Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Star Studded Weekend Filled with Faulty Writing


Well to be perfectly honest, I wasn't going to go out and see The Smurfs this weekend to make this blog review totally complete. However, I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time. I thought it was going to be the cherry on top of the summer, the solid 2-movie weekend that was going to be ever so enjoyable.
So I maybe got a little carried away. If there's ever such a good great movie weekend, it would be heaven, but not in this movie climate. However, little blue people aside, this weekend wasn't all too bad.
This big curse that harmed this weekend was poor, patchy writing. Each of these movies could have been great, but sadly the writers must have forgotten to let someone look over their scripts, because there were plot holes galore in Cowboys and it was most definitely a very bumpy up and down ride in Crazy. The real super saver of both these movies were the unbelievably fabulous casts that really help the movies' less than glamorous plots.
With Cowboys and Aliens I had one huge character complaint, however. Ella Swenson (played by Olivia Wilde) is just such a let down. She walks around like a robot for the most part, and the only words that ever come out of her mouth seem to be, "Do you remember?" Not only is she super annoying, but he character contains the most plot holes in the movie. I was also very disappointed with the amount of screen time Paul Dano had. I love Paul Dano. I think he's a pretty great actor, and it makes me really sad that he's not too often in films for longer than 30 minutes. I figured after There Will Be Blood a lot of people would like to hire him, but negative. Or maybe Dano just doesn't like being in movies. Maybe, maybe. Either way, I should have known from the trailers that he wasn't going to be a big character in this particular movie, even though his name was dropped in the early credits.
Other than annoying characters and disappointing credited actors, the thing that made this movie fun was definitely the alien design. It was really interesting, and I'm a sucker for aliens and all that :). And Indiana Jones and Jame Bond didn't hurt the funness of this movie either :)
Regarding Crazy, Stupid, Love, I found it a little bit too long. The story arc was very slowly paced. There were a few mini-climaxes throughout, which all led up to the biggest plot twist of them all, and I found this formula super hard to pay attention to. The trailers and posters promised me equal Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell time, but the first half of the film was definitely more Carell, and all the Gosling parts were actually in the trailer. Disappointment. He's The Notebook guy, why should he get shoved aside in a romance film?? Psh, there's no reason. In all honesty, the film's character are what drives the movie, not the story. The story has an interesting plot twist, but it's the same old same old really. I learned nothing new, and I felt nothing new. No tears in this one and no super fast heartbeat. I would maybe see it once more if asked, but after that I don't plan on really watching it ever again.
So this weekend was a little bit of a let down, but I guess I shouldn't have let my hopes run free!

And at last, my scores:

Cowboys & Aliens: 3/5
Crazy, Stupid, Love: 3/5

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

This Film is Not Yet Rated -- 3/5

My totally favorite podcast (Mugglecast) suggested this movie to me, so I finally got around to watching it! I give this documentary credit for being interesting, but there were some parts that made me a little irritated.
The director of the documentary hired a private investigator to stalk down all the members of the MPAA. Although I found it interesting that they were all super secretive about who puts those giant letters on posters that prevent kids from going to certain movies, I thought the persistent chase to catch the people on camera was overkill. It was a little creepy, especially when they showed one of the houses the people lived in. Maybe I respect people's privacy too much, but I feel like if they wanted to stay unknown to the public, the director shouldn't try to defy their wishes. Also when the private investigator told her best friend's daughter "I get a kick out of watching people who don't know I'm watching them," I felt really uncomfortable.
Creepiness aside, I agreed with some of the points the film made, and I disagreed with others. Though I declare myself a "gore-hound," I do think that the USA film rating system lets a lot more violence get by, while laying the smack down on sex. Recalling last year's ratings battle declared by the Weistein Company, I can agree with this statement the documentary made. How was it possible that a movie like Blue Valentine originally get an NC-17 rating, but Piranha 3D easily get an R? That movie had more cheap sex ploys and sexually violent acts than Blue Valentine had it in. What gave Blue Valentine the dreaded NC-17 rating was realistic sex scenes of the oral kind. However, the film did win its battle and finally got the R rating it deserved. The Weinstein Company had another ratings battle with a film that had gotten smacked with an R. This same movie in Britain got a 12A, the equivalent of our PG-13. This film was The King's Speech. Because it dropped the f-bomb more than once, it was thereby given the dreaded rated R. Now, any 13 year old knows this word, and this film didn't even use it in a super inappropriate way. There is a drastic difference in inappropriateness between The King's Speech and Piranha 3D, so why do they both share a rating? I believe the Weinstein Company's two news worthy fights will mark the revolution between film makers and the ratings their movies are given.
Now, that being said, there are some movies I feel no sympathy for getting an NC-17 rating. One they mentioned was called The Dreamers, which is a film where 3 housemates explore their sexuality during the entire film with each other. Though I have nothing against movies like this, I also don't think they should be available to people under the age of 17. These movies have very niche audiences, which mostly include very artsy students. If shown outside the art house theater, it would be very difficult to keep little 13 year old kids from sneaking into them. A film like The Dreamers would not resonate the same to an art student as to a middle schooler, and if given R status it wouldn't necessarily help its chances at the box office. But oversexed films are not the only ones I feel should be totally unavailable to those annoying little kids who get dropped off at the movie theater. Extremely violent and gory horror films like Saw 3D should not be available to these kids either. If the parent wants to take their child to this movie, that's their choice, but I don't feel movies like this should be so easily available to younger kiddies. I admit, I also have judged these parents in the past as a theater employee. That being said, when movies like American Pie get easy R ratings for exploiting teen sex, but films like The Cooler get NC-17-ed for an interesting choice of nudity, I feel there's something terribly wrong with the system. Something does need to be changed, and hopefully the Weinstein Company's quest for the right rating will spark other studios to do the same.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger -- 3.5/5

