Category Archives: movies I love

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Review | Saying Good-Bye to ‘The Boy Who Lived’

A movie poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The last installment of the Harry Potter film franchise doesn’t beat around the bush. It starts right where it left off with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) stealing the elder wand from Dumbledore’s grave and casting its power into the sky. It sets off a flurry of non-stop action sequences as Harry (Danielle Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) seek out and attempt to destroy the last of the Horcruxes.

One minute they’re on the beach, the next they’re in Gringotts, then they’re in Hogsmeade, then there’s a battle at Hogwarts. Somewhere in there they ride a dragon, Prof. McGonagall (Maggie Smith) proves she won’t back down without a fight, Mrs. Weasley shows how far a mother’s love goes, Ron and Hermione get–uh–closer and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) finally becomes the hero he was born to be.

David Yates, the film director, never leaves any stone unturned when it comes to portraying the action as realistically as possible, which is hard considering the overwhelmingly fictional concept. But he does it well. In one scene inside Hogwarts, he even makes sure you can see flashing coming from outside where Death Eaters are wearing down the magical protection around the castle to get in. That attention to detail and the loyalty to the original text easily helps catapult this film into the top spot.

Snape (played flawlessly by Alan Rickman), in both the book and film version, turns out to be someone completely different than we all thought he was. Unfortunately, the film went the same route as the book and didn’t give him the interpretation his story deserved. His whole teen years are actually left out, which was important to realizing the depth of his past. But people who hadn’t read the books seemed to understand what was going on anyway, thanks to good editing. Somewhere inside Snape’s past is a secret concerning Dumbledore that will change Harry’s life forever and he’ll realize whether he really is fighting Voldemort for the greater good or just for vengeance.

I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 years old, so I literally grew up with the series along with most of the people watching the film with me last night. More than anything this film is about every student at Hogwarts going from kids to adults by risking their lives for something they believe in. That’s a legacy I hope all my fellow 20-something Harry Potter loves take with them as we all made our final foray into adulthood when the last remnant our childhood came to a close with this film.

I laughed, I cried (the whole theater was full of sniffling people), I applauded and I when the screen turned black, I said a final good-bye to “The Boy Who Lived.”

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Pixar Releases Teaser Trailer for ‘Brave’

It’s only a minute long, so you probably wonder why I bothered posting? I’m just so excited for “Brave” to hit theaters next summer. It’s the first girl protagonist in a Pixar film and it’s their first fairy tale. Instead of all the squeaky clean stuff, they’re going for more in the realm of Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm fairy tales, according to co-director Brenda Chapman. I wish they took the same approach with the classics, but it would’ve made for a different childhood for all of us.

There’s already been a bit of drama with Mark Andrews being brought on as a co-director with Chapman, who was supposed to be the first female director of a Pixar film, and she’s reportedly no longer working on the project. She did co-write the story, however.

Check out the teaser below. If you can’t tell by the narration and scenery, it’s set in Scotland.

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“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Review

Shia LaBeouf and as Sam Witwicky and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," the third film in the franchise.

Times are hard for recent graduates, even ones who’ve saved the world from robot aliens twice. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” begins with Sam Witwicky, secret savior of our world, looking for a job all over Washington D.C. But office work holds little joy for him because he’d rather be out fighting wars with Bumblebee and Optimus Prime than delivering mail around the office.

Of course, he gets his wish thanks to a conspiracy tracing back to before the first moon landing. We went to the moon in 1969, but the space race was about more than being the first country with your flag on Earth’s moon. It was about being the first to find out what exactly the strange images NASA (and it seems whatever space agency Russia had) saw on their satellite. It turned out to be an Autobot ship that held the key to the survival of their home planet but vanished during the last days of their battle. If the technology stored in it reaches the wrong hands, it could be disastrous.

This installment is much funnier than the other two. The second film wasn’t too great, which even Shia LaBeouf admits, partly because they were working with an unfinished script and partly because they were flying high from the success of the first film. Sam has always seemed to be a little of the bad boy Hollywood has made LaBeouf out to be and a little of Louis from Even Stevens, the Disney show that got LaBeouf his big break. He’s a lot more Louis this time and his antics break up the hardcore action for the first half of the film, but there’s little to laugh about in the second half, which is full-on combat (more action-packed than combat scenes in the previous two films) reminiscent of Battle: Los Angeles. But instead of L.A., the battle is fought in Chicago; or what was Chicago before the Decepticons start their war.

