The Unborn (2009)


Jumby Wants to be Born Now.

My coworker Shannon seems to be a horror movie aficionado.  I’m fairly sure she has seen every horror movie Netflix has to offer.  So when October comes around, I have come to rely on her for at least one solid recommendation.  She seems to be a nice person so I always have to remind her first that I don’t necessarily want a fun movie, but want to MAKE FUN OF a movie because she always leads with something good, but once you get past that she can deliver the good stuff.  Or the bad stuff.  So she claimed today’s movie would be good to make fun of, but then I saw it was written and directed by David S. Goyer, who wrote the Nolan Batman trilogy and Dark City.  This can’t be right!  This is supposed to be a bad movie!  Then I saw he also wrote Batman v. Superman and BOTH Ghost Rider movies.  …This has potential…  And if nothing else, the poster for the movie was mainly just a hot chick’s butt, so it’s got that going for it.  This movie is The Unborn, written and directed by David S. Goyer, and starring Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Jane Alexander, James Remar, and Idris Elba.

A super-hot lady named Casey (Yustman) starts going crazy and having strange visions of dogs wearing masks and mittens.  Then a little boy smashes a mirror on her face and makes her eye change color.  Somehow, this leads her to find out she was to be a twin but her brother didn’t survive.  She finds her Auschwitz survivor grandma (Alexander) who was also a twin, but Nazi’s made her brother into a babadook.  …No wait, it’s a dybbuk.  And that’s a Jewish demon, so her brother starts acting like a real dyb-bag until she kills him.  The evil demon thingie wanted to be reborn as Casey’s brother but was instead unborn.  Now it’s after her.

Shannon comes through again!  I wouldn’t say this was necessarily a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t good.  I wasn’t pained by watching it, but I feel like I spent most of it fairly confused.  The movie contained a lot of superstitions that it just acted like everyone knew and were totally normal.  Did you know that newborns aren’t supposed to see their own reflections or they’ll die?  Yeah, me neither.  Nor, I assume, did millions of parents who don’t go around smashing every mirror in their house when they get the plus sign on that pregnancy test.  Want to know what else isn’t a thing?  The name “Jumby.”  Right before he smashes Casey in the face with a mirror, the creepy little kid tells her that “Jumby wants to be born now.”  I would then say that I hope that “Jumby” is never born because he won’t last long with a name like that.  And then Casey finds out that that’s the nickname her parents gave her twin brother and she somehow didn’t stop in the middle of her freak out to say, “I can’t believe you never told me I had a twin…wait…Jumby?  Did he die in utero because of all the drugs you guys were doing during the pregnancy to come up with that name?”  And what sort of drugs was her grandma on when she said, “What is a twin but another kind of mirror?”  …Well, grandma, a twin is lots of things.  A person. One that shares a lot of your genetic code.  Of all the things a twin could be, a reflective piece of glass would not make my list.  I kind of get what you’re saying because they may look alike, but not all twins do look alike and even the ones that do are not mirrors.  But I guess old grandma didn’t get herself in an old folk’s home by having full control of her faculties.  Anyway, the movie ends with an exorcism that goes poorly.  The dybbuk shows up and starts slinging people around the room like a little hurricane.  At this point, I agree with Casey when she says they have to finish the ceremony.  I don’t really understand her luck that the first piece of paper she grabbed at her feet as the book was blowing around the room just happened to be the page she needed.  This movie wouldn’t have happened if she was prone to such good fortune.

As always, a horror movie not making a lot of sense isn’t my top concern so long as they can make that up by being scary.  Unfortunately, this movie didn’t really do that either.  Mostly clichés and jump scares.  I guess I should’ve guessed it would be cliché from the thumbnail, but I kept getting distracted by Odette Yustman’s butt and couldn’t see the rest of the picture.  But she was standing in front of a bathroom vanity mirror that had her reflection and another mirror… sorry, her twin (I get those confused all the time).  But isn’t the bathroom vanity mirror in a horror movie one of the most played out and cliché things ever at this point?  You know exactly what they’re going to do with it eventually so the only suspense involved with it is wondering when.  I guess you could say they broke from cliché a little in the movie in that the black friend of Casey was not the first one to die, but I also felt no remorse for her when she did.  She’s supposed to be really superstitious but then she’s at home all alone and the power goes off and she hears a knock at the door but can’t see anyone when she looks outside so she opens the damned door?  She deserved to get stabbed by that little kid for that.  Also, you can’t take a little kid in a fight?  Maybe she’s just too nice, but I wish that little kid would try to stab me.  I would whoop that ass so hard!  Even if he did stab me in the gut first, I still think I could lay a beating on a little kid.  One thing I would say for this movie in the scares department is a good amount of the creatures they had were pretty creepy.  The dog with the mask or its head turned upside down and the old man later were both pretty well done.  And then I also have a burning question that this movie left me with: if an infant dies do the paramedics really bring in the full-sized human stretcher to bring it out?  I’m not suggesting they use a shoe box or something, but it seems like a waste of space.

The performances were pretty hit-and-miss in this movie.  The most surprising ones were Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino.  Not because they put on their career-defining, tour-de-force performances in this movie by a long shot, but more that they agreed to do the movie AND seemed to actually give about 10% more effort than the paycheck was probably worth.  Odette Yustman was the star of the movie in that she got the most screen time, and she did exactly what she needed to.  She was hot, she walked around in her underwear and made sure no one left this movie without knowing she has a nice butt.  And she screamed occasionally.  Otherwise, her performance and a lot of the other ones in the movie were good sometimes and very bad on others.  She probably did about as good as she could with the material, I suppose.  I mean, her character was written to make a really big deal about getting hit in the face by a kid with a mirror when talking to her friends, but never really bothered to bring up that she hatched an icky-looking bug out of an egg that morning.  I mean, shitty little kids hit people with things all the time.  It’s not every day that something other than egg comes out of an egg.  I also found it curious how profusely she thanked her boyfriend for accompanying her to the doctor.  She only had a minor scratch on her face really, but she WAS hit in the face so hard with a mirror that her eye was changing color.  Feels like going to the doctor with her would just be part of being a concerned boyfriend.  As I mentioned before, I did not get why she was so freaked out that she had a twin that died in utero.  Granted, it wouldn’t be great that the parents never thought to mention it, but I still feel like my reaction as an adult to receiving that information would be more along the lines of, “Oh…that’s interesting, I guess…”  I also wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that losing this twin was the reason my mom killed herself.  I mean, it was probably quite the bummer at first, but this movie showed that the mom killed herself when Casey was at least 9 or 10.  Seems like she probably would’ve moved past that by then.  I would at least give this movie credit that it seemed to write the character of the super-hot chick well on a couple of occasions.  Like when she took that book to Gary Oldman and asked if he could translate it for her.  …You want me to translate a thousand page religious manuscript for you?  “Could you?  That’d be great!  You’re such a sweetheart!”  That seems like a hot chick thing to do.  …I’d probably have done it for her too…  It also seems like a hot chick thing to do that when she’s told what to do to take the dybbuk’s power away, she only half-asses it.  Your grandma told you to break the mirrors in your house, burn the pieces, and bury them.  Why do all the mirrors in your house still have shards around the edges and pieces in a pile under them on the mantle?  Good enough, eh?

The Unborn was not particularly well-written and didn’t often stand up to logic, the performances were pretty hit-and-miss, and it was more cliché than it was scary.  The best parts of it are a couple of the creepy creatures and Odette Yustman’s butt. But I feel like you can get every piece of the enjoyment of those things from the movie poster I am attaching to this review.  So there’s not going to be much enjoyment to be gotten out of this movie, but I would say this would be a good candidate to watch at home with friends just to make fun of.  The Unborn gets “It’s not safe to be around me” out of “Am I going to be falling forever?”

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


There’s a Storm Coming, Mr. Wayne.

