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Published: Friday, 7/15/2011

COMMENTARY

All good things come to an end ... eventually

BY KIRK BAIRD
CULTURE SHOCK

You're a billionaire who is toasted as the savior of the literary world and credited with getting kids to read.

That's the upside of being Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

The downside, other than being so famous and wealthy that you forever have to view strangers and even some family and friends suspiciously, is that you are responsible for knowing when to cease any further adventures of your literary creation.

It's up to Rowling to know when The Boy Who Lived must die.

Rowling did the right thing by her beloved boy wizard and published his final adventures in his struggles against evil Lord Voldemort in 2007 with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a decade after the first book. And now we have the final movie in the film franchise, which opened at midnight Thursday across the land. It's a successful and more than satisfying conclusion to the saga. And as much as we don't want to say goodbye, we should. It's time.

Harry and Rowling had a brilliant run so why mar that success by overextending the idea of a special wizard beyond the seven novels she originally envisioned?

As we all know, there's nothing worse than a guest who doesn't know when to leave.

If only Hollywood knew how to do the same.

How many wonderful movie franchises have been ruined by a part 3, part 4, and part 5? Alien birthed Aliens, one of only a handful of sequels arguably better than the original film. But the third Alien and its Ripley-as-sacrificial-Christ death scene, holding the baby alien in her bosom as she falls into flames? "I'll take Charlton Heston in Omega Man cheesy deaths for $200, Alex."

Then there was Alien: Resurrection, which managed to kill the movies -- until 20th Century Fox got even greedier and managed to resurrect and then kill two franchises at once with the Aliens Vs. Predator movies. Jaws 2 was pushing it. Jaws 3 and 4 was Universal being vindictive to moviegoers.

And let's not kid ourselves that the Star Trek franchise didn't drop out of warp speed long before it reached the Roman numeral X.

Rock bands have a history of not knowing when to call it quits, either, other than, say, the Beatles. The Rolling Stones/insert classic rock band of choice here, for example. It's the same with TV shows. The brilliant sitcom All in the Family begat the dumbed down Archie Bunker's Place. And as much as I loved The Simpsons well into the 1990s, the longest-running U.S. television show long-since has outlived its glory years.

We like our Michael Jordans to walk away from the NBA after hitting the game-winning shot to win a final championship, not un-retire two years later to play a couple more seasons with the Washington Wizards. John Elway had it right when it came to a sports legend knowing how to exit at the top. He retired after winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Does it get any better and more graceful than that?

Rowling recently made news when she announced Pottermore, which many speculated was a continuation of the Potter books. It isn't. It's a free interactive Web site filled with background information on major and minor characters from the Harry Potter books and other treats for fans, as well as her novels in e-book form for the first time. The site will be available to a select few beginning July 31(Harry's birthday). The rest of us will have to wait until October to gain access.

There will be no new books -- at least for now -- for which I am glad. As much as I'll miss reading another Harry Potter adventure and then watching it come to life on the big screen, I'm a believer that all good things must end. And for some, that seems to be the most difficult part.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734. Read more of the Culture Shock blog at toledoblade.com/cultureshock and follow Kirk on Twitter @bladepopculture.



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