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Depressing, disgusting, creepy, and not about a dog!
Oh my God. This has got to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. I'm making sure to post this review both on Amazon AND on IMDb. I have no doubt in my mind a fair amount of drugs were involved in the creation of this "artistic" screenplay
First of all, this movie isn't about a dog, it's about death/mortality. After reading the description I was expecting a sort of "My Dog Skip" or even canine "Black Beauty" type movie. What I got was a disjointed, dark film that left me staring at disbelief at my screen.
I don't know what was more disturbing, the scene where a mother was telling her young son the story of her childhood dog being raped by a "greasy stray named Mohammad" (wtf?), the 2 minute montage of bloody diarrhea, the scenes of Kieran Culkin being a drug addict that seemed sadly realistic, Ellen Burstyn chugging a whole bottle of Kaopectate, or the fact the dog's names throughout the film were just "Wiener Dog", "Doody" and "Cancer".
Seriously, only the dog's scenes with her first owners (mostly mistreating her) in the first 15-20 mins actively involved the dog as a true part of the film. Throughout the other hour of the film she was barely more than a prop. They could have replaced the dog with a stuffed animal or even a freaking lamp that was passed around and the majority of the movie would have been the same. Not only that but it seems that past the first three owners of the dog, the film makers didn't seem to feel the need to explain how the dog was given to the next owner or the next, she just magically appeared beside new people with no rhyme or reason as to how she got there.
The film is full of weird, creepy and awkward scenes, many of which involve painfully long shots of boring or gross things (like previously mentioned diarrhea), or the dog doing nothing but looking uncomfortable in a cage. And let's not forget that despite having at least 3 good actors in this movie, the vast majority of the cast was godawful. I also feel like they directed any children in this film to be as creepy and weird as humanly possible. There were a few times I laughed, I'll admit. But it was less "Hah! That's funny!" and "That's so messed up I have to laugh". Mind you, I like offensive comedies that make dark jokes but this is just weird, gross and unpleasant. Don't waste your time on this unless you like "so bad it's good" movies.
Why people don't respect the "young adult" genre
Since we apparently needed to continue the theme of young adult dystopian adventure, they adapted the first book in the Divergent series to film. So, how does it measure up?
Divergent takes place in a bleak, strictly regimented future where everyone is born into certain "factions" based primarily on their personality traits. Those may include intelligence, selflessness, fearlessness, justness and kindness. At a coming of age ceremony the young members of this society are given a test that dictates what faction they belong in—however, they able to choose the one they want no matter their results. Our teen protagonist Tris (Shailene Woodley) was born into the selfless faction, and is shocked to learn that the results of her personality test are inconclusive—therefore she is "divergent", and cannot fit into society. However she chooses to join the fearless faction and with the help of some friends begins a covert overthrow of the government so this faction business can be done away with.
Before I get into anything I'll say I've not read the books, so I do not know how this compares to the source material, nor if they did anything "wrong" in the film. This movie felt forced. It felt like it just really, really wanted to be The Hunger Games. But unfortunately none of the characters, plot, or fictitious government were very good. I spent the entire movie thinking that the concept of their factions was so flimsy it was ridiculous. Mainly because the personality traits—kind, just, intelligent, selfless, and brave are NOT at all contradictory. I find it flat out impossible to believe that any person could possibly fit into just one faction. Not only that, but what the hell is the point of the test if you can choose your faction regardless of what the test says? It would at least make more sense if people must stay in the faction they're born into like a caste system, or just that one MUST go into the faction their test dictates. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likable, and the acting really fell flat. I was very aware I was watching a movie, and was never engaged or excited by anything that happened.
All in all this movie was a poorly acted and poorly executed mess that left me checking the time every few minutes. It's based on a storyline and characters that make no logical sense, and who try to be poignant but just come off sounding juvenile and foolish. Definitely not worth the time it takes to watch it.
It Takes Two (1995)
It Takes the Olsen Twins
What do you get when you take two parts Prince and the Pauper, one part The Parent Trap and throw in the Olsen Twins? It Takes Two of course!
This story starts with the very different lives of two identical strangers (Mary-Kate & Ashley): Alyssa, who is the lonely daughter of a wealthy widower (Steve Guttenberg), and Amanda, an orphan with a "street" attitude who is looked after by her...social worker? caretaker? Diane (Kirstie Alley). For the summer, Amanda and her friends from the orphanage are sent to a camp for disadvantaged children, which just happens to be across the lake from Alyssa's enormous summer home. By chance, the two girls run into each other (literally) in the woods and discover they look exactly the same. After a few minutes of conversation they decide to switch places because...why not?! Now they both must deal with the other's problems--Alyssa struggling with Amanda's adoption to an awful family, and Amanda doing her best to get rid of the gold-digging b!tch Alyssa's father is engaged to. While the girls deal with that, Diane and Alyssa's dad meet and begin a romance. So, will Amanda be able to stop the wedding? Will Alyssa be able to get out of the awful adoptive parents' home? Will anyone believe they are actually someone else? Will Diane and Alyssa's dad get together?
This movie is quite bad. As a child I loved it, but that's purely because I loved the Olsen twins/Full House. Everything and everyone in this film is an old cliché that was taken from other books and films that did it much better. There is literally nothing new or interesting about the plot line of this film. The acting also leaves something to be desired. Steve Guttenberg, Kirstie Alley, and Philip Bosco as Vicenzo the butler actually did a decent job with what they were handed, but it was still sub-par. More than anything this movie demonstrated something the world seemed to have missed for many years: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen cannot act for their lives. People forget that they became famous on...not so much acting, but on being cute and essentially being themselves on camera. This is the first role they had where they were not Michelle Tanner or just..."twins" (i.e. themselves)! Neither of them are able to pull off either a high or low class NYC accent and demeanor without sounding like they are pulling it out with a rope. In fact, if I had seen this without knowing who they were, I would think they had never even acted in a school play, nonetheless been "acting" since they were infants. Also, there is something else about this movie that really irritates me. That is, the use of the word "orphan" and Amanda being from an "orphanage". I don't know what films' preoccupation on these anachronistic terms are, but there had not been an orphanage in NYC for over 30 years when this film was made. Not only that, but the term "orphan" has also not been used for a very long time. The fact they are constantly using the word "orphan" in this movie drives me up a wall.
All in all this film is pathetic. It's boring, uninteresting, and has some painful acting on the part of the Olsen twins. Some young children may like it, but you're better off getting The Parent Trap if you must sit through it with them.
Excellent film and realistic depiction of troubled teenage girls
I have loved this movie since it came out in 2003. It is well written, well, acted, and is realistic about subjects most people ignore.
Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is an average, well-behaved 13 year old entering middle school. While she struggles at home with her recovering alcoholic mother Mel (Holly Hunter), Tracy's main concern is to be liked by the popular girls. Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed) is the queen bee, and after she teases Tracy about her clothes, Tracy steals a wallet to impress her and they quickly become best friends. Evie is a deeply troubled girl who lies, steals, wears provocative clothing, has promiscuous sex, does drugs, and is abused and neglected by her guardians. As Tracy becomes more and more like Evie, engaging in similar bad behavior, her permissive mother totally loses control over her. Tracy is further agitated by her deadbeat dad and Mel's recovering addict boyfriend. Evie and Tracy are inseparable in their dysfunction, and when Evie is away Tracy often cuts herself. Tracy continues to spiral out of control with Mel watching helplessly, and Evie holding her hand through the entire thing.