I went into each of the new Batman movies with some degree of trepidation.  The first movie suffered from the reputation left by the previous movie, and the second movie suffered from the high standard set by one of the actors in the Tim Burton version.  Going into the third Batman by Christopher Nolan, I did my very best to keep my expectations low, but I could feel myself losing that fight the second a plan was made to see it.  That’s when it was becoming real.  But I still had the nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that there was no possible way this movie could be better than the Dark Knight.  The Dark Knight may be my favorite comic book movie ever, tied with Avengers and Watchmen.  If this movie trounced its predecessor, then I would need to write a review naming a new movie as my undisputed favorite comic book movie of all time.  Am I about to do that?  Let’s find out in my review of The Dark Knight Rises, written by Jonathan Nolan, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Josh Pence, Juno Temple, Nestor Carbonell, Matthew Modine, Alon Abutbul, and Cillian Murphy.

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City has reached a relative state of peace due to the Dent Act and the efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).  So peaceful has Gotham become that the savior of Gotham, the vigilante known as Batman (Christian Bale) has disappeared into seclusion that he breaks only to have conversations with his butler Alfred (Michael Caine), and to get robbed by a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).  But Selina stole more than Bruce Wayne’s mother’s necklace; she also stole his fingerprints … and a congressional representative.  She sells the prints to a criminal named Bane (Tom Hardy) who uses them to bankrupt Bruce Wayne.  While investigating the sewers, Commissioner Gordon also gets shot by Bane’s men, but is rescued by a cop named Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but a speech Gordon had in his jacket falls into Bane’s hands, revealing to him the truth about the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes.  Gotham City needs Batman again, but does he have it in him to defeat this new foe and stop his terrorist plot?

This time I was right.  The Dark Knight Rises was not able to come close to the legacy left by The Dark Knight.  I’m in no way trying to say that this movie was bad, but it had a whole lot to live up to and it wasn’t able to.  That being said, Dark Knight Rises was a really good movie, and really strong in a lot of ways, but my three favorite comic book movies are resting comfortably on their thrones.  I think the story was what got on my nerves a little bit.  Though it was good, there were just too many things that just didn’t make sense to me.  Take, for instance, when Selina Kyle steals Bruce Wayne’s car early on in the movie.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bruce Wayne is the most famous person in Gotham, yet the valet doesn’t realize that he’s not married and that he left his really expensive vehicle by himself, so he just gives the keys to any lady holding a ticket claiming to be his wife?  So that dude’s fired.  There were plenty of things that I loved though.  One such occasion was when Selina Kyle disappeared when Batman turned around and he said, “So that’s what that feels like.”  Without spoiling it, I was also very happy to see that they used the most famous thing from the comic book storyline of Bane in this movie.  I don’t know the Batman universe that well, but the one thing I knew that Bane did happened, and I loved it.  There’s also a great deal of emotion in this movie, and I don’t think they’ve really done that successfully in the previous movies.  But I really liked the last thing Batman says to Commissioner Gordon in the movie, and a few of the things Alfred said to Bruce during the last half of the movie almost brought me to tears.  I will say that I did not like the ending of the movie, but I’ll go into more detail in the next paragraph.

I know that doesn’t sound like I had that many complaints about the story of the movie, but the reason I left some out was that they contain spoilers.  The first non-spoiler I would give you is about spoilers, but I would recommend you not check IMDb before watching this movie.  Just looking at the credits for this movie spoiled something that could have potentially been a huge surprise near the end of the movie.  Maybe two things, depending on how asinine and descriptive the posters get with the character names.  But here’s the rest of them ::SPOILER ALERT::  The huge thing it spoiled for me was that Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, was in the movie.  That’s not revealed until the last 15 minutes of the movie!  But, when I went in knowing she was in the movie, it was pretty easy to figure out who she was and who the trigger person was going to be.  One of the big problems I had was with Batman in the prison.  He tried to escape the prison around three times before he realized that he needed to make the jump without the rope holding him back.  Friendboss Josh realized that when the first person tried to make that jump.  How is he smarter than the World’s Greatest Detective?  I regarded the ending of the movie as a total “fuck you” as well.  Batman dies … or does he?!  No.  The problem with this is that it really didn’t make any sense.  If Batman wanted a vacation, he doesn’t need to fake his death, and certainly not to the people he’s closest to.  He let Alfred, Lucius, Gordon, Blake, and Selina Kyle all think that he was dead for a good long time before they either figured it out on their own or ran into him on vacation with Kyle in Italy.  It did have a bit of an emotional impact on me as a viewer though, but it was mostly anger.  Knowing this was Nolan’s last Batman movie, I had entertained the possibility that he might kill off Batman, but you can’t just do that.  Batman’s almost a century old; you can’t just come in and kill him.  Then, when I saw him in the café at the end, I just wondered why the fuck that little misdirection was necessary.  There were some good spoilers as well.  I thought it was total genius how Bane’s mercenaries used the army against the people of Gotham by making them keep the people of Gotham in town because they would set off the bomb if even one person made it across the bridge.  I also thought it would’ve been an awesome reveal if I didn’t already know it was coming (Fuck you, IMDb!) to find out that Talia was the kid in the prison and Ra’s was the mercenary being talked about in the story.  I got goosebumps when they showed the scene from the first movie that tied into it.  ::END SPOILERS::

I enjoyed all of the performances in this movie, but there certainly wasn’t anything on the level of Heath Ledger.  I know it’s an unfair comparison, but it’s also necessary.  Christian Bale did a great job in the movie.  He wasn’t really the same Bruce Wayne we’d seen before as he was dealing with a lot of emotions in this movie.  In the beginning of the movie, he’s in seclusion and his guilt at the death of Rachel is still wearing on him, and it’s only getting worse with him turning it inward as he doesn’t have the distraction of being Batman anymore.  But that was part of the problems I had with the movie: there was not enough Batman!  He’s not Batman for a large part of the movie, and the first time he becomes Batman he just doesn’t seem that into it anymore.  He’s back in form near the end of the movie, but I was getting bummed out about it by then.  Tom Hardy did a great job in this movie as well, and I’ll avoid the Joker comparison to give him the credit he deserves.  This is the Bane they needed to make in the movie.  One of the biggest problems I had with Bane’s appearance in Batman and Robin was that they seemed only interested in recreating the character’s look.  Yeah, he’s a big brutish looking guy wearing a mask, but he’s not some mindless goon.  Bane had a genius-level intellect in comic books, but that movie makes him unable to string two words together.  This movie does Bane justice.  Tom Hardy makes him completely intelligent and intimidating.  They also had a good reason for him to wear the mask, which I was wondering how they’d pull off when they didn’t want to take the Venom angle from the comic books.  Anne Hathaway also did a pretty good job as Selina Kyle, but I can’t say that I think her role required all that much out of her than being fuckin’ hot.  She did that part of it with gusto, but also gave a pretty good performance.  I probably would’ve preferred that they had a few hundred more scenes of her riding Batman’s motorcycle wearing skintight leather from behind though.  Her character created some questions for me, though.  The main one was how Bruce could still be moping over Maggie Gyllenhaal 8 years after her death when he just met Anne Hathaway.  I’d be over it pretty gundamned quickly.  I also really liked the look of her “Catwoman” costume (though she’s never referred to that way as far as I know).  And not just because it was skintight on Anne Hathaway’s body either.  I liked that it felt really reminiscent of the Catwoman costume from the Adam West days, but they made it better by making it so she wasn’t intentionally wearing cat ears, it just looked like she was when her goggles were pushed back onto her head.  On another note, I understand that Catwoman is very agile and flexible and everything, but was it actually necessary for her to kick the lever on the window washing scaffold at one point in the movie?  It was above her head and you could’ve just pulled it with your hands.  Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

I’m sure it’s hard to tell from the review I just wrote, but I did really like The Dark Knight Rises.  It was a great movie and did not lessen the average quality of the trilogy in the least, but not much can live up to the legacy left by The Dark Knight.  The story was fantastic, but had some problems that hindered its overall quality, but all of the performances were fantastic and made me so happy that someone finally did Bane justice so we can stop using Batman and Robin as a character reference for him.  I had some problems with the movie, but I had absolutely no problem seeing it in theater.  It was totally worth it.  I’m happy I saw it, I’m in love with the trilogy in total, and I can’t wait to buy it on BluRay.  The Dark Knight Rises gets “You made some mistakes, Miss Kyle” out of “The Batman has to come back.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Dark Knight (2008)


And … Here … We … Go!

