Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Harry Potter vs Star Wars, where I finally decide which one of these franchise is better.
Now a year or so ago James Daniel Walsh wrote this infamous statement: â€œStar Wars is the cultural mythos of our generationâ€, to which I argued that while it was true for his generation, my generation’s cultural mythos was Harry Potter. Now, a year of putting it off, I’m finally going to sit down and analyse both of these franchise. So without further ado…
I started yesterday my response to all the responses I got on my blog, so today I finish my response to your responses of my original response to what James said. So, to continue…
But, moving on, lets move onto the next section, in blog #6, where Les questioned me further when I talked about the impact both film franchises had. To sum up Les’ argument: 1)CGI had an impact before Episode 1 and 2)Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings needed to be together to make the fantasy genre popular. To deal with the first point first, Jar Jar Binks. As I pointed out, things like Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Jurassic Park were around to help set up the foundation of Jar Jar. But lets look at what Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park did in terms of its CGI characters. One was part-CGI, part live action actor. While the CGI was used in to help create the character, the actor’s performance also played a big part. The liquid terminator was a mixture of both a live action actor and a CGI actor. Jar Jar Binks, on the other hand, was pure CGI from start to finish. While they did have a frame of reference for the scene, on the whole Jar Jar was let loose. There was no actor playing a live-action version of Jar Jar at times on screen, Jar Jar was CGI the entire time. So what about Jurassic Park? Again, the T-Rex was CGI… but it was also live-action as well. Some of the best scenes came from using a real T-Rex audio-animatronic, to help sell it to the audience. Whereas once again, Jar Jar was fake from start to finish. Put simply, at no point does someone put on a Jar Jar suit or make a Jar Jar puppet to be Jar Jar on screen. Jar Jar starts off as a CGI creation and ends that way. And that was pretty revolutionary. To have a CGI character where you didn’t fake anything but kept him CGI. And while Young Sherlock Holmes had a CGI character briefly, that’s like saying the spin-wheel attractions at fairgrounds is the same as Snow White. Yes, both are types of animation, but one is leaps and bounds ahead of the other.
As for the other point, would Lord of the Rings have been enough on its own to kick-start the entire fantasy genre? The answer is… no. Despite how big Lord of the Rings is, it wouldn’t have enough momentum to push the fantasy genre back into the mainstream. Why? For the same reason Pirates of the Caribbean hasn’t made the pirates genre popular again. Oh don’t get me wrong, Pirates of the Caribbean is popular… and yet, despite its massive success, there haven’t been any pirate movies to rival it. Now, if a pirate movie had come out at the same time, would the audience’s desire for pirate-related stories grown? I argue yes, mostly because of what happened with the fantasy genre. Lord of the Rings couldn’t have kick-started the genre on its own, but neither could Harry Potter. Both were needed to push it forward. And what’s the result of it? Well on the Harry Potter side, you have the Narnia and Percy Jackson series. Films made because if kids liked Harry Potter they’d like this stuff. On the flipside you have Game of Thrones, working on the theory that if adults take Lord of the Rings seriously they’ll take Game of Thrones seriously. Both of these helped the fantasy genre survive in both the ‘kiddie’ market and ‘adult’ market. So why bring up Pirates of the Caribbean? Well, despite all the dark themes going on in it, the films were primarily made for a younger audience. They were made for families, not adults. So without any pirate stuff to hold onto, what did we get instead? Well, we got â€œJohnny Depp wears a silly hatâ€. Pretty much most of Depp’s roles with Disney can stem from this one film, where Depp’s decision to play Jack Sparrow the way he did made him a creative powerhouse. While Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter can be seen as a merge between Burton and Depp’s vision, The Lone Ranger’s Tonto is 100% Depp by the looks of it. But lets say there had been a pirate film out there, a more mature one that was as good as Caribbean, though aimed more at adults. Would the pirate franchise have survived then? Probably. If there was a market for both kid-aimed pirate films and adult-aimed pirate films, you could make films that appealed to one (or both) of these audiences to make money. But without that diversity in the market, there would be no interest. Hence the importance of both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. One on their own would not have kept the genre alive. Two secured its place in Hollywood.
