Alien (1979)


I Can’t Lie to You About Your Chances, But … You Have My Sympathies.

When I reviewed Prometheus, I was a little bummed out that I was not able to review the movies that made that movie possible.  I always review the movies in order!  But, Prometheus was so spur of the moment that I didn’t have the time to review 4 – and possibly up to 9, if you count the Predator series that later became intertwined – movies.  Though I can’t fix that problem anymore, I can still review the movies now.  Most people are entirely familiar with these movies, and I would probably consider at least two of these movies to be in my favorite science fiction films of all time.  In fact, I probably would’ve called the second movie my favorite if I wasn’t holding off the review until I could review Prometheus.  But reviewing these movies after Prometheus has a hidden benefit in that I can now go into today’s movie with an eye towards what happened in the prequel.  So let’s get into it with my review of Alien, written by Dan O’Bannon, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright, Bolaji Badejo, and Helen Horton.

The commercial towing spaceship called the Nostromo has been rerouted from their trip back to Earth by their ship’s computer that they call Mother (voice of Helen Horton).  They’re told by Mother that their orders are to investigate a transmission from a nearby planetoid (later known as LV-426).  They land on the planet and 3 of the crew members – Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), Executive Officer Kane (John Hurt), and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) – go to investigate, with Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) monitoring from the ship and Engineers Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) and Parker (Yaphet Kotto) making repairs to the ship.  It’s not long before Dallas, Kane, and Lambert come across a derelict alien aircraft.  On further inspection, Kane comes across a room full of eggs, one of which opens up when he gets too close.  Back at the ship, the three crew members return because Kane got some alien creature making sweet love to his face.  Ripley refuses to let them in because of quarantine procedures, but Ash lets them in anyway.

Though it’s true that this movie has aged somewhat, it still completely holds up.  The story is fairly simple in that it’s not a whole lot beyond a horror movie with an alien in it.  The story points are also simple: land, get infected, hunt alien, all die.  Even had it underlined.  No one gets that but me…  What elevates those pretty basic story points is the imaginative ways they happen, and the fact that they’re vaguely sexual.  I had never thought about it before, but something on the bottom of the Wikipedia page shows that sometimes people read way too much into these movies.  They talk about how the facehugger represents male rape because it forces itself onto something’s face, jams it’s alien penis down the throat, lays a baby in the belly, and then it pops out as another phallic looking creature.  I never read this much into the movie, and I recommend you don’t either.  I’m sure the people making the movie weren’t intending to make a commentary on rape as much as they were trying to make an alien movie.

After having seen Prometheus, I did take notice of the fact that the derelict ship did look the same as the one in this movie, but it also can’t really be the same one as best I can guess.  The pilot of the derelict ship definitely looks as it did in Prometheus, but it had a pilot that was in the pilot’s chair and had one of the creatures burst out of its chest, unlike in Prometheus, so it must’ve been a different one.  The look of this movie, though it can’t possibly live up to Prometheus, still holds up.  It’s still designed by H.R. Giger, so it still looks really creepy and gothic.  The movie had to make up for its limitations by making the movie really dark, but it also helped for the creepiness that comes with not knowing where this thing was coming from.  The darkness also helps hide the fact that the Xenomorph itself does not usually look very good.  It’s pretty obviously just a guy in a suit, but they keep that from becoming a problem by having it be hidden most of the time.  I really liked the part where it was hidden in the ship because of how well it blended in before it was time for it to come out.  In contrast, the facehugger still definitely works.  That little bastard makes my skin crawl every time, whether it’s still alive and clinging to a guy’s face or when it’s dead and splayed out.  It’s part spider, part snake, and part deep-throating penis; three of the things I’m most afraid of in life.

The thing I respect most about this movie is the fact that the woman character is not the typical damsel in distress character.  Sigourney Weaver isn’t quite playing Ripley up to her badass potential yet in this movie, but she’s on her way, especially near the end.  At first the biggest badass move is making the very unpopular decision to not let the infected guy onto the ship.  Sure, he got in anyway and Ripley got slapped in the face for it, but she could’ve had loads of “told you so” time that she didn’t take advantage of.  And sure, it was pretty fuckin’ stupid to make such an effort to save a stupid cat.  I love my cats just fine, but if there’s a Xenomorph between me and my cats then I’m about to save some money on cat food.  Even though she saves the cat, she gets to be fairly badass near the end of the movie, and that’s very respectable since it was not that common at the time for women to be anything other than distressed damsels and sex symbols.  …Okay, they do get her into her underwear for no particular reason but it’s a step in the right direction.  I never really liked Ian Holm in this role, but I suppose that’s what he was going for.  I think I just thought he made some odd decisions.  For instance, don’t you think there are better ways to kill someone than trying to stuff a magazine into their mouth?  I mean, you can still breathe through a rolled up magazine, so you really weren’t doing much other than mouth raping her with a copy of Seventeen.  Damned Wikipedia page got me mentally fixated on mouth rape!  Also, I’m not sure why the choice was made to defend himself against Yaphet Kotto by grabbing a handful of his man tittie.