I have really enjoyed the summer blockbusters for the most part so far. There are a handful that I found unworthy of one of my free movie passes (Transformers and The Green Lantern), but Captain America definitely had a solid trailer, which is something I care deeply about. If a movie doesn't have an enjoyable trailer, it will take a few good reviews from people I trust until I decide to go for it. I also have mentioned previously in other blog reviews that I am a sucker for a comic book hero movie (especially an Avengers one), so it was a must see, ASAP.
The First Avenger doesn't disappoint. It has a compelling story, a great cast, and it has really fantastic cinematography, which the other films have not yet been able to achieve. Both Iron Man and Thor look really flashy and whatnot, and they share a similar glossy look that many summer CGI-indulged blockbusters have. The rustic feel in Captain America is a really nice escape from the regular summer look and feel.
This specific Avengers film also ties in very well with the Iron Man films, by having Tony Stark's father in it periodically. The World Fair was also a really great touch if you by any chance saw Iron Man 2. And of course Nick Fury at the end also ties in all the films.
However, this film didn't blow me away. There was something off about it that I really couldn't quite place until the end. This film seriously lacks any tension at all. Because of the intro the audience is aware of the ending, some of the lines give away plot points that are supposed to be surprises, and I got bored during some of the fighting scenes. The absolute best part of the film is the beginning prior to Steve Rogers' 100% transformation to Captain America, the WWII hero.
I would definitely recommend this film, but not before Harry Potter of course. I would also suggest if you are stingy on your summer movie choices, wait for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, because I just cannot get enough of that trailer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits: 2.5/5

From the director of Easy A comes a new way to look at romantic comedies...well sort of, but not really. This movie had a lot going for it until the final act. It was really funny, though sometimes it had its cliches, but it wasn't until the 3rd act where it was apparent that there were so many of them hidden (but again...not really so much) in the film throughout.
The cast was great, the jokes were solid, it was just the little bit where it pretended to not be something it is: a generic romantic comedy. I enjoy some romantic comedies, but not many. I usually like the ones that go above and beyond, or really understand its genre. I would say to name a few The Devil Wears Prada and The Holiday are two of my absolute favorites. I was really pleasantly surprised with Easy A last year, so I thought that this movie would have that same feel. Well, I didn't know that same feel would compromise originality. The 3rd act of this movie ended the exact same way as Easy A. The girl had her little mommy talk (with the same mom, too) and the beau swept the protagonist female off her feet with a boom box, but this time there was also some dancing involved. But wait...Easy A had a little song-and-dance number too, so I guess that really wasn't too original either. Maybe the only new thing was the father-son chit-chat that was no different than the mother-daughter one. If the movie hadn't made a big deal about being super knowledgeable about the formula of rom-coms, maybe it could have made more sense, but the fact that it did made the ending all the more cliche. I don't appreciate films trying to fool me, I find it a cheap trick that writers try to put in to make me feel like they're smarter in the end. However, when the credits role I do not feel like the writer was smart at all, but a fool for trying to fool me.
Although, the film had something that was really special, and maybe (somehow) the writer should have focused on that. The father with alzheimer's was terribly sad and brought complete silence to the audience. It produced some pretty powerful scenes, but in the end the subplot all went flat when he thought he saw his "only true love." It was a cop out, and a disappointment.
I would probably keep this on for a few moments if I saw it on TV, but probably not for too long. It's worth viewing if you're a fan of that genericy rom-com, but if your not it's probably a miss in theaters. With all these theatrical summer blockbusters out like Captain America and Harry Potter, I say you should wait for the dvd!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Last Day of My Internship with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Total Recap: Thursday July 21 2011

Triple Tap
Keui-Mei, A Woman (1986)
Fallen Angels (1995)
Outrage: 3/5
Golden Slumber

Yesterday was a rather odd day. Instead of heading to the theater first, I had to pick up my boss from a Honda dealership, because her battery was having issues (and I totally know how that feels). However, this was the start of a very lucky morning, because I ended up having lunch with her and the French director of the film Lao Wai. He has been super nice the whole festival, and it was a little sad to see him go. When I finally got to the theater, there wasn't too much to do and I just typed in things to a computer to save time for the other board members, which kept my busy at least! It was very relaxing, and because I was so tired it was nice that I wasn't running around doing things anymore like I had been that morning.
Around 7pm I went off with Teresa to get ready for the closing party at Lumi's, which ended up being a lot of fun and a lot less hot and stuffy like the previous opening party. There was a lot of food, a lot of dancing, and the winners of all the awards were announced. I Am seemed all around to be a favorite, which makes me kinda regret not watching it at all.
The dancing was actually the best part. Some people could bust some moves, and a few guys that had seen Outrage came over to eat at Lumi's, and they seemed to have some kind of classical training in dance. They were great.
At the end, we ate at a place called Cafe Brazil and I ate some pancakes and my boyfriend showed up :) It was a good end to a very good week and internship.
I will now start going back to my regular reviews stating now :) I hope everyone who has read this will follow me and start to read all my blog posts!!! :D

