‘Sequelitis’: Is Harry Potter the latest victim?

There is a point in almost every fandom when enough is enough. When presenting a final ending, even if there is still creative potential there, is the better option to meandering onwards to a slow death by irrelevance and fan frustrations. There is no easy way to determine this, with some television shows dying after a season while some linger for longer than a decade. The Hobbit somehow merited three films from its source material. There will always be some argument about how much of a good thing, in cinema or other aspects of life, is too much of a good thing.

Harry Potter remains one of the most beloved series ever created. With seven books made into eight films, a spin-off play that can be purchased as a book, theme parks, countless add-on stories online, and many spin-off novels and other materials, J.K. Rowling has built up a sprawling, vast universe. However, the flipside of that is that with each new reveal, Rowling’s magnificent creation seems more like a great, bloated beast lumbering ahead with no sign of rest in a final, definitive end-point.

ilvermorny-fantastic-beasts
Rowling’s Pottermore has extended Harry Potter hugely, it is the equivalent of for instance Tolkein turning his extended works into a series of blogs.

Nothing exemplifies this better than the announcement that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has become a five-film series. While there are, no doubt, plenty of the titular beasts to be found, it has to be asked if this is really necessary or if it’s just what it looks like: a painful prolonging of a story that could, and honestly should, have come to its conclusion with the underwhelming finale of the original Harry Potter series (in all of its fanfiction-esque glory).

J.K. Rowling is an extraordinary writer. That can’t be easily denied. The Harry Potter universe has been a light in the dark for a wide variety of people, and their literary magic deserves a great deal of respect. It’s insulting, then, to find a way to take this spin-off book and stretch it out into five films. Can Eddie Redmayne, the films’ Newt Scamander, keep audiences interested? Maybe. But what all will this entail that can’t be accomplished in one film?

…. splitting it into multiple pieces [5 films about Newt Scamander are set to be released] sounds about as evil as Voldemort fragmenting his soul to create horcruxes…

The whole thing smacks of not being able to let go. Rowling spent years invested in these characters and the world they inhabit. It’s far easier as a writer to continue to revisit aspects of that universe, even to the point of absurdity (as evidenced by her tweeting characters’ stances on real world issues), than it is to build something new from the ground up. It’s doubtful this is some sort of cash-grab, as The Hobbit trilogy seemed to be. Rowling seems less inclined to focus on the money that could be gained from five films instead of one than she is on having a chance to write five scripts instead of one. The act of taking a simple, singular facet of the overall Harry Potter universe and splitting it into multiple pieces sounds about as evil as Voldemort fragmenting his soul to create horcruxes. (That joke was painful to type, for those who are wondering.)

Another case of Sequelitis has been spotted… Click Here to read ‘Sequelitis’: Pirates of the Caribbean for our diagnosis…

As with all things, the magic of Harry Potter needs to come to an end eventually. The question is will it do so in a way that leave fond memories, or will there be an endless sea of installments until even the most devoted of fans finally, in their exhaustion, call it a day?

By Phil Gorski

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