Moving on, we address the last big ‘quote’ section, that of the blog done by Fusionater. The back and forth is interesting, but in order for me to add on my bits, I must first illustrate what was said. Therefore:
Les says: (Edit)
Hi Fusionater. I donâ€™t know what you were saying earlier. This wasnâ€™t â€œPhoned in.â€ I thought you expressed your opinions with well reasoned passion. As to all your pointsâ€¦..
Yeah, JK Rowling vs. George Lucas for storytellingâ€¦no contest, whatsoever. Harry Potter has the clear win there.
The Contribution the Films Made
Iâ€™d go a little further than â€œStar Wars advanced cinema roughly 10-15 years ahead of its time.â€ That leap affected you a lot more than you know whether you realize it or not. While the story of Harry Potter and all those Comic Book Superheroes you admire are solid stories, the magic to realize them in the format youâ€™ve enjoyed in the last 10-15 years is a direct result of the advancements courtesy of Star Wars. I know itâ€™s not easy to know that, since CGI and blow your mind away sound effects are so common now that nearly every film has them in some way or another, but before Star Warsâ€¦.not much in the way of great special effects films to praise(In my mind only one film prior to it is worth mentioning: â€œ2001: A Space Odyssey,â€ and thatâ€™s itâ€¦..all other special effect films were done either with animation effects(small moment to remember the late great Ray Harryhaussen), Matte Effects(The late great Peter Ellingshaw-all Disney Films of the 60â€™s and 70â€™s) or practical model sets(The Godzilla films).
The Cultural Impact.
Sure DC superheroes, Marvel superheroes and Harry Potter affected you more than Star Wars didâ€¦.but you wouldnâ€™t have seen them on the screen as they are realized if it hadnâ€™t been for Star Wars. And to theorize that without Star Wars, other films wouldâ€™ve eventually come along to create the advancements is completely academic. Sure it COULDâ€™VE happenedâ€¦.just like it mightâ€™ve been awesome if Stevie Wonder had gone to South Africa and come back to record the â€œGracelandâ€ album instead of Paul Simonâ€¦but he didnâ€™t, and neither did any other films. Whether you want to admit it or not, you owe Star Wars for any film youâ€™ve loved the special or sound effects inâ€¦.including the DC superheroes, the Marvel superheroes and the Harry Potter series, my friend.
No argument there LOL
The Generational Battle
Sure superheroes are compelling, entertaining and awesomeâ€¦but if you think about it, arenâ€™t Jedi Knights just more superheroes? Think about itâ€¦.Telekinetic Powers, Mind Control, Super strength and speed, Pre-cognitionâ€¦..A Jedi Knight is about 4 X-Men combined into one bodyâ€¦.just sayingâ€¦.
Yeah, Star Wars is a marketing whoreâ€¦no question thereâ€¦but I donâ€™t go along with the notion of the story being second. The story has always been goodâ€¦itâ€™s just not nearly as good as Harry Potterâ€¦but thatâ€™s not a slam against Star Wars, but abject praise for the genius of JK Rowling to tell a better story. Star Warsâ€™ story is good, and I donâ€™t think it was sacrificed in any marketing ploy to sell more toys.
I donâ€™t expect to really change your mind about what you like or donâ€™t like, my friend. I just want you to understand a little bit more about where what you like came from. Peace.
Fusionater says: (Edit)
Iâ€™ll give you the point for the CGI side of things, but I also argue, that while CGI is awesomeâ€¦I donâ€™t need itâ€¦tough argument to make, since so many my age do need it, but I love any kind of movies, if the current marvel movies, for instance, were made with practical effects in mind, I think I could watch them in the same way I still love the original power rangers series(Albeit, hopefully, with better acting), this one is more on a person level than it is a broad argument, mind you, CGI is awesome, I love it(when itâ€™s not souless and overused), thank you Star Wars for that advancement.