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Days 5 and 6 of my Internship with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Total Recap: Tuesday and Wednesday July 19 and 20, 2011

Movies 06/19
Love in a Puff (re-showing)
Our Neighbor (1963)
Midnight FM: 4.5/5
Shorts Block 2
Lao Wai: 3/5
The Image Threads

Movies 06/20
Amigo (re-showing)
Home Sweet Home (1970)
Shorts Block 3
The Drunkard: 1.5/5
Tell Me Something (1999)

Yesterday morning I was so tired, I forgot to write a review of Tuesday! Lucky for me this morning I wasn't too tired to write about both days today :)
Tuesday was a pretty slow day. I was the only volunteer in the morning, which was rather boring. Being alone and in charge isn't all that fun once you get down to it. However, not too long after people showed up that I was able to talk to. Around 4pm, I went to go watch Midnight FM, and it was really quite fabulous. You don't have to tell me twice to go watch a Korean film ever. That country really knows what's up with the film business. Especially if we're talking thrillers.Midnight FM is about a radio voice whose family is being held hostage by a crazed fan on her last night hosting her show. It's sad, it's exciting, and its twisty. I would have maybe ended it differently, or made the main character a little more nice to one of the supporting, but other than that I was really excited about this movie after the credits rolled, and the only 2 other movies that have affected me that way this year were Super 8 and of course Harry Potter!
I skipped the shorts block so I could help out some more, but after that I watched Lao Wai, which had the director in attendance. I thought the film was sweet, and for his first narrative piece it had really fabulous cinematography. I think my only issue with the movie was the protagonist male seemed a little unlikable, and I know if I found my boyfriend in the position his girl found him, there would be no second chances.
At the end of the day, I met up with a friend for late dinner :) She came up from Austin to visit family, and I was so excited she called me!

Onto Wednesday! It was a really slow day yesterday. There was never more than 15 people in a theater for the first 3 movies, so I finished Dead Until Dark and watched some Harry Potter. I was told to watch the shorts block, and I did. All of them were good except the ending documentary, which I found a little boring. The producer of one of the shorts was there, which was neat. Here is a little preview of it. It was a good one. Then I stayed to watch The Drunkard, which highly reminded me of the movie In the Mood for Love, which if you appreciated that film, this one would be for you as well. The Drunkard is based of a stream of consciousness novel that is actually the same author that wrote In the Mood for Love. The audience primarily enjoyed the film and had a lot of questions for the director afterwards.
Then sadly, tragedy struck and Alicia's car wasn't starting at her apartment. However, I came in to save the day and picked her up an took her back to the theater, so she could hang out with our 2 directors and producer at this very Texan-y bar. I ended up just drinking water :). I was too tired for anything else!
Today I am not seeing any films, because I have already seen Outrage and Golden Slumber, so I will just be hanging around until the after party at Lumi's :).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 4 of my Internship with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Total Recap: Monday July 18 2011

Shoalin (repeat showing)
Ch Medley: A Dream of Iron
Shorts 1
City Under Siege
I Am
Enemy at the Dead End: 4/5

Today I feel like I did the most, even though it was probably the most relaxing day! I got to tally up all the little surveys, and I drove the director of the short film The Good Daughter to the airport, and I simply was just a little bit more busy than prior days.
In the morning I spent my time eating, working with other volunteers, and recording those surveys I mentioned earlier. It kept me busy enough to keep my mind of the slowerness of Monday. All-in-all a good day.
The only movie I ended up catching today was the last one, which was worth staying up for. Enemy at the Dead End was a surprisingly funny Korean revenge thriller. The actor of Oldboy was the main guy in this film, and the audience follows the film through his POV. The word was that this movie is "Oldboy set in a hospital room," which is almost half right. Because of the straight up humor in this movie, though, I would say it has a very different feel of any Korean revenge movie I've ever seen. The film itself is also a tad predictable, and the twist isn't its usual twistiness as many Korean films do, but the film still is enjoyable throughout. Whenever you have the option to see it, I would very much recommend it, even for the faint of heart. This movie is not scary at all in any way, but some hilarious fun. Who doesn't want to see practically paralyzed men attempting to kill each other off with feeble attempts?? I do! :)
Anyway, today I must get to the theater at 11:30am because there are no other volunteers signed up for the first spot. Oh well, the most boring part of the day hopefully will go by fast because I am reading the first True Blood novel Dead Until Dark. Also, the Deathly Hallows Pt2 mugglecast has finally come out, and you bet I'm listening! :)
Today I'm seeing Midnight FM hopefully and Lao Wai.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 3 of my Internship with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Total Recap: Sunday July 17 2011

From Me to You (君に届け): 4/5
Seven Samurai (七人の侍)
Love in a Puff: 3.5/5
Bedevilled: 3.5/5

