Thursday, April 21, 2011

apropos of nothing: A Harry Potter rant

I realize that if you're clicking past this blog, it's probably because you were searching for something sports-related, either some post about the impending disaster at quarterback in Tuscaloosa, or possibly a rant about Fredi Gonzalez's F-minus performance as manager in Atlanta, or maybe even something about the NBA playoffs (note: probably not the last one).

But all that can wait another day. For a moment I'd like to talk about Harry Potter.
(Note: There are many, many spoilers contained in this post. If you haven't read or seen any of the "Harry Potter" franchise, I really envy you I advise you to move on to something else. You're welcome.)

While watching the first installment of "The Deathly Hallows" OnDemand last week (the second time overall I have watched the movie), I realized something rather important; that something important has led me to this blog post: simply, the franchise doesn't make any bloody sense.
Now, before we go any further, it should be noted that I'm nitpicking a) a multi-million dollar franchise someone created completely out of her head; b) a mythical universe in which a large sub-culture of the population has the ability to conjure and perform magical spells with sticks made out of wood.

Having said all that, there are still three very large problems I have with the final chapter in the story (and, by extension, the series as a whole):
Serious staffing issues. In the opening portion of "The Deathly Hallows, Part I" — "Harry Potter Goes Camping," in the words of my buddy Bart — Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody comes up with the following brilliant idea for Harry's protection: Have multiple people drink Polyjuice Potion to make them all look exactly like Harry, then have them all go off in different directions so that, when the bad guys show up, they'll be hopelessly confused (and less likely to kill the real Harry in their attack).
It's a fine plan, with one really massive flaw ... Mad-Eye sends each Fake Harry out with exactly one (that's right: ONE) protector. Worse than that, each of the "protectors" is occupied trying to pilot a vessel — broom, flying motorcycle, whatever — while simultaneously fighting the Death Eaters. Yes, I get that they were betrayed by someone, and that they were supposed to be going for stealth (or something) ... but, I mean, who would it have hurt to have a few extra bodyguards? Or a few extra Aurors? Or the Royal Freaking Air Force? Yeah, I said it — let's see Bellatrix Lestrange deal with an F-18, bro.
It's not just the good guys who have the problem — later in the movie, two (TWO!!!) Death Eaters come upon Harry, Hermione and Ron in a coffee shop ... and are immediately incapacitated. Why exactly were those two there alone? When they realized who they had, why didn't they call for backup? Or their impervious Dark Lord? Or anything?
This, of course, leads me to Problem No. 2 ...
No one seems to believe in The World's Greatest Living Wizard, including him. One of the great jokes about the popular television series "24" is that, at a certain point, it became absurd the way the other characters refused to believe in Jack Bauer. How many unfolding terrorist plots did the guy have to singlehandedly foil before the nation collectively said, "Yeah, OK, fine — we believe him."
The same is true for Harry with each new chapter in the series. In "The Deathly Hallows," he and Hermione and Ron spend roughly 2 hours running from bad guys in the air, in the woods, in the woods some more, and so forth and so on. But why, exactly? Every time Harry actually stops to fight someone, not only does he survive, he wins and wins easily. He repels Lord Voldemort in an air duel at the beginning of the movie, easily knocks out the 2 tools who attack them in a coffee shop, then effortlessly whips Draco and steals his wand at the end of the movie.
And this isn't a new development. Starting with the second movie — when Snape and Gilderoy Lockhart first teach them how to duel — Harry pretty much kicks every ass in sight. In the third movie he casts an awesome Patronus; in Book 4, he fights off Lord Voldemort seconds after the guy returns from the dead; in the fifth, he hammers a whole crew of Death Eaters (only lowering his wand when his useless friends get captured); and in Book 6, he destroys Draco Malfoy so badly the kid is bleeding from every orifice (Harry cast the spell without knowing what it would do, but so what?).
So here's the question: At some point, Harry has to realize he can pop these guys in the mouth, right? So why all the cloak and dagger? If I were him, I'd be calling out Voldemort at every turn like Macho Man.

I'm sure Harry knows a spray-painting spell.

OK fine, maybe Harry can't fight off the world all the time, and maybe it's not fair to bring up the staffing issues. These are secondary issues compared to Problem No. 3 ...
Dumbledore knows everything and doesn't tell anybody. Again, some pretty serious spoilers are about to be laid down here. I'll give you a moment if you've read this far and need to excuse yourself.
You do remember how "The Deathly Hallows" ends, right? Harry realizes he has to die to truly kill off the last of Voldemort's Horcruxes, submits himself to The Dark Lord — who, mind you, he's beaten at every opportunity — takes a killing curse in the face and "dies" ... only to travel to some place like Purgatory, where he sees Dumbledore (who died in Book 6). At that point, Dumbledore decides to tell Harry everything: about how he was the final Horcrux (and by dying, he destroyed the last one); about The Deathly Hallows and how Dumbledore himself had chased them as a younger man; about the Elder Wand, and the connection between Harry and Voldemort ... you get the idea.
Which, of course, leads to the operative question: Wouldn't this information have been useful before now?
Dumbledore pulls this move, repeatedly, throughout the entire freaking series. In Book 1, Harry and his buddies risk life and limb to stop a possessed professor from stealing a Resurrection Stone ... only to find out Dumbledore hid it in a mirror; in the second, it's implied Dumbledore knew it was Tom Riddle opening the Chamber of Secrets years earlier, yet didn't do anything about it; in Book 3, Dumbledore knows all about Sirius Black's innocence, but relies on Harry to set him free and doesn't even bother clearing his name; in Book 4, Dumbledore knows Harry's being set up but says he can't "violate the rules" of the Goblet of Fire; in Book 5, he knows exactly what Voldemort is up to (breaking into Harry's thoughts and giving him false visions to lure him out of hiding) and does nothing until the very end; and in Book 6, he reveals that he not only knows all about the Horcruxes, he already destroyed one (and knows Harry destroyed another) ... but only after he's made Harry go through the rather debilitating exercise of robbing Professor Slughorn of his memories.
To me, that's the gaping hole in the center of the entire "Harry Potter" series: if Dumbledore knew everything the entire time, why didn't he freaking do something about it? What would have been in the harm if he'd written a letter that said, "Harry, I actually kind of killed myself trying to destroy that one Horcrux; my bad. You're going to have to give yourself up after you destroy the others. Oh, and by the way, whatever you hear about Snape, I promise he's on our side. OK?"
There's no way things could be this complicated, right?

No comments: