Kim’s Entertainment Blog

July 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Eeeek, I saw it last night!  I was so excited to finally see it, and wow!  I’m going to try and keep this review spoiler free . . .

First of all, kudos to the filmmakers for making another extremely high quality film!  One thing that we’ve come to rely upon from the Harry Potter franchise is good quality and this film definitely delivers.  The mood was intense at times, and at other times very light, and I think it mirrored perfectly the attitudes and feelings of the teenaged main characters.  What is teenagedom if not a time filled with heavy, intense moments and moments of pure comedy? 

All the main characters were back, which was good.  By now they’re all very comfortable in their roles, and are capable of very fine, razor-sharp performances.  Once again, my hat goes off to Helena Bonham Carter for the playing the character of Bellatrix Lestrange – amazing!

(Potential Spoiler alert!) The movie does not of course cover all the material from the book.  In this sense I was a little disappointed.  I feel like the book really tells an important part of the family story that just isn’t there in the movie.  The movie focuses very much on the Voldemort aspects of the story, which is fine, but was maybe a bit disappointing in terms of character development.  I did love the comedic aspects of some of the relationships though 🙂  For the length of the movie, around 2.5 hours, the ending felt a little rushed.  It was almost as if they took all their time to get to the end, realized how long the movie was, and breezed through what was left.  Honestly, it didn’t take away too much from the story, it was just enough to be a bit distracting.  (Potential Spoilers Ended!)

The only real complaint I have has to do with the movie experience rather than the movie.  I went last night with a friend to the Metrotown location.  Knowing that the place would be packed, I took the time to buy our tickets online the night before.  All over the website and on the ticket it said “no reserved seats.”  Fine, no problem.  My friend and I were at the theatre about 40 minutes pre-show, and the place was already practically full.  Again, this wasn’t entirely unexpected, so we walked around looking for seats.  We were able to find some after only a few minutes, but were told many times “no, these seats are saved.”  I have no problem with people saving a seat for someone who’s in line at the concession or in the washroom.  It’s even okay with me if you’re meeting your friend at the theatre and save a seat for a few minutes while you’re waiting for your friend, but seriously, holding a seat for close to an hour for a friend who shows up 5 minutes LATE for the movie, when there are a lot of other ticketholders who paid the same amount of money as you did for their ticket is just plain WRONG! 

What do you think, dear readers?  Have you seen the movie?  Do you have a story to share about holding seats at the theatre?


July 9, 2009

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Filed under: Uncategorized — tvlover1 @ 8:47 pm
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This post is part of a series of posts counting down to the opening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  I’m following along with the Movie Moxie’s countdown.  To read her post, click here.

It was only after reading the Movie Moxie’s post that I realized this movie came out two whole years ago.  Yikes!!  Where has the time gone?  The question of time reflects how I feel about watching this movie and comparing it to the first movie.  Oh my how these kids have matured!  They are now entering an age in their lives that is dictated by turmoil.  If they were “regular” teenagers, they would only have to contend with battling their raging hormones and trying to figure out who they are and what they’re about.  But because this is a world divided into wizards and muggles, these kids have to face the real danger and turmoil created by Lord Voldemort’s return.  This film definitely treats that threat seriously!

There are some moments of pure joy in this film however.  My favourite scene of all the films is when Fred and George create havoc with fireworks during the school’s O.W.L exams.  Pure movie magic! 

For me, the best part of this movie is the cast.  Playing the role of Dolores Umbridge we have Imelda Staunton.  She was, in my opinion, excellent.  This character made me view kittens and the colour pink in a whole new and disturbing light!  As the wonderfully offbeat Luna Lovegood, we have newcomer Evanna Lynch.  She is exactly what I pictured in my mind when I read the book.  I love how she’s considered a bit “strange” in the wizarding world but totally doesn’t care!  The best character for me though was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange.  The woman was totally creepy, evil and insane! 

I think the challenge of this movie was condensing a huge book into a two-hour movie.  Hopefully as this challenge continues to present itself, we can look forward to more high quality movies that really honour the carefully crafted book series given to us by J.K. Rowling!

July 1, 2009

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — tvlover1 @ 8:50 am
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This post is part of a series of posts counting down the Harry Potter movies in anticipation of the newest movie opening in just a couple of weeks!  I have been counting down with the Movie Moxie; to check out her posts, click here.

