Grandinroad is a catalog I will not make the mistake of underestimating again. Read the rest of this entry
I’m a Harry Potter nerd – I’ve read the books, seen the movies and I have decent game when it comes to the plot points and the minutia of the universe. Being a Harry Potter nerd has its downsides (besides the obvious lack of friends that goes along with it) as sometimes, the story or a little element of the universe doesn’t make much sense. For your consideration, here are the 5 Things That Piss Me Off About Harry Potter. Read the rest of this entry
Well, its finally over. Harry triumphed over Voldemort – bet you didn’t see that coming! I only drop that sarcastic comment because for a movie that you knew exactly how would end (even if you didn’t read the books), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Hallows Part 2 is an exciting film. The movie picks up right where the last one left off, and once they head for Gringgotts, the fast pace never really lets up.
I don’t really have a lot to say about this one – I don’t think its the best of the series (Azkaban is), but its certainly one of the better of the Harry Potter films. If anything, I could have done with another 10 minutes – how about a few cheers at the end? Could someone at least toss Harry a “good job” or pat him on the back for saving them from Magic Hitler? The end is a little flat and like the novel, the flash forward feels tacked on and unnecessary.
Still, Harry Potter’s final adventure is good fun and a satisfying conclusion.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
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The King’s Speech comes in at just under two hours, and while I’m giving myself until I finish this writing to decide on a score, I think it will come in just under a perfect score.
Don’t get me wrong, The King’s Speech is a really good movie, and the performances and cinematography are outstanding. Really good. Colin Firth is great as King George the VI (Does this guy ever give a bad performance? The answer is ‘no,’ in case you were wondering – and he’s already wont he Golden Globe for best actor in recognition of his performance, but then, he probably should have won last year for A Single Man.), as is Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, his speech therapist. I think it’s hard to say whether Rush or Firth are the lead in this movie… Rush does quite a bit of scene stealing, but I suppose Firth has a bit more screen time and is in the titular role, so he gets it by default – but don’t underestimate Rush for a second – he’s great in this. Not to be ignored are supporting roles by Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth and Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII are both great – Pearce is so good it took me some time to realize it was him. And for good measure, they were able to sneak some character actors like Michael Gambon into the movie as King George V. Pearce is particularly good in a scene after King George V’s death, as is Carter, when she is consoling Firth near the end of the film before the titular speech. And just for good measure, Timothy Spall shows up as Winston Churchill – which brings us up to three Harry Potter cast members, including Carter and Gambon. Too bad they didn’t cast Daniel Radcliff as Rush’s son.
The movie is well paced, dramatic, yet fun. I don’t see it winning best picture (if I were a betting man, I’d go with Black Swan), but I bet Firth wins best actor, or Rush wins best supporting actor. It’s a great movie, but I can’t give it a five. It’s a little too safe – meaning the movie doesn’t take any chances, but then, it’s based on history, so they can’t get too crazy, and I shouldn’t fault them for that, but I have. Finally, with a second World War looming, one could make the argument that the King’s stammer is the least of England’s worries, but it’s pretty obvious to me now that those folks didn’t see it that way. I strongly recommend this movie.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I finally got around to seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), so it’s movie review time. I saw it in IMAX (but thankfully not in 3D), and I have to say I strongly recommend the experience… well, I could do without the whole “YOU’RE WATCHING A MOVIE IN IMAX!” thing and I certainly am not a fan of the $17 per ticket price we paid, but there it is. The sound and image was outstanding, and both were friggin huge!
It’s hard to rate a movie when it’s in the middle of the story… but as far as novel adaptations go, this is a good one, and when it comes to adapting half of a novel into a cliff hanger, this movie does the job in spades. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s one of the better adaptations of any of the Harry Potter books so far, and it’s a fine movie, despite it’s unresolved plot lines and cliff hanger ending. As always, the performances are solid: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint give the performances we’ve come to expect from them since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. David Yates does a great job as director and the beautiful filming of Eduardo Serra looks great in IMAX – and lets not forget to mention the editing of Mark Day, who did a much better job than the novel did of keeping the film from dragging while the gang is out on the run in the tent.
If it’s not already clear, you can’t walk into this movie as a Harry Potter novice. You will be totally miserable, I guarantee it. You might be able to get away with watching only Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, but even that is a stretch.
A few points of contention:
If you didn’t read the book, I don’t see how you could have possibly understood what was happening during the Bathilda-Bagshot-is-possessed-by-Nagini scene. The movie just doesn’t give you the tools you need to understand that something is strange about Bagshot… also, the novel had additional tension during this chapter because Voldemort is aware that Nagini has dropped her cover and has confronted Harry, and Harry can hear Voldemort in his mind telling Nagini to just hold him there, that he’s on the way… so if Harry and Hermione can’t escape in time, they’re really screwed.
