RSS Feed

Category Archives: Other books

Books that aren’t Skulduggery Pleasant.

The Harry Potter question: Can too much of a franchise be bad?

Hey there fellow Britishfolk (or is it Britons?) Did you know it’s 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was published?

If you didn’t, I don’t know how you’ve managed to avoid every bookshop in the country showing massive signs with another brand new version of Philosopher’s Stone and the signs saying something like “20 years of Harry Potter!”

Now, on the surface this isn’t too bad. It’s a famous franchise which is celebrating a milestone. Here in Hampshire there’s a lot of promotion about it 200 years since Jane Austen died in Winchester. Star Wars recently celebrated 40 years this May and Doctor Who and James Bond had their half century celebrations in 2013 and 2012. So, why I am singling out Harry Potter, which keep in mind I do like a lot?

Why? Because we literally went through this “Pottermania” last year. Thanks to The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, 2016 saw a massive Potter resurgence (well, bigger than usual. Pottermania never really dies in Britain). So, we’re doing it again this year? I know it’s 20 years and that’s worth celebrating, but wouldn’t this year be a better year to release the script/play/book/whatever Cursed Child is and also release the first in what Warner Brothers are saying will be the first of five (FIVE!?) movies only tangentially linked with Harry Potter? Ah, but then we wouldn’t get two years worth of merchandising. How much merchandising is there? Well, not only can you buy the original Fantastic Beasts book (which isn’t actually a story), you can also buy the movie, the screenplay of the movie and the reprinted version of the original book.

Voldemort has just learnt his three year old edition of Philosopher’s Stone is now outdated and he has to buy another one.

It would be hypocritical of me to complain about new editions of Harry Potter without acknowledging that yes, there have been new editions of Skulduggery Pleasant released this year due to the release of Resurrection (which was awesome). My editions are mostly second edition. However, compare the amount of editions Skulduggery Pleasant has to the amount of editions Harry Potter has. Obviously Harry Potter is a much bigger franchise and is older, but there isn’t a picture book version of the first two Skulduggery books is there? Or a play made for money which was published as a book for further money which was released nine years after the story ended? Resurrection was released three years after The Dying of the Light with Derek Landy stating he had clear plans for Phase Two, which makes sense if you’ve read the books. I don’t think JK Rowling had plans for a Harry Potter Phase Two, hence why the “untold eighth story” came nine years after Deathly Hallows was published in the same year a spin off movie was released. Do you know why I don’t think she had plans for a Phase Two? Because Harry Potter is about a boy wizard who goes to school and stays there for seven years whilst stopping the rise of Voldemort. Seven years, seven books. You make another book not about Harry Potter at school or stopping Voldemort, I’m sorry, it’s not Harry Potter.

Incidentally, I’d like to know if there’s any Skulduggerymania in Ireland the same way there’s Pottermania here. You know, giant banners and a section of a bookshop dedicated to nothing but it?

I understand a multi billion pound franchise needs merchandise. Trust me, I think the same thing about some of the Star Wars merchandise as I do Harry Potter merchandise. But even then, George Lucas always had a nine movie plan, hence the new trilogy. Trust me, I will start saying what I’m saying here about Star Wars if there’s movies made after Episode 9. Are Rogue One and the upcoming Anthology movies ways to make more money of a recognisable franchise? Yes, they are. However, Rogue One bridged the gap between Episode III and IV, adding to both movies and was clearly linked to Star Wars by having the plot be about how the Rebel Alliance got the plans to the Death Star. In short, it’s made to make the other films better.

Fantastic Beasts is set a hundred years before the events of Harry Potter and has characters not even mentioned in the movies with a plot that has nothing to do with the movies. It’s like if Disney made a movie about Qui-Gon Jinn’s aunt and her adventures fighting a wampa, who hasn’t got anything to do with Star Wars. Guess what? Neither does Newt Scamander to Harry Potter. I know the movies will link with the Harry Potter movies eventually, but do we need FIVE movies to do it? Again, if Disney make five movies about Qui-Gon’s aunt, I’ll start saying the same things I’m saying here.