Megan Fox is noticeably missing after being dismissed from her role, amid reports of Steven Spielberg giving the orders after she bad-mouthed Michael Bay. She’s been replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, another beautiful girl who’s somehow fallen for Sam’s charm (even his mother warns him the chances of getting another pretty girl are pretty slim). Whiteley does the job adequately (it’s nothing to write home about), but the Victoria’s Secret model is always modeling. She somehow gets through hours of combat and fighting for her life with only a smudge of dirt on her face. At one point, she stands atop a car in heels, jeans, a white tee and a jacket with the wind blowing her barely out-of-place hair. The ridiculous nature of that shot got a few snickers, mainly from me and my friends.

If you’re looking for so much action that your brain feels like it’s about to explode, you can count on this film. A lot of the fight scenes and car chases left my mouth agape. It’s also got laughs, a little heart, characters you want to die (namely, Frances McDormand as a high-level government officer who doesn’t really understand anything), conspiracies that really make you think and a model in case the guys get bored.

I really enjoyed the film, but there was no real theme. The first one was about destiny, the second about heroism and this one just seemed to be the end. Boy, did they go out with a bang.

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Are We Ready for the End of Harry Potter?

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) in the first installment of "Harry Potter the Deathly Hallows"

I’m not prone to tears, but I cried when I read the last page of the seventh Harry Potter Book. I’d been reading those books for a decade and now they were over. It wasn’t too sad. There were still films left to be released, so my mind was put at ease.

Tomorrow is the penultimate moment of a huge chapter in millions of lives. We all secretly waited for an owl to bring us a letter of acceptance to Hogwarts (don’t deny it!). Train stations took on a new sense of mystery, as children searched for people walking through walls that lead to platform 9¾. Even bricks became things of intrigue that could lead us to the Wizarding World.

At an age when most of us are starting to lose our imagination in favor of reality, J.K. Rowling let us hold on to a piece of it every time we went to a midnight book release party and curled up with our books, refusing to stop for anything besides food that our mother’s forced us to eat as our nose stayed glued to the action-packed pages. There was magic in those books (and I’m not just talking about the wizardry).

Reading them from ages 10 to 19 was a way to keep the little semblance I had left of my childhood. So many adults lose the ability to believe in magic; to believe in the impossible. I don’t really think, there’s a Wizarding World, but I do think that there are people like Harry, Ron and Hermione who will give up normalcy to follow their destiny; who will put others before themselves. I believe young people can really make a difference if they are willing to do whatever it takes (2008 Election, anyone?) to force change, even if others won’t believe in you. If there weren’t, this world would be an even worse place.

Next summer, when the credits roll on the last film and our childhoods really end, will we be ready to face the possibility of a world where we may no longer be reminded to believe in the impossible?

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Being A Colored Woman As A ‘Metaphysical Dilemma’ in ‘For Colored Girls’

 

The cast of "For Colored Girls"

They laughed at their sorrows.

Women in the theater, that is. They laughed, as the women on the screen cried. I’ll save my deeper thoughts on why for my self-esteem blog, but I think it had something to do with the deep nature of this film.

Unlike a lot of other African American films, this one digs deep to identify struggles the characters face and to reconcile them without slapstick comedy.

For Colored Girls, based on Ntozake Shange’s celebrated choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, portrays the “metaphysical dilemma” of being a colored woman. Tyler Perry, who directed the film, weaves a storyline through the poems told by characters connected through experiences at a fifth floor walk-up that’s home to three of the characters. These women are all distinct, interchangeable in some of their best and worst experiences but not in the person they became as a result.

There are eight women, all based on archetypes, but too complicated to completely fill an archetypal role: Tangie (Thandie Newton), Joanna (Janet Jackson), Crystal (Kimberly Elise), Kelly (Kerry Washington), Alice (Whoopi Goldberg), Gilda (Phylicia Rashad), Juanita (Loretta Divine), Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose) and Nyla (Tessa Thompson). Their stories are ones of hope, love, pain, abortion, rape, incest and strength.