Having already seen Batman Begins, I figured the sequel would at least be good.  Christopher Nolan’s new vision for the Batman universe struck me as mostly realistic, but totally awesome.  When the sequel was on its way, you could assume that the quality might diminish as with the greater majority of sequels.  But my hopes were fairly high regardless.  What my hopes were low about was the villain.  I was definitely amongst the group of people that thought it would be completely impossible for anyone to surpass Jack Nicholson in the role.  I was sure the actor they picked would do a fine job and, from what I had seen, he looked fantastic in the role, but come on!  It’s Jack Nicholson!  Well, what happened?  Let’s all be not surprised by the results of me reviewing The Dark Knight, story by David S. Goyer, written by Jonathan Nolan, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Chin Han, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Michael Jai White, Ron Dean, Monique Curnen, Nestor Carbonell, Colin McFarlane, Nydia Rodriguez Terracina, and William Fichtner.

A make up wearing criminal known only as The Joker (Heath Ledger) is robbing mob-owned banks in Gotham City and, though he loves to show his face on camera, continuously evades Batman (Christian Bale) and Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman).  In reaction, a Chinese accountant named Lau (Chin Han) hides the money for the mob bosses – Sal Maroni (Eric Roberts), The Chechen (Ritchie Coster), and Gambol (Michael Jai White) – until the Joker shows up and tells them they are avoiding the problem.  What they really need to do is kill the Batman, which the Joker claims he can do, but he demands half of their money to do it.  If you’re good at something, never do it for free.  Out of the desperation of the mob bosses, the Joker is unleashed on Gotham.

I always remember that I like the Dark Knight before I decide to rewatch it, but it still blows my mind with how good it is.  I’ve said it before with two other movies, but this movie stands a very good chance of being my favorite comic book movie.  Avengers was easily the most fun, Watchmen is a fantastic movie as well, but the Dark Knight is an amazing movie.  So exciting, so dark, so smart, and so so good.  It’s an extremely well-written story with action, chaos, and loss.  And the darkness and realism that I liked so much about the previous movie returns for this movie.  That would, of course, mean that the Joker wouldn’t be using the toys you’d typically find him using – things like guns that pop flags with “Bang” written on them or Jack in the Box’s that explode – that Joker purists may miss, but it wouldn’t fit the atmosphere.  What you get instead is a super dark and demented insane genius that actually has his shit together while still being completely off his rocker.  We all knew the Joker was coming, though.  They hinted at it at the end of the last movie.  But when I was going into this movie, I started wondering why they didn’t hint at the villains from the next movie.  But I think I found one.  It seems like there was a very good chance that, when Bruce asks Lucius how his new suit will do against dogs and Lucius said, “It should be fine against cats,” it may have been a hint that I never caught before.  As much as I loved the movie, I took issue with a few smaller things in the story.  The first was that I never understood what happened with the rescues of Rachael and Harvey.  Batman tells the cops that he’s going after Rachael as he’s leaving the police station, but then he shows up to rescue Harvey.  Did the Joker lie to Batman and he actually intended to rescue Rachael, or did he change his mind off camera and tell the cops to go after Rachael?  It’s always kind of bugged me.  The second was the cell phone echolocation machine that Bruce had built.  He spends all this money and all this time researching and perfecting this technology to find one man one time, and then he blows it all up.  I grant that it worked, but it just seems so wasteful.  The third part I had a problem with was towards the end of the movie, when someone was going to punish someone else by having him choose between his wife, daughter, and son which one he loved most.  How shitty do the wife and daughter feel?

The action in this movie was spectacular, made even better by the fact that the greater majority of it was done practically and involved minimal computer graphics.  As good as computer graphics have gotten over the years, you can usually tell when it’s fake.  Most of the Dark Knight is not fake, as best as I could tell.  There were plenty of highlights amongst the visuals, but I’ll focus on three.  Two of them were in the same fantastic action scene: when the Joker was trying to destroy the SWAT vehicle with Harvey in it.  It was freakin’ amazing when the Tumbler drove into the garbage truck that was following the SWAT vehicle, smashing the top of the garbage truck into the ceiling of the underground road.  Thinking that couldn’t be topped, slightly later they make a semi do a front flip.  Later on, they even actually blow up a building to simulate Gotham Hospital.  Suck it, Avatar!  You can take your blue people with hair dicks back to Pandora and sit on Home Tree.

Credits be damned.  Even amongst the stellar performances in this movie, I think we all know who the real star of this movie is: Maggie Gyllenhaal.  I don’t know how they didn’t incorporate it into the story that, much like Harvey Dent, Rachael must’ve endured some serious trauma and third-degree burns in between the first and second movie, and all in the face region.  In fact, the moment I realized that the Joker was truly insane was when he referred to this new Rachel as “beautiful”.  Okay, in truth I don’t think Maggie Gyllenhaal is as ugly as all of the things I say about her indicate, but she’s certainly not great looking.  And the real star of the movie is actually Heath Ledger.  This mother fucker disappears into the role of the Joker, and easily (and surprisingly) blows Jack Nicholson’s take on the character right out of the water.  I believe that, had I gone into this movie unaware of the Joker’s true identity, I may not even have recognized Ledger in this movie.  He’s that fucking good.  I said it after I first saw the movie and it’s as true today as it was then, but everything else in this movie could’ve been complete horse shit and his performance alone would’ve made it worth seeing.  It truly was the performance of a lifetime, and a gundamned shame that it was the last performance in his lifetime.  The only non-Gyllenhaal performance I took issue with in this movie was Melinda McGraw as Commissioner Gordon’s wife.  All of her reactions to bad news in this movie were a little over the top and never convincing.

The Dark Knight is an amazing movie.  The story is great, the action is fantastic, and the performances are all terrific.  There’s not a lot of bad things to be found in this movie, but even if there were, the movie would be worth the watch for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker alone.  The fact that the rest of the movie is also amazing is just icing on the cake.  I don’t know that I’d be comfortable calling the Dark Knight my favorite comic book movie of all time, but it would certainly be considered.  This movie should not only be owned; it should be watched at least once per month.  Put it on your calendars.  The Dark Knight gets “A little fight in you.  I like that” out of “Harvey Dent.  Can he be trusted?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Batman Begins (2005)


You Must Become More than Just a Man in the Mind of Your Opponent.

Let’s go back in time to roughly 2004.  At this point, Batman had fallen on hard times, somewhat devastated by the shit sandwich known as Batman and Robin.  So devastating was this movie that it was almost a decade before they put out another one.  But this guy, he wanted to reboot the whole series.  What kind of bullshit is that?  We’ve all seen Batman’s origin story!  And you want to throw down your movie against the Tim Burton Batman’s origin story?  This has bad written all over it.  But, they wanted to take the movie in a darker direction, and it seemed as if they got mostly good people to be in it, so maybe I was judging too harshly.  I would still give it a chance.  Also, the word “Batman” was in the title, so there was a very good chance I would be seeing it anyway.  How could this movie possibly do?  We’ll find out as I review Batman Begins, written by David S. Goyer, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Mark Boone Jr., Ken Watanabe, Linus Roache, Sara Stewart, Richard Brake, and Gus Lewis.