Whaddya mean there’s FOUR more on the way!?

I honestly feel like the franchise is being milked. It’s been six years since the last movie and ten since the last book. Suddenly there’s a mass resurgence of merchandise and new material after it’s stopped being relevant. Again, Star Wars was planned as nine movies and designed as an anthology series, and Skulduggery Pleasant only ended three years ago, meaning the new book this year just felt like a delayed sequel. Other great franchises such as Doctor Who, James Bond and comic book universes can constantly get renewed and changed. Harry Potter is one franchise with one story. I don’t care about what happens before or after- Harry Potter is about Harry Potter.

I just feel like enough is enough. I love the books, I love the movies. I didn’t grow up with them since 1997 for obvious reasons that I wasn’t born but they’ve been a constant part of my childhood since around 2006 and I have fond memories of them. I’m just getting annoyed at the constant new material and attempts to make more out of seven books and eight movies. I mean, JK Rowling’s richer than the Queen, I don’t think she needs more money and I feel like she’s stuck on what made her famous. If this doesn’t stop, Harry Potter will just become another franchise people will grow tired of. I’m getting tired of it, and I’m British, so if I say I’m tired of Harry Potter I’ll be exiled. Indeed, it’s the law to have at least one copy of a Harry Potter book in every house in Britain, next to the tea set and the complete Monty Python, as decreed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Only joking about all that, our laws aren’t that dumb.

It has to be at least two copies.

Advertisements

The Harry Potter read-athon

At the beginning of this year, I compared two of my favourite movie franchises- Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I then said I hadn’t read either book series in full. Well, as of last week that has changed completely. While my reaction to the Lord of the Rings books was… interesting, I looked forward to reading the Harry Potter books. Having tackled a massive thousand page book with about half its pages dedicated to landscape, I could easily handle seven Harry Potter books. So, I slowly and patiently made my way through every book in the series (excluding Cursed Child, because from what I’ve heard… eek) and finally finished Deathly Hallows last week. My Harry Potter experience is now complete. I don’t need any stage plays or prequel films to satisfy me, although I want to watch Fantastic Beasts purely because the reviews have said Eddie Redmayne would make a good Doctor, so I want to see if I agree.

Anyway, onto the books. While I adore the movies and always will, having actually read the books in full now, I can totally see where people are coming from when they say they prefer the books. Starting from Goblet of Fire, the books cram so much detail and information in to the point where the movies have to cut out whole chapters and subplots.

I’m now going to go through each book and their respective movie, offering my thoughts on both-

  • Philosopher’s Stone

harry_potter_and_the_sorcerers_stone_ver5_xlg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first movie is a childhood favourite and one of the few books I originally read in full. Reading it as a fifteen year old made the kid friendly writing stand out, but at the same time the writing is quite sophisticated. No wonder everyone fell in love with the Harry Potter world. Nothing is really left out except for a Potions challenge near the end of the book which Hermione solves while finding the Philosopher’s Stone. Not much to say about the first story really: it’s a simple plot that is enhanced by the later ones.

sorcerers-stone-lol-no

  • Chamber of Secrets

chamber-of-secrets

My favourite Harry Potter film for numerous reasons: it was my first one, there’s a giant spider, there’s a giant snake and I love the whole mystery and heightened sense of peril that it has. People say it’s the least important part of the whole saga, but I disagree. It establishes wizard racism, introduces Dobby, sets up the Horcruxes and Griffinndor’s sword and the fact that Harry is a Parselmouth. This is more so in the book, where Dobby is in every book after aside from Prisoner of Azkaban. The book is practically identical to the movie, with the only major event cut being a Deathday Party for Nearly Headless Nick. This is still my favourite film, but my favourite book is coming soon…

chamber-of-secrets-2

  •  Prisoner of Azkaban

he-was-their-friend

Ah yes, the one with the completely terrifying Dementors. My second favourite film in the franchise, and the point where the films got darker, both literally and metaphorically. The book however, is much more in tone with the first two. As a result, I feel like I slightly prefer the darker tone the film took. There’s the introduction of two of the best characters in the series, Sirius and Lupin, and my favourite monsters from Harry Potter, the Dementors. Everything about these creatures is fantastic and the way the book describes them is just eerie. There’s once again not much difference between the two versions, except for a subplot revolving around Harry’s Firebolt which was left out.

