If you're anything like me, you've never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie. Statistically speaking, you are nothing like me, as the latest installment of the Potter franchise is already poised to smash all relevant box office records, everywhere. (I should make it clear that when I say, "relevant box office records," I mean, "only box office records that pertain to The Dark Knight.") Despite my lack of interest in and familiarity with the franchise, I'm not against the idea of it and I don't hate the people who love it or the cultural impact it's made (even though being a non-fan when a new movie comes out sort of feels like being the only Jewish kid during Christmas time). This franchise just missed me completely.
I'm certainly not one of those anti-populist folks who strategically avoids everything that gets embraced by the mainstream, I didn't avoid it simply because it's wildly popular; I like The Beatles, Star Wars and all of Lost with the exception of the two that everyone else hates (Jack's Fucking Tattoo, Nikki and Fucking Paolo). I just had no interest in the series when the first book came out because by then, I was already too old and too much of a shithead to submit myself to a world of magic and wizards and broomsticks and muggles (a word I've often heard associated with Harry Potter that I've arbitrarily decided is either a sort of talisman that all kid-wizards need to collect to be the best wizard, or a kind of fuzzy, fantasy animal that is specific to the Harry Potter universe. I've drawn what I think it is below.).
A muggle, according to my imagination. I don't know why he has an umbrella.
Still, I am going to see this movie, because even though I know close-to-nothing about the series, the trailer for Harry Potter 7 And the Deathly Hallows 2 looks freaking incredible (and also because everyone else is afraid to release movies this weekend and I've already seen X Men: First Class twice). So I will see it, but first, I'm going to familiarize myself with the franchise, so I don't go into this blind. To do this, I am going to watch every Harry Potter trailer having never seen any of these movies and, to the best of my abilities, summarize what I imagine they are about.
#1. Harry Potter and the Random Assemblage of Things That Happened At Him
What We See in the Trailer
The trailer opens on some owls and tiny accounting monsters that we won't actually need to see again for the rest of the trailer.
We meet Harry Potter, a boy with hidden magic powers who is actually a wizard. Harry doesn't believe it, even though White Reggie Watts assures him that it's true.
"You're a wizard, Harry." -- an incredibly trustworthy-looking gentleman
Harry then leaves wherever he was and follows Reggie to a special school for wizards and witches called Hogwarts. Then the plot stops happening, and we're just treated to a series of things. The kids at the school sit at a table and an owl flies around. The kids travel on a moving staircase. The kids learn about flying from a professor who is probably part cat. But, like, a terrifying cat.
The Cat Lady says, "Hold your hand over your broom and say 'Up.' " Harry does this, and his broom flies to his hand. This surprises Harry, which is weird because he already knows he's magic, and on the spectrum of commands that enchanted brooms can follow, "up" feels like a pretty basic one, relatively speaking.
"I said a thing using my magic and it did that thing."
Like, Professor Cat-Witch is holding a class designed to teach you how to fly, and she tells you to yell, "Up." What did you honestly think was going to happen? Anyway, one of the other kids, whose name is Longbottom, loses control of his broom and starts to fly away. Professor Cat-Witch hates him because of it.
All in all, this feels tougher than most schools, as when I didn't understand Pre Calc, A) I didn't almost die because of it and B) my teacher didn't scream at me on the very first day as a result.
Next we see Harry and a character who I know by being alive and aware of pop culture for the last few years is named Ron. They're on a train together, and Harry shows off a forehead scar that, because this is a movie about kid wizards, I assume is a magic forehead scar.
Then Gandalf appears and explains that the kids aren't allowed to go in a forest or use their powers outside of class or visit the third floor corridor (violating the third rule is punishable by death). The kids are seen doing these things anyway, because fuck this Gandalf.
We're treated to action scenes! There's a monster! And a sword falls! A man faints! And we also see a three-headed dog, and I amend my previous assumption: It is possible that this is what a muggle is (though the trailer does not confirm this).
There's also a chick wizard who seems kind of awful, but she's also obviously a big part of the franchise, so I imagine Harry will be nailing her at some point. The trailer ends with yet another incredibly old and unnecessarily creepy authority figure saying, "We can expect great things from [Harry Potter]," even though the trailer is less of a plot and more of a series of seemingly unrelated magic things happening in an arbitrary order.
