Since I have been busy over the last 10 months --- you know working in a low paying job ---, I hadn't felt the urge to write reviews much. Even so, going over the list of movies I'd seen and not written about, there were movies that I thought I reviewed but couldn't find online. Since my writing folder backup was lost when one of my external drives failed, I'm not sure if these cases were just in my head.

These are the 12 movies I saw but hadn't written about on this blog.

Magic can’t hide the decay: Why I hate the Harry Potter World! (Part 1)
Make the Muggles Great Again! #MMGA

Harry Potter…
Before the movies, I was rather oblivious to the book series’ existence. This should not be a surprise considering that fact that I hadn’t heard of the “Young Adult” genre before that point in time. I’m more of a Science fiction or Horror reader. Barely even touch fantasy books much. Also, I was already out of my teens when the “Harry Potter” books became the talk of the literary world. Thus, the movies were my first introduction to the franchise of twirling sticks of wood (wands) and riding broomsticks to catch a tiny flying golden ball (quidditch). I rather enjoyed the first movie so I caught up with the books until the story got rather tedious and the page numbers got ridiculous; talk about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”!  This is my overall stance of the franchise. It is okay but not too special for myself. But what about its world? How do I feel about the “Wizarding World”?

The Wizarding World
When talking about the “World” of Harry Potter, I’m mostly using the movie world as the reference since I’m not totally up to date with the books.

There has always been something that bugged me about the “Wizarding” world that I haven’t heard others mention although they have different issues. I have an acquaintance who had issues with the trade school like setup of the “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”. This doesn’t bother me much but did that person. I guess it would as that person is a liberal. For myself who has spent more than a decade in higher learning institutions, “higher learning” is ”highly” overrated. Back to the point, I don’t want to nitpick much since this franchise is primarily based on literature targeting kids and all fictional worlds tend to fall apart when under the microscope. They are just there to facilitate the story after all.

Long live our overlords!
My issue with the world is twofold. On one hand, there is the Wizarding world’s relationship with the “Muggle” world. Since the movies and even the books I’ve read don’t go into detail about this relationship, I have to extrapolate from what we do get to see. Even though the two world is somewhat portrayed as in parallel with and independent of each other via the limited scope of the eyes of the students at “Hogwarts”, the interaction in the franchise we do see contradicts this portrayal. The two worlds are not independent of each other. Rather, the Wizarding world is the superior in this relationship. The wizards can influence the muggle world. They come and go rather freely. Some live in the muggle world albeit camouflaged. The war with “The one who should not be named” or AKA Lord Voldemort has a not insignificant impact on the muggle world. The opposite doesn’t seem to be the case. The muggle public doesn’t have any inkling of the Wizarding world. Well, the folks not directly related to a wizard in terms of blood that is. In fact, the only way a person with muggle blood can directly interact with the wizarding world is to have at least a few drops of a wizard blood flowing in his or her veins. Those that breed with wizards basically have no role other than to provide biological material to the wizarding world.

At the end of the day, this relationship between the two worlds of one sided with the wizards having the upper hand. You could even say that the wizards rule over muggles albeit in an indirect and hands off manner. There are the elites. They are the upper class. They are the aristocracy. As a muggle, I welcome our overloads! I will spend money at the theme parks that you bestowed licensing to. I will drink a lot of butterbeer too even though you cannot get a buzz from consuming large amounts. You will get sick though… To summarize, this is the dynamic between the two worlds. One rules in the shadows with magical powers; one is, unbeknownst, is subjugated. This pisses me off a bit since my personal tastes are not magic leaning. I identify as a muggle – in identity political terms! Once again, most of this is inferred from the “Harry Potter” franchise proper since there is not much direct content about the muggle world except for the Dursleys.  And J. K. Rowling’s child abuse fetish is a discussion for another time. Once I get into “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, there is more direct material covering the relationship between the two worlds. I’ll talk about that later.

There is something rotten in the state of Wizarding!
On the other hand, there is the fictional portrayal of the actual state of the wizarding world independent from its power of the muggle world. My issue with the wizarding world is not specifically with the fact that they are essentially the ruling class of the world. I’m not necessarily troubled by the fact that they are secret ruling class. Those factors can make a world in the fictional sense interesting. And J. K. Rowling is British and the story is set in British. You have to expect class to come into the story somewhere.