A young Bruce Wayne (Gus Lewis) must leave a play because of his fear of bats.  His father Thomas (Linus Roache) and mother Martha (Sara Stewart) escort him into the alley behind the theater where they are murdered in a mugging gone wrong by a desperate criminal, Joe Chill (Richard Brake).  Later, when Chill is granted parole if he testifies against crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), Bruce (now Christian Bale) sets his mind on killing him, but is beaten to the punch by one of Falcone’s men.  Seeing how corrupt Gotham City has become, Bruce disappears into the world to study the criminal element and train physically and mentally in martial arts.  He gets himself arrested and, while imprisoned, he meets a man named Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers Bruce the opportunity to train with and join the League of Shadows, a group of ninjas led by Ra’s al Ghul with a mind to bring justice to the world but, after training with them, he realizes that their plot is to dispel the evil from Gotham by destroying it and allowing it to rebuild.  Bruce says, “Good day,” picks up his hat and spikey gloves, and burns the place to the ground, killing Ra’s and saving the life of Ducard.  Bruce is picked up by his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and returns to Gotham to use his new skills and a pointy cowl to bring justice to Gotham in his own way.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but is Ra’s al Ghul immortal?  Are his methods supernatural?  Eh, it’ll probably never come up…

I tried, probably in vain, to act like I wouldn’t like this movie.  I can’t imagine anyone didn’t see right through that.  Of course this movie is awesome.  With each new reboot of the Batman it gets darker and better.  The old Adam West Batman was goofy and fun, then Tim Burton put out a much darker and more serious Batman with Michael Keaton that got goofier and more terrible over time as George Clooney took over the role.  What Christopher Nolan gives us is the darkest and most realistic look at the Caped Crusader we’ve ever seen, and probably the best Batman movie that had ever been released up to that point, renewing the faith of the fans that had been trampled down over the years.  I can’t recall if I went into this movie thinking that it couldn’t possibly be better than the Tim Burton Batman, but I would say it succeeded.  And, just as great, they went with some fantastic villains that we hadn’t seen in the movies prior: Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul.  I loved the realism in the movie as well.  Everything they changed they changed for the better, and all of it seemed like it could really happen.  The armor, the memory cloth cape, all of the setup stuff.  I don’t know that any of that stuff really exists, but it feels like it does.  The Tumbler seemed much more realistic, but I must admit that I miss the Batmobile from the first movie.  It’s an acceptable substitute.  Even the villains were more realistic.  Ra’s al Ghul stayed immortal with the use of the Lazarus Pit in the comic books; here he uses deception to spread the legend of Ra’s al Ghul as immortal.  Scarecrow was never all that unrealistic.  It’s probably not that hard to find an inhalant that will make you trip balls.  The only real issue I took with the story of the movie is that the fat cop was made out to be a dick for telling the guy he took food from that he should feed his kids falafel.  That’s just good logic right there.

No one should’ve been surprised that the greater majority of the people were able to bring it.  They got some fantastic actors to participate in this thing.  Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman; so many great actors that deliver in every way.  And Katie Holmes is in the movie too.  That’s perhaps harsh.  She actually did a fine enough job.  Not spectacular, but certainly not bad.  Christian Bale is probably the best performance in this movie as far as I’m concerned.  He really gives three performances.  The Bruce Wayne he puts on is mostly for show; what he’s been told a billionaire playboy would act like.  Then there’s the real guy, who is much more serious, but still finds the time to toss quips back and forth with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – both of which bring a great deal of snarky comedy with their lines.  Then, of course, the Batman, who is always serious and speaks in a super gravelly voice that does grate on the nerves, but I didn’t take that much issue with it.  I think I more took issue with how breathless it always made him seem.  It was as if … he couldn’t do … more than three … words at a … time … like that …

Batman Begins is awesome.  One could argue that it starts out a little slowly as we have to sit through the origin story that the bulk of us were already familiar with, but once it gets moving, it gets moving.  This is the exact type of Batman movie the world wanted.  Or, in the very least, it’s the one I wanted.  The action is fantastic, the darkness and the realism are amazing, and the performances are top of the line.  I love you, Batman.  And you, Christopher Nolan.  Something tells me I might be saying that once or twice more in the next couple of days.  Come back to find out.  For now, Batman Begins gets “You’re not the devil.  You’re practice” out of “Death does not wait for you to be ready!”

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and 2011)


Not My Daughter, You Bitch!

Home stretch, people! Two Potter films and one Potter book remaining. I’ve enjoyed watching the films up to this point, but I do admit that 8 films in just over a day has begun to take it’s toll. It’s probably also taken it’s toll on you, my readers. If you have the dedication to my reviews to read 4 reviews, several thousand words, and lots of story summation, I thank you. But it’s about time we tie this up with a nice little bow on it. Today’s two films are based on one book, but it was determined that it held too much to compress into only one movie. I smashed them back together into one review. That review is of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, unfortunately the final book and final movie of the Harry Potter series, and fortunately the final review of Harry Potter I’ll have to write and you’ll have to read.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Year Seven)

Part One (2010)

Based on the novels by J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by David Yates, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Rhys Ifans, Tom Felton, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Toby Jones, John Hurt, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Warwick Davis, Miranda Richardson, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Michael Gambon, George Harris, David Thewlis, Natalia Tena, Domhnall Gleeson, Clemence Poesy, Frances De La Tour, and Matthew Lewis.

Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has been doing lots of damage now that Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is out of the way. The Order of the Phoenix assembles at the house of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) with a plan to escape, using Pollyjuice Potion to make 6 decoy Harrys. The real Harry rides with Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), but shit goes down pretty quickly as the Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, attack the group. Harry and Hagrid barely escape. Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson), does not survive. Back at the Weasley house, the family and Harry ready for the celebration of the marriage between Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson) and Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), which is then interrupted by Death Eaters. Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) grabs Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Harry and apparates (teleports) to London. Here, they Pollyjuice their way into the Ministry of Magic and steal a Horcrux necklace from Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). The three barely manage to escape and Ron gets injured on the way. They find that they don’t know how to destroy the Horcrux, and Ron gets all pissy and leaves. Now, Ron and Hermoine spend the greater majority of the movie wandering around forests. Ron comes back and helps them destroy the Horcrux with the Sword of Gryffindor. They go visit Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans), father of Luna (Evanna Lynch), who tells them about the Deathly Hallows, which is comprised of the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility, and the item Voldemort is looking for, the Elder Wand. But he was only stalling. They took Luna and giving Harry to them was the only way to get her back. Hermoine hits Harry in the face with a Stinging curse to disguise him and they’re taken to the dungeon of Belatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), where they join Luna, Mr. Ollivander (John Hurt), and Griphook (Warwick Davis). With the help of Dobby (Toby Jones), they escape, but Belatrix gets the last laugh by throwing a knife and killing Dobby. At the end, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand for himself.

Part Two (2011)

Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Chris Columbus and David Yates. Adding to the cast Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Miriam Margolyes, Kelly Macdonald, Gary Oldman, Geraldine Somerville, Adrian Rawlins, David Bradley, Katie Leung, John Cleese, and Zoe Wanamaker.

Harry, Ron, and Hermoine use Griphook to get into the vault of Belatrix to get another Horcrux. They get back into Hogwarts to get a Basilisk fang to destroy it, and to find another Horcrux. When they get there, all Hell breaks loose and Voldemort’s army begins to face off against the good wizards and witches of Hogwarts. Harry goes to the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald) to find another Horcrux. They get into a fight with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) that ends in a huge ball of fire and Harry saving Draco’s life. They destroy the two Horcruxes and Voldemort begins to feel uneasy as he’s running out of Horcruxes and the Elder Wand isn’t obeying him. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine go to the docks where they watch as Voldemort kills Snape (Alan Rickman), having decided that the Elder Wand was obeying him because he killed Dumbledore. After Voldemort leaves, Snape tells Harry to take his tears and put them in the Pensive so he can watch them. The memories show Snape’s childhood and his undying love for Harry’s mother and how all he had ever done was to protect her. He also sees that Snape killed Dumbledore under Dumbledore’s orders, in order to gain Voldemort’s trust and because Dumbledore was dying from a curse anyway. In the dreams, Harry finds out that he must die if Voldemort is going to die. He goes to meet Voldemort in order to be killed by him, which Voldemort is happy to oblige. But the Elder Wand is Harry’s, who defeated Draco, who had knocked the wand from the hand of Dumbledore, and thus the wand would not kill him. Voldemort takes Harry’s body back to Hogwarts to crush their spirits, but Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) speechifies the joint and Harry pops up. The fight reignites. Neville cuts the head off of Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, destroying the last of the Horcruxes. Harry reclaims his wand from Voldemort and Voldemort disintegrates. Harry breaks the Elder Wand and throws it into a gorge. Cut to 19 years later and Harry and his wife Ginny are dropping their kids off at Platform 9 3/4. They see Ron and his wife Hermoine dropping off their kids. And that’s the end of that.