This movie is good, but sometimes hard to watch. I find it very different from other movies because there are no character you ALWAYS sympathize with. You sometimes feel bad for and sometimes can't stand all of the three main characters. They are well-rounded and realistic. It saddens me that people often misinterpret the actions of the girls, who clearly have some traumatic pasts and inadequate parenting, as just "sluts" or that they "just need an ass whooping." It's very clear to see the pain, childishness, and desperate need for guidance in these kids if you pay attention. A must watch for anyone that lives or works with teenagers.
An honest review without politics getting involved
This has been one of the most talked about movies in a long time. Are Disney's new princesses feminists? Are there LGBT undertones? Is there a gay family in it? Are the princesses "strong women"? Let's just look at this loose adaption of Hans Christian Ansderson's "The Snow Queen".
Elsa and Anna are princesses living in the fictional kingdom of Arrendelle. Elsa is endowed with mysterious powers that allow her to shoot ice and snow from her hands. When she accidentally injures her younger sister Anna with her powers their parents force her to hide and keep herself hidden from Anna and the world. Shortly after their parents die when the girls are teenagers, Elsa has a coronation ceremony. At the party, Anna instantly falls in love with a handsome prince named Hans, and announces to Elsa that she is engaged. This makes Elsa fly into a rage that releases her frosty powers, terrifies the kingdom, and sends Arrendelle into an intense winter during summer. She escapes to the mountains, and Anna rushes after her sister, who she is sure didn't mean to hurt anyone. Anna is aided by a quirky woodsman named Kristoffe, his dog-like reindeer Sven, and a hilarious, living snowman Olaf. Together, they all try to help Elsa, stop the winter, and return Arrendelle to the kingdom it once was.
This movie is good. It's cute, it's funny, it has good songs, the animation is done well, and it is entertaining for children and adults alike. "Let It Go" is one of the best Disney songs I've heard in many years, and Olaf the snowman is the funniest animated character I've seen in ANY animated film in a long time. I am so entirely tired of people obsessing about the feminist and possibly gay undertones/implications of the film, instead of the actual film itself. Point blank, there is nothing damaging about the plot or messages in this film, obviously or subtly. It's not a groundbreaking film, but it's not any step back either. Without giving it away, I will say I was impressed with a plot twist or two towards the end that I really did not expect. That twist itself impressed me not because it was "progressive", but because it wasn't something I expected from average, predictable Disney films. Its real focus is love, and they do a good job. Like Brave as well, it's focusing more on relationships and love between two female characters rather than a male and female or two males. The only real criticism I have about this film is that, although the animation is good, it is computerized and...has less variety than traditional animation. For example, Elsa and Anna's faces look almost identical to Rapunzel's in Tangled. Also, like Tangled isn't called "Rapunzel", I'm stupidly annoyed they didn't just call this "The Snow Queen", but that's a personal thing! All in all, Frozen is a great animated film that almost anyone can enjoy.
The Piano (1993)
Creepy and Unpleasant
Academy Awards and the notion of Anna Paquin's first movie intrigued me—so I didn't hesitate to grab a copy of The Piano I found at a garage sale. However I was surprised and even confused with what I saw.
Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) is a mute Scottish widow whose only passion is playing her piano. After her father arranges another marriage for her to a man in New Zealand (Sam Neill), she and her young daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) make the long trip to NZ. Once they get there Ada's new husband Alisdair decides that it's too much work to carry her piano through the muddy woods and difficult terrain to his plantation. Ada is devastated at the idea of her beloved piano rotting on the beach, so her relationship with her new husband is off to a rocky start—complicated by the fact she can only communicate with him through signs translated by Flora. Luckily Alisdar's bachelor neighbor George (Harvey Keitel) takes pity on Ada and says he will buy her piano and have it delivered to his house. He tells Ada that he will take payment for the piano in the form of music lessons that she will give him in his home. But the catch is that George doesn't really want music lessons from Ada he wants sexual favors. So as Ada struggles in her new relationship with Alisdar, she continues her, um affair with George, in order to play her piano. And thus "romance" begins to blossom.
You'll notice I just put the word romance in quotes. I did so because I found nothing, absolutely nothing romantic about this film's characters. This movie can be described in one word: Creepy. I was really surprised at the tone, dialogue and events of this film. I expected this to be a secret romance that develops between a lonely bachelor and a woman forced into marriage with a man she hates. In fact, that's what I would say the movie was advertised as. But this isn't so much a movie about a secret romance as a movie about sexual harassment, emotional blackmail and I daresay, rape. It was deeply disturbing that this film seemed to romanticize a forced sexual relationship. It's not even like Ada was even attracted to George or seemed truly happy or comfortable with him in the beginning or middle of the film. I can't even remember her smiling with him once. The odd thing about this movie is that the acting is excellent, the locations are great, and it looks very appealing. In terms of the film itself, it is very well made. The problem is that the story is awful and Anna Paquin's character was the only one I didn't find despicable at some point. The film left me feeling uncomfortable, confused, and even violated. This is a story that creates extremely uncomfortable situations and evokes uncomfortable emotions in the viewer with little redeeming qualities. On top of that I was very confused about the reason/origin of Ada's muteness, and if she chose not to speak, or physically couldn't. This movie was not a "bad", but it was one of the most unsavory cinematic experiences I've ever had. If you want a beautiful romance or sexy story, look elsewhere. And I'd suggest counseling for anyone who truly found this film romantic.
Hook! Hook! Hook!
Ah, Hook. This is one of those movies you either love or you hate. I love it, and honestly like it better than the actual story of Peter Pan, or other spins on it like Finding Neverland. But, let's see why Hook is near and dear to many hearts, and hated by others.
Peter Pan (Robin Williams) has grown up into Peter Banning, a man who has no memory of being Peter Pan, and is "a workaholic who is cold to his wife and children." But when his wife Moira (Caroline Goodall) insists they take a trip back to England to visit her Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith) he gives in, despite his crippling fear of flying. But when Peter, Moira and Granny go to a ceremony in Wendy's honor, their children Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Amber Scott) are kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). While the logical Peter calls the police, Wendy tries to remind him of his youth—but he thinks she's lost it until Tinkerbelle (Julia Roberts) comes in the night to take him back to Neverland. While there, Tinkerbelle and the Lost Boys must help Peter remember who he is, teach him to fight, and help him get Jack and Maggie back home.
It's been said many times that Spielberg considered this movie a failure, but I really don't understand why. It captures the innocence and adventure of the original Barrie story, and gives a new spin on it by questioning what it means to "grow up", as well having a "cat's in the cradle" vibe to it. The sets, wardrobe and look of the characters in Neverland are hit and miss. Some things look very fake, others look really cool. However, it is clear was the film was made in the 90s. Dustin Hoffman is amazing as Hook, and I also loved Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Charlie Kosmo as Jack. The lost boys like Rufio, Thud Butt, and Pockets were interesting and unique. I also think all the actors fit their characters, except Julia Roberts. I might be pulling some thoughts off The Nostalgia Critic but Julia Roberts was way too sweet in her role of Tinkerbelle. In the days of "Fairy Hollow" and other Tinkerbelle popularity, people often forget that Tinkerbelle in the Barrie story (and even the 1950's Disney film!) is often jealous, vindictive, and downright mean. There was NO trace of that personality or allusion to her past indiscretions in this performance. If anything she just weirdly comes off as a "friend zoned" character who is still sadly in love with a man she can never have. However, plenty of scenes and characters are just epic and unforgettable. How can you not love the "make-believe feast" scene? Or the "Run Home Jack" scene? This is a great film for kids and the kid in all of us. Although you might want to fast forward through the "boo box" scene if there are kids under 7 in the room.
