Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Fare warning, it tastes like goblin piss"

I have now seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One twice.  I really enjoyed it and thought it was well done.  It did move a little slowly, but it also needed to set some things up for the second movie, which I am hearing will be must faster paced.  The last book is the one that I have read the fewest times and I did not reread it before seeing the movie, but have since read the first half.  I am now better reminded of what was left out of the movie and, of course, have a few comments.  I simply feel that there are some details from the book that are important to the story.

If you have not yet seen the movie and do not want it spoiled...


I will warn those of you who have not read the books to stop reading further down, as one of my issues with the first half of the movie has to do with what happened in the second half of the book and I do not want to ruin the next movie for you.  But for now, you may continue reading. :o)

So, here are my concerns:

1. One of my biggest issues with the last movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was that I did not feel they explained the horcruxes well enough.  Unfortunately, that issue, for me, has over-lapped into this movie as well.  At the end of the sixth book, they do not know exactly what they are looking for, but they have a general idea.  In the seventh book they have several conversations about what the different horcruxes might be and where they think they could be hidden.  They even go to a few places to look for them.  While I understand why they took out the scenes where they actually go to these locations for time purposes, why not at least tell the audience what Harry, Ron and Hermione are looking for?  In the movie, it just seems like they are constantly moving from place to place in order to stay hidden from Voldemort, which is part of the reason, but it is also because they are trying to find these items and do not know exactly where to look.  In my opinion, this is partly what accounts for the slow feeling of the movie.

2. In the book, at one of their campsites, Harry, Ron and Hermione over hear Muggle-born wizards and a couple of goblins who are hiding in the woods from the Snatchers.  They hear them talking about how Ginny, Neville and Luna tried to steal the sword of Gryffindor from Snape's office at Hogwarts.  After they were caught, the sword was then moved to a vault at Gringotts.  One of the goblins also reveals that the sword placed in the vault was in fact not the sword of Gryffindor because he could tell it was not goblin-made.  While I do not really think that this is a terribly important scene, it does explain why, when the Snatchers bring Harry, Ron and Hermione to the Malfoy mansion, Bellatrix freaks out about the sword and how it is supposed to be in her vault. 

3. I think this is probably the smallest detail that actually irritates me the most.  How did Harry know that he needed to speak parseltongue to the locket in order to open it?  In the book, they address the fact that none of them can open the locket early on but then it is not brought up again until Ron and Harry go to destroy it.  Harry then explains that because there is a snake on the locket he realized that must be the way to do it.  In the movie, there is no snake on the locket, so why would it have to be opened using the snake language?  And either way, how he knew to use it is never explained.

4. While many of these things are not really all that significant in the grand scheme of things, I never seem to understand why parts of information is included and other parts left out.  Or why some scenes, like the fight between Harry and Ron, are almost verbatim from the book, while other scenes are completely different.  Why, for instance, when in the book Harry and Hermione use polyjuice potion when they go to Godric's Hollow, do they make a point in the movie to have him say that he did not want to use polyjuice potion?  He says he wanted to return to this place as himself, but why even have the line in there?  The idea of the polyjuice potion could have just been totally left out.  Also, why give Bill Weasley werewolf scars when the scene from the end of the previous book, where he was attacked in a fight at Hogwarts, was taken out of the previous movie?  It just never makes sense to me why they put in insignificant lines or details and leave out things that are actually important to the plot.

My final point, and I think one of the most important things left out, reveals information from the end of the book.  If you have not read the books and do not want me to ruin the end of the second movie, then I suggest you stop reading NOW.

Okay, here I go...

5. In the book, Hermione removes the photograph of Phineas Nigellus Black from Grimmauld Place and takes it with them in her "over-sized" purse.  This is important because this is how Snape finds them in The Forrest of Dean in order to give them the sword of Gryffindor.  Black overhears Hermione say the name of the place where they are and Black tells Snape.  I will be interested to see how they explain this in the second movie, if they bother explaining it at all.  In the movie they do not talk about who they think sent it to them, but the fact that it was Snape is incredibly significant as it means he was a good guy all along.  Harry, Ron and Hermione also use Black to give them information about what is going on at Hogwarts, but that part is less important to the first half of the story.