Yesterday I was very lucky to catch 2 films that were both cute and quirky. At the beginning of the day, I saw the cutesy Japanese romantic movie From me to You. This film had a really interesting plot, where the protagonist female has been avoided all her life because of her liken to the scary ghost Sadako from Ringu. She then meets a very kind transfer student who immediately forms a crush on her. In the process of their relationship budding, Sadako also meets 2 girls that become her very closest friends. It's very sweet, very heart warming, but can seem slow at times. The character development is really grand as well.
I skipped Amigo and Seven Samurai to help out a little bit with holding iPads and whatnot :p I went out to lunch at Village Burger Bar (very delicious french fries!) with Sara and another Jenny and we discussed the film festival, soccer, and dangerous pets. It was a good time :).
Then after a reception that was fed by Thairiffic, and some good little pastries from Community Coffee, I watched the Chinese film Love in a Puff. It had really brilliant dialogue and revolved around a very interesting story of people meeting over a smoking spot in Hong Kong during post the 2007 smoking act. I highly recommend seeing its second showing Tuesday at noon if you have time in the week. It's really great!
I had previously viewed Bedevilled, so I skipped it, but I was curious if some of the people read "drama" not realizing that it was ultra-violent as welll.
Today I hope to see the last film Enemy at the Dead End. It's a Korean revenge thriller, and I absolutely love those. It's on at 9:30, so you should come and see it as well! :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 2 of my Internship with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Total Recap: Saturday July 16 2011

Little Big Soldier
Saigon Electric: 2.5/5
Wedding Palace
The Stool Pigeon
Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City

Today was a lot more eventful that Friday because of Saturday's official weekend status. The first two films got rave reviews from everyone who went to go see it. I myself was lucky enough to catch Saigon Electric, which even though its story is a jumbled up mess (because it had story-focusing issues) it's a very pleasant film to see and the dance-off at the end was very cool to watch. I would say if you are very into dance and romance movies like Step Up, you are very much likely to enjoy this film. It will be showing again in Dallas come October.
After I kicked back and watched a movie and tallied up the audience scores, I went out to lunch with some of the people who are in charge of me :) It was quite pleasant, and I learned how to hold a fork properly whilst cutting. Something that will help me my entire life to come! And also will be a great dinner conversation topic for those awkward times.
After lunch, it was time to get back to business and I helped out with crowd control after the film Monga so that everyone could have a taste of the samples from the restaurant Mr. Wok. I too helped myself to a delicious pork sandwich that was very excellent. Then the line died down and it was time to head of the Malai Kitchen with one of my other bosses, Sara. We had to set up early for the reception for the director of the movie Wedding Palace, which went very smoothly an about 90 people showed up, which was a fantastic turn out! And after that we all headed back over to the Magnolia for midnight karaoke, which lasted until about 2am! It was loads of fun. Both directors from the features shown earlier that day showed up (from Saigon Electric and Wedding Palace) as well as a director of a short film that will be shown in the last slot of "Shorts 1" this Monday at 4:05pm. Come out and see her movie! She's a really fantastic and quirky person :). I'm sure her short The Good Daughter will be the same!
Today I plan on catching From Me to You and Love in a Puff hopefully. I hear fantastic things about Puff, so I'm very excited! On to another great day! :D

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 1 of my Internship with the Asian Film Festival of Dallas

Total Recap: Friday July 15 2011

Golden Slumber: 4/5
Cyrano Agency
Dance Town
Battle Royale: 4/5
Karate-Robo Zaborgar

Well, after a late night with Mr. Potter, I had an early start! I took my boyfriend to the Dallas Lovefield Airport, checked in at a hotel, took a little nap, and made my way over to the Asian Film Festival of Dallas (being held at the Magnolia theater!).
My day started out slow. My internship is essentially a all-the-time volunteer. I folded some t-shirts, ran around asking people questions, tallied up some score cards, and kept people company. Because it was a Friday morning and many people had work, there were only about 20 or so movie goers, mostly VIPs. However, they all seemed quite pleased with the films they were able to catch, and lucky for most people who were not able to make it, one of those films is showing again on Thursday July 21. That movie would be the ever-wonderful Golden Slumber.
I don't want to give too much away about this film because it is so twisty and turny, but it starts off with a man meeting an old friend, and immediately is framed for the Prime Minister's assasination. The plot really thickens from then on and our nervous hero takes a winding path of conspiracy. I would very much highly recommend you catch this film at its later time, for you are missing something grand and spectacular. Also, for those who like random facts, the Sendai area where this movie was filmed was really struck down hard by the earthquake this past year, so go and see this film and show your support for Japan getting back on its feet.
I also was able to catch the big screen showing of Battle Royale, which was just as fabulous as the first time I watched it. Further more, it was really neat to be sitting next to someone who had not seen it before, and her shock during the twist was very much enlightening. What was further interesting, was that I actually didn't have to read the subtitle sometimes! It's good to know that my Japanese knowledge is sticking, somewhat even after my minor classes are complete :D!
I do not know how many movie I will be able to see today, but hopefully I am able to see all the ones I am interested in for tomorrow (Love in a Puff and From Me to You)! I also hope I will be able to catch the repeat showing of Shoalin. So everyone who's anyone in Dallas or Denton should go to this festival ASAP! It's their 10th anniversary, so it's bigger than ever! :)
Ticket Info:
$9 online
$7 for students at the door

