|Top Chef, and a little Harry Potter||[Oct. 6th, 2007|02:02 am]|
I'm tired of the Top Chef judges using abstract concepts like "heart" and "soul" to describe the dishes. In case they forgot, the rest of us are viewing this on television. We can't eat the food. When you describe concepts like curry powder overpowering things, or a lack of color on the plate, we can understand that just fine. When you venture off into the land of criticising a dish for being "soul-less," well, forgive me for being a Harry Potter fan, but I'd rather not devour a plate full of soul right now.|
OK, so I've been catching up on all Mike Smith's reviews of the Potter books he's read so far. Apparently I was captured by aliens during the time they were being metaquoted, snitched, and all that. In any case, I've enjoyed them immensely (and recommend them highly) and they've caused me to realize some things.
The first thing you have to understand about Mike Smith is that he's a comics fan. I'm a comics fan too, but a different kind. I like the lamer, sitcom type of "alternative" comics, so I automatically suck. However this isn't really an obstacle for enjoying Mike's reviews. Mike likes superhero comics, which I never really got into. The reason I don't like them is because superheroes are well... superheroes. If Harry Potter could do more shit than anyone else, and had more powers than anyone else, and could throw planets around, and had angst yet never let that sway his crime fighting agenda, I wouldn't find him as interesting. So let's establish the difference between me and Mike right now. I like Harry BECAUSE he's a dumbass, I guess.
That said, certain things have become apparent to me while reading Mike's reviews. For one, the whole 'one year of school' = 'one book' formula has been slavishly adhered to, at the expense of entertainment and pacing. I no longer deny that. A lot of stuff happens during the school year that I'm interested in, because I'm a fan. But he's right in that there's no reason to have 3/4 of the book tease at fanservice, and then all the action stuffed into the last 1/4 when none of the characters even has time to react to it.
Another of his complaints is that Harry himself doesn't really initiate enough of the endgame battles in any of the books. And even if he did, what was gained for his team? Rather than give my own opinion here, I'll let the books speak.
- Philosopher's Stone: Everyone would have been better off if Harry just stayed in bed. I suppose there's a chance that Quirrell would have eventually stopped desiring to show the Stone to his master, and started desiring to simply find the Stone, but that's me grasping for straws and no one ever says so in the book. Even if that's true, would it have taken a longer or shorter time than it would take for Dumbledore to get back and bust his ass? This is in no way influenced by Mike Smith, I wondered it the first time I read the book.
- Chamber of Secrets: To the credit of this one, Harry's intervention was actually required. The problem is, he couldn't have ever done it without a HUGE deus ex machina showing up, and then even afterwards he would have died were it not for that same deus ex machina. But, I'll give him a pass on this anyway since he saved the girl, killed the diary, killed the diary guy, and killed a giant snake. And didn't die from poison. Because he got saved by something. Whatever.
- Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry's intervention was once again required, yay! Hermione probably could have done it all on her own, except for that one Patronus part. And the only reason Harry was really there was that Hermione time travelled him, which was kind of like, duh, she's been time travelling the whole book, but he actually did need to be there for the Patronus thing. So go Harry.
- Goblet of Fire: Harry is victimized throughout the whole book. His big achievement here is that he escaped with his life. I was talking with someone about this earlier and she considered it an achievement that he demonstrated the qualities of his wand, which caused Voldemort to spend DH questing for the Elder Wand rather than accounting his Horcruxes as he should have. I both agree and disagree. For one, Voldemort didn't appear to give a shit about the wand thing for at least a year. So it's a little low on his "to do" list. However, it did eventually figure in. I'm just saying, in terms of active achievements here, Harry Potter is pretty much at a zero. Some may also consider it an accomplishment to have Harry's blood added to Voldemort's potion. I don't, since all Harry had to do to get that job done was stay tied up, and complain.
- Order of the Phoenix: True super dumbass at work. If Harry never went to the Ministry of Magic, things would have gone a lot better for his team. He really should have stayed at home playing Gobstones here. If Harry had never shown up, eventually Voldemort would have come to the Hall of Prophecy personally to take the prophecy. And how bad would that be, really? It's not like the prophecy said, "Fuck the Elder Wand, just snap Harry's, keep an eye on your Horcruxes and you're golden." Harry going there and the whole endgame was nothing but a huge liability.
- Half-Blood Prince: I enjoyed the end of this book, personally. However, I see many of Mike's points. It did have pacing problems. There was an issue with revealing certain things ("I, the Half-Blood Prince!") at a time when all the characters were still reeling from a bigger issue. He's right, that does suck.
In conclusion, I still enjoy the books for the same reasons I have always enjoyed them. I like reading boring chapters when the characters are just going to school or whatever. Because I'm interested in the characters and the world, and in finding out details about them. I understand why other people might not be interested in that. But I am, and I'm also interested in Mike's take on it. This is a grand thing.