I want to reiterate that I really did like this movie.  I just get frustrated when they leave out or do not explain things that are incredibly important for the story to makes sense.  Clearly, they need my help.  :o)

And now I must wait until July 15 for Part Two, which is really just mean!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"It's all right, Captain. We always knew you were a whoopsie."

I was not as quick with this second post as I was planning. I have actually been trying to find a real job, so I have been a bit distracted :o)

Alright, now where did I leave off...

Another show on Showtime that I had heard wonderful things about but never got around to watching, until now, was The Tudors. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Henry VIII and the show takes us through his reign as the King of England, including all six of his wives, over four seasons. I know some people do not like "period" movies and shows, but this really is fantastic. It is interesting to see how Henry's decisions and opinions changed over the course of his monarchy depending on his age or his advisors. I am especially fascinated by how much history was influenced by men's sex drives :o) The show is a little racy, but not quite as scandalous as Spartacus: Blood and Sand and I think that it is definitely worth checking out.

The Tudors also reintroduced me to actor Henry Cavill, who plays the Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon. He is also the son of Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo. (An awesome movie, if you have not seen it, and an even better book.) Because of my rediscovered love for him, and the fact that two of them were available to watch instantly on Netflix, I then watched the movies I Capture the Castle, Whatever Works and Stardust.

Stardust, while it did not have very much of Henry Cavill, was surprisingly entertaining. Whimsical would actually be the word I would use to describe this movie. It stars Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro and is about a young man who leaves England to venture into the mystical land of Stormhold to recover a fallen star for his love. I remember not particularly wanting to see it when it came out in 2007 but, after checking Rotten Tomatoes, I realized that it had actually gotten pretty good reviews and they were pretty accurate. I Capture the Castle was also a bit quirky but quite entertaining. Set in the 1930s, it is about an English family, living in a castle that they can no longer afford, and their landlords, who happen to be two wealthy American brothers. It stars Cavill, Rose Byrne, Romola Garai, Mark Blucas, Henry Thomas and Bill Nighy. Neither of these movies are what I would consider classic movies that everyone should see, but they entertained me for a Sunday afternoon and have impressive casts for pretty under-the-radar movies.

Whatever Works, on the other hand, was not really worth my time. It is a Woody Allen movie starring Cavill alongside Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood that you can skip. Parts of this film were funny, but it was mostly just weird. Seinfeld aside, I am not really a fan of Larry David and this did not change my view of him whatsoever.

Along with watching lots of things at home, I also got to the theater quite a bit in the past few weeks to see The Social Network, Due Date, Morning Glory and Harry Potter.

The Social Network was a good movie. It was well made, well acted and interesting. The brilliance is not as much in the movie itself as it is in the timing of the movie. You make this movie five years ago and the only people interested are college students and recent graduates because they are the only ones using the website. You make it five years in the future and there is a chance that Facebook is now obsolete and nobody cares about Mark Zuckerberg anymore. I suppose that could be said about many things, but I really think that is where the huge success of this movie comes from. That being said, it definitely took me back to my Senior year of college. I went to a small liberal arts school in North Carolina and I remember talking to high school friends who went to NYU about this new website called The Facebook with which everyone was obsessed. It was not readily available to us at Elon and then when it was, you had to use your school email address in order to get access and make a profile. It was huge and definitely made more popular by the feel of exclusivity and the fact that you could now "stalk" your classmates and friends without anyone knowing. That sounded creepier than I meant it to be, but you know what I mean! Like I said though, the movie was well done and it certainly is relevant and worth seeing. I particularly enjoyed Andrew Garfield's performance as Eduardo Saverin and am now really looking forward to his portrayal of Peter Parker in the new Spider-Man reboot.

Even though it did not get very good reviews, I really enjoyed Morning Glory. The plot itself is fairly predictable, however, Diane Keaton was hilarious, Harrison Ford was a perfect curmudgeon and Rachel McAdams was as charming and loveable as ever. I especially enjoyed that, although Patrick Wilson is dreamy and perfect as her love interest, the movie did not dwell too much on the McAdams' character's love life. It was a movie about a girl whose career seems to have hit rock bottom but with a little luck and a lot of hard work she makes a new life for herself. It was actually kind of inspiring and definitely a fun movie.