A Decade of Fans Not Knowing What's Next

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2: 4.5/5

I was really nervous to see this movie, as well as over-the-moon excited. With this melting pot of emotions jumping around in my stomach, it's quite shocking I didn't throw them all back up. Sitting in the IMAX theater was torture. One moment I was whispering to my boyfriend "I'm not ready for this movie yet," and then I would be squirming in my fo-leather chair squealing "This is it! One more hour!"
Finally the Warner Brothers logo appeared and the whole theater was silent (well, except for the one Texan guy who shouted "Well, Hello Voldy," but he was promptly threatened to shut up by his hissing girlfriend seconds later). Munching on popcorn and politely sipping at my cherry coke, I laughed, I cried, and I cheered until Harry's Wondrous World play at the end credits.
The film was so different than I imagined it from the books; and sure, almost all of it was previously teased in trailers, clips, and featurettes, but there was something about it that made this movie deeply contrast from the book (by far more than any previous film) that no clip of trailer could have forewarned me about.
Though many of the changes were subtle and albeit unnoticeable to some, there were many and surprisingly a lot of the changes actually worked! This film skipped chapters, deleted scenes, killed new characters and changed the course of events ever so slightly, that the film was drastically different. I feel like I experienced the whole end as new again, and I am forever grateful to experience that wave of emotion twice in my life.
So that being written, I must start out with my favorite things! Pardon my bullet-point style, but I feel like in this case it flows best! I must also say now, many of these contain **SPOILER ALERTS**.
- We'll start off with the one thing I can't stop raving about. One name, two words: Narcissa Malfoy. One could have never guessed from the unbreakable vow scene that it was the beginning of a beautiful crafted, fabulously acted subplot about the Malfoy family. The focus on her love for her son and husband was a lot more focused than the books. Everyone got the gist of what went on with the Malfoys and made very accurate educated guesses, but our wonderful JK never really let her readers dive into the Malfoys train of thought because we followed the train of thought of our hero protagonist. The key scene here would be Narcissa holding hands with her son Draco, quickly walking away from the Dark Lord as Lucius looks back timidly. WONDERFUL <3.
- Lavender Brown dying was so shocking and tragic. Her character was so much biggest in Half-Blood Prince, that it was almost perfect that she had to die. I couldn't handle the surprise, and I burst into tears repeating to myself "Lavender's not supposed to die." It was just the type of shock-value the movie needed for the hard-core book fans who lined up 13 hrs before the midnight movie.
- George asking Fred how he's feeling prior to the battle was so beautiful. I cried as well, knowing Fred's soon-to-be deathly fate.
- And oh how Lord Voldy was ruthless. Reading the books, you know this, but you can't possibly fathom his wickedness. The movies clear that right up for you. He kills people that are on his side when he's furious that his plan in not going accordingly. His cruel laughter at Neville when he discovers he's in fact a Longbottom. His order for Nagini to repeatably bite Severus to his death...even after the awkward hug he hands Draco, I still found him unbelievably sinister.
- Though I love the majestic quality of the Ravenclaw common room, for the film I am glad Luna warned him against this pointless measure (even though she leads him to it in the books).
- Ron and Hermione's Chamber of Secrets kiss was as exciting and sudden as the books and their undying lvoe for another really sparkles and shines through. Also when Ron chases after Draco and his gang in the Room of Requirement shouting "That's my girlfriend!" the waterworks started yet again.
- Neville really shined in this film. He some some great heroic moments, like killing the snake obviously; but his detroying of the Howarts bridge was very brave, and when he fell with it I was genuinely scared for his life. And when he realizes his feelings for Luna, I squealed.
- Hermione hugging Harry and saying "I'll go with you," before he turns himself in is really great.
- Snape's memory was so simple, and like the books so impacting. His love for Lily Evans was pulsing through the screen. Holding her dead body was devastating. It seems Alan Rickman knew a deeper, more passionate Severus than possibly JK knows, even though it was she who revealed Snape's true remedial qualities quite early on to Rickman.
- And finally...the finale. Playing Harry's Wondrous World got me wishing there was more, but knowing there was not. The shot being so similar to the first film made me really want to go back and experience this all again. Sadly, this is not possible.

And now for the disappointing and slightly nerve-killing parts.
- The pacing of the movie was really fast, but I'm sure if watched back to back with Part 1 this problem would cease.
- Was Neville going to really kill the snake?! Oh my god, I didn't know and I was worried. Harry, Hermione, and the Ron all threaten to do the deed that gets Neville his brownie points, and I wanted to punch them all when I thought this was going to happen.
- Harry does not break the Elder Wand before fixing his wand, and when he does not go to the bridge with his two best friends and threaten to jump off it either. WRONG. I refuse to believe this ending, it still makes me angry. Luckily the 19 years later part kept my mind off it, because if I ended on the furious note, things would have been a lot uglier in this review.
- And where was Dumbledore's back story? I really did miss this, even though one article I read said it was really unneeded for a feature film that's supposed to be focusing on Harry. I get it, I understand that, but they cast Grindelwald, so why not include the subplot???
- And I really did miss Grawp and the house elves at the very end. Disappointing and so sad.
- Oh, and there's goes Hermione stealing all the good lines again. Sorry Harry, I know it's your idea to take the dragon, but you have been put in quote time-out with Ron.
- And movie Harry, you seem to know so much more than you let on. In fact, I believe you can read minds! How did you know the mirror was Sirius's? He never showed or gave it to you! And knowing about Lupin's son?! Well, apparently I wasn't watching the films closely enough to see these hidden powers you seemed to possess.
- And finally...the finale. Apparently red heads grow up to be fat or chunky, while all the others stay skinny and young looking. Poor Ron, he never stood a chance.