The Little Rascals (1994)
90's Reboot of the Rascals
Ah, the 90's remake of the Hal Roach shorts from the Great Depression. I liked this movie as a child and most other kids I knew enjoyed it too. But
as an adult I feel differently about it.
Spanky (Travis Tedford) and his best friend Alfalfa (Bug Hall) are the founders of the He-Man-Woman-Haters Club, a club of little boys who get together and do "boy" things without girls. But when Alfalfa falls in puppy love with a girl named Darla (Brittany Ashton Holmes), Spanky and his other friends do everything to sabotage the relationship. And when Alfalfa accidentally burns down their clubhouse the other boys have completely had it with him, and force him to guard their prized go-cart day and night. Meanwhile, Darla has fallen for a new rich boy Waldo (Blake McIver Ewing), but Alfalfa is still determined to get her back. Everything boils down to the local fair when the boys try to win the go-cart derby, raise enough money to rebuild the clubhouse, and mend broken friendships.
This movie is weak. The plot itself isn't that bad, and most children who watch it are entertained, but it's just not good. The overwhelming problem with this film is that none of the kids can act their way out of a paper bag. The fact that none of the kids have been in anything more than a few made for TV or straight to video movies since this proves that. Honestly I found the outtakes of the kids' mistakes funnier than the movie itself. In terms of being based off the original "Little Rascals" shorts, they don't have much to do with them aside from the same looks and names as the originals. That being said it's hard to relate children of the 90s to children of the 20's, 30's and 40's. A lot of the old ones are based on poverty, hunger, and child abuse as a part of their lives, along with other themes that were anachronistic or not applicable to children of the 90's. But they tried to integrate some themes like the go cart derby, Alfalfa singing and the He-Man-Woman-Haters Club. With that all said this is still a movie that would entertain most children under ten, but can quickly get annoying for parents that have to sit through it with them.
We've all seen dozens of movies about the Holocaust. It makes it all the more refreshing when someone actually finds a new perspective to tell the story from. For once the protagonist is not on the persecuted minorities' side, but on the well to do German side.
Bruno (Asa Butterfield) is a happy eight-year-old boy living in Berlin. When his Nazi officer father (David Thewlis) is transferred to a new home closer to a concentration camp, Bruno is upset about leaving his friends. He quickly becomes bored in the isolated country home, and believes the concentration camp he sees from his window is a farm. He is fascinated and confused by why the people there wear "pajamas", and is determined to find out more about them. His mother (Vera Farmiga) tells him not to go in the back of the house, but Bruno manages to sneak through the woods, and find the edge of the concentration camp. There he meets Schmuel (Jack Scanlon), an eight-year-old Jewish boy living in the camp. The boys become fast friends, and Bruno comes to visit, bringing food and toys as often as he can. Despite the fact he visits a concentration camp, Bruno is still oblivious to what's really going on there. His friendship with Schmuel makes him question the anti-Semitism in his tutor's curriculum and father's military duties. Both young boys learn about friendship, betrayal, loyalty, courage and common decency, with some parents learning harsh lessons as well.
This movie is stunning, absolutely wonderful. I have never seen a film set in the Holocaust that was told from a German perspective, and I know I'm not alone in that. While most other films demonize all Germans during WW2, this film depicts the difference between Nazis and the everyday German citizen who was unable to stop the horror happening before them. What I find fascinating is that while the movie is first based off of Bruno's innocence, it slowly morphs into denial as he begins to learn more about his father and new friend. The acting in this film is superb. Asa Butterfield is a fantastic child star. One scene that stands out to me is one where he is dealing with guilt in his bedroom, which is both beautifully acted and realistic. Rupert Friend did a great job as the typical cold-hearted Nazi, and Jack Scanlon also gave a great performance as Schmuel. David Thewlis is great as usual. Unlike other WW2 films this shows the horror of the Holocaust by the people suffering through its tortures, this shows the evil of it through the point of view of people who stood on the sidelines watching it happen. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a great story of friendship, and how children are often braver and more virtuous than adults.
Horrible show with bad messages
This show is awful on so many levels it's hard to begin. I almost never see a show, particularly children's show, that I think is so painfully bad and damaging that I think it should be ripped off the air.
iCarly is about a teenaged girl named Carly (Miranda Cosgrove) who lives with her dopey big brother Spencer (Jerry Trainor) in a lavishly furnished loft. Carly and her friends Sam (Jennette McCurdy) and Freddie (Nathan Kress) have an online show that has made them into celebrities. The three of them have a comedy webcast and often create trends, feature real world celebrities, and even invent holidays.
I hate this show. I honestly don't think I have ever thought a show for children had messages as bad as this. After saying that, I must add I am not one to complain about children being exposed sex and violence or about how "morally bankrupt" shows are. (Family Guy and South Park are two of my favorites!). But this show is mean, judgmental, shallow, marginalizing, stupid, and plain NOT funny. The lead Carly is a stereotypical popular girl obsessed with herself, fame, and boys. These qualities are supposed to be endearing or likable, but they come across as obnoxious and shallow. Spencer is so inept at everything. I find his character confusing, because he seems to replace the role of an inept, stupid parent often included in other popular "tween" shows on Disney or Nick. But I have never seen Spencer act as a parent or do anything guardian-like, even though he is technically Carly's guardian. Either way, his stupidity is hyperbolized to an eye-rolling degree and he often shouts his lines. Sam is by far the worst character. She is a bully, engages in cruel pranks, and says horrible things to others. What's worse is that her very noticeable meanness is depicted as hilarious. Her lack of caring or remorse is also depicted as funny and cool. Basically, this show is condoning and almost encouraging bullying and mean behavior. Almost every single episode I have seen involves at least one instance of the stars making fun of, excluding or hurting someone because of their looks, weight, intelligence, popularity or more. This show definitely makes it clear that anyone "different" can and should be verbally (and sometimes physically) torn apart and kept as far away from the "cool" kids as possible. Freddie is actually the only character I find somewhat likable, as he is rather harmless. This probably has to do with the fact he is usually the butt of Sam and Carly's jokes and ends up humiliated or hurt.
Then of course, there are some sexual innuendos, jokes, or the fact sometimes Sam and Carly are in scantily clad clothes. Now I hate the sexualization of children as much as the next person, but I believe many sexual innuendos fly over kids' heads. What I find more damaging to kids is not necessarily the exposure to sex, but the damage to their self-image that shows like this imply. There is one episode where a 14 year old Freddie is humiliated and teased because he's never been kissed. Now what message does that send to kids? That you need to make sure you get kissed around age 11-13 because EVERYONE ELSE is! That does a hell of a lot more damage than a young girl in a bikini—something kids normally see at the beach anyway. The kids on iCarly really live more like college kids rather than kids in middle/high school. It's common for kids on TV to act older than they are, but they usually still go to school and go home to parents. There is little to no mention of parents in this show, and Carly has absolutely no adult guidance in her life. Even when Freddie's mom has appeared she is depicted as overbearing, embarrassing, and treats him like a toddler. I have never seen a show that was so devoid of adults, and this further enforces the young viewer's idea (that most kids have) that they could live perfectly fine without parents because they know everything! Social implications aside, this show sucks. It's not funny, the jokes are stupid even by kid standards, and they overuse the laugh track so much it sometimes cuts into the actors' lines. ICarly has no redeeming qualities, and you're much better off having your kids watch some of the dozens of other dumb (but less damaging) shows out there.
A Bittersweet Goodbye
This is it, the end of an era. The last Harry Potter movie, and Harry's last stand against Voldemort. So is the last film a triumphant end or disappointment for the world's most famous wizard?