The performances were all as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen an a film. The transformations these women went through during their struggles were astonishing. The pacing was perfect. Every line was delivered with honesty and pain. It’s impossible to watch it with understanding and not get wrapped in the emotion.

I think that’s was where the women in the theater got lost. They didn’t understand that a character talking about bones crushed like an ice cream cone was a metaphor for abortion, not a longing for a cold snack.

It’s not easy to understand the script. Shange didn’t write the choreopoems to be literal. It’s a metaphor for the lives of colored women. If you’re not ready to think (I went at midnight, so I doubt most of the people in the theater were able to think a lot at that hour), don’t go see this film. It’s not for someone who doesn’t want to go deep into the lines and into themselves.

Every woman in the film gave one of the best performances of their careers, but I can’t forget Michael Ealy in this review. He played Crystal’s boyfriend, an Iraq war veteran with a drinking problem and a strong case of PTSD. Ealy, usually handsome and debonaire, stripped the charm for his role. There was so much depth to the character. The last male performance I saw done so well was Will Smith in Seven Pounds, but his character was more in control of his personal demons.

I laughed (when the moments were funny, of course), I cried, I got the chills and one moment had me shaking for about five minutes. For Colored Girls is not only powerful in its execution and amazingly written lines, it’s also empowering.

I don’t want to get too specific with this review because, like the choreopoem, it has to be heard. Reading something about the script or even the script itself is moot. Listening is the only way to truly understand it. Shange’s lines are so deep and can be defined in so many ways, that hearing the words always means something new.

If you’re in the mood for a film that will increase your intelligence and self-awareness, you must see it.

By the way, this blog got 817 profile views last month. I am glad to have so many people who seem to care about my opinions on popular culture. Thanks for the support!

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Films I Love: Edward Scissorhands

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands with Co-Star Winona Ryder as Kim in Tim Burton's 1990 film Edward Scissorhands. (Photo courtesy imdb.com)

Up until about three years ago, I thought it was normal for a 7-year-old to watch Edward Scissorhands every day for months with their 3-year-old sister (who wasn’t really interested). Along with my thoughts about every family watching Animal Planet at least five hours a day, this was debunked.

It wasn’t until last week when I was talking to a friend that I realized it wasn’t the non-cartoon aspect of the film that made it weird for me to be so obsessed with it–it was the dark nature. My friend told me the film made her cry when she tried to watch it at 8 years old. This was about the same time I was rewinding the tape to watch it for the second time in one day.

I obviously wasn’t a normal child.

There was always something about the film that drew me to it. Edward was the kind of person a kid wants to be around–kind, soft-spoken. Plus, he had scissors for hands and kids are by default attracted to things that could be dangerous (electrical outlets, hot stoves). He was also misunderstood and some of the good things he tried to do for people were taken the wrong way. As a kid, there were a lot of things I did that I thought would turn out good, but I got in trouble for. Why wouldn’t my mom enjoy the pictured I colored for her on the wall in the hallway?

When I bought the collector’s edition in high school, I noticed how great the acting was. Johnny Depp really embodied this character. Edward had never been around people–he spent his whole life with his toymaker father, waiting on hands that never came. Watching it at 17, ten years after the obsessive years, I realized how much he reminded me of Pinocchio (he was also created by a lonely man). He got his chance to be a “real boy” and he entered the manicured-lawn world of suburbia. They embraced him at first, as more of a party joke than a real person, but they turned on him when he needed them most. The script follows that Golden Age children’s literature idea of characters that are too pure for the world. They usually die because this world is too corrupt for them.

Maybe Edward escaped this fate because he got to experience something most of those Golden Age characters were too young to–love. His love for Kim (Winona Ryder) was a part of the film that was done perfectly. It wasn’t done too much or too little. It was also unrequited for most of the film because Edward was really too pure to realize what Kim was mature enough to know. They could never be together. The world wasn’t going to allow it and he’d get hurt (possibly murdered) in the process. Maybe that’s why I never really thought he was unhappy in the end until my friend brought it up last week. Their experience together let him spend the rest of his life knowing he was loved by someone at some time.

In life, we take that for granted.

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