So this is it, the end of the Harry Potter era. There are no new books to be read, no new movies to be seen. This is the end of everyone's "childhood." But it's not really, is it? Because "the ones that love us never really leave us," and "have a way of coming back to us in the end." Because Hermione's heart-filled words are true, and as she hugs Harry telling him she will go with him, we all feel the same way. As Dumbledore states in both the book and the movie, "Of course it is happening inside your head...but why on earth does that mean it is not real?" Harry Potter is real and lives on in all great fans' hearts, even when his story has come to an end.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harry Potter: A Duo of David Yates

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: 4/5
It was this movie that started the career of the man who is now known to have directed half of the Potter films. His first one in the series was really controversial, if that. This is when I started hearing complaints from fans of the books most, however not much from people who had never read the books. However, there is no doubt in my mind that this one is good. I think this is a combination of the fact that this one came out on days before the final book installment, and not only that but I was getting into film at around this time and I was starting to comprehend how much it takes to create this movie.
At first, I admit, I was very much upset. The longest book in the series had the shortest amount of screen time, and not only that, but some of my favorite parts were cut out. What in the name of Merlin's pants is this?! However, I will always stand up for this film, the least liked among the series because of these reasons:
1. It really does stick to the main points of the book. You see Harry going through personal pain because Dumbledore is ignoring him, the place he once called his home is now overtaken by the evil Umbridge, his love growing for his godfather Sirius, and his fear that his friends will n
ot understand what he is going through. All these main points really shine through in this film, and for that I am pround of what writer Michael Goldenberg has done (and by the way, this was the only film not written by the writer Steve Kloves).
2. Umbridge was phenomenal. They could not have cast anyone who fit the role more perfectly. From her annoying little giggle, to her insincere smile, she was hands down the best choice for the film's villain.
3. Luna Lovegood was also more perfect than words can describe. She really was the Luna I imagined, and further I could relate to her on so many levels.
4. The little easter eggs that were put in before the 7th book always make me happy. Especially the one with Aberforth at the Hog's Head with his goats :). That will always have a little nostalgia for me. I remember not too long after my finishing of the 7th book, I went and saw this one in IMAX. When the WB logo popped up, with Hedwig's theme playing behind it, I almost cried.
5. It kept things from the books that were important to me, even though they didn't make the biggest appearance at the end of the day. Kreature talking to his Mistress' portrait was very hard to miss upon first viewing, but now I pick it out instantly. Also, Tonks falling over the troll umbrella stand and her making faces at the dinner table are very sweet reminders of the little things in the series that make us all laugh.
So at the end of the day, I really loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, even if you didn't. Sure, it was disappointing to have the Department of Mysteries scene pretty much cut out by a lot, but at least it kept the battle, unlike its predecessor.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 3.5/5
Now, this one is hands-down my least favorite Potter film, but I'm not saying that I ha
te it or anything of the like. It's just the one that disappointed me the most, and to be honest it still does after re-watching it. I will give it the benefit of the doubt that there was a lot of information in the 6th book, but I feel like the fact that they twisted around the chain of events, and also eliminated a lot of the sacred memories, was a tragedy that Steve Kloves should have foreseen. Upon reading the 7th book, this film should have been the best out of the series. He knew what to put in it, and what to not put in it, yet I feel like he just disregarding it all and made a film that ended up making me feel like he maybe he was still bitter from not being asked to write the 5th.
Here are some of the very important scenes Kloves left out:
1. The memories. The two more important ones being Tom Riddle asking Dumbledore to have a position at the school as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and Hepzibah Smith showing Riddle Hufflepuff's cup. I can understand why Steve Kloves wrote out the Gaunts, though I really don't want to. Their story was easily missed, seeing as all the chain of events in the film can make sense without it. It's a really good story, no doubt, but if there was one memory that should have been cut, that was the one to go.
2. Dumbledore not putting a body-binding curse on Harry at the top of the tower. I really disliked this because it made Harry seem almost like a coward. And Harry not one second EVER trusted Snape in the books, so why did he trust him to waltz on by him and Avada Kedavra Dumbledore in the movies? It doesn't seem right, and I dislike the way this was done.
3. They didn't show the diadem in the Room of Requirement. This really angered me, more than you can know. I have searched high and low for that diadem during that poor kissing scene between Ginny and Harry (which by the way the never even mention that Ginny's broken off with Dean). They should have, and now that he hasn't seen it I can only wonder what they're going to do with the final film. Also, how will Harry know about Hufflepuff's cup being a horcrux? And Voldy's passion for Hogwarts items?? He doesn't, and to me this causes a problem. I blame Kloves for this lack of information.
4. And what was up with Quidditch? I was actually fine with it when they annexed it from the 5th movie. It was never a key plot point, so it was easily looked over. However, there is one scene of Quidditch in the 6th film and if they were going to put it back in, at least do it right and show all the matches, not just one. And speaking of, since when was Katie Bell in Harry's year? It really made me angry that they shoved her into his Potions class when she has no business being there.
5. Madam Rosmerta was not in this film, and therefore was not imperiused by Malfoy doing all his bidding, like giving Katie the cursed necklace and Slughorn the poisoned mead. It's small, true, but it played a big enough role to make me twitch with frustration. Also, there was no presence of the Ministry of Magic.
and finally 6. The first battle at Hogwarts. The Death Eaters glide so easily through the school, it's sad. The audience doesn't know that Bill got his scars from Greyback, nor are they aware that Fleur has fallen in love with him. We do not see the teachers fight for their school, and show their devotion to Dumbledore. We are also unaware of Neville, Luna, and Ginny's devotion to Harry and their second encounter with Death Eaters.
All these things may frustrate me to no end, but all-in-all I still like this movie. I am moved when Dumbledore dies, and I love the build up for Ron and Hermione's relationship.