Voldemort has the elder wand. Harry, Hermione, and Ron nearly escaped the Death Eaters with Luna, Mr. Olivander (John Hurt) and Griphook (Warwick Davis) the goblin with the help of Dobby—who sadly did not survive. After finding out information from Mr. Olivander and Griphook, Harry, Ron and Hermione go to Gringotts Bank with Hermione disguised as Bellatrix. They are convinced Bellatrix has at least one horcrux in her vault. After successfully getting the Hufflepuff cup from the vault Harry gets intense visions of Voldemort's reaction, and information that another horcrux is in Hogwarts. Despite fearing Snape in the headmaster's position, the three heroes apparate into Hogsmeade. When alarms go off from their arrival, they are sheltered by Dumbledore's disgruntled brother Aberforth (Ciaran Hinds) in his bar. While Aberforth grumpily tells them they are doomed, a very battered Neville arrives though a secret passageway to bring them to the castle. Once inside Hogwarts the war between good and evil begins. Snape and other Death Eaters are driven out, while Harry, the Order and Hogwarts' staff and students do their best to protect the school. Harry, Ron and Hermione must then fight the Death Eaters, find and destroy the remaining horcruxes, while Harry learns the truth about Snape, himself, and battles Voldemort for the last time.
This movie suffered a lot, I mean A LOT from the failures of the sixth film. So much information about the horcruxes and a few other subjects had been omitted that any viewer who has not read the books (or even not read them recently) will no doubt be confused. You can even tell how they cut out an enormous amount of info by the very long FAQ on this movie about "how the book is different". The pacing for this film was very rushed, which made some of the missing information even more confusing. This isn't the best of them all as it is hailed. I think people just call it that because they expected and wanted this to be the best. It really glosses over the deaths of all the characters, with maybe one getting more than a few seconds of "mourning". And it must be said that the make-up for the epilogue was so laughably pathetic that it's hard to watch. Really, the people that did the make-up for goblins, Mad-Eye and other fantastic creatures couldn't age the characters 20 years? They might as well have just gotten older actors that looked like them than give this poor excuse of make-up. Harry and Ron were somewhat passable, but they did nothing to age Ginny and Hermione except give them more "adult" hairstyles and dress! That being said, this is still a good movie, and a fairly good finale to Harry Potter. The fight/action scenes were very exciting. The magnitude of the Death Eater army was very well depicted. I must say that Snape's memories were fantastic, especially since I was worried about them butchering or ruining this aspect of the series. It was very meaningful to the series, and satisfying to those who read this part in the book. I'm really tearing this movie apart here, but I should add again that it IS a good movie. I wasn't disappointed in the movie as a whole, but I was disappointed in some aspects. I loved the Gringotts scenes and flashbacks. The best part was definitely from the Snape's memory until the end, as the pace also slowed down a bit for the viewers to absorb what was going on. This is a decent finale to the Harry Potter phenomena, and a difficult goodbye to the billions of fans all over the world.
The best of the series to begin our farewell
We're nearing the end of the long-running Harry Potter epic. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been split into two films. Is it going to be a great success or just a ploy for the film makers to squeeze an extra billion out of us?
Dumbledore is dead, Voldemort is quickly working to take control of the Ministry, and Harry will become a legal adult on July 31st. Time is running out, and it's very clear that the three kids we have grown to love over a decade are not kids anymore. Harry, Ron and Hermione have chosen not to finish their last year in Hogwarts, and are preparing to go on a mission to find and destroy Voldemort before he takes over the world. Shortly before he turns 17, the remaining members of the Order help assist Harry back to the Weasley home in an intense battle with Death Eaters (and Voldemort) in the sky. Harry is feeling guilty over some deaths and injuries during the battle, but everyone else at the Burrow is preparing for the wedding of Bill, the eldest Weasley son to Fleur Delacour. But Bill and Fleur's wedding is interrupted by a frightening message that the Ministry has been taken over by Voldemort and the Death Eaters, so Harry, Ron and Hermione flee as quickly as possible. We follow them as they go around the Wizarding and Muggle world in search of horcruxes and attempting to destroy them. Through the clues that Dumbledore left and the help of Luna's father Xenophilius (Rhys Ifans), they discover that Voldemort is in search of the "Deathly Hallows", three objects that will make him invincible. Emotions run high as both personal frustrations and ill will of Voldemort's seeps into the three best friends and tries to destroy them. Will they manage to destroy the horcruxes and find the Deathly Hallows before Voldemort becomes more powerful than ever?
This is probably the best Harry Potter film they ever made, I absolutely love it. The acting is great, the emotions depicted are intense, special effects are good, the fight scenes are exciting and any fan will be completely glued to the screen. One thing that I feel sets this film apart from the others is the pacing. Even the better paced Harry Potter films feel a bit rushed, as I imagine it's hard to fit a 4-700 page book into less than three hours of film. But this book was given an entire 4.5 hours to allow as much as possible, and thank goodness for that! There isn't as much happening in this film and some people find that boring, but I find it proof that they put a lot of effort into the film instead of just using it as a money maker. The characters in Harry Potter are deep, meaningful, and realistic in their own way. The film makers know their fans have grown to love and care for these people, and allowing us to watch their inner turmoil in some silence allows us to truly process and feel everything they have experienced—and that we have shared with them. It would have been better for them to include some other information the sixth film left out, but on the other hand that might have muddled up the plot and quieter tone of this film. The only criticisms I have of this is that they left out Tonks' announcement that she and Remus were having a child. This just irks me because it could have been done with just a few more seconds in the scene where the Order comes to the Dursley house. Other than that nitpick this film follows the first half of the book wonderfully, and flows very well on screen. Its only downfalls are the information the sixth film left out (particularly where the mirror shard came from and why Harry has it). This truly is the best Harry Potter film of the series, and a good way to start us off in saying goodbye to our favorite witches and wizards.
Too much teen drama and not enough magic
Harry is back in the sixth installment of Harry Potter. There's lots of romance in the air, so much that it is clouding the actual plot. But, let's see what Harry and David Yates have in store for us.
It's now impossible for the Ministry to deny Voldemort's return, and Harry is being hailed as "the Chosen One" by the press, instead of a liar. Voldemort and the Death Eaters have begun to cause a lot of trouble and destruction in both the wizarding and muggle world. When Harry accompanies Dumbledore to recruit the retired potions teacher Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), he becomes curious as to why this name-dropping man is so important. Despite all the recent bad news, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are excited about being 6th years at Hogwarts. Since Professor Slughorn has taken over the potions class and Snape Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry and Ron now have good enough grades for 6th year potions. While first annoyed that he gets a ratty old book, Harry is stunned when he receives top grades in potions due to the handwritten tips in his text stamped "Property of the Half-Blood Prince." Meanwhile, Ron has joined the Quidditch team and become the boyfriend of exceedingly irritating classmate Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave). Hermione is feeling hurt and left out, often seeking comfort with an already stressed Harry. Harry is falling for Ginny, feeling nervous about Ron's reaction, and annoyed that Ginny is dating someone else. Harry also becomes fixated by Draco's odd behavior this year, believing he was inducted into the Death Eaters and has been ordered to do something nefarious. In order to defeat Voldemort before he gains too much power, Dumbledore has been reviewing memories of Voldemort's youth with Harry. He believes they are getting closer to finding out the secrets and weaknesses of Voldemort, and Harry must persuade Slughorn to surrender a missing piece of the puzzle that lies in his memory. Now on the cusp of adulthood, Harry must figure out what Draco is up to, the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, manage to cope with school, romance, and the knowledge that he must find a way to kill Voldemort—or be killed himself.
