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Having sold 450 million books worldwide and produced eight blockbuster movies, Harry Potter is the most successful movie franchise of all time. But does its undoubtedly huge success mean the films are actually any good?

THE DEFENDANT

Harry Potter – Made an orphan at only one year old, he’s been fighting for wizardy justice ever since. Stretched out over seven books and eight films, Harry has become the most famous wizard of all time (although The Wizard of Oz disputes this…)

THE CHARGES

Novels aside, are the films actually any good? Poor ‘fresh from drama school’ acting and endless ridiculous plot twists, is it all just hyperbole and over advertising? Familiarity is a huge tool in making people watch films within a franchise, because they feel like they really know the characters. And having read seven books detailing their exploits, people desperately want to see how the stories will look transferred to the big screen. Even with bad reviews people will still go and see the films, which is an odd loyalty as there are plenty of films to watch at the cinema that are continuously rewarded and praised but often ignored for blockbusters such as these.

Franchises as a whole are often unimaginative and repetitive, and show a complete lack of what makes cinema so amazing. There is only so many times you can wheel out the same rehashed story over and over. And I defy anyone to justify an average running time of 150 minutes for what is essentially a kids film!

THE DEFENCE

Ouch. Not the lightest of charges, but come on! It’s Harry Potter. We’ve seen the boy who lived grow up over the last decade, watched as he was chosen for seeker, overcame Voldemort again and again as well as conquering the tricky Expecto Patronum spell. Yes it is an elaborative adaptation but it is an adaptation of a much revered, and not to say loved, children’s book. The first films were bound to be marred with questionable acting, the trio themselves ranged between the ages of ten and twelve, but the adult stars have consistently held their own in the movies, with Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman and Maggie Smith being of particular delight.

Another problem that was going to hound the Potter films was both fan and non-fan aversion. Having a lot to live up to, the films had to please both pre-existing fans as well as trying to convert those who had not read the books. No mean feat for a franchise based on thousands of pages of story (hence the long run times – anything shorter and there would be serious backlash). They did so admirably despite the odd flaw (which, coincidentally, few films are without). It’s easy to criticise the franchise for capitalising on its marketability but then, what film doesn’t? With the surge in remakes and adaptations few films appear in mainstream cinema where characters aren’t already known by cinema-goers. To fault Harry Potter on this is preposterous.

People often deem the franchise’s story either too childish or too ridiculous to enjoy. To these people I say let your pride go and just enjoy the movies as that’s what they’re there for; enjoyment. Yes the plot lines may be similar in each movie but that is by no fault of the movies themselves – they are following a pre-existing storyline that captivated millions of readers worldwide. To say that the Potter films lack what makes cinema amazing is an unsubstantiated claim; the films contain much of the magic that makes cinema so thrilling. Packing great effects with absorbing story lines, the franchise has managed to build anticipation between each film, pleasing fans and sceptics along the way. With all this I think we can overlook the dodgy acting.

THE VERDICT

It’s a tough one. Whilst Potter and co. are never going to be able to appease those who have taken a dislike to the franchise they have managed to bring enjoyment to fans the world over. With the sheer numbers attributed to Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s box office success already it would be hard to see this defendant put behind bars for any length of time as crazed fans would no doubt be alohamora-ing him out of jail in a jiffy. Sorry Harry, haters gonna hate but don’t worry, we’re sure you’ll still be bringing magic to children’s lives in fifty years time.

Jo Hewer and Naomi Barnwell

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