"Anyway, my mum always said things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end. If not always in the way we expect."

See you in the end Sirius, James, Lily and Dumbledore :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harry Potter: Quadruple Feature

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (4/5)
A decade has passed since the Harry Potter films began, and even more years since the first book hit shelves everywhere. Brilliant works of art as they are, the films are successful world-wide and the story is known by many. Everyone knows what Hedwig's Theme sounds like and the names Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are household names. In this very special blog posts (2 or so more will come after) I will be dissecting the films and comparing them to the books, while also praising my very favorite British actors.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's book-to-movie was probably the easier adapted, seeing as they are pretty much identical. Of course there are snippets here and there that are different, but they are easily cut to keep the movie well within the 3hr time mark and flowing nicely. Remembering when I first saw it, I was pretty disappointed with the obstacles omitted from the fight to get to the Sorcerer's Stone. I was really looking forward to seeing brilliant purple and black flames and seeing Hermione shine in the moment, but after a few deep breaths and a couple of more screenings of the film, I was okay with this. Hermione's little monologue before Harry runs to go face Voldy for the first time is very beautiful and one of her better lines that she didn't have to steal from Ron.
Other little tid-bits missing was The Trio's time trying to decide what to do with Hagrid's dragon, and the little miss-hap with who actually does the detention in the forest (Neville should have been there instead of Ron), but for the sake of the flow of the movie, these were all necessary edits. The chapter "The Midnight Duel"was also omitted, as well as the characters Peeves, Piers Polkiss, Mrs. Figg and Professor Bins, and a little bit of Vernon Dursely time. All-in-all, this adaption was quite spot on, and I really have no complaints with this film. It was my first visual step into the Potter world and I love it all the more for being that. At 11 years old, there was not much I needed to complain about!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (4/5)
This movie, like it's predecessor, wasn't all too different from the books. Chris Colombus was the director again and he did a fabulous job bringing young Harry to life. The biggest scene looked over would have had to been the Death Day Party on Halloween night, which would have been pretty spectacular to see on the big screen, but I suppose they just had to cut it out to keep within budget (but it's not like the producers and actors aren't swimming in money at this point already due to the first's huge success). At least they didn't cut Dobby's character in this one. There also was a little bit of reorganizing, due to the missing Death Day Party chapter, and this is the first movie that had Hermione stealing Ron's ever-deserved lines. However, who could ever forget "Why spiders?! Why couldn't it be follow the butterflies??" And the added flying car-Hogwarts express scene on peril was pretty good movie action.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (4.5/5)
Now, this is where things start to get sticky. Starting with this one, the films grew a lot darker (cinematography and plot-wise)
and things starting becoming omitted left and right. This is also the film where the true Dumbledore was no more, and the ever disappointing Michael Gambon entered the picture. Although his performance did improve from film to film, it was hard to recognize him as the new Dumbledore my first few viewings. The director also had a very artsy touch to him, as well as a fetish for the Whomping Willow. I think the most outrageous edit from book to film was the dismissing of the explanation behind the Marauders. Sure, this may not be very important information for the defeating of Voldy in the end, but the fact that movie Harry is unaware of his father's nickname and the meaning behind his own patronous is disappointing to say the least. I also would have loved to see Harry's week in Diagon Alley getting free ice creams from Florean Fortescue, but beggers cannot be choosers. I feel like the omitting of many of the boring Care of Magical Creatures classes was a good choice, seeing as not many of us wanted to see The Trio sitting on the ground feeding flobberworms lettuce.
The addition of Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, and Emma Thompson were also fabulous. Each of them brings a life to their characters that is extraordinary, and like many of the Potter films supporting cast, they are very much brilliant at their job.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (4.5/5)
This one being my favorite book, was bound to be my favorite film. Even though there was so much excluded from the books, and many things were tweaked, I feel this is one of the last films that really had the exact mood of the current book and created Voldemort as a villain to be feared. I have never been so scared of him as I was in this movie when he burst out of the cauldron. It was chilling, I remember shaking in my seat upon first viewing. This movie was also the first one I cried during, when Cedric Diggory died.
Although much was taken out to keep the movie in time, I still adore this film. However, this movie can be the one blamed for the sheer ignorance the movie audience has regarding house elves. This film probably also has the most plot holes, especially with the extracting Hermione's SPEW determination and Dobby and Winky's characters. Regarding Dobby's importance later in the films, this also affected Barty Crouch Jr's capture. It just isn't as impacting as it is in the books, but casting David Tennant wasn't a bad move at all. The omitting of Hagrid as a half giant is also a plot hole, concerning the 5th film.
Rita Skeeter's reveal as an illegal animagus, though unneeded, is a let down as well. Also skipping over the Dursley's, the Quidditch World Cup, and Sirius hiding up in the mountains near Hogsmeade was also a let down.
However drastic these edits are, this film has some of the greatest scenes in the series. The one with Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, and Moody is really well done, as well as my favorite voldy scene of all time (which I have already mentioned). It's very much dark and twisted and I love it. The Death Eater's costumes paralleling that of the KKK's was a very brilliant move as well.

