Harry Potter: Irritating Little Honor Student

Toward the so-so ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 I started to wonder: After all this time, when is Lord Voldemort going to catch a break? Here’s a guy who has worked tirelessly for years to extinguish one bothersome little brat, achieved ultimate power and yet -- there’s always some last-minute technical loophole that foils him, through no fault of his own.

Still, his lack of attention to detail can be frustrating. When you kill somebody, you really should check your work. Don’t they teach that at Evil School?

My feelings for He Who Has No Nose (Ralph Fiennes) outweighed any emotional involvement in the fate of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is -- let’s face it -- a largely passive figure who is given all the magic, coaching, emotional support, and clues he needs at any given moment to ensure his temporary triumph at the next obstacle. In a way, Superman was boring too, but he was forced to be a loner. And his very squareness (particularly in the 1978 original film, in which his wide-eyed optimism clashed interestingly with the setting of a tawdry New York City at its Taxi Driver-era nadir) made him an outcast, even a contrarian. Harry isn’t a walking symbol of Truth, Justice, and the British Way. He stands for a generation who have been told at every step of the way that they are special, they are golden, they are chosen, they are bound to succeed. All around him good people are risking, or even laying down, their lives so he can self-actualize. He’s an irritating little honor student, isn’t he?