When Harry, Hermione and Ron get caught by the Snatchers in the woods… what the hell was that? The Snatchers just happened to be exactly where our trio of heroes apparated (that’s Harry Potter talk for teleported) to at that exact moment? It’s just too much of a coincidence… In the book, ‘Voldemort’ is a name that will immediately dispatch the snatcher squads, and Harry slips, which brings the goons down on them. In the movie, they’re just there, almost waiting for them. It’s too convenient. The strange part is Mr. Lovegood uses the name Voldemort and they show up immediately and practically tear his house down… again, not the way it went down in the book, but effective for the movie’s purposes. The Lovegood and the Snatcher scenes are the exact opposites of well and poorly done modifications from the source material.
The dance scene… did we really need Harry to ask Hermione to dance around with him in the tent to make her feel better after Ron left? I think no, we were fine without it. At least we didn’t have to endure endless crying like we did in the book.
Notably absent from the movie:
Wasn’t Wormtail’s artificial hand supposed to strangle him to death before Harry and Ron escaped their prison cell? As I recall, he showed Harry some remorse and the hand went nuts on him… Rowling punishes the character for his evil deeds, as she often does with the baddies, and it seems that a character so central to the death of Harry’s parents wouldn’t get off Scott free.
Best changes from the book:
Hedwig got to go down fighting. Although I didn’t check the text, I remember Hedwig being in her cage when she dies, but in the movie, she was flying around giving the death eaters a hard time. I thought for sure this would be cut out of the movie, but the modified version was there, letting the audience know that they were in for a rough ride right from the beginning. The deaths of Doby and Hedwig are by far my biggest regrets in the series.
The polyjuice potion wearing off at the ministry of magic. This created a much higher level of drama and cut out Harry’s weird desire to liberate Mad Eye Moody’s prosthetic eye from Dolores Umbridge’s office door.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
I’d like to start off by saying this sort of thing gets me upset, so be prepared for profanity. I try to keep it clean around here, but I kind of just know when I’m going to lose it. Also, my alternative title was, “Hermione and Professor McGonagall are idiots.” Let’s rock:
As a refresher, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban‘s second act occurs when Buckbeak (a half eagle, half horse) is sentenced to death and apparently killed and Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black (not a great name; J.K. Rowling has PND – that’s Proper Noun Disease) is captured by the Demontors (again, PND), who plan to suck his soul out of his body as punishment for escaping from prison. Sounds fair, right? Oh, and Peter Pettigrew (aka Wormtail – again, PND) escapes – he’s the man who is to blame for revealing Harry’s parent’s secret location to Voldemort, the self styled Wizard Hitler of the Harry Potter world that killed Harry’s parents. This is resolved when Harry and Hermione use the timeturner necklace to travel backwards through time, save Buckbeak from the executioner, save Harry and Sirius from the Dementors and then save Sirius from his holding cell at Horgwarts Castle.
Got that? They traveled backwards through time to solve the problems.
Stop for a minute and consider the implications of being able to travel through time and change things for the better. Now imagine you’re Harry Potter; where would you go first? Easy – go kill Voldemort before he becomes too powerful. Not only would you save your parents’ lives, but countless others, and you’d get to grow up like a regular kid – well, like a regular magic kid, I guess. But you’d bring every dark wizard catcher on earth through time if you have to get Voldemort, right? I’m sure there are lots of moral questions to kick around, but if I could travel through time and kill Hitler when he was still in his artist phase, I’d do it. I think killing is fundamentally wrong, but fuck Hitler. Fuck him right in that stupid mustache. There’s having a right to your own opinion and then there’s being a mass murdering Nazi fuck head. I don’t play that, and Harry shouldn’t play that, either.
“Awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry.” Right, Hermione’s warning. Is this why we can’t go right the significant wrongs? I don’t buy it. This just isn’t enough of a cover for this gigantic hole in the greater Harry Potter plot. Here’s a list of characters that something awful happened to that didn’t meddle with time:
- James Potter
- Lily Potter
- Cedric Diggory
- Sirius Black
- Katie Bell
- Albus Dumbledore
- Percival Dumbledore
- Kendra Dumbledore
- Lord Voldemort
- J.R. Lupin
- Peter Pettigrew
- Nymphadora Tonks
- Fred Weasley
- Frank Longbottom
- Alice Longbottom
And that’s just off the top of my head. So it seems like in the Harry Potter world, you’ve got a good chance of getting your ass kicked whether you meddle with time or not. Here’s one more: Hagrid got framed for murder and kicked out of school, never knew his mom and his dad died when he was like 12. That sounds pretty awful to me.
Furthermore, the revelation that time travel is possible means that the only bigger idiot than Hermione in the Harry Potter series is Professor McGonagall, the person that gave her the time turner in the first place. How long has McGonagall known time travel was possible? Before the prophecy that ultimately killed Harry’s parents was made? Before Voldemort rose to power? Before Rowling wrote page after page of The Deathly Hallows featuring the gang in the woods, pitching their tent, casting protection spells and later, Hermione crying? When did McGonagall know? And who else knows?!? Dumbledore?
This sucks. Including time travel in The Prisoner of Azkaban is the worst thing Rowling has ever done. I’d say it ruins her books, but honestly, the prom scene in Goblet of Fire pretty much does that all by itself, not to mention the sheer insanity of the tournament in the first place. Let’s conduct a life threatening sporting event on our boarding school campus. Brilliant!