I loved the fifth film so I had high hopes for this, but I don't like the way this movie was done at all. For some reason this tried to be a romantic comedy instead of a fantasy. There is way too much emphasis on the romance between Ron and Lavender, and Hermione's attempts to "get back" at him for dating her. It was very annoying, and the romance between Harry and Ginny was almost non-existent. Never have I seen a franchise that put more emphasis on the romance between the side characters than the main character. While on the subject of Ginny, I must say that Bonnie Wright is an awful actress. All of the actors in this franchise (even small roles) have been good, except her. She is so stiff and emotionless in both her voice and expression she can give Kristen Stewart a run for her money. She and Dan Radcliffe have little to no chemistry, and I feel no sexual tension or romance between the two of them. This film seemed to cut out all the important and interesting details Dumbledore and Harry discover about Voldemort's past, and fill it up with teenage drama. In the beginning of the movie Dumbledore even says that he will "tell the tale" of destroying the ring that blackened his hand, but he never does! The audience never even learns the true significance of the ring, nor how Voldemort came across it. The significance of the locket is also never mentioned—it's simply a locket. So much is left out about the horcruxes (and Sirius' mirror) in this film that they have much less meaning in this and the last two. I wouldn't be surprised if most people who hadn't read the book were very confused by the lack of explanation of these objects. That being said, this film is not without its strong points. While sparse, the memories of Voldemort's youth were fantastic. The two boys who played him at age eleven (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) and sixteen (Frank Dillane) did a wonderful job. This movie is worth watching for their scenes alone; they are sneaky, intense, scary, and even look like each other and Ralph Fiennes. I must say that I liked Dillane as a teen Tom Riddle much better than Christian Coulson in the second film because he looked/acted younger and creepier. As with the fifth film, this is very emotionally driven. You feel the annoyance, anger, pain and frustration of all the characters—even some of the less likable ones like Draco and his mother. Like with the fourth film, this has many flaws, but it's still Harry Potter. Despite the many annoying scenes and missing details, it's still enjoyable to spend any time with the great characters this series has to offer.
One of the best HP films
It's the fifth installment of Harry Potter, and the characters are well into their teens. The fourth and final director David Yates has taken over, and brings even more changes.
Harry is still reeling from witnessing Voldemort's resurrection and Cedric's murder in the summer, when out of nowhere, dementors attacks him and Dudley. Harry casts a patronus to defend them and takes his dazed cousin home, only to immediately receive a letter saying he has been expelled from Hogwarts for performing underage magic. But that night Harry is rescued by the Order of the Phoenix, a society Dumbledore founded to fight Voldemort. They fly off to the headquarters at Sirius' house, where he is met by the rest of the Order. A trial is held to determine whether or not Harry should be allowed back into Hogwarts, and after the ministry decides to let him back everyone goes back to school. The already distraught Harry is suddenly an outcast, as the ministry is calling Voldemort's resurrection a hoax, and Harry a liar. Lonely and depressed, Harry finds solace in his new friend Luna (Evanna Lynch), an eccentric girl often bullied by other students. Things get more difficult when we meet their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Stauton). Umbridge has been appointed by the Ministry to keep an eye on Dumbledore and enforce the propaganda that Voldemort's return is a lie. Naturally this doesn't set very well with Harry, especially since Umbridge refuses to teach any defensive magic, in favor of theories. After Umbridge manages to take over Hogwarts and enforce excessive rules with painful punishments, Harry, Ron and Hermione develop a secret defensive magic club coined "Dumbledore's Army", or "the DA". Several students join, including Luna, Ginny, Neville (Matthew Lewis) and Harry's love interest Cho Chang (Katie Leung). When there is a jail break at Azkaban and Harry's visions of Voldemort's actions and emotions get more intense, he knows what he must do. Together with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna, Harry goes to the front lines to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
This is one of my favorite HP movies. I like the tone, colors, acting and characters (or rather emphasis on certain characters). Yates' direction is much more emotionally motivated, and Harry's pain and struggles are palpable. We get a very good depiction of Harry's new loving relationship with Sirius, as his desire for a father is finally being satisfied. That being said, Sirius' death was absolutely devastating, and it's hard not to cry when you watch Harry's silent scream. The fight scenes in the ministry were pretty awesome, and probably my favorite part of this film. As for the characters, we get a deeper look at Neville. In previous films Neville was just the clumsy, chubby kid who the Slytherins picked on. In this film we see Neville's courage and determination, as well as learn more about his painful past—and how it is a parallel to Harry's. Evanna Lynch as Luna can only be described in one word: perfect! She is strange, sweet, clever, and has a perfect voice for the role. Helena Bonham Carter is equally perfect for the role of Bellatrix Lestrange. She is crazy, volatile, evil and twisted. Katie Leung is okay. She was in Goblet of Fire as well, but I never found her character that interesting or likable. Imelda Stauton does a great job as Umbridge, and while not hideously ugly like in the book, Staunton gives a creepier aspect to this character with her sickeningly sweet performance. I also enjoyed the look into Snape's past, and the audience's realization that Harry's dad was quite a jerk as a teen, and his bullying of Snape is why he resents Harry so much. This film is establishing the connection between Harry and Voldemort, setting it up the next three films. While he brought a lot of great things to this series, Yates has made some visual changes that make the films look very inconsistent. One change that irritated me is Sirius in his dog form was a Scottish Deerhound, as opposed to the black wolf-like dog in the third film (and described in the book). He also changed the garb of the Death Eaters, forfeiting Newell's pointed hoods and skull eye masks for simpler hoods and full faced metallic masks. While many disagree I did like Newell's wardrobe better, especially since it felt reminiscent of KKK hoods and the skull masks reflected the "death" aspect of the Death Eaters. The film also left out some details, especially about the Ministry, but nothing too damaging to the plot. But these complaints are just nit-picks. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is one of the best Harry Potter films, and a strong comeback from the fourth.
Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
Annoying, Stupid and Cruel
Dinner for Schmucks is an insult, to both the actors and audience. I felt nothing but negative feelings and disdain toward all the characters.
Tim (Paul Rudd) is a guy working in crappy office job who is looking to climb the corporate ladder. The opportunity rises when he comes up with a clever idea and is asked to a dinner with a foreign businessman. The catch is that he must bring a "fool" to the dinner like everyone else is. The point of the party is for everyone to make a spectacle of their own "fool", and at the end of the night the dumbest and strangest guest gets a prize. While he is at first alarmed at the idea of this party, Tim instead starts thinking about proposing to his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak). As his luck would have it, Tim stumbles upon Barry (Steve Carell), a strange man who collects dead mice and creates dioramas with them. Tim befriends Barry and brings him to his apartment, where Barry begins to mess up his relationship with Julie, let his stalker-ex Darla (Lucy Punch) know where he lives, and even jeopardizes his career. Barry drives Tim crazy, but the night of the fateful dinner party arrives and they encounter a strange array of people including a woman who talks to dead animals, a man married to a ventriloquist dummy, and a "mind control" expert (Zach Galifianakis).