To begin with, I was a little disappointed with the filmmakers treatment of the Quidditch World Cup.  As the only opportunity to show any Quidditch game in this movie, it was a very quick glimpse of all the excitement.  You do get a sense of the grandeur and excitement that people feel as they are about to watch the Irish and the Bulgarians battle it out.  I would have enjoyed more of a “tour” around the magical campsite, and I would have liked it if they had included the side story of the troubles between the twins and Ludo Bagman.  But, I know all of this would have made the movie much longer and much more expensive to make, so I guess I understand why they edited the story the way they did, particularly considering that this book is at least twice as thick, if not three times, as the previous three.

Of course for all the Twilight fans out there, you will have recognized the actor playing Cedric Diggory as a younger Edward Cullen . . . I mean Robert Pattinson!  He does a good job of portraying an older, very popular student who has the hopes of an entire school population riding on him, at least at first, as the contestant who will bring home the Tri-Wizard Cup!  In Harry Potter I thought he was cute, but now, particularly in recent pictures of him, I just want to cut and style his hair!  But I digress . . .

The filmmakers once again did a great job of blending the magical world of Harry Potter and the non-magical world of us muggles.  the whole tone of the movie is much darker than previous movies, and you get a real sense of the peril that Harry faces during his tasks for the tournament.  These kids are definitely older, wiser, and more experienced than just a couple of movies ago.  Harry literally has to fight for his life a few times, and this showcases his burgeoning magical skills nicely.

Once again, we are introduced to a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  Mad-Eye Moody, played by Brendan Gleeson, clearly has experience fighting true evil.  An ex-Auror, he introduces the students to some very serious, and deadly spells early in his class.  This affects some of the students in different ways (Neville Longbottom is clearly very upset, but Draco Malfoy is more intrigued than anything else), but all of them seem to sense how serious these spells are.  For the first time they are getting the sense that they can kill, and be killed, by the magic they learn.  Mad-Eye seems to be a, shall we say non-traditional, teacher, and you just know he’s not going to last beyond year’s end! 

This movie also marks the first time we meet Lord Voldemort in a living human form.  Brought to life by Ralph Fiennes, he is indeed a chilling and evil character!  Harry is lucky to escape their encounter with his life!  Voldemort’s return very effectively foreshadows what’s to come, and we are clearly in for some dangerous, dark times!

Overall, re-watching this movie was enjoyable, though perhaps not quite what I had wished for it to be.  By now these characters have established such strong relationships that seeing them again is like visiting old friends.  This movie is definitely recommended for all those who enjoy a dark turn in storytelling!

June 25, 2009

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Filed under: Uncategorized — tvlover1 @ 9:31 pm
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This is one of a series of posts counting down to the release of the newest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on July 15th.  I was inspired by the Movie Moxie to participate in this countdown.  To read her review of The Prisoner of Azkaban, click here.

This movie definitely takes the Harry Potter series to a whole new level!  Definitely at the top of a lot of people’s “best of Harry Potter” lists, the film introduces us to a new Dumbledore, played by Michael Gambon, a new director, Alfonso Cuaron (Y tu mama tambien), and the resulting darker and edgier tone of the overall series.

To be honest, when I rewatched this movie, I was preparing to find fault with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie immensely when I saw it in theatres, but I often felt that it wasn’t really deserving to top the list of best Harry Potter movies.  I’m not really sure why.  I couldn’t find fault with it this time around, and actually think it’s gone up in my estimation! 

The main characters, now 13 years old, are definitely developing their own individual personalities, and at the same time, their friendship is strengthening and deepening.  There are definite romantic undertones now in the relationship between Ron and Hermione.  All three characters are exploring their growing magical talents and new freedoms.

In this movie, we are once again allowed to glimpse a greater scope of the magical world that Harry and the gang reside in.  We get to see Hogsmeade, ride on the Knight Bus with Harry, learn about werewolves, see new areas of the school, and meet new characters like the whacky Professor Trelawney (portrayed brilliantly by Emma Thompson), the misfit Remus Lupin (brought to life by David Thewlis), and the insane Sirius Black (played by the amazing Gary Oldman, who clearly enjoyed his role immensely).

This movie never fails to capture interest and highten the suspense.  The quality of filmmaking has not suffered at all with the introduction of the new director and new Professor Dumbledore.  As has become the pattern for the Harry Potter movies, the whole movie is creepier and darker in tone than the previous movie.  The subject matter is becoming more mature, and the villains harder to deal with.  Harry and his friends continue to put themselves in serious danger in order to save the day.  By following this pattern, the series is able to attract and keep new viewers, which is vital given that there are a total of seven books to make into films! 