This is the first time I will say this: this Harry Potter movie didn’t need to be made. Not both of them, we as an audience needed an ending out of this series. But they acted like there was simply too much movie to possibly contain in one movie, even though it had been contained to one book. One might argue that they actually thought that there was too much money to be made from this audience to make it only seven movies, when 8 would give us so much more. I think these movies could have easily been cut down into one, epic, 3 to 3 and a half hour movie. But that’s not what they did, so you get two paragraphs here. The story of Part One was great in parts, but they spent a lot of time wondering around in the forest that I felt could have easily been left out. It opens up with Hermoine using a spell on her parents that make them forget about her completely and even wipe her out of the pictures on the mantle, not thinking apparently about the fact that the parents would probably look at the pictures of them sitting at opposite ends of an empty table with plenty of space for a daughter and cake. Oh, I guess we’ll ignore that because we’re apparently weird enough to have completely empty picture frames up. But that’s a sweet backdrop in that picture, isn’t it Honey? But the concept of this was pretty heart-wrenching. I wish they had shown some sort of closure to that at the end of the movie about whether or not she could go back with Voldemort dead. Shortly after that, I found myself confused about what a big deal it apparently was for Voldemort to ask for Lucius Malfoy’s wand. They all seemed to take it as being in such poor taste as to be equivalent to “Hey Lucius. Let me get a crack at that lady friend of yours.” They packed a good deal of action into the first half-hour of the movie, even going so far as to include a “car” chase on brooms, but they kind of jacked Men in Black by making Hagrid drive upside-down in the tunnel. Shortly after, Harry’s bird gets killed, which I was more bummed about than I should have been over the death of an owl. They had a nifty – albeit ineffectual – security device that created a cloud that looked like Dumbledore that charged at people entering the Sirius Black residence. It was cool, and would freak me out at first, but it just dissipates into dust when it reaches you. My heart would be pounding, but I’d continue to intrude. There was another kind of sweet little moment when Harry saw that Hermoine was sad about Ron leaving and he got her to stand up and dance with him a little bit to cheer her up. Though I feel like this movie fails a bit in story, it still wins in graphics and settings. Even though I thought the time in the wilderness was a waste of time, the settings were all great to look at. And when they got to Bathilda’s house, it was straight out of a horror movie. It was really dark and dilapidated, there was a creepy old lady that didn’t speak, and a dead body in a closet. When Hermoine read the story of the Deathly Hallows, the animation was pretty rad as well. It looked like the Corpse Bride, but it didn’t suck. And the part where a fake Harry and Hermoine were projected out of the Horcrux to keep Ron from destroying it, it was pretty good, mainly because Hermoine was naked and making out with Harry. It didn’t show anything, but it’s as close as I’ll get to Hermoine for a while, I’m sure. And I’ve already seen pictures from Equus.

Part Two pretty easily makes up for the shortcomings of it’s predecessor. Good story, coming from wrapping up the series, lots of action packed battles, plenty of cameos from almost all characters from the Harry Potter universe, and lots of good times. The opening shot was very well done. It was a slow push in on Hogwarts with a nice fog surrounding it and some really faint, Celtic-sounding singing going on. That Celtic music really gets at my emotions. I felt like they had to cram a lot of the Horcruxes into a small amount of time to wrap up the film, taking care of at least three of them in this movie alone. Getting to one of them, the encountered a Gemino curse that made things duplicate when they touched them and almost had them drowning in a sea of cups and bracelets. I thought this was cool, well done, and a pretty dangerous concept. Ron and Hermoine finally kiss in this movie, but at a strange time. It was right after destroying a Horcrux and water exploded up around them and they seemed to just be standing there, shrug, and say I guess we’ll do this now. There were a lot of good fights in this movie, though not as much as in Order of the Phoenix. I really liked when Maggie Smith threw down against Alan Rickman midway through the movie and, of course, there was Harry and Voldemort, but neither of them touched my favorite one, which was sadly built up more in my head from reading about it before hand. I had read that Belatrix Lestrange was fighting Hermoine, Ginny, and Luna when Molly Weasley, still grieving over the death of her son Fred, took over, threw down hardcore, and killed that bitch. She still fought Belatrix and called her a bitch, but I felt like they should’ve given that scene a lot more strength as it seemed to have when I read about it. It was still pretty badass to me, but I was expecting total epic status. I don’t know what Molly was so sad about though. Just like they said in Observe and Report, if one of the twins die, that’s why God gave us a spare. But speaking of disappointing death scenes, I felt like the defeat of Voldemort deserved a little more oomph than it got. Harry knocks his wand out and he just kind of dissolves. Shoot that asshole, Harry! Reducto that sumbitch and turn him into a red mist or some shit! When the Battle at Hogwarts begins, it is pretty wild. It made me think it was like Saving Private Potter or something. The way it looked with a lot of the color defused reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, actually. For another point on graphics, Part Two seemed to pay attention to the reaction to the new Tron movie and took the time to make young Alan Rickman look good. He doesn’t change drastically, but what they did worked. Contrarily, aging the four kids for the end scene where we see them dropping their kids off didn’t work too well. The guys were fairly convincing, but it seemed they barely touched Ginny and Hermoine. I guess they still want them to be attractive over all else.

The performances in these movies are at the peak of what we’ll see out of these kids in a Harry Potter setting. We’ve watched them grow, both physically and as actors, over the course of this series, and I think they’ve got this acting thing down by the seventh and eighth films. Eighth looks weird when typed. Anyways! All three of the kids have a couple of good angry moments that are caused by wearing the Horcrux in Part One, especially Ron who gets angry enough to leave his lady. I feel that Daniel Radcliffe deserves some kudos for the part where there were 8 Harry’s in the same scene, because he actually did act like the character who was supposed to be him. The part with him taking the bra off as Fleur/Harry was pretty funny, but Emma Watson’s face turning into Harry’s first was disturbing. When I eventually date and marry Emma Watson, I just know that I’ll have some flashback of Daniel’s face popping up mid-coitus. I won’t stop, though. Daniel Radcliffe ain’t that bad on the eyes. But Daniel also deserves some kudos for his scene at the end of Part One where he has to mourn the death of the puppet in his lap because of Dobby’s death. But that little shit deserved to die. I specifically remember you promising Harry that you would NEVER try to save his life again at the end of Chamber of Secrets. That’s what happens to liars! Part One temporarily added Bill Nighy into the series, which I liked, but then it made me think that the only British actors I love that aren’t in this series are probably just Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Part Two finally gives Warwick Davis a chance to have a meatier part, as Griphook and Flitwick didn’t have to do very much in the other movies. He has a good portion of the first part of the movie as Griphook, dies, and then shows up in the second half as Flitwick. I think it was Flitwick, but I’m not really sure. Helena Bonham Carter is still my favorite villain in the series, but I liked her so much more when she was playing Hermoine as Belatrix. Her portrayal was so much different than her normal portrayal of Belatrix. She actually seemed cute and adorable. Also, Ron looked badass with the beard and the bondage jacket that he wore as Belatrix’ backup. Kelly Macdonald shows up as Helena Ravenclaw in Part Two and actually kind of scared me. Them ghosts seem to be bipolar or something. But she was good, and I probably mostly paid attention because I was trying to figure out where I knew her from until I realized it was Trainspotting. I also like Draco’s parents, Jason Isaacs and Helen McCrory, because they really cared about their son’s well being, even though at least Jason Isaacs never had shown it before.