prisoner-of-azkaban

  • Goblet of Fire

 

goblet-of-fire

This is my favourite book in the series, and the point where the movies and books really started to shift. Some awesome stuff left out of the film include: a subplot with Hermione’s attempts to campaign for house elf rights, a giant sphinx in the third task, Blast Ended Skrewts, a subplot with Rita Skeeter and a whole new character called Ludo Bagman who was a judge at the Triwizard Tournament and really really should have been played by Steven Fry if the character was in the movie.

The whole plot revolving Voldemort’s return was also covered in more detail, with a massive conspiracy revolving around Barty Crouch. The reveal that Barty Crouch Jr was in fact alive and orchestrating the whole thing was a huge twist in the book, with a whole chapter dedicated to his plan. Keeping this in would have meant more David Tennant, and that’s never a bad thing. While I still enjoy the movie, I can see why many people feel that this is where the movies began to fall apart.

  • Order of the Phoenix

order-of-teh-phoeniz

 

Funnily enough this book was actually the one it took me the quickest to read, as I read it while helping a local theatre backstage as well as a train trip to London. It’s because of this that I didn’t actually feel like the book was too slow as I originally thought. However, I still feel a lot of the book could have been trimmed down, and the movie did a very good job of condensing it down. Umbridge is easily the most punchable and hateable character in the whole of fiction. Voldemort, Davros, Darth Vader, Sauron and the Joker combined are still less evil. There’s a lot of great themes in the story, with the Ministry of Magic determined to not accept Voldemort’s return and Harry’s struggle to spread the truth.

The movie used to be my least favourite, however I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a lot of good in it. All the padding from the book (endless house cleaning, teen angst, lots of exposition and more angst) is trimmed down considerably, with all the cool stuff left in. If there’s one major gripe I still have it’s that I wished the final battle between Dunbledore’s Army and the Death Eaters was as awesome as it was in the book.

order-of-the-phoenix

  • Half-Blood Prince

half-blood-prince

Easily the biggest shift between the book and the movie to me. The movie is very dark both literally and metaphorically and acts more like a prequel to the Deathly Hallows movies. The book however, feels more self contained because of the details the movie left out. The major cuts all involved Voldemort’s past and the revelations about the Horcruxes, which were explained in more detail. There was also a massive battle at the end of the book, but that was cut because of the similarity with the climax of Deathly Hallows.

Everything the movie kept in was still great though. The final third in particular is great, with the shocking event that you probably know. Despite this, the title itself is left ambiguous. In the book it was revealed that Snape’s mother had the surname Prince, which explains the name he gave himself. This still wasn’t the best reveal though, as the Half Blood Prince plot seemed sidelined in favour of the Slughorn, Voldemort and Draco storylines. Harry Potter and the Room of Requirements would have been more appropriate.

half-blood-pringce

  • Deathly Hallows 1 & 2

deathly-hallows

One book, two movies. The final Harry Potter story is spellbinding (tee hee) and ties up all the loose ends. The book and first movie is very slow, but as soon as the first Horcrux is destroyed, things get bonkers and awesome. The final chapters of the book are fantastic, with the Battle of Hogwarts, Snape’s story and the final battle being some of the best moments of the franchise. There is so much detail in the book that the movies had to leave out.

However, despite all this, the movies were still very good in my opinion. They’re action packed, emotional and ties the story up well. Most of the best aspects of the book were kept in and the escalation was magnificant. A fitting end to one of my favourite movie franchises.

deathly-hallows-jpg

So that was my Harry Potter experience. Having now read all the books I can see why some people would prefer them, and I did really enjoy them. Unlike Lord of the Rings where I prefer one version over the other, I enjoy both versions of Harry Potter equally. I just wish JK Rowling would stop doing extra additions to the universe (FIVE Fantastic Beasts films?) and leave the story where it is, as it is amazing.