What I Think It's About
Harry, Ron and the Girl One spend their first year in Hogwarts School of Wizadry trying to piss off stodgy, old Principal Gandalf and shake things up. Alan Rickman is in this and he's clearly the bad guy. If someone has to get killed for being evil at the end of this movie, I'm saying it'll be him.
Also one of these wizards is clearly a Nazi.
#2. Harry Potter and the Second Verse, Same As the First
What We See in the Trailer
We see the exact same shot from the first trailer, where White Reggie tells Harry he's a wizard, and then the narrator says that Harry's first year became legend. Then we cut to a shot of the school covered in snow, or what I'm calling "Hothwarts."
And then we see more of the same stuff we saw in the first trailer. An owl flies through the cafeteria, a weird teacher does something irresponsible and the boy who is clearly a Nazi continues to exude Nazi-like symptoms.
Harry and Magical Hitler Youth fly around on brooms punching each other, and Principal Gandalf complains about another thing people weren't supposed to touch that someone definitely touched (this time it's a chamber. Of secrets.).
Oh, also Alan Rickman's still in the game, so I guess he wasn't evil, although he's probably just hiding his evil because fucking look at him.
A cute little goblin thing shows up and tells Harry to go home. I'm going to go ahead and rescind what I've said previously and make a ruling: This thing is probably a muggle. It looks more muggle-like than all other contenders.
Then more action stuff! Things explode, cars fly, people chase things, stuff glows! Also, Maggie Smith, who is one of the Teacher-Witches but not the Cat-Witch explains to Harry that someone needs to be caught or else the school will close. Which, frankly, seems like a lot to throw at a 10-year-old.
What I Think It's About
Harry, Ron and Girl One continue to have their adventures and things continue to happen to and around them. A new threat is facing the school in the form of a rival school that hates Hogwarts. Magical Hitler Youth has transferred to this rival school and challenges Harry and Hogwarts to a flying broom battle, and the winner gets ... the school? Or all the magic? The winner gets all the magic.
Professor Alan Rickman is still obviously evil, but he puts that evil aside and joins forces with Harry to defeat the rival school, get all the magic and keep Hogwarts open. For now!
#3. Harry Potter and the GARY OLDMAN'S IN THIS?!
What We See in the Trailer
This is a much darker and grittier children's movie about wizards. Harry and his friends are older, the Kid Nazi is back at Hogwarts and Professor Alan Rickman is back to being evil and spooky. A bus almost hits a thing or whatever and who cares because GARY OLDMAN IS IN THIS MOVIE!
Dracula, you guys! He's the prisoner of (I assume) Azkaban, which is probably a place.
We see Girl One and Ron hold hands for a second, which doesn't do a whole lot for my "Harry's going to nail Girl One" theory.
Harry is looking for someone who's killed his parents, and Commissioner Gordon is already here so if this movie had any damn sense it would just become Batman already.
There's a new Gandalf in town. He's got a beard and is stodgy and old, but he's not quite the Gandalf we've seen before. He's some other equally-Gandalf guy.
He introduces us to the "Dementor," which is a hooded ghost monster of something with giant fingers. It's the first time I've seen something resembling an established villain in any of these trailers. Then, because too much plot was happening, we see a random scene of a fat guy who made a balloon out of another fat person (she probably ate too many muggles), but he just doesn't know what to do about it.
Then the Girl One punches the Nazi, which I guess makes her the Captain America of Hogwarts.
What I Think It's About:
At the end of the last movie, Harry and his friends beat their rivals in Broom-ball. They almost lost, but they found out at the last minute that Original Principal Gandalf was a traitor, working with the rivals the whole time. He gets kicked out of the school and replaced with Gandalf II, his brother.
Now that Hogwarts is safe, Harry has to solve the mystery of who murdered his parents. Will it be the Dementor? Will it be Gary Oldman? Gandalf II, Whitelectric Beardaloo? Will it be Professor Alan Rickman? Yes. I bet it is. He's definitely evil, why haven't they just arrested him and the Nazi yet? How objectively evil do you need to dress before anyone in this universe takes notice?