Sadly, that is it, folks. I have completed the Harry Potter series. I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling isn’t going to be writing any more and, even if she does, it may well be out of the time that the same actors could come back for it, and they probably wouldn’t want to be trapped in this universe forever. I’ll miss them, but I suppose I could read those books I own. Or, fuck that. I’ll just watch the movies again if I want. For the time being, I’m well Potter-ed out and will need a break. As for the final two movies, I liked them both plenty, though Part Two I liked a lot more. I still think they could have cut down a lot of wasted space from the first movie and just made this one really long final movie. It’s not like the Potter fans wouldn’t sit through it, and you could do an intermission if you were so worried. I still dig them though. I bought the 8 pack and, knowing myself, will probably do it again when the definitive collection (that was advertised on these very BluRays) comes out. Fuck you, movie makers. Haven’t I given you enough?! No? Then I will give you “Just keep talking about that little ball of light touching your heart” out of “Only I can live forever”. HAPPY NOW?!?!

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Harry Potter: Year Five and Six (2007 and 2009)


It’s Not How You Are Alike.  It’s How You Are Not…

Halfway done, peoples.  I would be sick of these movies at this point if they weren’t steadily improving with each set.  These two movies include the death of two main characters, a fact I had learned about well before the movies because of people talking about the books.  I learned about the death of one of these characters before I had even seen the character in the movies.  Damned book worms ruining these good movies for the rest of us.  Well, they were ruined for me, so I will spoil for you in my reviews of Harry Potter, Years Five and Six.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Year Five) (2007)

Based on the novels of J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Michael Goldenberg, directed by David Yates, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton, Gary Oldman, Bonnie Wright, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Evanna Lynch, Brendan Gleeson, Natalia Tena, George Harris, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith, Warwick Davis, David Bradley, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Katie Leung, Robert Hardy, Harry Melling, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Robert Pattinson, and Matthew Lewis

After the events of the previous film, the Ministry of Magic has been launching a smear campaign against Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) because they don’t want to believe that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned.  In reaction, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) is appointed to the Defense Against the Dark Arts position by the Ministry of Magic to keep order.  She does so by restricting the student’s use of magic and instituting brutal punishments on them for speaking about Voldemort.  Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) talk Harry into starting Dumbledore’s Army in secret to train willing students in how to defend themselves.  Obviously, Dolores Umbridge does not take kindly to this, but she’s unable to find where the training is happening.  She instead resolves to keep screwing things up around the school until she gets her hands on Cho Chang (Katie Leung) and administers a truth serum to make her confess.  Harry has also been having dreams about Voldemort looking for a prophecy made about Harry and Voldemort.  At first, the visions let him see that Ron’s father, Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams), is being attacked, allowing them to show up in time to save him.  Next, Harry’s visions show him his new father figure, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), being attacked.  Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, along with Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), new friend Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), go to the Ministry of Magic to find this prophecy.  They’re soon attacked by a group of Voldemort’s Death Eaters, lead by Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) and Belatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).  The kids manage to defend against them for a time but are captured and held to make Harry hand over the prophecy.  Then, the Order of the Phoenix show up, including Sirius Black, Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson), and Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Teena).  They fight off the Death Eaters, but Sirius Black falls in the fight, killed by Belatrix.  Harry chases after her and knocks her down, and then Voldemort shows up, but so does Dumbledore.  The Ministry shows up at the end of the fight and sees Voldemort leave, forcing them to finally admit that Voldemort has returned.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Year Six) (2009)

Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by David Yates, and adding Jim Broadbent, Helen McCrory, Frank Dillane, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, and Timothy Spall.

The Ministry now has to admit that Voldemort is back.  Voldemort has assigned a task to Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), but his mother, Narcissa (Helen McCrory), is worried about him, so she and Belatrix go to Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and get him to take an unbreakable vow (which will kill him if he fails) to protect Draco.  Meanwhile, Dumbledore picks up Harry and takes him to trick Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) into returning to Hogwarts, because Slughorn is a starfucker that wants to be able to say he taught the great Harry Potter.  Harry learns that Slughorn once told Voldemort how to do something, but Dumbledore needs to know what in order to stop it.  Harry needs to get close to Slughorn to find out, and he does so by using the Potions book of someone called the Half-Blood Prince to do really good in Slughorn’s potions class.  Harry eventually finds out that Slughorn told Voldemort about something called a Horcrux, a magical object infused with a piece of someone’s soul to make it so they’ll never die, but at the cost of someone’s life.  Apparently, Voldemort’s made seven.  Harry goes off with Dumbledore to find one of them and, when they return, Harry has to watch helplessly as Draco reveals that his task was to kill Dumbledore, but Snape shows up and does it instead.  At the end of the movie, Harry has resolved to find the rest of the Horcruxes and destroy Voldemort for good … but not until the next movie.

Order of the Phoenix is probably my favorite of all the Potter films.  The story and effects are as good as we expect from the Harry Potter films, but what sets this one apart is the epic wizard battles.  First, the kids of Dumbledore’s Army vs. the Death Eaters.  Next up, Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix against the Death Eaters.  Then, as the main event, Dumbledore vs. Voldemort.  These battles were pretty awesome, but I did think that Dumbledore would’ve been more dominant than he was, especially when he was using that wand we didn’t know about yet.  The story was good as well, but something happened early on in the movie that I had never realized before but it made me mad.  In the very beginning, Harry is put on trial for using magic in front of his Muggle cousin, Dudley, which he did in order to save their lives.  The Ministry of Magic chooses to inform him that he’s on trial for using magic in front of Muggles by sending a talking letter to tell him … IN FRONT OF 3 MUGGLES!  And one of them was Dudley!  We’re gonna do exactly what we’re punishing you for … times three.  See you at the trial, Harry!  I also kept hoping that they’d make a joke that they never made.  Let me illustrate with an example from the Order of the Phoenix’ discussion of the Voldemort situation.  Sirius Black: “We think Voldemort is looking for something.”  “Mad Eye” Moody: “Sirius.”  Sirius Black: “Yes, I’m completely serious.”  And don’t call me Shirley!  Dolores Umbridge is the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher so, obviously, the evil professor is going to be Trelawny.  Oh wait, it’s actually gonna be like the other movies where she’s the evil one.  The relationships are progressing in this movie as well.  Ron and Hermoine are macking as hard as they can without actually admitting their feelings.  Harry hasn’t yet shown much for Ginny, but she begins to show her jealousy when she overhears talk of Harry and Cho Chang, if you know to look for it.  I also thought it was funny that the Room of Requirement seemed to know that Harry required some nookie when it made a mistletoe appear over the heads of Harry and Cho.  I didn’t think much of the Cho Chang character, so I was fine with them not ending up together.  I was one of the people that always thought Harry and Hermoine would end up together, but when I realized that they weren’t going to be together, I was kind of hoping that Harry would end up with Luna Lovegood.  I never saw Ginny coming until the next movie.