The 3 book series which inspire me

I’m an avid reader. Sure, I read comic books a lot, but I do read normal books as well. I have three main book series which I adore, and they may be different from other people’s. As I’ve stated before, while I love Harry Potter as a film franchise, the books didn’t really grip me as much, and I haven’t read other obvious books like Lord of the Rings (though as stated before I love the movies) or Narnia. My love of books is small but still an important part to my entertainment. Here are the three book franchises which I love the most and still think are great:

  • Alex Rider

alex rider

I’m a huge spy guy and honestly, I don’t think I would have become a Bond fan if I wasn’t introduced to the spy genre through Alex Rider. The books are about a teenage boy who gets hired by MI6 to be their top agent. It sounds cheesy, but the plots and action are very mature, with all the great spy tropes- travelling the world, insane plots, evil monologues, crazy gadgets and riveting action. Most of the books could pass off as Bond plots, and the use of a teenage lead adds more layers to the books, as Alex is struggling between being a reluctant spy and trying to have a normal life. The books get really, really dark at points, which is good. My favourite book in the series is Scorpia Rising, the epic finale to the series, excluding the Yassen spin off.

My dad read the first few books to me when I was young, and as I was older I read the later ones by myself. This really was the first book franchise I got truly inspired by.

  • Percy Jackson

percy jackson

My love of Greek mythology stems from this awesome series. Percy Jackson is about a teenage boy (you can see why I related to these books) who finds out that the world is full of mythical monsters and that he is the son of Poseidon, God of the Sea. Much like Harry Potter, there is an ongoing arc through the books, which is slowly woven through each one, with each book standing on its own. This is also the only series I love where I’ve met the author, Rick Riordan, where I got my favourite book, The Titan’s Curse, signed. I dunno why it’s my favourite, probably because of the manticore. I love manticores.

The way the Greek myths are tied into the real world is really clever and I love the use of the monsters and the gods. The world is complex and it’s such an original idea. This series was my Harry Potter- the books which I read in school and discussed with my friends about. I’m currently starting reading Magnus Chase, which is set in the same universe except it has the Norse Gods instead.

  • Skulduggery Pleasant

skull dude

Ah yes, my favourite book series. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but now it’s time to properly explain my love for this series, which spans from a Year 6 classroom to an Australian hotel room. The books are about Stephanie, a young girl who becomes the sidekick to the most awesome character ever conceived- Skulduggery Pleasant, a witty, magical, powerful detective. Oh, and he’s a skeleton. Together, the two fight many threats, including necromancers, gods, vampires, ghosts and Spring Heeled Jack. There’s more, but that would be spoiling.

The nine books are some of the most entertaining storytelling I’ve experienced. They are fast paced, with mystery, humour and action being thrown it at every turn. Even the longer books flow because of the constant shifts in the narrative- whether it’s a twist, an action scene or a character driven scene. There’s always something going on, which makes the books easy to read and makes it easy to be immersed in the world. The books also don’t follow Harry Potter’s mistake of getting progressively more depressing as the books go on, with the books maintaining their witty charm through all nine books.

This is one of my all time favourite franchises, along with Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and comic books. I would honestly go as far to say they are part of my childhood, and I was truly upset when I finished the final book. I aim to be Skulduggery for World Book Day this year, and the inevitable film will have me there opening night. Though I know what I’m looking for in an adaptation- no romance, unnecessary grittiness or pointless changes to the book. For casting, David Tennant or Benedict Cumberbatch as Skulduggery. If the film sucks, I will be vocal about it. Very vocal.

So those are the book series which I enjoy the most. One day, I aim to write a series which can match the likes of them.

