Posted in Harry Potter, movies

HARRY POTTER AND THE BOOKS/MOVIES THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED

My group of friends and I refer to all things Harry Potter as the books or movies that must not be named because many in the Christian community do not think the Harry Potter series is suitable for children (but Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia are?) and the phrase is a play on words… the evil character in the book is called He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named …but I’m off topic already.

I have debated people who think the Harry Potter series is evil and I’m rather tired of debating the series with people who haven’t read the series or who have and refuse to see it as what it is – fiction, good fiction, and a fantasy that is beloved around the world…so I’ll direct you to John Grainger, a Christian father who has a lot to say about finding God in Harry Potter…and he says it much better than I am sometimes able to.

That said, I’ll do my movie review now. 🙂

Posted in Harry Potter, movies, pop culture

POPCORN FOR BREAKFAST & THE MOVIE THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED

I finally viewed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix this morning. Before I dive into the movie, I want to comment about my movie experience.

I used to get a kick out of seeing movies on opening night with 6-10 of my friends. We’d get there early, plan out our strategy for getting the seats we wanted, then we’d stand in line an hour or two (or sit and play cards or talk). That was always fun because of the company.

I went through a period in my life when movies were seriously an extra that I didn’t have money for, and my movie buddies have moved on (and in many cases, moved out of the city). Now that I can afford to see a movie here or there, I reserve my movie money for the sci-fi flicks or special effects marvels that must be seen on the big screen. Otherwise, I just wait for the movie to come out on video and watch it in the comfort of my own home.

That said, Harry Potter movies are an in-theater must see. I don’t mind going to movies alone, so I decided I’d go to the first movie showing this morning at 9:45. I arrived at 9:20, got the fourth parking spot in, and walked into the very thinly populated theater lobby. I bought my ticket and went to the bathroom one last time (knowing I’d have to wait 2 1/2 hours to go again) then bought breakfast – a small popcorn (which costs a small fortune, but I had a movie gift card, no worries).

In a theater made for at least 300 people, this first showing of the day already had at least 20 people scattered throughout and by the time the movie started the theater was at least 1/3 full. I had the seat I wanted, there were no noisy people around me and everyone turned their cell phones off when Forrest Whitaker and AT&T told them to.

The only thing that made my experience any less than wonderful was wondering why anyone would bring a small child to a PG-13 movie that promised violence and death. There were many small children there (age 10 or less), and while I know people who take their kids to these movies (but I’m not talking 5 year olds), I also know they’ve read the books (the kids and parents), they’ve talked about the movies and know what to expect. It will never cease to amaze me to be in a theater full of kids, when the even the previews for other movies for this PG-13 movie scream that this experience is not for small children. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

I don’t envy the screenwriter who has to take a 870 page novel and squeeze a 2:15 minute movie out of it, but this adaptation of the doorstop-sized book rises to the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie from beginning to end, and though the movie takes liberties with events (out of sequence, squeezed together) and some important actions are attributed to other characters (the betrayal of the D. A.), – which keeps the number of peripheral characters down – the movie stays true to the spirit of the book and would not have the stamp of approval from the novel’s author JK Rowling if it didn’t.

I won’t spoil the movie for those who don’t read the books but see the movies. I encourage anyone to read the books to get a fuller picture of Harry Potter’s world, because, as all movie adaptations go, they have a limited amount of time to work with, and details sometimes get left out in the movies that makes the whole experience richer. Reading the books in this series and then seeing the movies will take the experience from fuzzy rabbit-ear antenna to high definition.

By the end of the movie, I was satisfied with the storytelling and can now visualize the books even more fully. So many times I wanted to slap Dumbledore (that’s another blog entry) for ignoring Harry, and I often wanted to hug Harry and tell him that he’s not alone. I was impressed by the Ministry of Magic and the Department of Mysteries, and the Wand Duelling near the end gave me a whole new understanding of the nuances of the wand and how it really is an extension of the arm. It’s more than just swish and flick.

One scene in the movie was deeply poignant between Harry and his godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius says to him (and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the screenplay in front of me) that it’s not DeathEater versus good or light versus dark, because “we all have good and evil within us, it’s which part we choose to act on that matters.”

That phrase is central to the Harry Potter world. Just as in the last movie when Dumbledore (who is still in line for slapping) tells Harry that the time has come when he will have to choose between “what is right, and what is easy,” Harry learns that the difference between him and Lord Voldemort (aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) is that he knows love and friendship, and Voldemort hasn’t and won’t. Harry has something worth fighting for, and Voldemort doesn’t. Harry chooses to act on the side of the good. The movie ends with Harry knowing that Voldemort’s defeat rests largely on his angsty teenage shoulders, but he’s not alone in the fight.

Another part of the movie that really drew a spiritual parallel for me were the scenes of the students learning Defense Against the Dark Arts. Dolores Umbridge (who was played to pink, sadistic, control freak perfection by Imelda Staunton) has decided that the students need to learn about Defense Against the Dark Arts so they can pass their tests, but the students do not need to learn how to use the spells to defend themselves.

How many people can quote Scripture but don’t know how to use it when they are under attack? It’s important to know the Word, but it’s equally, if not more important to know what to do with it and how to bring to life what it tells a person to do. Of course, if someone is raised in an environment where evil is ignored, why should they know about the armor of God, or how to protect themselves with God’s word?