The Half-Blood Prince didn’t quite have the epic battles of Order of the Phoenix, but it did have a lot of emotion in the story and better performances.  The most significant thing about this movie is that we’re finally allowed to consider the cast hot.  Emma Watson was 18 for this movie!  Hooray!  A girl I’ll never meet, nor ever have a chance with, is now legal!  On a similar note, one thing I noticed about this movie is that poor Harry is twice cock-blocked in this movie: first with the black girl he got the jungle fever for in the coffee shop that Dumbledore showed up and ruined, then with Ginny in the Weasley house when Ron decided the best place to sit was in between them.  This is the worst thing that could ever happen to Harry, and I’m counting the death of his parents and his other two father figures.  The relationships are a bigger part in this movie than they are in the other ones, but I hear a lot of people complaining about that, saying Harry Potter is making a turn towards Dawson’s Creek.  But I like the relationship stuff.  It’s the inevitable progression to characters that have known each other for so long and gone through so much together.  Snape had been a good guy up until this movie, but in this one he appears to take a turn for the evil.  Why?  ‘Cause they made him Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher!  Why don’t they get rid of that job?!  The thing that makes the movie the most emotional is that it’s the one where Dumbledore dies.  Unfortunately, my book-reading asshole friends ruined it for me beforehand, so I wasn’t surprised.  It was still a very emotional scene, though.  I heard about the book’s ending, and that made me angry at the movie’s ending.  I was told that, in the book, Dumbledore freezes Harry and puts him under the invisibility cloak so that he wouldn’t interfere.  In the movie, he just tells Harry to go downstairs and watch as he gets killed.  The movie ending seems completely out of character for Harry.  I know that Harry respects and loves Dumbledore and would obey most commands from him, but if one of my best friends just told me to do nothing as they got killed, I’d get involved.  I think Harry would too.  The book ending, if it’s true, makes a lot more sense.  The graphics remain quality in this movie.  I liked what happened to the girl and the cursed necklace.  It was like the opening scene of Jaws but in midair.  There aren’t as many battles in this one, but the ones that are there are quality.  I liked the Draco vs. Harry battle in the bathroom, but it bothered me that Harry would use a spell that he didn’t know on an actual person, knowing only that it was “for enemies”.  The spell could have made Draco explode into a red mist, for crying out loud!  It could have made his entire body get sucked into his own anus.  Maybe you should figure this stuff out before randomly throwing spells around.  The other big battle in the movie is when Harry and Dumbledore are going after a Horcrux and then Harry is dragged into the water by pale Ethiopians and then Dumbledore solves it with a giant, badass fire spell.

The performances are at their best in these movies.  Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t do much in the relationship side until Half-Blood Prince, where he gets to kiss Ginny for the first time.  But he does have emotional moments at the death of Sirius and Dumbledore.  I did like some of his smaller performances, like when Ron’s crazy girlfriend was drawing a heart in the fog on the window and he was uncomfortably playing with the seat, but he does have a funny bit when he’s under the influence of the luck potion in Half-Blood Prince.  Emma Watson does a lot of legwork in the relationship department, also related to Ron and his new, temporary girlfriend, but hers was more resentment that Ron didn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings.  I feel like she misunderstood when she thought Ron was calling out for Hermoine when he was unconscious though.  He was clearly saying “Her.  My knee.” because his girlfriend was kneeling on his leg and it hurt.  Ron was pretty oblivious about Hermoine’s feelings still, but I did like the part where he had accidentally taken a love potion and was falling in love with everything.  I also liked that Ron was kind of acting like Harry’s muscle in Order of the Phoenix when the other students were getting on his case.  Gary Oldman was back for Order of the Phoenix and had toned down his crazy a lot.  This movie is also the introduction of Helena Bonham Carter as Belatrix Lestrange, who I am strangely attracted to, even with her teeth so fucked up.  She’s a great, creepy actress in this too.  Tom Felton finally gets a meaty role in Half-Blood Prince.  Before, he had just been a little shit getting on people’s nerves, but being relatively unimportant to the plot.  In Half-Blood Prince, he has to be so torn and mopey about the fact that he has to kill Dumbledore, but he’s not that into it.  He was, however, fully into curb stomping Harry’s face in the beginning.  But the best thing introduced in Half-Blood Prince was Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn.  His character was so funny throughout (especially when he got drunk), but had to deliver some real emotion as well.  I thought the story about the lily petal turning into a fish and disappearing when Harry’s mom, Lilly, died was especially touching.  Luna Lovegood showed up for the first time in Order of the Phoenix, which is great ’cause I love that character.  She’s so quirky and funny to me.  I especially liked in Half-Blood Prince when she shows up out of nowhere wearing a big, elaborate lion hat.  I also got a little hopeful that Harry would end up with her because he took her to the dance, but he was going more for Bonnie Wright, and I guess I’m okay with it.  I’ve got nothing against Imelda Staunton as a person, but Dolores Umbridge was a fucking twat.  I wanted to kick her in the vagina for the way she tortured the kids, and again for all the pink, all the cats, and her overly happy demeanor that only vaguely covered the fact that she was a cunt.  That’s 4 vagina kicks, or we can consolidate into 2 dropkicks.  No amount of vagina kicks could make up for her trying to kick Emma Thompson out of Hogwarts, though.  Trelawny was the best teacher, and when she was getting kicked out of her job and her home, my heart broke for her.  Nymphadora Tonks, played by Natalia Tena, first showed up in this movie, and became my new non-Hermoine love interest.  Well, Luna for her personality, Tonks for her looks.  Order of the Phoenix also introduces us to Kreacher, Sirius’ curmudgeon-y House Elf.  I liked him cause he seemed like a little racist, like Mel Gibson as a House Elf.   The two little kids that play young Voldemort, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane, were pretty appropriately creepy.

These movies are still awesome.  I like Order of the Phoenix better because there’s more action and a great climax with epic wizard battles, but Half-Blood Prince sets itself apart with a more emotional story and some great performances.  We’re almost done here, which is good because these reviews are really long and take a long time for me to type, but a little sad because I could watch many more Harry Potter movies and be fine with it.  Harry Potter: Years Five and Six get “I hope they have pudding” out of “But I am the Chosen One”.

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Harry Potter: Year Three and Four (2004 and 2005)


Mischief Managed

Today we continue through the story of Harry Potter, moving on to years three and four. The darkness and quality continues to amp up in these movies, finally reaching the darkness boiling point with the full introduction of the second greatest driving character of the Harry Potter universe, who until now had only been talked about or seen partially. So let’s get to it, with my reviews of Harry Potter: Years Three and Four.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year Three) (2004)

Based on the novels of J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Emma Thompson, Warwick Davis, David Bradley, Robert Hardy, Julie Walters, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Dawn French, Julie Christie, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, John Cleese, Pam Ferris, and Matthew Lewis.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has more troubles with the Dursleys (Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, and Harry Melling) when Harry accidentally inflates Vernon’s sister (Pam Ferris), sending her flying off into the sky. Harry gets on a special witch bus which takes him to the Leaky Cauldron. Before heading off to school again, Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams) tells Harry that a murderer by the name of Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison. On the Hogwarts Express, Harry is attacked by a Dementor, a dark, ghostly creature that guards Azkaban and sucks the happiness out of people, but Harry is saved by the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis). Things start going bad for Harry again, starting with Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)’s Hippogriff, Buckbeak, being sentenced to death for scratching Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Harry learns that Sirius Black went to jail for killing Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) and betraying Harry’s parents, leading to their murder by Lord Voldemort. Harry gets a map from Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps) that shows where everyone is in Hogwarts, and Harry sees Peter Pettigrew on the map. After seeing Buckbeak get put to death, Ron is dragged into the Whomping Willow by a black dog. When they follow it, it turns out that the dog is Sirius Black and Professor Lupin is working with him. Sirius reveals that Pettigrew was the one that betrayed Harry’s parents and has been hiding out as Ron (Rupert Grint)’s rat, Scabbers. While taking Pettigrew to jail, Lupin sees the moon and turns into a werewolf. Harry is saved by Sirius, and then Sirius and Harry get attacked by a group of Dementors, only to be saved by a Patronis charm from Harry’s father, or so he thinks. With Sirius locked up and Ron in the hospital, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) drops some hints that Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) figures out and uses a charm she has to take Harry and her back in time. They’re able to rescue Buckbeak and Sirius Black from death, and Harry realizes that it was actually him, and not his father, that rescued himself and Sirius.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year Four) (2005)

Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Mike Newell, and adding to the cast Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant, Robert Pattinson, Clemence Poesy, Stanislav Ianevski, Frances De La Tour, Katie Leung, Miranda Richardson, Shirley Henderson, and Jason Isaacs.