All in all, I enjoyed revisiting The Prisoner of Azkaban.  I would definitely recommend it to others, and hope that if you get the chance, you watch it too!

June 19, 2009

Chamber of Secrets

Filed under: Uncategorized — tvlover1 @ 8:52 pm
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This is post number two in my countdown of Harry Potter movies, all in anticipation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, opening next month!  This countdown was inspired by the Movie Moxie – to read her post on the Chamber of Secrets, click here.

I’ve always felt this movie gets unfairly overlooked when it comes to people’s Potter preferences.  I really enjoyed this movie in the theatres, and it still holds the same appeal for me today.  It very much continues the themes and storylines set up in the first movie.  Granted, it does have a climax that prominently features a gigantic snake, thereby neccesitating the need for me to listen to the movie as my eyes are firmly shut, but overall this movie really does a good job of furthering the storylines and solidifying the relationships forged in the first movie.

All the main characters are back and in fine form here.  The kids are definitely starting to mature a bit and are on the precipice of teenagedom.  They still have the recklessness and wide-eyed enthusiasm of children, but are starting to develop more interests and relationships built on more than just proximity to each other.  Once again the adult cast is stellar – my appreciation for Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman just continues to grow and grow!

For me, the real magic of this movie lies in the casting of the supporting cast.  Ron’s parents, portrayed by Mark Williams and Julie Walters, are what I imagine the ideal wizarding parents to be!  Starring as Gilderoy Lockhart we have Kenneth Branagh, a man who brings an infectious energy and lightness to the storyline.  Finally, and perhaps my favourite supporting actor (but hey, I have a well-documented thing for sexy British accents), is Jason Isaacs and the deliciously, delightfully wicked Lucius Malfoy.  Even under all that white hair, the man shines!

I absolutely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys fantasy movies, stories about children about to enter their awkward teen years, and movies featuring gigantic snakes!

June 14, 2009

Harry Potter Countdown Part I

Filed under: Uncategorized — tvlover1 @ 9:27 am
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Reading the Movie Moxie’s blog reminded me that we’re 4 weeks away from the release of the newest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!  To pass the time, and honour the series, the Movie Moxie is doing a countdown of the Harry Potter movies on her blog.  To read her review of the first movie, which inspired me to do my own countdown, click here.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in 2001.  I remember greatly anticipating the movie as I was so passionate over the books.  I saw the movie the first weekend it was released – talk about crowded theatres!  I loved the movie though, and new that if the same quality of film-making could be maintained, the series would be amazing!  So far, I haven’t once been disappointed!

I bought a VHS copy of the movie when it was available for purchase.  It was watched many, many times!  I’m glad I was finally able to replace my VHS copy with a DVD – they last longer!

The Philosopher’s Stone does an excellent job of introducing us to the world of magic, and the characters of the Harry Potter series.  As a muggle (non-magical person), the world of magic is an amorphous, fantastical world not necessarily open to me.    The movie really gives shape and substance to magic, and it is a world I want to revisit many times! 

I thought Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire) did a great job directing.  He sets the tone for the whole franchise.  I don’t know if he had any input in casting, but he takes basically unknown actors and actresses, and turns them into Harry Potter, Ron Weasly, and Hermione Granger.  The film really focuses on these characters, and the young children who star in the movie do a great job of bringing their book characters to life!  I know the Harry Potter movies ignited quite the Daniel Radcliffe obsession!  In addition to the casting of the children, the supporting cast of this movie is fantastic!  Already a fan of Alan Rickman, I was very excited to see him as Professor Severus Snape*.  He gave me chills!  Maggie Smith stars as Professor Minerva McGonagall, and Richard Harris as Professor Albus Dumbledore.  These two characters are extremely important to the whole series, and they are portrayed with love and care.  The casting of Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid was brilliant, and in my mind, there is no better Hagrid!

The themes explored in this movie are timeless.  Good vs evil, courage, and friendship all play important roles in telling this story.  The themes will be explored again in various incarnations in the other movies as well.  They are at their most basic forms here in this movie, which makes sense for it being the first story in the series, and for the kids being so young.

What is a movie, or a series, without a strong nemesis?  This movie gives us our first introduction to You-Know-Who, a truly evil and repugnant villian in every sense of the word.  I like how scary yet mysterious he is in this first story.  Yes, he’s present, but not really in ultra-dangerous form yet.  His mere existence is enough to terrorize us for now!

Overall, I loved this movie.  It really set the tone of the series for me, and left me in eager anticipation for more! 

* Note to self: investigate the theory of character names, and how said names influence character and personality later in life!

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