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Is Harry Potter Better Than Tolkien, Narnia, and Star Wars?

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It's the finale that will leave fans cheering and tearing at the same time.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which hit theaters last night at midnight, has already broken records and is about to become the biggest film of the year.

My colleague is under the impression that Potter should go away and never return, citing Tolkien's novels and the “brilliant” (his word) Chronicles of Narnia movies as superior alternatives. While I agree that The Lord of the Rings is a classic, and while I enjoyed the first and third Narnia movies (especially the latter film's ending – amazing), it is hilariously absurd that he would suggest that they are better than Harry Potter. Note that he says this without even seeing the latest film, but took issue when I criticized the Green Lantern before it was released.

Whether you love the little green man or not (I'm guessing not – it wasn't exactly a huge success) does not change the fact that there are millions upon millions of people who genuinely love the Harry Potter series. Who cares if it was originally written for kids? Let's not kid ourselves into believing that Star Wars was written with a mature audience in mind. But do people love it any less? No. In fact, the kids who grew up with the original trilogy are completely blind to its flaws, just as today's kids were blinded by the prequels.

JK Rowling didn't write her novels under the silly guise of mainstream maturity. She wrote them as she wanted to write them. I'm not going to pretend every writer can do that; many aren't good enough, and most wouldn't be given that level of freedom from a book publisher, let alone a film studio. But Lucas, Tolkien and CS Lewis had a similar degree of freedom. Lucas, in fact, could do whatever he wanted because he wound up funding most of the Star Wars films himself. And yet those authors were not criticized by my colleague – JK Rowling was.

The idea that Harry Potter should “go away already” is as preposterous as the thought that a beloved novel or TV series should end. I'm not going to hide my disdain for the Twilight franchise. The laughable trailers, horrible special effects, and mockable Kristen Stewart are just a few of the things that keep me (and most other men) from approaching the franchise. Will I cheer when the series is over? Yes, absolutely. But will I shout happily, dance fanatically, and write about my joys while skipping in the street? Probably not*. Because I know that at the end of the day, there are some people who love Twilight, and all the bashings in the world won't change that fact.

(*I can't completely rule out a dance or an article, so don't hate me if I change my mind.)

Harry Potter, however, is truly lovable. It is a franchise that has managed to rise above the many challenges that Hollywood delivered, including a change of directors and writers. While I can completely understand that there will always be an outlier in the mix – someone who just can't stand the thing that everyone else loves – Harry Potter is not something that can be easily dismissed as a franchise that should go away. It's not as if we're talking about The Last Airbender, The Bachelorette, or American Idol. We are talking about a high-quality, well-developed tale that proved to be so engrossing that adults couldn't help but stay with it until the very end.

I could use Pixar's films to strengthen this argument, as they are the perfect example of kid-friendly entertainment that's deep enough, rich enough, and funny enough for adults. But the reality is that Harry Potter doesn't need defending. Not because it broke records and acquired the masses – any film can do that. Harry Potter doesn't need defending because it has already proven itself beyond a shadow of a doubt.

As you walk into the theater tonight, cherish every minute of it. You only get to have one first time with this film. After that, it doesn't matter how good Part 2 proves to be, the experience will never be the same.

Take it from a guy who has loved and Lost, this conclusion will be something special. Don't be surprised if you're still thinking about it one year from now. Don't be surprised if July 15, 2011, stays with you for the rest of your life.

Disagree with my assessment of the Harry Potter series? Tired of the boy wizard and his quirky friends? Then check out Steven Anfield's take on franchise: Harry Potter – Just Go Away Already

Follow me @LouisBedigian

Posted-In: American Idol Box Office Mojo CS Lewis George Lucas Green LanternHot Media General Best of Benzinga

 

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Benzinga's Morning Laugh, July 15, 2011

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