadowing elements needed for future films. Unlike its immediate predecessor the film “Order of the Phoenix” was almost as well done as “Prisoner of Azkaban” with only minor transitions and plot tent poles either mishandled or poorly represented. The bureaucratic terror inflicted upon Hogwarts by Dolores Umbridge, brilliantly played by Imelda Staunton, is well handled as well as the subplot of Dumbledore’s Army along with its discovery. The climactic battle within the Ministry was a mixture of more good than bad, however there were elements that hurt the over presentation that hurt the overall product, namely how much weaker Dumbledore appeared during his duel with Voldemort.

Besides the brilliant work of Staunton, the rest of the main cast that has grown with the series did tremendous jobs though Emma Watson seemed to particularly stand out in every scene she was in. The older members of the cast, including those from previous films that returned in this film, did well as could be expected with the roles they were given in this particular film. Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore doesn’t look as impressive in action as the character is written in Rowling’s book, which I fault film’s writers and director instead of the actor. Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black hits all the right notes throughout the film so as to make his exit all the more impactful.

The fifth installment of the Harry Potter franchise is a pretty good film, although it stumbles here and there it is clearly a step above “Goblet of Fire”. The darker themes present in “Order of the Phoenix” herald the trouble ahead mirroring the book in a very good adaptation of the book making this film deserving of its 4-star rating.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Hogwarts #5)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but the first since finishing Deathly Hallows and first time reading it critically. I’ve tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book (much younger than myself) and its place in the series.

“Order of the Phoenix” is the longest book of the series and Rowlings continued expounding upon numerous details and backstory that had started in “Goblet of Fire”. With maturing plot and content Rowlings continued her brilliant wording which allowed her to give various their due. The use of propaganda by government through both overt and subversive is one of the central themes of the book, notably connected to one of the most loathed characters of the entire series, Dolores Umbridge.  Beyond following Harry’s ‘worst’ year at Hogwarts while dealing with not being believed about Voldemort’s return and then wondering why Dumbledore doesn’t want to deal with him.  Rowlings continued to develop her established characters through experiences and attempted teenage relationships that both added to and (unfortunately) took away from the whole narrative.

[SPOILERS BELOW]
“Order of the Phoenix” sees the next phase of the series’ overall story as the Wizarding World must be convinced that Voldemort had returned and preparations must be made to counter his attempt to take power.  The transition the “lightness” of the series to darker themes is really pushed to the forefront from and unexpected source, the Ministry of Magic.  The Ministry, really Cornelius Fudge, along with the Daily Prophet attacks the creditability of Dumbledore and Harry to the Wizarding World at large then in Hogwarts itself.  Harry’s time in Muggle world grows shorter to allow him to be immersed in a now somewhat hostile darkening Wizarding that he can’t believe that Voldemort hasn’t returned.   Important characters, important magical objects, and other important facts are sprinkled into the narrative even before Harry’s return to Hogwarts but the astute reader will notice their importance as events unfold though unfortunately plot hole resolutions are less satisfyingly written than in previous volumes.  The “innocence” of the previous books is completely gone and situations that occur were eerily repeated years later in the real world in a fashion. “Order of the Phoenix” is where Harry’s story darkness as Voldemort shadows his thoughts (literally) while dealing with classwork that effect his future and teenage hormones and attempting to find some good in his life.  However Harry’s anger that lasts throughout the book does become a bit much, even though it seems to start out as a possible symptom to PTSD, does get a bit much and in the end seems to just be a plot device that places a part in the Department of Mysteries plot.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the first truly thoroughly “dark” book of the series, though it is just a shadow of how dark the series will become while telegraphing future events. Rowlings continued to keep the pace of the book going even as she expanded on several story arcs of various characters and added the normal teenage social travails that finally showed up, though somewhat a little late. Unlike “Goblet of Fire”, Rowlings took her time to add these new additions to create a better reading experience making this slightly better than.  While the longest of the series and have elements that are a bit tiring, “Order of the Phoenix” is a good read.

View all my reviews

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Film)

Like the Book, a Good But Not Great Transitioning Film

The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the franchise, had both the unenviable task of following the “Prisoner of Azkaban” as well as bring to film how the series transitions from the lightheartedness of the earlier series to the darker themes to come.

Like it’s predecessor, “Goblet of Fire” was boiled down to the essential plot and foreshadowing elements needed for future films, however until like it’s predecessor it wasn’t as well done given the amount of things that occurred in the book that related to one another. The decision to focus on action given the events of the Triwizard Tournament is not the problem, it was the amount and quality that was and that took away from the narrative especially when it came to Voldemort’s supporter within Hogwarts and the surrounding details connected to him. The memories of the Pensieve are better executed in the film than in the book, though the clues they provide could be lost if you aren’t paying attention. The main cast of the film continued to grow as actors and the inclusion of Ralph Fiennes (Lord Vordemort) and Brendan Gleeson (‘Mad Eye’ Alastor Moody) provide perfect actors to portray their characters.

The fourth installment of the Harry Potter franchise is a good film, but there were missteps that stopped if from equally the quality of it’s predecessor “Prisoner of Azkaban”. Even with these unfortunate mistakes, “Goblet of Fire” does succeed in bring to the forefront that the franchise is in for some dark times ahead.

https://www.amazon.com/review/R1DCOJMH1433TM/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Hogwarts #4)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but the first since finishing Deathly Hallows and first time reading it critically. I’ve tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book (much younger than myself) and it’s place in the series.

“Goblet of Fire” is nearly double the length of it’s immediate predecessor and the first book in which Rowlings expounded upon numerous details.  Given the advancing plot and more mature content than previous volumes, Rowlings still retained her brilliant wording even while giving up brevity and slowing the book’s pace so that various details could be given their due. The immediate history of the Wizarding World, particularly in the direct aftermath of Voldemort’s fall is a central theme that Rowlings emphasizes especially as Voldemort returns to power.  Beyond covering Harry participating in the Triwizard Tournament and Voldemort’s return, Rowlings develops character relationships and character development that both add to and (unfortunately) take away from the whole narrative.

[SPOILERS BELOW]
“Goblet of Fire” returns to the overall story’s primary theme of the first two books, Voldemort plotting to return but this time succeeding setting up the overall story’s next phases.  Since this book is the middle of the series, it is full of transitions that Harry encounters both magical and not.  Time devoted to Harry’s time in Muggle world continues to be lessen and his time in the Wizarding World before returning to Hogwarts, and he discovers that his new World is more than Britain as he attends the Quiddich World Cup and then interacts with international students at Hogwarts.  Important characters, important magical objects, and other important facts are sprinkled into the narrative even before Harry’s return to Hogwarts but the astute reader will notice their importance as events unfold.  The deepening plot and maturing content in addition to the evil rising ending of the book finally sweeps away the “innocence” vibe earlier books had.  “Goblet of Fire” is where darkness creeps into Harry’s story and it’ll only get darker.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the hinge book of the series, the overall story will never be as “light” as the earlier books and is about to get “dark” as the series continues.  Rowlings expands her descriptions and adds new story lines for characters adding to the book’s length while still keeping a good pace throughout.  However the additions, while overall good, do  not mesh well in Rowlings first attempt and as a result the book suffers a tad.  But no matter the little flaws, this fourth installment of the Harry Potter series is still a good read.

View all my reviews