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|7 reviews in total|
For the avid Harry Potter reader the whole suspense leading up to HP
Order of the Phoenix can be summed up in the word "how". How are they
going to translate a nearly 900 page book to the screen, how are they
going to tie together a storyline that in the 5th book breaks into
dozens of streams like a mighty river coming to its delta.
This seemingly impossible task is well accomplished by astute summation of plot and concentration of action. Also, the heart and soul of the book, i.e. the thematic spirit of the story and Rowling's shining gift for characterization are given the fullest support in this film more so than in any previous HP movie.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix basically involves Harry being persecuted by the government for telling a truth they refuse to believe all while dealing with the same feelings of teen angst and emerging love that any ordinary teen finds stressful and consuming. Only through the love and dedication of family and especially friends does Harry come across the means to fight back against the government, elude his enemies and make some sense of his emotional turmoil.
Most reader's will come out of the theater saying "I wish they had shown this or that." However, all will leave satisfied that they have been treated to a faithful rendering brilliantly acted and directed. All the HP movies are a "good watch" but in this one we get a great movie.
We have the advantage of going to our HP movies with a non-reader and she was, to say the least, blown away and pronounced it a near classic. My daughter and myself have read and reread the books many times over and came out limp from exhilaration, our keen anticipation very much fulfilled.
A few highlights: The acting is best ever. The three principles push themselves to a new level. My favorite new characters were Imelda Staunton as Delores Umbridge, excellent (you'll love to hate her) and Natalia Tena as Tonks. Natalia is sheer delight. She is the penultimate punk rock witch girl(think Dead Milkmen here). And Helena Bonham Carter is in her medium (she played the witch Morganna in the movie Merlin) as the dangerous and demented Bellatrix LeStrange.
Battle scenes: breathtaking. Commraderie: The only HP that actually caused me to get teary so heartfelt are the portrayals of friendship and family.
See the film knowing that unless you want a 10hour movie some things are going to have to go. Leave having enjoyed a film that takes the beans and water and instead of a nice large coffee treats one to a perfectly concentrated, most artfully brewed and extremely tasty espresso. It has been said before but truth is truth: BEST YET!
The Secret Garden is a rare treat where in the screenwriter and
director actually understand their source, The Secret Garden by Frances
Hogsden Burnett, and make a translation to the screen that not only
captures the essence of the book but enhances the story as well. Too
often directors spoil the story with their own self-interested spin
(Little Big Man and Chocolat come immediately to mind)but here is a
jewel that leaves the viewer saying "That was as good as the book." A
The cast is outstanding, the children in particular, Kate Maberly as Mary Lennox above all. Even to the most minor extra everyone brings a smooth and compelling reality to the story.
However, the real star is director Agnieszka Holland. Against a challenging climate ( a rainy location) she manages to create a movie with a touching commentary on how children can literally change the world. Her insightful grasp of the themes of isolation, growth and rejuvenation, the need for a balance between nurture and allowable risk are all managed through the controlling metaphor of a garden. The artful rendering of these literary themes are what many directors apparently find most challenging ( I'm looking at you Arthur Penn)and generally blissfully ignore them compensating by glib insertions, extra action or clumsy sentiment. Not so here.
Not only is her focus exemplary but the photography is amazing. The interplay of light and dark, the time elapse photos of clouds rolling and flowers emerging all set to beautiful music captivate the viewer. The rainy weather was not shunned but used to fullest effect. I can only imagine the discipline it must have taken to wait for the sun to peep out from the clouds and then roll film hoping that the cast can pull off the shot before the light changed and a second take became a long wait. Fortunately all are up to the task and the film, the final scene in particular, results in a brilliant piece of motion picture art.
The 1993 version of The Secret Garden is a must for every family film collection, one the parents and kids can enjoy for its sophistication or simply for the great way in which this timeless classic is retold.
In a word TERRIFIC as far as special effects go but in a word
Disappointing in terms of direction. The best to date as far as big
screen wow-wow and while that may leave the non-reader pleased the real
fan may find the film lacking in certain areas.
There are lots of changes as is to be expected when a nearly 700 page novel is transformed into film, some secondary characters are even left out, however, for the most part the changes are sensitive to the book and in the spirit of the story. The real difficulties lie in the handling of certain characters, Dumbledore in particular and the pacing of certain scenes.