Due Date, on the other hand, was not that great. It definitely had its funny moments, but it was mostly just ridiculous. Robert Downey Jr and Zack Galifinakis are excellent actors, which is where I think the problem with this movie lies. I know that sounds weird, so let me try to explain. It was a typical crazy-things-that-happen-while-on-a-road-trip-across-the-country plot, and with less talented actors I may have believed that a character like Peter Highman would have gotten in a car with Ethan Tremblay, let alone, allow him to get away with half of the things he pulled. I just think that with this caliber of acting at your disposal, it could have been a much more believable movie with a simpler, less crazy plotline. Does that make any sense? It does in my head :o)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One was excellent and my review of that will come shortly...probably after the holiday.

And on that note, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am especially thankful for my friends and family who have been there through what has been the hardest year of my life thus far. I would not have made it without your support and love, so THANK YOU!


P.S. Would it be helpful if I added hyperlinks that took you to IMDb whenever I talked about a specific movie, TV show or actor?  I did not do it here because I reazlied that I listed a lot of different people and it would have been more work, but I can in the future if you want me to.  Let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Why spiders? Why couldn't it be 'follow the butterflies'? "

Halloween has come and gone and, while it is not my favorite holiday nor do I enjoy scary movies, I did want to share a clip from my favorite Halloween movie:

Not scary, but definitely awesome. :o)

I have not written in a while but have actually been pretty busy watching a lot of different things. Netflix: Watch Instantly is evil and has allowed to me to watch many more movies and shows in a shorter amount of time :o) If I talked about all of them right now, this post would be ridiculously too long, so I have split them up and will post again in a few days.

So let's get started....

I had heard some great things about the show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, so I decided to give it a try and it was FANTASTIC. It is the real story of Spartacus and how he became a gladiator, but is only loosely based in history. It is shown on Starz, so it is kind of graphic, both with blood and sex, but it is mostly driven by the stories of its characters which are very compelling. The entire series is shot in front of a green screen and the blood and guts have a fake, Kill-Bill-like feel to them. I am extremely interested in seeing where season two takes us, especially considering how season one ended (which I will not spoil for you) and the fact that their lead actor is being replaced because of medical reasons. I HIGHLY recommend you watch this show, if you are not already.

On the more family-friendly front, I am really irritated that ABC Family, after only ONE month, stopped playing reruns of Friday Night Lights. They kept it at 6 p.m. for about two weeks before moving it to 11 a.m. for another two weeks and are surprised that not many people could keep track of when it was on. That, combined with the fact that the final season is being played on DirecTV before it airs on NBC (probably next spring or summer) means I have to take over one of my friend's televisions in the city every week to get my Tim Riggins fix. Lucky, I do not watch anything else on Wednesday nights, so I have the time. The things I do for my TV shows!

In terms of movies, I have finally watched MacGruber, Inception and Rebel Without A Cause.

Even though it got pretty bad reviews, I was sort of hoping that I would like MacGruber. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I had not seen the Saturday Night Live sketch, but understood what the concept of the character was about, however the only thing I found funny about the movie was Kristen Wiig.  Sadly, I would say that this is a movie you can skip seeing.

Rebel Without A Cause sat on top of my bluray player for about three weeks before I finally got around to watching it. Made in 1955, it stars James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo as three teens who all have issues with their parents, as teens tend to do, and the trouble they get into. It was well done and definitely worth seeing, if only because it was the last thing Dean made before his unfortunate death.

I really was not planning to ever see Inception.  I mean, I probably would have eventually, but I had no plans to do so.  However, under the guise of carving pumpkins, I was lured to my friend's house a few weeks ago and forced into watching the movie. Okay, it was not quite as scandalous and devious as that, but I did not know that is what we were going to be doing that night.  And I do have to say that the movie was pretty good. I would not say that it totally blew my mind, but it was definitely interesting and different and not anything that I could have ever come up with on my own. One problem with seeing it so far after everyone else and reading too many reviews was that I knew that there was going to be some big twist at the end, so when it happened, I was not surprised. It was well done and definitely worth seeing, but I do not think I would go so far as to say it is the best movie I have ever seen.

Well, that is it for now.  I will return shortly to talk about The Tudors, Due Date, The Social Network and a few other things.  I hope everyone is enjoying the Harry Potter Marathon Weekend on ABC Family and this lovely fall weather :o)