 

Fantasy face-off: Lord of the Rings vs Harry Potter

Today I will be offering my viewpoint on one of the biggest fan wars: the war between the fans of Middle-Earth and Hogwarts. While I’ve addressed this issue previously in my post about geekdom, today I think I need to go deeper and discuss my experiences with both franchises.

harry_potter_and_the_sorcerers_stone_ver5_xlgLOTRTrilogyPoster

I was raised on Harry Potter. I saw the final two films in the cinema and have seen the others multiple times through my childhood. I did read the books, but stopped during Goblet of Fire because they got too long. I have nothing against long books (the final Skulduggery Pleasant book is 605 pages long and I’m making my way through a long Bond book) but Harry Potter got way ahead of itself. I know detail is required, but did I really need to know what every character in the room was thinking at every moment? I did listen to the audiobooks and I think I read Deathly Hallows in full at some point, so I have experienced every book and film of the Potterverse.

Incidentally, I’m not sure if I’m going to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It doesn’t have any characters from the other films but I may watch it just to add variety to the movies I watch this year. The book is awesome and full of strange creatures, but it’s a supplementary book which is supposed to be one of Harry’s schoolbooks. It’s an encyclopedia on magical creatures in the Potterverse, so it seems bizarre that Hollywood is making a trilogy(!) from it. Adapting The Tales of Beedle the Bard would have been smarter.

But anyway, time to move onto my experience with Middle-Earth. Unlike Harry Potter, I haven’t read the books (I know, I know) and I didn’t watch the films for a while. I think it’s because the idea of 12 hours of interconnected storytelling put me off. However, last year my dad and I finally sat down and watched the trilogy (extended, of course) slowly through about five months, finally finishing Return of the King in October. I haven’t watched the Hobbit films yet, as I’ve heard bad things, but I like the Star Wars prequels so I will probably like the Hobbit films too. My Lord of the Rings experience is much newer than my Potter experience, but I regret not being a fan from the start, as the trilogy is AMAZING. I fully support a Peter Jackson written/directed Doctor Who story and while it may be cliche to say it, the films really have made me want to go to New Zealand and visit Hobbiton and the spectacular landscapes.

So, let’s have Potter vs Frodo, Shelob vs Aragog, Gandalf vs Dumbledore and Voldemort vs Sauron!

The story

The stories in both franchises are quite different. Lord of the Rings is a continuous story about Frodo taking the Ring to Mount Doom while the other characters are embroiled in the war. There’s subplots but the focus of the trilogy is clear. Harry Potter has standalone stories for the first three movies. Then, when Voldemort shows up the story moulds into a really long talking plot which only really picks up during Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter starts magical and child friendly, while Lord of the Rings opens on a war. The two really are different plot wise. Philosopher’s Stone is more accessible than Fellowship of the Ring, as the former is standalone while the latter is the first part of a story. In fact, my first Potter film was Chamber of Secrets.

Another difference in the story is the quality of the parts. Lord of the Rings starts slow and then escalates through the other two films, making it basically one 12 hour movie. As a result, while each film is better than the last, it is only because more stuff happens in each and more themes and character arcs are resolved. The trilogy is consistent in pacing, story and overall quality, even more so than the original Star Wars trilogy, which has three distinct parts which are heavily linked and have a clear superior film.

Harry Potter is very fragmented. Every movie has a beginning, middle and end and the pacing escalates towards the end of each film before dying down again. What made the earlier films to me more interesting was the constant mystery around the events and something was always happening. Nothing was really happening in Order of the Phoenix when concerning the overall plot except for the end. Half Blood Prince had slightly more happening except it still could have been slightly more interesting. This isn’t the film’s fault; the books were even more padded. In my opinion, the best Harry Potter film is the Chamber of Secrets, not just for nostalgic reasons but from a storytelling and entertainment standpoint. In second place is Deathly Hallows Part Two, followed by Prisoner of Azkaban.

However, overall, when it comes to the storytelling as a whole, I think Middle-Earth wins this one, but Potter gets a point for accessibility. I can watch any Potter movie at any time, while the Lord of the Rings have to be watched in order.

So far, 1-1.