Umbridge is merciless in her pursuit of keeping the kids in a safe, sterile environment where the mention of the reason actual application of the spells needed to protect themselves is cause for punishment. When Harry suggests that the evil they all fear not only exists, it’s back in the form of Voldemort, Umbridge makes Harry endure a painful detention where he writes “I must not tell lies,” on a piece of parchment and it’s etched, painfully, into his skin, and she makes him continue until it “sinks in.”

Hermione decides that they need to know how to protect themselves, and if Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic won’t show them how, they need to learn it themselves.

I don’t see this as the big teenage rebellion over authority that many reviewers have. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad example for kids. If you are a child and you know you are in danger, and the adults in your life won’t protect you, you must learn how to do it yourself. I know this firsthand.

In the Room of Requirement, Harry finally finds a purpose. All of his pain, all he has been through, all he has learned from facing evil, he can pass on to others. He can help his friends learn to defend themselves from the danger he has experienced personally. Even Neville Longbottom, the clumsy, accident prone teenage wizard learns to believe he can defend himself. Armed with these tools, these kids can now face evil with the belief that they can defeat it.

I still don’t see why people think lessons like that are evil, but I may never understand that mindset…another soapbox for another day.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was an enjoyable experience. I watched all the way through to the end of the credits. Two other people were left in the theater and we spoke briefly about how well this movie was adapted from the book and then we talked about Book 7 and my plans to try and read it within 24 hours of it’s release (because I don’t want the ending spoiled!).

I can’t wait until Friday night so I can get book 7 and find out how the series ends!

Posted in Harry Potter

FINALLY FINISHED…

After an hour and a half tearing through the last five chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I realized Jene’ was right when she said I should wait until today to finish the book. I would never have slept afterward! Now, I have to wait until the next book… (sigh) It really is good reading.

Posted in Harry Potter

STOP? WHAT DOES SHE MEAN…STOP?!

It’s 11 p.m. Jene’ asks, “So where are you in the story?” I tell her I’ve just started Chapter 32 (page 729 of 870) and she advises me to stop. Her reasoning is that well, I’m entering the “quick-paced” thrill-packed ending and if I continue reading even a few more pages, I’ll be sucked in and won’t get to sleep until after 1 a.m. and then I won’t be really able to sleep after that, because I’ll be all worked up at the end… so…

I will finish Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tomorrow evening. (SIGH)

Posted in Harry Potter

HARRY IS MINE

(No Spoilers…other than those already mentioned in the newspaper)

Jene’ finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I told you she wouldn’t sleep until she was finished. After she woke up, she handed Harry over to me and I started reading…some time around 1:00 p.m. At midnight I made myself stop, and I only got to page 459.

Today, I arrived at the Post Office (Rich Hill Station) at 4:55 p.m. to rescue my copy of Harry Potter. There were about twenty people in line ahead of me. I knew this would take a while. I have a great respect for the Postal System, but this particular post office is full of grumpy women (The Grump Sisters) who obviously do not enjoy their jobs (except for the little woman on the end who always seems to have a smile on her face and a kind word to say) and they make sure none of the customers enjoy their visit to the post office. I never go to this post office because of these people and because the stamp machines take your money and you can never get a refund to save your life. I will go out of my way to go to another post office.

Side note: I always feel a little sorry for the Grump Sisters until they are rude to me. I feel sorry for anyone that hates their jobs that much that it makes them miserable, and I know they probably couldn’t get hired anywhere else with their attitudes, but for goodness’ sake, find something you like to do that will make you happy! (but I digress…)

After twenty minutes in line, it was my turn. I kept thinking, “God, please let me get the little woman on the end,” but I got the Big Sister Grump. Since it was already 5:15 and there were still about eight people behind me, she practically ripped the package ticket out of my hand. She rolled her eyes when she saw it was from Amazon.com. She came back and handed me my package and I was FREE! I left, went back out into the 100 degree heat (110 heat index) and drove home through idiot hour (I mean rush hour). Though I live a mile from the post office, this was nearly deadly, as someone in the turn lane decided he needed to be in my lane instead (no signal, either).

And now (deep breath) I have some reading to do…

Posted in Harry Potter

HYSTERICAL OVER HARRY

Happy Birthday, Jene’!

Jene’ paced (giddily skipped… is more like it) to the front door five times this morning to check if her copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had been delivered. At 1:24 p.m. (CDT), however, she was still waiting. I was sitting at my computer when I heard her shout from her room. She shouted much like a six year old who runs to the Christmas tree and sees his first bike wrapped with a ribbon exuberantly shouts. “I hear a truck! I hear a truck!” she squealed. She ran downstairs and threw open the door and met Mr. FedEx with open arms. Mr. FedEx explained that he had delivered 200 copies already and had about 20 left on his schedule for the day. Jene’ thanked him and skipped back into the house. She giggled excitedly and ripped open the package and held the book up in triumph. Harry Potter is in the house.

My copy of the fifth installment of J. K. Rowling’s boy wizard series supposedly arrived at 1:39 p.m., according to my tracking number (I chose USPS because I pre-ordered the book several weeks ago to save money). We had just left for Jene’s birthday lunch at the Panda Garden. The orange notice left with the rest of the mail stated that my copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is now being held hostage at the post office until 6:00 a.m. Monday. This means that I will not be able to get the book until after work (if I hurry and get there before 5) or until Tuesday, when I’m not working. UGH.

Jene’ started reading about an hour ago and is on page 119 out of approx. 870. If I know Jene’, she will sleep very little tonight and probably finish the book before church tomorrow. This could be a bonus, because I could read a little tomorrow afternoon…

Ah, the joys of reading!