The acting has come a long way, improving as it does in every movie but Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe have reached a greater level of maturation as actors are giving us the "real deal" in this one.
Most of the new characters do an adequate job in support, particularly the adults (Mirand Richardson as Rita Skeeter stands out). Stanislav Ivaneski as Krum and Predrag Bjelac as Karkaroff bring life to their stock characters. Roger Lloyd Pack is good as Barty Crouch, more nervous and weird than in the book book but a lot of fun never the less.
However, Clemence Poesey is miscast as Fleur Delacour. While Poesy is a beautiful girl and fine actress she just does not generate the necessary heat for a part Veela who is supposed to be able to stop men in their tracks and cause them to act the fool with a bat of her lashes. Clemence seems a bit too serious an actress for this comic relief role. A young lady of talent but a bit more curvy and with a young Angelina Jolie type facial feature would have been a better choice.
The massive speculation as to "What is Voldemort going to look like?" is resolved and there is absolutely no room for disappointment here, his transformed self is PERFECT!!! Fiennes is brilliant and an inspired choice for the player. However, the pacing of the final scene and the blocking does not leave Fiennes much to work with, it is almost as if he is dancing about at times. The whole thing seems rushed.
To the writers credit the horror aspect is given fullest reign, more so than in any other movie and true to the book because JK is bringing the reader into a time of torture, murder and doubt with a villain that will go down in history with Dracula as one of the most evil of all time, brought to life in a classic set piece of terror.
Where the film runs into trouble is in the way certain characters are portrayed. As happens with so many projects, director Mike Newell seems more concerned with big screen bombast than showing a keen understanding of his material, especially the characters within. Which is rather glaring since characterization is Rowling's strongest aspect as a writer.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with Dumbledore. In the film, calm, controlled, wise and confident Dumbledore comes across as a shrill, panicky, cantankerous old fart which is a shame because Michael Gambon did a more than adequate job replacing Richard Harris (who is still, however, the better Dumbledore) in the third film. Therefore I feel it is the direction more than the actor that has to be blamed for the lack of a consistent Dumbledore performance in Goblet.
Frances De La Tour is OK as Madame Maxime although she is neither very comely or olive skinned as she is described in the book. Frances delivers a very motivated performance and things are fine until she eats the bug (or whatever it is) that she picks off the front of Hagrid's shirt. Hagrid and Madame Maxime are supposed to be misunderstood outsiders, not revolting freaks! The dealing with outsiders, their place in the world and their struggles to fit in is a main point of HP and to fall down in this area is something a good director/writer should strive to avoid when rendering this type of fiction for the screen.
And this tongue thing they had David Tennent doing as Barty Jr., what was up with that??? Yes, I get it that they needed a recognizable facial tick to provide a give away so that Barty Sr. can see through his son's disguise. But the snake tongue thing almost made me laugh. An eye gesture or any number of other things would have served the plot better. This father-son conflict is supposed to be tragic but came across as rather silly and was wholly underdeveloped.
One last thing and it is a small point but in a film where the special effects are particularly excellent for the most part it grated. What was the deal with the sleeping kids in the underwater scene??!!? Totally fake looking or what??!!? Next time Newell needs to pick out a better rubber dummy supplier. One really expected Harry to start stretching Ron or Hermione's face, jabbing Cho's cheeks or whatever. I am wondering if any of the actors had a good time punching these silly things between takes.
My daughter and myself are huge fans and have read the books many times and find the film a worth while experience. Our Mom/Wife has not read the books but thought the movie outstanding. Those who want to quibble about changes and cannot accept that to turn an hours long reading experience into a movie some things must change/go will be left out. Which is unfortunate because it is a worthy watch even with some of its more rankling aspects.
Far from typical Christmas fare, comedy or otherwise The Ref is an
under rated classic that is a perfect blend of cynicism and hope,
cleverness and bawdy comedy. It has a lot of shrill moments and if foul
language makes you uneasy stay away but most will find the obscenities
just part of the plot as the resolution of anger and bitterness in the
lives of four people is what this film is about.