Characters

aragornharry potter

 

 

 

 

 

In term of awesome characters, I think Lord of the Rings is stronger. Aragorn is simply an amazing leader and action man, selflessly throwing himself into fights with the strength of a king. He deserved the throne of Gondor. Legolas and Gimli provide many great banter moments and fight scenes, and while I don’t find the central characters Frodo and Sam as interesting as the rest, they are still great characters. And that’s not even getting into Gollum and his brilliance. My favourite character overall has to be Gandalf. He’s just so cool, and is both a capable warrior and contemplative wizard. The characters all evolve and grow through the trilogy, whether it’s by each other or by destiny. Either way, there’s a reason these characters are remembered so well.

However, the Harry Potter characters are also great, if not as awesome. Harry, Ron and Hermione all complement each other well and grow and evolve through the films. Harry, despite being the Chosen One, is a perfectly normal kid who struggles at school, yet he steps up to the challenges of Basilisks, Dementors, dragons and Voldemort. Ron starts off as a humourous yet dim boy who is very cowardly, yet he grows to be an action hero in his own right, while Hermione starts off as an obnoxious and slightly unlikeable character, before being influenced by the others to be more open and fun. The adult characters are all strong, with Snape and Dumbledore providing many of the deeper moments. My favourite Potter character is Hagrid, who is so fun and huggable and awesome. I love him every time he’s on screen, mostly because of his flying motorbike.

Overall though, I feel like the Lord of the Rings nabs this one fair and square. I just like the characters more.

2-1.

The Villains

voldemort witch king

 

 

 

 

Lord of the Rings is special because while Sauron is the main villain of the trilogy, he’s a giant eye who doesn’t do much physically. The active antagonists through the films are Saruman and the Nazgul, led by my favourite Lord of the Rings villain, The Witch King. He’s the Boba Fett of Middle-Earth. Saruman is a great threat through the first two films. At first he seems good, and then he turns on Gandalf and starts amassing the armies. His presence in The Two Towers is great, and it’s a credit to Return of the King that the movie still feels epic without him. His role is taken by the Witch King and Gothmog, the awesome orc general of the armies of Sauron.

What’s great about the films however are the morally grey characters due to the Ring, meaning Sauron’s presence is felt through the trilogy. Boromir gets corrupted by the Ring but sacrifices himself for the rest of the Fellowship. Gollum is literally torn between himself and Smeagol, with one side trying to get the Ring destroyed while the other side trying to murder Frodo and Sam. Even Frodo gets corrupted in Return of the King, which makes Sam saving him from Shelob and carrying him up to Mount Doom so satisfying to watch. There are physical threats in the trilogy, but it’s the internal character conflicts which drive the conflict from an emotional perspective.

In Harry Potter, the threat is obvious: Voldemort. While others like Quirrel, the Basilisk, Dementors, Wormtail and Death Eaters serve as supporting villains, the main villain is clearly Voldemort. Like Sauron, he starts off weak and in the background, but he becomes physical and a genuine menace from Goblet of Fire. As a result, he feels more threatening and real than Sauron, and the flashbacks to his past help flesh him out. It also helps that the Death Eaters are really threatening as well. Like Lord of the Rings, the morally grey characters like Malfoy and Snape give the films more layers with the characters.

I’m really torn here. On one hand, Harry Potter has a brilliant central antagonist, but the conflicts in Lord of the Rings are more character driven and the villains are very impressive and visually great. However, I conclude that, because of the constant threat of Voldemort and being an overall better villain than Sauron, the point goes to Potter.

2-2.

Action

DEATH!battle of hogwarts

 

 

 

 

Lord of the Rings has the best action I’ve ever seen. Helm’s Deep and The Battle of Minas Tirith are simply stunning to behold for their sheer ambition and scope. The build up to the action scenes is incredible. There’s nothing to add here that hasn’t been said except for the fact that the action is simply riveting. Spectacularly filmed and the fact that these characters have been built up and developed means that the fights have meaning.

But, even though I know what franchise will get this point, it’s only fair to look at Harry Potter’s action too. The action isn’t as frequent, but when it happens it’s great. The Battle of Hogwarts is exhilarating and very epic, with nearly every character returning to beat the Death Eaters. There are great set pieces through the movies. Harry versus the Basilisk and Dumbledore versus Voldemort are my two favourite fights in the series.