To sum it up, this movie is annoying and mean. It's got the air of a "What About Bob" movie where one exceedingly annoying character destroys the life of some average guy. There is literally nothing likable about Barry, and at best you will sometimes feel pity for how people treat him. Tim is also hard to relate to because while we are also annoyed by Barry's obnoxiousness, he is being a complete jerk by using and exploiting him. Truly, none of the characters are likable. I'll admit that the dinner itself is kind of funny, but that's about 15 minutes out of an almost two hour movie. While it tries to have the characters redeem themselves by making friends and "being nice", it doesn't change the fact this is a movie about how much fun it is to bully people who are different. It reminds me of cruel parties that sororities or fraternities have to bring the nerdiest/ugliest/fattest date. I could even look past that nastiness if this movie was actually good, but it's just not. While I've not seen it, I have heard that the original French film is hilarious, so that's even more pathetic. It's a total waste of good comedic talent like Carell, Rudd, and Galifianakis. Do yourself a favor and watch The 40-Year Old Virgin or The Hangover instead.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Original movie about literature and what makes life worth living
Stranger Than Fiction is a different sort of movie. It's a comedy/drama/romance that questions the lines of fiction and non-fiction, without using the cliché "fourth wall" tactics. It answers a question many writers have often wondered, "what if my characters where real?"
Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is a struggling author who is working on a new book chronicling the life of a man called Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). Harold is a rather boring IRS agent who lives a very strict, regimented life without much recreation or friends. Eiffel believes that Harold is her own creation, but he is in fact a real person—who has begun hearing her narrating his life! Believing he is losing his mind, Harold seeks out help from a literature professor Dr. Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) in hopes he will tell him what book he is in. Meanwhile, with the help of her witty assistant Penny (Queen Latifah) Eiffel is trying to figure out how to end her book with Harold's death . Harold tries to live as normally as he can, but Karen has other plans for him, as he suddenly finds himself falling for anarchist baker Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who he was sent to audit. Dr. Hilbert discovers Eiffel is the author of Harold's story and breaks the bad news to him that she is a tragedy writer, and all of her protagonists die. Harold then tries to find the author and convince her to let him live.
This is one of those movies that manages laughs and a warm fuzzy feeling without feeling sappy. The characters are different and quite memorable. This is one of the only movies, if not THE only movie I enjoy Will Ferrell's acting. In Stranger Than Fiction he is not shouting for no reason or engaging in immature slapstick. This film has more intellectual, dry humor. The romance is sweet and flows well, and the conflict for Harold's life will keep the audience wondering and hoping. I also liked the chemistry and funny interactions between Karen and her assistant Penny. It's a good story that talks about what the real meaningful things in life are. A great film.
Weaker of the series--but still Harry Potter!
It's year four at Hogwarts for Harry and his friends, and things are starting to go downhill, for both the film and the characters. Mike Newell is now director, and he brings more changes to the series.
It's the summer before his fourth year at Hogwarts, and Harry is having recurring dreams of Voldemort and Wormtail (Timothy Spall). But he is temporarily distracted when he goes to the Quidditch World Cup with Hermione, the Weasleys, family friend Mr. Diggory, and his son Cedric (Robert Pattinson). Everyone enjoys the match, Ron especially, who is a big fan of the young, Bulgarian seeker Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski). But the match is interrupted by Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters, terrorizing the fans, causing chaos and casting "the dark mark" in the sky. Everyone is shaken from the events at the World Cup, but the kids go to school and hear some exciting news. Hogwarts will be home to the TriWizard Tournament, a competition between three young wizards from three different schools. According to Dumbledore, the prize will include the TriWizard cup and eternal glory. So, a group of beautiful French girls from the Beauxbatons Acadamy and tough Eastern European young men from Durmstrang Institute arrive at Hogwarts. Dumbledore establishes the rules that no students under age seventeen can apply to the contest by placing their names in the Goblet of Fire. The Goblet then chooses the Tournament's competitors: Cedric Diggory from Hogwarts, Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy) from Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum from Durmstrang and Harry?! Poor Harry is shocked and confused at this revelation, and the entire school (all three really) are furious at him for "cheating". He quickly becomes a media sensation and struggles to get through the dangerous competitions. Luckily though, Harry is helped by the new (and somewhat frightening) Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher "Mad Eye" Moody (Brendan Gleeson). On top of putting his life on the line for a competition he doesn't want to be in, Ron isn't speaking with him, and Hermione is also fighting with Ron. Everything is a mess, and Harry must compete in life threatening games, make up with his friends, find a date for the Yule ball, and figure out why he's having so many dreams of Voldemort.
This is probably the weakest (or second weakest) of all eight movies. First of all, the direction for this series has become a game of musical chairs. Newell was at a disadvantage following Cuarón, who most fans consider the best HP director. Not only that, the fourth book is the second longest book with so much information that the plot was absolutely butchered. The book was so long that the film makers considered splitting the fourth installment into two movies. That might have been better, because this film is extremely rushed and still leaves a huge amount out. Ironically, this film is shorter than the first two films whose source material was barely half the length of the fourth book. It must be said that this film focuses almost completely on Harry. While he may be the main character, any fans of the books or movies knows that Ron, Hermione and other side characters have just as much to do with the plot as he does. Not only that, but the other competitors, Fleur and Viktor barely have ANY lines or screen time. I don't even remember hearing Fleur say anything except for screaming and one line in French! I also want to know who did the editing in this movie. There are a few scenes where Harry's hair is at least two inches longer/shorter than in the previous scene. Really, did no one have the hindsight to keep his hair a similar length during filming? Even so, didn't anyone think to film things in a way that would look like his hair grew during the year? And while we're on the subject of hair...Radcliffe (and Grint's) hair is absolutely dreadful in this film! I'm usually not one to comment on those things but...wow. But I digress, this film is not ALL bad. It has some great scenes of Harry fighting a dragon and swimming in the Black Lake. The scene in the graveyard with Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) return is probably the best written and acted in the film. Fiennes does a fantastic job as the scary, creepy and power hungry Dark Lord. Luckily they didn't leave out the parts that have to do with his return to power, thus confusing the viewers on later events. As for the other goings on in this film, it does establish that rising adolescent tension between Ron and Hermione the times they are on screen, and even has some sexual innuendos. It's kind of fascinating how the films age with the characters and even audience, as I don't think I've really seen that with any other franchise. While I have criticized this film a lot, that's only because Harry Potter films and books are held in such high regard. It butchered the source material, as well as created a sub-par film—in comparison to the seven others. However, the film itself is not bad in comparison to other films or fantasies. While probably the weakest of the HP franchise, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is still definitely worth watching for Harry Potter fans.
Fantastic Installment of Harry Potter
It's the third Harry Potter film and things are changing. Alfonso Cuarón has taken over directing, and as the characters get more mature, so too do the themes.
It's summertime at the Dursleys again, and things only get harder for Harry when Uncle Vernon's dreadful sister Marge comes to visit. Harry is unable to control his emotions when she insults his parents, flies into a rage, and accidentally causes her to blow up like a balloon and float away. Still furious, Harry storms out and catches a ride on the night bus to the Leaky Cauldron. While on the bus he hears the latest wizarding news—mass murderer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison. Harry is even more alarmed when Ron's father tells him that Sirius Black was one of Voldemort's followers, and that he likely escaped to find and kill Harry. The whole if the wizarding world is on the lookout with dementors, the guards of Azkaban looking for Sirius and guarding Hogwarts. The dementors are dark, hooded creatures who drain all happiness from their victims. Harry learns first-hand how horrible they can be when one attacks him on the train to school; but luckily he is rescued by the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Remus Lupin (David Thewlis). Professor Lupin proves to be the best teacher they have had in this subject, and even gives Harry private lessons to defend himself against dementors. Harry, Ron and Hermione try to go to their lessons, Quidditch, and on outings to Hogsmeade village as normally as possible with the constant search for Black going on. They manage well enough until it's rumored that Sirius Black has infiltrated Hogwarts, and the heroic trio go on their own personal mission to find him and discover what he really wants.