Ooh, true on the filming level, but I was already hooked in on the comics level(and to no small degree, the Bruce Timm animated universe, how much that owes to Star Wars, I donâ€™t know). I do argue that the advancements would have come along regardless(Itâ€™s not like people werenâ€™t watching movies, they made money, maybe not as much as today, but it was and is an industry, and like other industries, it would continue to move up. Since money breeds creativity) I agree with Ratin8tor that is would have probably been incremental, but I do believe it would have happened.
But it is just one kind of superhero, not much to do with it, mostly the old wise man with superpowers, if there was jsut one, awesome, but itâ€™s the entire Jediâ€¦enclave? I think.
I think the prequal trilogy was an honest attempt to bring Star Wars back for the fansâ€¦when people hated it, it because the current marketing whore that is, with story being second now(though Revenge of the Sith might have also suffered this problemâ€¦)
Fusionater says: (Edit)
Also, let it be known that, while I get extremely annoyed by how overzealous many Star Wars fans can be with their love of the fictionâ€¦I get it, if you like it, you like it, and youâ€™re(mostly, and speaking in broad terms here, not specifically to you), not wrong about the impact Star Wars had. Do I think it still deserves to be brought up so often today as the game changer as though every Star Wars fan(young and old), has suddenly become a histyory major? Because I could just go on a tangent about how the elevator completely revolutionized everything, and yada yada, I would probably be annoying as fuck to. Again, not speaking specifically to you, youâ€™re actually pretty reasonable about the debate and have only really argued it when it comes up. My problem is with the people who do this,
Me: Man, I love these Marvel movies, theyâ€™re so great! The creative genius behind them is mindblowing!
Someone else: All thanks to Star Wars!
This happens a LOT. >-<
So then, since I started this discussion, where do I stand on it? Well while I see both sides having their pros and cons, lets break down my thoughts.
Which mostly come down to the whole ‘how much did Star Wars advance the industry’ argument. For me, it’s a bit of a difficult thing to unravel. While it’s easy to point out what Star Wars did accomplish, it’s harder to determine if they would have happened if Star Wars hadn’t accomplished them. Star Wars is, after all, a great melting pot of what had come before. R2D2 was lifted directly from the American film Silent Running (as in Lucas saw that film and hired the people that made the robots in the film to make his robot), with C-3PO being inspired by the film Metropolis. Even the iconic Millennium Falcon was inspired by a burger and two pickles. So the things that influenced Star Wars are easily found and categorized. The harder part comes from working out whether what it influenced would exist without it. Would cinema be in where it is now without Star Wars? Impossible to say conclusively, but one could hazard a guess. Star Wars built off a lot of was being made at the time while adding new stuff to it. Taking what was already good and making it great. Did Star Wars invent anything ground-breakingly new? No, not entirely. So would its lack of existence mean these achievements go amiss? No. But, and this is a crucial but, it’s more likely that there’d be no one film that achieved it in such a way. You may have had a film that advanced puppetry, for example. Another film that advanced model work. A third might have advanced CGI. But it’s unlikely there’d be a film that did it all at once. If anything, that’s Star Wars legacy: Being in the right place in the right time to use everything that was doing so well at the time effectively. By making everything A+ it forced the industry to move forward to catch up. But, after Star Wars, it fractured again. Different films became known for advancing singular things, be it model animation or sound design. Now whether another film has come at just the right time to bring it all together, that’s hard to say. Cases could be made for Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, even Harry Potter. But since there’s no real way of judging the world by something’s non-existence, it’s ultimately impossible to say how much could have been achieved by other movies.
So there you have it. What I had to say to the critics that were critical of what I said to them. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.