But let’s be honest, Lord of the Rings wins this fair and square.

3-2

Word building and monsters

diagon alley

 

canyon-215687__180

 

 

 

 

It’s London and the mountains of Scotland versus the mountains of New Zealand. Both worlds are fleshed out and complex. Harry Potter blends the real world with the magical world, so as a result it feels real. The in depth history of spells, items and magical creatures make the story and the world come to life. The world building is superb. Hogwarts feels like an actual school, Gringotts is an actual bank and Diagon Alley feels like one of those places that my mum would love to spend time at.

Middle Earth is arguably even more fleshed out. The books were written as a mythology for Britain, with Middle Earth’s landscape being based on England. The different societies, cities, races and history behind the War is brilliant. I don’t really know anything about the various appendixes in the books, but I can gather that the history of Middle Earth is very comprehensive. Thanks to the real landscapes and practical locations, Middle Earth feels like a place you can visit, which of course you can.

So, what about the creatures? Harry Potter has several brilliant original creatures. My favourites are the Basilisk, Dementors and the Hungarian Horntail. Lord of the Rings has the awesome Oliphants, Shelob and of course the Eagles. The orcs are very effective threats, thanks to the brilliant make up.

However, overall I think that thanks to the use of iconography, real world parallels and fascinating world building, I think the point goes to Potter.

3-3

So, what’s the conclusion? Well, honestly it’s hard to conclude.

My childhood is based partly on Harry Potter. Even now I still think they hold up, with great characters, an immersive world and riveting storytelling. However, on a purely objective level, I think Lord of the Rings is a better story. The story is more focused, once the plot gets going it never stops, the pacing is better (multiple endings aside) and it’s just more entertaining to watch as a whole. Harry Potter dips and dives, with action, then 30 minutes of talking followed by more action, to the point where the films drag a bit. Overall though, they are still great.

So who wins? On a nostalgic level, Harry Potter. But in terms of films I look up to when it comes to quality, it has to be Lord of the Rings. I just find the characters riveting, the action spectacular and the story simple yet filled with strong themes and ideas. Like I said, Harry Potter is amazing, but the world of Middle Earth appeals to me more. In fact, as a whole, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of my favourite movies. If I have to choose one, it has to be Return of the King.

However, both franchises represents the apex of fantasy storytelling. Both are in my five favourite film franchises, along with Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and James Bond. They both hold a special place in my heart and I will never tire of either of them.

Now, time to book those tickets to New Zealand…

A lowdown on Gothic stories

Recently I have become interested in a new kind of stories. These stories are Gothic stories. Stories like this include Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

dt

To say these stories are influential is an understatement. Many of them are the most iconic stories of all time, and made my favourite fantasy creature (the vampire) an icon of popular culture. There were also gothic horror movies made in the 50’s with new additions to the monster mix, including the werewolf and the mummy, whose appearances turned them into iconic foes. And while I promised I wouldn’t mention Doctor Who, I have to mention the period of the show when the stories became influenced by the Gothic genre (Pyramids of Mars, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, Image of the Fendahl, State of Decay, and more recent stories like Mummy on the Orient Express all take influence from the Gothic genre).

So why is this genre so iconic and influential? I think it is because of the characters. Everyone knows Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster (he is not called Frankenstein, that’s his creator) and Dr Jekyll. These characters are great because they were so different from anything at the time and because they still work now. The movie versions of these characters also help their popularity (although Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t big and green with a bolt through his head, he was more human like in the book and in the recent theatre version where he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which I saw last October).

Another reason why I personally like this genre of storytelling is the sheer variety of them. Vampires, split personality, artifical people- they truly feel unique. They also tackle themes which at the time they were written (19th century) were extremely controversial, like the idea of playing with God in Frankenstein and the fear of the unknown in Dracula.

And that is why I like Gothic stories, not just because they are imaginative and unique, but because they are ahead of their time. I got many Gothic stories for Christmas and I’ve enjoyed reading them. It’s great to see what stories were like in the past.