This film is where the Harry Potter movies start to feel less like children's movies, and more like young adult movies. The tone and emotions are darker, the theme is more serious, and even the colors/lighting are darker. Cuarón did a good job on this film. Hogsmeade looks great, and the special effects with the hypogriff and patronus are really good. The only thing I don't really like about this movie is the wardrobe. In the first two films the students were almost always seen in wizard robes, but in this the students are always in normal "muggle" clothing during their free time. I feel that seeing a witch and wizard in a sweater, jeans and sneakers takes a bit of the magic away. Some of the more "traditional" wizard wardrobe has also changed, and looks more adult than in Columbus' designs. However, that probably is one of the only criticisms I have for this film. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have definitely learned to act better, and they have become Ron and Hermione, as Radcliffe has become Harry. Puberty is definitely setting in as the emotions for the characters (Harry especially) get more uncontrollable, and they seek more independence as well. Unlike the first or second film, we really get to see how emotionally damaged and traumatized Harry has been by witnessing his parents' death, and suffering a life of abuse and neglect. Some sexual/romantic tensions are also being strongly established between Ron and Hermione. Not to mention, this is the first film with Michael Gambon playing Dumbledore. Richard Harris was a hard act to follow, but Gambon has done a decent job. However, he is a very different Dumbledore—harsher, more serious, less whimsical. But the tone of this film being darker made the change (in both personality and actor) flow well. Gary Oldman and David Thewlis give good performances as well, with their characters filling in a good deal of information on the personal life of Harry's parents. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a great film with one thing for certain, our boy Harry is growing up!
A satisfying second installment
Harry is back in the second installment of Harry Potter, also directed by Christopher Columbus. Puberty is beginning to start for both the fictional characters and real kids, and they will be forced to be even more daring than before.
Harry is anxiously awaiting his return to Hogwarts, desperate to get away from the Dursleys. He is more than surprised when a strange looking creature (a house elf) named Dobby appears in his room to tell him he must not go back to school. Dobby warns that Harry's life will be in danger if he returns, and gets him in enough trouble so that the Dursleys lock him in his bedroom. Luckily Ron and his twin brothers Fred and George (James & Oliver Phelps) rescue Harry in a flying car to take him to their home. Harry feels much more at home in the Weasley house with the warm parents (Julie Walters & Mark Williams) and slew of kids. There are some new faces at Hogwarts this year, including Ron's little sister Ginny (Bonnie Wright), the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), who talks more about himself than the defensive spells, and Draco's equally arrogant father Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs). Harry, Ron and Hermione are still happy to be back in school until some strange things begin to happen, and several residents of the castle become petrified. The explanation is that the legendary "Chamber of Secrets" is opening again. The Chamber is a hidden tunnel in the castle where one of the four founders of the school, Salazar Slytherin—a known muggle-hater, is said to have hidden a monster that would kill all muggle-born students. The Chamber can only be opened by the heir of Slytherin, and everyone has their own ideas about who that might be. Dumbledore and the other professors are concerned for the safety of their students, and Hogwarts is in danger of being closed. That is of course unless Harry, Ron and Hermione find the Chamber of Secrets, the monster, and the heir who opened it.
This is a decent film, and matches well with The Sorcerer's Stone. It is the longest of all eight films at nearly three hours, and can sometimes be hard to sit through all the way. However, the length allows it to be quite loyal to the book which is a definite positive. The acting has clearly improved, especially for Daniel Radcliffe. The audience gets a good establishment for Harry's relationship with the Weasleys and Dumbledore, as well as Ginny's crush on Harry. This is, in my opinion, the only film where Bonnie Wright acts sufficiently. Lucky for the viewers too, because this is probably the film she has the most to do with the plot. Kenneth Branagh is hilarious as Professor Lockhart, and Jason Isaacs also does a good job of playing Lucius Malfoy. Sadly, this is also the last film that Richard Harris is able to play Dumbledore. For many fans, Harris is the superior Dumbledore and I would have to agree. His whimsy, expressions and subtle humor are done so naturally it's almost like the role was written for him. The set and wardrobe are the same from the year before, and still fantastic. The plot is carried over well, the new characters fit in great, and the kids are truly becoming Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a good follow up to the first film.
Die unendliche Geschichte (1984)
Great Fantasy Movie
The Neverending Story is a great fantasy movie with a lot of meaning to the real world. It's easily enjoyable for anyone with a vivid imagination.
Bastian (Barret Oliver) is a lonely young boy who is coping with the death of his mother, struggling in school, and has to deal with bullies every day. His only solace is books, particularly fantasy books. While hiding from bullies in a used book store he sees an exciting looking book called "The Neverending Story" in the hands of the grouchy shopkeeper. Bastian becomes intrigued and steals the book when the shopkeeper is on the phone. He then escapes to his school's attic to read the book, and the film becomes a movie within a movie. The audience is then transported to Fantasia, a lush fantasy land being destroyed by "The Nothing", and whose childlike Empress is dying. The Fantasians only hope is a boy warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), who must find a cure for the Empress' illness and stop the Nothing from destroying their world. Bastian then follows Atreyu on his quest, experiencing and feeling everything Atreyu feels, including the desperate hope they can save Fantasia.
I love this movie. It's been one of my favorites for a long time for both the film itself, and the deeper meanings of it. The Neverending Story is also easily enjoyable for children and adults. Though parents be warned, children under seven may be very frightened by the "G'mork", an evil wolf-like creature. The acting is good and the atmosphere of Fantasia is always with the audience. I must admit the special effects are pretty bad. But it was only the early 80's, and the film is good enough to ignore that. There was a lot of criticism for this movie on the fact it was not loyal to the book, and even the author himself hated it. Honestly, it IS fairly loyal to about half of the book, but this film ends where maybe Chapter 14 of the 26 chapter book starts. It is definitely the fantasy of every lonely bookworm, and a must for anyone who loves to read. Oh, and don't watch the other two sequels to this, it will just kill everything lovable about the first one.
The magic begins
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a fun and whimsical introduction to the Harry Potter series. While some consider this a weaker part of the series, it truly started the success of the whole franchise.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a neglected ten year old boy who lives with his cruel aunt, uncle and cousin the Dursleys. He is shocked when a gigantic man named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) appears on his 11th birthday to tell Harry that he is a wizard, and he has come to take him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As Hagrid takes him to shop for school supplies Harry learns that not only is he a wizard, but the most famous young wizard in the world; his parents were not killed in a car crash, but murdered by an evil wizard named Voldemort. Voldemort tried to murder Harry as an infant, but failed and disappeared, leaving only a lightning shaped scar on Harry's forehead. On the train to school Harry befriends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), a goofy young red head, and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), a clever know-it-all born from "muggle" (non-magical) parents. When he arrives at school Harry makes enemies just as soon as he made friends, out of an arrogant bully Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and the potions teacher Professor Snape (Alan Rickman). Through their first school year Harry, Ron and Hermione learn the basic lessons of a magical education, battle a troll, and Harry even joins the Quidditch team, an exciting sport played on broomstick. As Harry learns more about his past and the Wizarding world, he and his friends hear whispers of Voldemort's attempted resurrection. They suspect he is looking for the Sorcerer's Stone, a gem that will grant eternal life. The kids seek help from the wise and powerful headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris), but while he is away from the school the action to protect the Sorcerer's Stone falls into the hands of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Not only is this a great introduction to Harry Potter, it's a good movie on its own. Admittedly the acting is mediocre, if not a bit poor at some parts with the kids. But considering that both Rupert Grint and Emma Watson had never acted before, and Dan Radcliffe only appeared for a few minutes in other movies, they did a pretty good job. The special effects were decent, and the parts that were not as good were overpowered by the strong magical atmosphere. The set for Hogwarts and Diagon Alley were absolutely AMAZING! They were just how I pictured, and from what I'd heard, just as J.K. Rowling pictured as well. The wardrobe was also done very well. The school uniforms, hats, and outfits of the teachers were fantastic. As for the plot, Columbus definitely tread lightly. This film is probably the closest to the book of any Harry Potter film. Despite some of the lesser acting, I find the atmosphere and storyline of this film to be one of the stronger ones in the series. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a fun and exciting fantasy that starts fans up for an adventure that will last for years.
