Harry Potter: worth it? + books v films

Right. So now the craze has died down, and we have some distance on it, I have two questions re: the Harry Potter series.

1. Is it actually any good? Is it worth sinking the hours into in and of itself, rather than just as a means of taking the temperature of mass culture?

I read the first one, and it was well done; sharp, funny, well delivered. But it wasn’t anything more than a well done version of that type of young adult story, and it didn’t inspire me to read further at that time. I also saw the film of the first one, and it was a reasonable adaptation, I guess, though lesser, as is the way of things.

But that is it. And since then I have paid as little attention as possible in a culture that went all frothing at the mouth over it for a while.

2. While assuming the books are better: are the films good enough?

Like, can I just watch the films and not really miss that much of whatever the point is? (And the story itself – the later books seem like doorstops, are the adaptations functional?)

This is all prompted by seeing the trailer for the 7th one, which made me kind of curious.

Oh, and if possible, comment without spoilers 🙂

13 Responses to “Harry Potter: worth it? + books v films”

  1.   Vince
    October 18th, 2010 | 3:36 pm

    Uhm… the books are OK… I think I got to the second last one and got bored about 1/3 of the way through. Huge brick of a book that it was, too. Have never gone back.

    I liked the early books better, they were shorter and quirkier and just lighter (in the literal and the literary senses).

    The films are good adaptations of the books, but you can never get away from the fact that they are too “family friendly” for their own good. You know it’s going to be a fairly tepid experience, no matter how dark the lighting. In the end, they’re just kids’ books and as worthy of being taken seriously as the Three Investigators or Just William, really. YMMV and probably will.

  2.   billy
    October 18th, 2010 | 4:36 pm

    Yeah, actually, now you mention it, the family friendliness of the first film was pretty striking… though that is almost what struck me about the trailer for the last one, as it felt quite dark.

  3.   Walrus
    October 18th, 2010 | 6:54 pm

    The books are very good if you’re into that type of thing – oh no, they’re big… Good grief if that puts you off reading something, good luck to you. The movies are good too. Of course the first (books and movies) were family friendly, they were aimed at 10 year olds – the characters themselves are only 11 or 12. As the characters and readers get older the books get more adult, ok nothing too adult as they’re still basically aimed at maximum of 18 but they are good. I would say the books and the movies are worth it. Anything that gets kids reading is brilliant (Terry Pratchett is case in point) and the movies are well done escapist fare. The special effects are believable- they’ve always made me wonder why things like Spiderman and The Hulk still look so appalling.

  4.   Zanzibar
    October 18th, 2010 | 7:17 pm

    I’ve only watched the films as I don’t have time to commit to the books, especially as there are bigger priorities on the reading front.

    The films are fine. Just entertaining pulp at the end of the day, but hardly dire blockbusters like some of the fodder Hollywood outputs in a cocaine deluded frenzy.

    I’ve watched each one so far, been entertained enough, but they don’t have any true wow factor or offer anything particularly thought provoking.

  5.   Vince
    October 18th, 2010 | 9:32 pm

    Yeah, the books (and I guess, the films) get darker, to the extent that it’s possible- given the core audience, as they go on.

    Phillip Pullman FTW 😉

  6.   billy
    October 19th, 2010 | 1:03 am

    walrus: you could beat a walrus to death with stuff I read on a regular basis 😛

    but my reading list is genuinely freaky and reading the HPs is not a priority.

    what i am getting at is, are the films good enough to stand alone without having read the books?

  7.   Zanzibar
    October 19th, 2010 | 8:39 am

    I’d just stick with the films. And I am! 😀

  8.   Joey
    October 19th, 2010 | 1:22 pm

    Life is too short to read crap long books. This is why I stay far, far away from most fantasy. As Harlan Ellison said, “The complete works of Shakespeare can fit into one volume. Why does it take six volumes to write about dragons?”

  9.   billy
    October 20th, 2010 | 2:19 am

    joey: 90% of everything is crap; life is short enough that you can comfortably occupy yourself with the other 10%.

    zanzibar: yeah, I figure I will just watch the 2nd one and see how it goes

  10.   C G
    October 20th, 2010 | 3:14 am

    Stick it out until the 3rd movie at least. I got very bored during the second movie & turned it off, but the 3rd one is a lot of fun, for a kid’s film. It’s the best of the series & the start of the trend towards darker tone, etc.

    By movies 5 and 6, the films are “a lot of things happening” rather than satisfying or memorable stories. Increasingly, you need to care about the characters to maintain interest, & that’s always been an issue for me with HP films because I don’t feel like there’s any life to the characters.

    But that’s me. I’ve read only 1 of the books and seem to be immune to whatever magic the franchise holds for others.

  11.   vicki
    October 25th, 2010 | 10:00 pm

    Harry Potter? Twilight? If you are into teen dramas at the moment I have some dawson’s creek dvds you can borrow 🙂
    BTW i did watch the first HP but fell asleep 20 minutes into the second so didnt try out any others. I recently found out what happens in the very end but that hasn’t increased my desire to give the films another shot.

  12.   Walrus
    November 1st, 2010 | 7:16 pm

    Billy I know you read a lot but you must admit, it is not an affliction most New Zealand males suffer from, the comment was aimed more at Vince. Anything that gets kids reading is worth its weight in gold. The movies are enjoyable for me as I have read all the books, I’m not sure how they stand alone. C G’s comment could be right, but if you know the general premise (baddie trying to get them is some guise) they’re good. The second one is a lot of peoples favourite book and film, I prefer the fifth book and like all the films so far but then I don’t care if they change the story to fit the movie process. I don’t usually enjoy reading fantasy either, only the funnier stuff. D & D loses me in a huge way but I’ll give it a try if a friend truly recommends it.

  13.   billy
    November 2nd, 2010 | 1:10 pm

    walrus: yeah, so far have watched the first three, and the second one is easily my favourite so far, though I also watched it the day after finishing a draft of my book when my brain was very slow, which was probably optimal.

    vicki: not so much a teen thing as slumming mass culture thing. Dawson’s Creek never had any relevance to anything. 😛

    so far, the harry potters are like a miyazaki film compared to the twilight series’ garfield animated movies.