What some find quaint and view as “rustic British” charming about the “Harry Potter” world, I tend to view as a sign of the wizarding world’s decaying core. Just think about the wizarding world. There is no innovation. Even with magical powers, no one really tries to do much with it beyond the mundane. There is no vigor for the search for truth or knowledge if you want to get all moralistic. Members within the social hierarchy are either corrupt or incompetent. Usually both. Even Professor Albus Dumbledore is incompetent from the perspective of being a leading member of his society and as a powerful wizard. He relinquishes his responsibilities and the cleanup of his failures on the shoulders of a kid called “Harry Potter” – chosen one. How can you not view him as being as pathetic once you think about it? Being slightly better than the wizard politicians isn’t much of a statement of endorsement.

But “what about Lord Voldemort” you say? You mean the nose less one? The franchise uses Lord Voldemort as representation of all that is bad about the wizarding world. However, if you think about Lord Voldemort, he is rather a symptom than the originator of the issues with the wizarding world. More specifically, he and the “Death Eaters” movement are the reaction to where some of the decaying ruling class (wizarding world) find themselves at in relation to the subjugated class (Muggles). As they feel more isolated from the overall wizarding society, their alienation is focused on the broken aspect of how their society rules over its subjugated class (Muggles). In case of Lord Voldemort a.k.a. Tom Marvolo Riddle, the system of the wizarding world really screwed him over through basic indifference and incompetence. I do say that this is an interesting aspect to the story. It warrants examination. The issue that I have is that it is never properly dealt within the story. By going the corrupting magical dark arts (dark side of force) route, the conflict is changed from being about societal decay to being a simply/shallow light versus dark story commonly seen in fantasy stories. Why does this matter?” It is a kid’s story after all” you say?

The establishment and its poster boy
In the “Harry Potter” series proper, most of the social aspects are in the subtext albeit not buried deep. You could just think “Interesting” and gloss over this. I would of too if not for the protagonist of the story. Oh dear Harry! You are the least interesting character in your group. Even Ron is more of an interesting character than you sometimes. While Harry Potter is the protagonist of this story, I’m not alone in saying that he really doesn’t deserve to be. He is not particularly smart, sly, conning, nor exceptionally pure of heart and courageous compared to his companions. He is just the “chosen one” by random events/fate. That is all he is as a character. When you compare this protagonist (the cure) with his key antagonist (the illness), --- both of them were screwed and abandoned by their society and then repatriated into it during their formative period-- Harry Potter is a “Hello Kitty” Band-Aid put on top of a gaping and festering wound in comparison. This is where I start to have real issues.

“Harry Potter” is just a poster boy of the establishment; a wizarding establishment I mean. He puts a good face on the establishment which basically did nothing other than make their children do their fighting for them. And, at the end of the day, what did their victory actually accomplished? What did Harry’s generation get by spilling blood? Since this is a fantasy story, shouldn’t Harry be crowned king or something? At least, give him a “Happily ever after”! From what I have seen, Harry Potter just becomes a mid-level government bureaucrat. In a way, this is more of a demeaning/sad ending than what Frodo got at the end of the “Lord of the Rings” franchise. The defeat of Lord Voldemort just meant that the establishment could go on for a few more decade without actual reform happening. Harry and company were basically used and given crumbs for their willingness to do what the core of the establishment failed to do. This in turn means that the society of wizards, corruption and decaying, would still rule over the Muggle world. And they don’t deserve to. It is a farce!

The self-delusion of the Wizarding world
At the end of the day, the problem I have with the “Harry Potter” series proper is that it ends up feeling like a clumsy propaganda piece at times. It portrays an “elite” ruling class society in decay and then tries hard to mask the scent of decay coming from the zombie like corpse of the wizards without any glimpse of self-awareness that it is doing so. Or should I say self-delusion? If it did have some inkling, it would not have made the decay of the world so evident to an observant reader. I guess adding delicate textures on to a fictional world is somewhat of a double sword; the world and the story ends up being at odds with each other. The world is too rich for the simplistic story. As a person who respects competence and “deserving” social hierarchy, this leave a sour taste in my mouth. Then, I saw “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”!

Rise up against the Wizard world!: Self victimization of the overlords (Part 2). Make the Mag-Jai Great Again! #MMGA

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016) Review

How to structure a story when you only really have fragments of scattered, random but interesting thoughts and not much of anything else like a plot? What kind of movie would you be able to make? The new movie in the “Harry Potter” universe, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016) would be what you get.