What Dreams May Come (1998)
Beautiful and intense love story
Why do so many people hate this movie? I've heard of so many scathing reviews and even Family Guy has made fun of this for being a DVD that people never buy. This is really one of the best love stories I've ever seen, and is surely my favorite.
Chris Nielson (Robin Williams) is a doctor who is very much in love with his wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra), an art director of a museum. Even when tragedy strikes and the Nielson's children Ian and Marie are killed in an accident, the loving couple keep each other going. Things get more intense when Chris dies a few years later in another car crash and goes to heaven. For Chris, heaven is a series of paintings, several of which Annie herself painted. Chris tries to get acclimated to heaven with the help of his daughter's deceased dog Katie and Albert (Cuba Gooding Jr.), his mentor from medical school. Much to Albert's surprise, new paintings Annie creates on Earth are visible in Chris' heaven, and they come to the conclusion that they are soulmates. Annie is in a deep depression, and it's not long before she commits suicide. While Chris is learning more from other people's heavens and reliving some memories about his children, he is devastated to hear that Annie is in hell—as all suicides go to hell. Chris refuses to accept this, and risks his soul to venture through purgatory and hell to find Annie and bring her back to heaven with him.
This movie is fantastic. Rarely is there a romance that depicts a married couple still loving each other as much as the first day they met. Their love and life is so much deeper than "love at first sight" stories, or movies that end with the couple just beginning their romance or lives together. The stakes are high in this film, the main character is not risking his life for his wife, but his soul. Williams and Sciorra are great together, and you truly feel the deep love the feel for one another, and despair when they are apart. The visuals are amazing, and the use of art and color is surely grounds for study by art and film students. The depictions of purgatory and hell were also interesting, scary and disturbing. Some people squabble about the religious meanings and errors and what have you, but it's just a movie. Along with the romance between Annie and Chris, it shows the love story between the parents and children—even the family's love for the dog! It is an exceedingly depressing movie, but well worth it in the end. What Dreams May Come is an intense, beautiful love story that will stay with you for a long time.
The Hangover (2009)
One of the funniest movies ever made
The Hangover is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. It's clever, crazy and never leaves the viewer bored.
Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married, and his friends want to take him to Vegas for a bachelor party. Phil (Bradley Cooper) is a brash teacher desperate for fun, Stu (Ed Helms) is a dentist with a horribly controlling girlfriend, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is Doug's bizarre brother-in-law to be. The night looks like it will be awesome, but things get crazy when Stu, Phil and Alan wake up the next morning to a trashed hotel room complete with a chicken, tiger and baby! Not only that, but Stu is missing a tooth and Doug is nowhere to be found. So the three guys set off to find out where their friend is, who the baby belongs to, and how the tiger ended up in their bathroom. The guys then go on a crazy two-day adventure figuring out what exactly they did that fateful night, and how to fix everything in time for Doug's wedding.
This film is just hilarious, there's no other word to describe it. The guys get into crazy situations with weird twists and turns that are just confusing to the viewer as the characters. Along with the great characters and plot, The Hangover is chock full of great one liners and memorable quotes. If you're in the mood for a hilarious adult comedy, The Hangover is a real good time.
Follow That Bird (1985)
Big Bird at his best!
Follow that Bird is a great children's movie. Unlike other Sesame Street productions it can be enjoyable for children well into elementary school, and even parents!
All is well on Sesame Street, that is until it comes to the Bird Society's attention that Big Bird is not living with a proper bird family. They send out Ms. Finch, a social worker who is to place our favorite yellow muppet with a bird family. While nervous at first, Big Bird gets excited about the idea of a bird family and is sent to Illinois to live with the Dodos. The Dodos are rather dopey and strange, and Big Bird misses his friends on Sesame Street. Big Bird finally gives up on the Dodos and runs away when they say they do not want him to be friends with Snuffy, as he should have "bird friends". When the gang on Sesame Street hear Big Bird is running home they send out a search party to find him, including Maria, Linda, Gordon, Super Grover, Oscar, the Count, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie,and the honkers. We then follow Big Bird's journey home to Sesame Street in New York, while all his friends search high and low for him. On his trip he manages to find help from some farm kids and a friendly truck driver, but also gets kidnapped by the "Sleaze Brothers", two carnies who want him to be a sideshow attraction in their carnival. It is then up to the rest of the gang from Sesame Street to rescue their favorite yellow bird and take him home!
I love this movie. It's something I loved when I was little and even if my daughter watches it over and over I don't get annoyed. It has a solid plot and is not just for preschoolers like many other Sesame Street productions. There is a clear positive message of the importance of diversity and even trans-racial adoption. There is also a good message of "don't talk to strangers" and shows the danger of trusting people too eager to get you into their car. While some have said this aspect of the movie is too scary, I disagree. It's far from traumatizing, and it is important that children have some level of fear of people who are clearly up to no good. Follow That Bird is both Jim Henson and Big Bird in their prime. It's definitely better than any Elmo movies, and a must for any Sesame Street fans, young and old.
Marley & Me (2008)
Relatable, but not worth the hype
Marley & Me is a decent family dog film, but not the 20th/21st century Old Yeller it's made out to be. There are aspects easier to relate to than other dog movies, but other than that it's mediocre.
John Grogan (Owen Wilson) is a journalist who buys a Labrador puppy for his wife Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston), in hopes it will distract her from having a baby for a few years. But that puppy Marley turns out to be an out-of-control dog that never listens, destroys everything, and wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Luckily though, Marley's antics become a muse for John's editorial, and help improve his career with the newspaper. Over the next decade or so, Marley causes trouble for the Grogans through the changes to their family, homes, and livelihood.
Marley & Me is okay. It really is not worth all the hype people have given it. One of the biggest things people say about this film is that it's realistic. Obviously it's realistic, it's a true story! But unlike many people who found Marley's antics hilarious, I found them disgraceful. This dog's behavior isn't cute or endearing, it's bad, dangerous, and depicts irresponsible dog ownership. The only thing responsible about the Grogans is that they did not have Marley put in a shelter or euthanized for his bad behavior like many others would. Partly though, that's why it's so relatable, as most people don't know how to control or train their dogs. Along with the bad canine behavior, I found the human characters somewhat unlikable. I only started to enjoy the movie and see why people found it good during the last 20 minutes when Marley was old and dying. This is why people love this movie so much, this is why it is so relatable. Aside from the fact most people don't have a perfectly mannered Lassie or Benji at home, most dog owners have had to put down their elderly pets. Almost every dog owner can relate to the pain of watching your friend age and become ill, and then have to make the difficult choice to put them down. This part of the movie was well acted, and the audience easily felt the pain and sadness of all the Grogans as Marley reached the end of his life. But again, this is WHY this movie is so popular. The Grogans and Marley are annoying at best, but at the end of the film we don't see John holding the elderly Marley. Instead, we see ourselves holding our elderly dogs, and thus become very affected by the movie. In my opinion the movie is worth putting up with simply for this touching conclusion, but it's not the amazing dog movie it's made out to be.