I cannot wait to watch the 5th film tonight, and te 6th and 7th Pt.1 later this week. I am so excited for the last film, I cannot quite express it well enough I think. A part of my childhood is ending with the finale of these films. I just cannot believe a decade of great movies is almost over. 4 days.

"The ones that love us never really leave us. And you can always find them in here [the heart]."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses -- 3.5/5

This movie, actually, was not on my radar for this upcoming July. Actually, from the trailer I wasn't too amused to be honest. It didn't have much that really grabbed me, however neither did the first Hangover. I suppose it's actually even safe to say it's very rare that I'll want to go out and see a comedy, seeing as I am super picky concerning which ones I really enjoy. Looking at my DVD collection, I own no more than 10 comedies. I'm just a darker-movie sort of girl (bring on the horror and Tim Burton!).
So then why did I see this movie? Well, I will usually consider any movie that's recommended to me from a fair select group of people I trust, and if on top of that it's fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, then I will give it a shot! The movie was free anyway, so why not?
As it turns out, the person who suggested this movie to me was correct: this movie is really funny and probably one of the better summer comedies (though it wasn't too hard to be, with its only competition being Bridesmaids and The Hangover Part II, and I'm not bashing Bridesmaids either). Horrible Bosses uses a full-proof raunchy guy comedy formula that works: 3 guys (the ladies man, the innocent-ish one, and the every-day normal guy) get themselves tied up in a really crazy and awkward situation and in the climax of the film, miraculously get out of it, no harm done. In this movie's case, the 3 men all have these jerky bosses that sort of push them around, and in conclusion they really want to murder them. The audience never really believes the guys are going to kill the bosses, but the situations these guys get themselves into are pretty amusing.
A plus of this movie was that even though it was a tad predictable at times, it wound up still giving a few shocks that ended up really working with the flow of the film, and the hilariousness of the situation. Two of my favorite characters were actually supporting cast, and those being Dr. Julia Harris (played by Jennifer Aniston) and Motherfucker Jones (played by Jamie Foxx). I actually did not recognize Aniston at first, and was really quite surprised that she played such a funny character, seeing as her name post Friends was pretty much the kiss of death to any comedy. And Jamie Foxx may have his ups and his downs, but it wasn't much of a surprise that he brought out a lot of laughs. This summer comedy is actually not too different from The Hangover a few summers back. Although it does have Jason Bateman as the protagonist, other than that the cast really isn't seen in an overabundance of main stream comedians like the Judd Apatow or SNL group. What it really all comes down to though, is that the writing of this comedy was pretty spot on and it worked. Because really, that's why I find a lot of comedies in the disappointing category: the situation writing is poor and in the end I do not feel satisfied.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cars 2

Cars 2: 3/5

Alright, so this post took me quite a bit longer to write because sadly, my computer was in the shop. However, I'm going to admit that June was a pretty dry month of movies. There really wasn't anything too good out, and I'm so busy rereading Harry Potter that I haven't watched any movies at home. But I have decided to do a review of every HP movie up until the glorious day that HP7 Pt.2 comes out! My reviews will pretty much just be compare/contrast of the movies to the books and my opinions on what they should have kept in and why it was good they left some things out. :)
I digress, though, because this post is about Cars 2! Which in my opinion, was a pretty alright movie! A lot of critics seemed to put this movie down, saying it wasn't average Pixar quality. Wall-E and Toy Story aside, Cars 2 was a very enjoyable movie for children and families alike, and I don't think its fair to say this movie is bad. Though the movie is a little long, it's really not too slow. This is because the film plays out like a James Bond sort of movie, which can easily be deduced if one has seen any of the trailers. What's sort of special about this Cars movie is that it focuses less on the Lightning McQueen character, but rather on the rusty hillbilly truck Mater and the two fancy spy cars (Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell). I really like how they didn't push a new story between all the new characters. I feel like the introduction of the two new super spies was smart and made the movie itself very interesting.
My favorite part in the movie had to be the Tokyo scene. With Japanese being my minor, I loved that I could read and understand a lot of what was going on that wasn't translated. It was also a little nostalgic for me to watch the Tokyo part, seeing as about a year ago I myself was there. This love of Japan may be a little biased, but it doesn't matter to me :) I was a little teary eyed looking at the Tokyo Tower.
The other parts of the world they traveled to were also equally gorgeously animated and made me really was to travel to Italy and London, which hopefully I will next summer! With the traveling element, this Pixar movie was pretty fascinating to watch.
All in all, the story was well paced, amusing, and the animation was (as always with Pixar) just simplistic beauty. I would recommend seeing it before it leaves theater at the end of July.

After a very dull June, I'm really excited for this upcoming July! :) HP, Cowboys & Aliens, Winnie the Pooh, and Captain America!