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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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“Best Thing I Never Had” Music Video

Beyoncé’s video for “Best Thing I Never Had,” the second (third if you count “1+1,” which was her second single before she changed her mind) single from her “4” album premiered on her website and VEVO tonight.

Everybody has to do the wedding video. It’s an unwritten requirement for female artists. Think about it: Mariah Carey in “We Belong Together”; Katy Perry in “Hot N Cold”; Pink in “I Don’t Believe You”; Madonna in “Like a Virgin.” I could keep going. At least she made it down the aisle, which really isn’t the norm for wedding videos.

The video was missing all the sass everyone wanted, but she pulled off the happy vibe well. There’s just not much to it. It’s a good video, but I’m nothing really stood out. I think she set the bar really high with all the dance moves and the story line for “Who Run the World (Girls)” and going the simple route after that wasn’t expected.

With any other artist, the video would have gone unnoticed, but Beyoncé has this charm that makes it easy for her to pull off almost anything.

She pulled it off with smiles worthy of a toothpaste ad (I really need to see her dentist), white lingerie that’s somehow sexy and modest at the same time and a wedding dress that’s to die for. Ten points to anyone who can tell me who the wedding dress designer is. I have an inkling of who the designer may be, but I’m too savvy with wedding dress fashion. [UPDATE: My best friend did some research and found out the wedding dress is Baracci Beverly Hills and the reception dress is Vera Wang. Thank God for friends who love high-end wedding dresses.]

Some of my Twitter friends (tweeps, as I call them) and I want her to do the same thing she did with “B’Day” and make a music video for every song. Pretty please, King B?

Check out the video for “Best Thing I Never Had” below:

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Beyonce “4” Review | What Happens When A Singer is Fearless?

I bought Beyoncé’s deluxe edition of “4” from Target on Wednesday and about halfway through, I had to stop the CD. (Yes, I resorted to dinosaur technology, but I couldn’t wait until I got home and it’s now on my iPod) Not out of frustration or because I didn’t like it. I was just overwhelmed by how good it was; how different it was from anything I’ve heard in years, possibly since Lauryn Hill’s album. Just like “Miseducation” it was a fearlessly recorded album with little or no regard for things like “radio-friendly” tracks. Lauryn’s songs were played on the radio, but they were vastly different from all the crap being played before and after her singles (Have you really listened to those background vocals? That attention to composition was incredible) and it was obvious when she recorded them radio play wasn’t really on her mind–just making music. Beyoncé, a 16-time Grammy winner, brings that same veracity for the craft and catharsis of performance to her latest album, which is expected to be the #1 album in 14 countries without even getting a top 10 spot on Billboard.

I understand why critics have touted the concept, while shying away from actually saying if it’s good or not because nothing out there sounds anything like it. The sound on the previous three albums was one popularized by Beyoncé, but it had a generic quality that was beneath her talents. But that’s what people would rather hear because they’re used to it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those albums, but I always knew she was holding back. Sometime during her year off, which can be seen in the mini-documentary “Year of 4,” she realized the same.

The sounds in “4” samples heavily from the 1970s and the 1980s, but doesn’t completely rip off the time periods by taking a modern twist. The track “Party” makes you want to get in a time machine and go back to the 80s when house parties were almost on the same level as a hip club and everything seemed a little more laid back. There are showy ballads, like “1+1,” “I Was Here” and “Start Over.” As opposed to her last album, which was full of anthemic dance tracks, this one only has a couple (and they’re not really dance tracks), namely “Love on Top,” “Party” and “Schoolin’ Life” (a bonus track on the deluxe edition).

This isn’t a complete deviation from the Beyoncé we’ve seen in the past. She’s still got her gritty-southern gangster side in “Countdown” (Me and my boo in/my boo coupe riding”), her vulnerable side in “I Miss You” (“I still need you/why is that?”), her sassy side rears its head in “I Care” (“I know you don’t care too much/but I care”) and her sexy side (“I’ll give it all away/just don’t tell nobody tomorrow”). But she’s doing it without worrying so much about how others want her music to be and focusing solely on what she wants it to be.

I wouldn’t call the album perfect. Some of the lyrics don’t flow too well and a few of the beats are all over the place, but with such a great voice, she can pull it off where others would have failed.

Just like Rihanna needed “Rated R” as a way to transition into the next phase in her life, Beyoncé needed this album. But it came off way better than Rihanna’s, serving more as a beacon of light for any artist who’s been afraid to make their own musical path. It seems that Beyoncé needed this album to show the world she could really made a mark doing something other than making you dance at the club or helping you get over a break-up. Like she croons in her ballad “I Was Here”: “I just want them to know/that I gave my all, did my best.”

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‘Marvin’s Room’ Covers | The Room is Getting Crowded

Drake released “Marvin’s Room” in the beginning of June, a somber track from his “Take Care” album that’s set to drop in October. It’s not Drake’s best work by any means, but I do love the premise of a drunken phone call to an ex-girlfriend. The random rapping that interrupts his “singing” is pretty jarring and doesn’t really fit the mood of the song. The music video is pretty low key (and low budget), but it does the job. It’s not a bad song, but any Drake fan will agree he can do way better. Nonetheless, a bunch of artists put their own spin on the song.

JoJo’s cover, subtitled “Can’t Do Better,” was the first I listened to and it’s still the best I’ve heard so far. She strayed the least from the original premise of the song and lyrically she turned it into more of an anthem for girls who find out their ex-boyfriend is dating someone else before they’ve even had a chance to really get over him. Best line: “She’s not crazy like me/I bet you like that.” She added a lot of anger and sass to the song (I’ma send a sexy picture/to remind you what you’ve given up), giving it the extra push it needed for me, and a few other Drake fans I know, to bring ourselves to admit it’s better than his version. This also gives JoJo’s image a lot of maturity, which I think she was hoping for with a new album expected soon. She really set the bar and a line from her version pretty much explains how I feel about every other cover I’ve heard: “I’m the best so you can’t do better.”

Teyana released a cover around the same time as JoJo and she also released a video today. The song is mediocre, to say the least. Teyana seems content to dance around the line of celebrity as more of a socialite than an actual artist, but she does have a beautiful voice. Lyrically, the song wasn’t up to par, mostly because it wasn’t focused. Her feelings are all over the place, which portrays the reality of someone in that situation, but in a song it’s best to stick with one or two emotions than choosing all of them. Also, I think when you sing “Wife-beater and my panties on” in a song, you’re aiming it at a male audience, but you can’t keep their attention when the song they thought was about sex turns into emotional vomit. I did like her homage to Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor” at the end of the song and I wish she’d used the song as a model for her own. The video was just as confusing emotionally and visually. It’s basically a love letter to Teyana’s abs and her hair. I’m still confused about why Omarion was even necessary.

Chris Brown was the latest superstar to put out his spin on the track. The only reason he released the song was to put out some vulgar lyrics and remind us all that we’re haters if we don’t like him. Chris, I’ll just have to keep hating because it was garbage and you could have done way better. I know I seem to dislike Chris Brown, but he really just frustrates me because I’ve been waiting to be wrong about him being a complete jerk, but he keeps proving me right.

I was hoping some unknown YouTube sensation would stand above the rest or at least be better than Teyana’s, but I haven’t found one yet.

Check out the original song by Drake and the covers I mentioned below. Are there any good covers out there besides JoJo’s I should listen to? Am I being too harsh on Teyana and Chris?

Look out for a review of Beyonce’s “4” really soon!

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