Harry starts having dreams that he’s overhearing a conversation between Lord Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew, and an unnamed man. He later sees the same man at an attack on the Quidditch World Cup event by Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Back to Hogwarts, two new schools show up for the Tri Wizard Tournament, being held at Hogwarts. Due to the attack, people under 17 are not allowed to enter. The Goblet of Fire chooses Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) from Hogwarts, Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy) from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski) from Durmstrang Institute, and what the ?! Harry Potter?! Everyone gets all mad at Harry for, in their mind, cheating and entering the tournament even though he’s underage, but the rules say he must participate. The first task is to fight a dragon to grab a golden egg that screams when you open it. Cedric gives him the idea to open the egg underwater to hear it’s singing message while Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) tries to catch a look at Harry’s wang, apparently not realizing she can just go see Equus. The next task is to find a way to stay underwater for an hour and save a person that’s close to you. Harry comes in last, but gets bumped up because he also saved Fleur’s sister. Finally, the four are let into a maze and must race to the center. Cedric and Harry touch it at the same time and are transported to a graveyard, where Pettigrew kills Cedric and imprisons Harry, using Harry’s blood to resurrect Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Well, mostly. He forgot to resurrect his nose. Harry and Voldemort get locked into battle, but Harry gets away when the spirits of the people recently killed by Voldemort attack him, giving Harry just enough time to escape with Cedric’s body. When he gets back, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson) spirits Harry away in the confusion. It is revealed that Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant) has been masquerading as Moody the entire time, leading Harry through the tournament in order to get him into the hands of Voldemort. Barty is captured and the real Moody is set free, and Harry moves on to the next year of school, in which nothing bad could possibly happen.

Surprise! I still like Harry Potter. You will probably not see a lot of surprises in the “does he or doesn’t he like it” category here. The story is steadily on the rise in quality, but the effects have probably topped out at amazing by this point. There’s not a whole lot of new effects that have been added to Prisoner of Azkaban. The werewolves are new, but I was kind of underwhelmed by them. Lupin as a werewolf was scrawny and not that frightening. I like my werewolves in the form of huge, muscly beasts with huge fangs, but the werewolf was scrawny and made me more sad than scared. The Dementors, on the other hand, were pretty metal and scary. They were like black shrouded ghost/mummies I did like Buckbeak a lot too. They gave him a lot of personality and made him kind of cute and dog-like in how he would come up and nuzzle Harry, but he could be a bit of a badass too. It’s not a super good effect, but more attention was paid to the paintings in this movie and there was this knight that was hopping into different frames and hopping into a ready to fight pose that kept popping up in the background while scenes were going on, and this guy kept drawing my attention ’cause I thought he was funny. The story stays pretty well on par. They throw time-travel into the movie, which can be dangerous, but they did it alright. The weirdest thing was that the movies never explained why Hermoine just seemingly lost her little time-travel charm after this movie. I also thought it was weird that Hermoine was so against Divination. She got up in Trelawny’s grill about it and even knocked a crystal ball off the table. You trying to tell me that all this other magic shit is fine but when it comes to telling fortunes and reading tea leaves? Poppycock! Alright then, Hermoine. You ARE supposed to be the smart one.

Goblet of Fire takes a pretty big step forward in story, darkness, and graphics. The story is good because there’s a big focus on the characters and how Ron doesn’t like being in Harry’s shadow all the time. It bothered me that Ron was all angry at Harry, thinking Harry had put his name in the cup. Yeah, ’cause nothing weird and dangerous EVER follows Harry around. Plus, Harry’s never really been comfortable with being famous. It’s not like he’s me. If I were Harry, and I were in the class when Moody said “There’s only one person who’s ever survived the killing curse,” I’d have stood up and yelled “That’s right, bitches!” This is the one where they start getting into the romantic relationships between the characters. Ron and Hermoine are at each other’s throats because they don’t realize they like each other; they just realize that they get jealous when the other person is with someone. Harry kind of gets interested in Cho, but doesn’t really stick on anyone that heavily yet. We find out pretty quick that this is going to be the darkest Harry Potter yet because it opens with the Killing Curse, tells us all about the other two Forbidden Curses, and at the end, shows Voldemort for the first time. I still wonder what the idea was behind how the go-to magic word for us is “Abra Kadabra” and it’s so close to the Killing Curse’s “Avada Kedavra”. I wanna know J.K. Rowling’s idea behind that. I also thought it was pretty interesting that one of the series’ greatest driving characters doesn’t show up entirely until the fourth book/movie. I did like the way he showed up, though. I thought the three things that were called for (Bone of the father, flesh of the servant, blood of the enemy) were appropriate, and that the cauldron caught fire and melted together, turning into Voldemort, and then the smoke creating his robes, was pretty awesome. The graphics didn’t so much improve for this one, but I liked what they did with them better. The dragon Harry fought was particularly awesome, but I thought it was strange that we didn’t get to see the other three contestants fight their dragons. Instead, we just watched Harry sitting in a room. This movie also made me wonder if Rowling described the big owl tower as being completely caked in owl shit as it was portrayed in the film. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is the bad guy again. I don’t know what Rowling is trying to say with this. My Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was a great person!

The kids are getting pretty good at acting by this point. In Goblet of Fire, both Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have pretty convincing crying scenes, and a lot of good emotions. Both of their emotions are usually despair, though Harry’s is more about people dying and Hermoine’s is more about Ron not realizing he digs on her yet. Dumbledore looked really different in this movie. I think he must’ve come down with a case of deadness. Richard Harris was replaced by Michael Gambon in Prisoner of Azkaban. I actually prefer Gambon’s Dumbledore. He plays it a little more fun. Not as fun as Emma Thompson’s Professor Trelawny, though. Trelawny became my favorite professor instantly. She’s very quirky and funny. I was also happy to see Gary Oldman and David Thewlis. I liked them already from other movies, and they have great characters in these movies. Gary Oldman is pretty insane for the majority of these movies, but it’s understandable because I understand Azkaban isn’t a nice place. But that guy is good at being crazy. I also love Alan Rickman … in pretty much anything. But I think Snape is a great character for him. He made me laugh so hard in Goblet of Fire when Harry, Ron, and Hermoine were talking and Snape kept coming up and whacking them viciously with a book. Goblet of Fire introduces us to many minor characters from the other schools. I liked the French Academy girls for some strange reason, especially Clemence Poesy. I just can’t put my finger on it … but I’m willing to try! BOOYAH! Brendan Gleeson’s character was pretty awesome as well, although the character itself only appears at the end. Barty Crouch Jr. does a good job acting like him, apparently. David Tennant is Barty Crouch Jr. too, and he’s a person who I had not heard of the first time I saw the movie but, thanks to the Nerdist podcast and Chris Hardwick’s love of Doctor Who, I now know the name David Tennant. His character has a good look thought, but he appeared only briefly as himself. Also, Katie Leung made me laugh, ’cause I’ve never heard and Asian with a Scottish accent. And how could I not mention that Ralph Fiennes finally takes the reins as Voldemort here. He plays it so over the top, but it works. He looks frightening, he acts like a human/snake hybrid that needs a lozenge. Voldemort could’ve been ruined with the wrong choice here, but they got a good’n. This is also the only time I can recall not hating Robert Pattinson in a movie. Granted, it’s not his fault that Twilight is awful, but I associate him with it.

The movies and actors are steadily improving still. Prisoner of Azkaban is fine, but Goblet of Fire blows it out of the water. It moves a lot faster and has more action because of the tournament and, of course, finally introduces us to Voldemort. The story is on it’s way up, the movies are getting darker by the movie, and the kids are becoming better actors. I recommend watching and buying both, and that’s why I did it myself. I actually bought them twice, because I couldn’t wait another 6 years to buy the set. So, Harry Potter: Years Three and Four get “Your aura is pulsing!” out of “Priori Incantatem”.

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