A sort of "Ransom for Redchief" style plot where a very sophisticated cat burglar takes a dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas eve much to his initial regret, this film succeeds in the main on the terrific acting by most of the cast. So much of the comedy is carried through because of small facial expressions, minute actions and razor sharp timing from the participants. The leads are priceless, Judy Davis in particular, although one finds himself quoting the two male leads perhaps more often. Christine Baranski, Glynnis Johns and Adam Le Ferve reveal their absolute mastery of the character actors craft with excellent support that shines in its own right. Phillip Nichol and Ellie Raab as the young nephew and niece provide the perfect foil of innocence for all of the "adultness". A great movie to watch as a relief from the typical nostalgic and kid orientated Christmas flicks. There are so many really good Christmas stories and this one numbers among them aimed squarely at grown-ups for a change.
Although Ted Demme changed the ending and is said to have regretted doing so I think it was the right decision adding one last lurch of suspense to the overall mix the first watch around. What happens?-sorry you'll have to wait to open this present yourself.
My wife and I found this old favorite the other night and gave it a
watch after a hiatus of many years. A sci-fi/cop flick hybrid, The
Hidden is one of the best sci-fi movies ever. Nourri and MacLachlan are
outstanding as the two cops. Nourri is a courageous, street tough
do-gooder who is completely bewildered by the mild mannered F.B.I agent
he finds himself teamed with.
All of the clichés are in place but the straight forward embrace of the roles by the two principles and the excellent effort of the supporting cast leaves one with no motive to even begin to scoff. Timing is impeccable so that the notes of humor, suspense and moral message never sound jarringly off key or leave one to smirk when it is uncalled for or roll ones eyes in cynicism. The viewer is drawn into the bubble of suspended disbelief and held there throughout the fast pace of the film. This flick holds up remarkably well both in terms of plot and special effects (which are kept to a minimum as far as the sci-fi theme, full tilt, however, from the car chase, shoot-em-up cop side of the story)despite its ripe old age of 18 years.
No plot summary is possible, there are too many twists and surprises that cannot be given away. However, when you're ready for some old school sci-fi escapism look on the classic rack for The Hidden, you will not be disappointed.
By the way, this movie is very violent at times and kinda gross here and there so make sure the under thirteens are out of the house or otherwise unavailable.
Doomed to disappointment are those who want to see Charlie's Angels as anything more than a grandiose episode of the original show. Part of the TnA wave of the late 70's it was and is nothing more than a parody of spy and detective movies and shows. The parody is achieved by having the heroines be foxy bimbos totally unrestrained by the narrow sexual roles of days passed. They are over-beautiful, over-talented and the plots over-blown? You bet, for this is PARODY. The movie captures the spirit of the show completely and does a way better job than most TV show to movie efforts. Like the TV show they fall, they plunge, they get abused and never wear a mark from it. Between the three of them they are capable of every form of knowledge on the planet. Cameron Diaz is an awesome parallel to Farrah Fawcetts old character and likewise for the Lucy Liu Jacklyn Smith connection. Drew plays the Kate Jackson (the pretty but not glamorous tom girl member in the old show) tough girl part real well but has a hard time escaping the glam girl look because Drew is a goddess and there is really no hiding that with clothing alone. They do take that tough girl and have her fall naked from a two story building, roll down a rocky, pine covered hill and emerge at two pre-adolescent boys house (who just happen to be arguing about whether one of them has really seen a grown woman naked or not)without a scratch, clad only in an inflatable pool toy. Brilliant corn. Cliches abound because they are supposed to be everywhere in a film of this genre. If you liked the show (or found it an occasional silly escape) this flick is a must see. It is among my nine year old daughters favorite movies.
This little animated movie is very true to the story by Oscar Wilde and does a nice job of capturing the spirit and sensitivity of his writing. The music is fabulous, a sort of choral modern Celtic, that adds a lot to the overall experience. The animation is equally wonderful. It is a shame that it is not more well known. The religious slant of the story should not put viewers off in that it is first and foremost an extremely positive story simply stating that selfishness is wrong, something I think that anyone could understand and appreciate. That Wilde accomplishes this ethical depiction through the Christian example is particularly touching if one is aware of Wilde's own life experiences. Whether one is knows of Wilde's writings and biography or not this little movie is an immensely worthwhile experience. It left a tear and smile when I was a kid and it still does. If you enjoy bittersweet animated shorts like "The Snowman" then this is a movie for you (and the kids)