Though I would say there were things that could’ve been done better, Alien is still a great movie that entirely holds up.  The story is arguably basic, but it’s still told in a fairly creative and imaginative way, and the look is still very gothic and the facehuggers still make my skin crawl.  And they know that no creature could be scarier than the audience’s imagination, so they don’t show it very much and let us get used to it.  And though she’s not quite there yet, a certain character in this movie is well on her way to going down in history as one of movie’s biggest badasses.  There’s no logical reason that everyone in this world hasn’t already seen this movie, so fix the problem if you haven’t yet.  Alien gets “Mouth rape!” out of “We Ain’t Outta Here in Ten Minutes, We Won’t Need No Rocket to Fly Through Space.”

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 (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Contact (1997)


If It Is Just Us, Seems Like an Awful Waste of Space.

When I was looking through my DVD collection to pick out my favorite science fiction movie, I found it fairly difficult.  I had already done a lot of the bigger and more popular movies in the science fiction genre, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Back to the Future.  But then I saw this movie and decided, “Okay, so people are probably going to piss all over this being my favorite science fiction movie, but I’m gonna do it anyway.”  But look here, people.  This movie has space travel and aliens in it.  That definitely makes it a science fiction movie.  And it’s based on a book written by Carl Sagan.  So fuck your faces.  This movie is Contact, based on a novel by Carl Sagan, written by James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, James Woods, William Fichtner, David Morse, Jena Malone, Angela Bassett, Jake Busey, and Rob Lowe.

Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway (Jodie Foster as older Ellie, Jena Malone as younger Ellie) is a promising scientist that spends all of her time working on the SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence); having been inspired to do so by her late father (David Morse).  She works for a while at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico until Government scientist David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) pulls the funding because he believes she’s wasting her talents.  Ellie is undeterred and takes her team, including her blind friend Kent Clark (William Fichtner), to find other funding, leaving behind the guy she met that she was getting too involved with, Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey).  After months of searching, she finally finds funding in the eccentric billionaire S. R. Hadden (John Hurt), giving her the ability to use the Very Large Array in Socorro County, New Mexico.  Years later, Drumlin pokes his head in again to screw things up for her.  On their last day with the array, Ellie finds a signal coming from the star Vega of repeating prime numbers.  The government gets involved, bringing Drumlin and National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (James Woods) into the picture.  On further analysis, they find that there are plans in the signal to build a transport device, but who will be the one to go?

I really like this movie.  Yes, it’s arguably not the most sci-fi movie ever, but it still definitely counts in my opinion.  It’s got a whole bunch of science in the movie, and it never happened so it’s also fiction.  Add in the travel through space and time and a brief appearance by aliens and I say it totally counts.  Deep down, I feel that I like this movie so much because of its religious undertones.  Or overtones, in some parts.  Personally, I believe in God, but I’m also big into science.  I’d equate myself with the Palmer Joss character.  I have my religious beliefs, but I don’t usually argue with people about theirs and I consider myself more fond of the search for truth.  This movie doesn’t take a strong stance in either the direction of belief or science, it more takes a stance that the over the top crazies in both directions are the jerk faces.  Jake Busey’s character, for instance, is a big jerkface.  But, on the other side, Ellie could kind of be a jerkface as well.  It’s a fairly accurate characterization from many atheists I’ve met that they seem to think they’re so superior to those stupid people that believe in a big man in the sky.  When Ellie and Palmer were in bed talking about it and she started saying things like, “Did you ever think that might not have been God,” he tolerated it.  I would’ve said, “Look, I didn’t criticize you for all your ‘I love stars and little green men’ bullshit!”  I liked it when later in the movie she says that she’d need proof to believe in God and he comes back with, “Did you love your father?  Prove it.”  Booyah, bitch!  I did feel bad for Ellie when she didn’t get taken on the transport at first because she doesn’t believe in God, but it also made sense.  If they’re supposed to be sending someone to represent Earth and 95% of Earth believes in a god of some sort, then they probably shouldn’t send someone that thinks the other 95% is stupid.  At the end of the movie, it all gets thrown back in her face in a really cool way, when no one believes what she’s saying about the transport because she has no proof and all her Occam’s Razor stuff is thrown back in her face, it’s very satisfying.  And just as satisfying that all the people who don’t believe her are basically criticizing something she believes, even though that’s what got her kept off the transport in the first place.  They don’t point it out, but the audience is well aware of what’s going on.  The movie doesn’t answer any questions when it comes to religion, but it doesn’t really try to.  It just poses a lot of questions that I found really thought-provoking and made me appreciate the movie.  The rest of the story was also very good to me.  I liked the science in the movie and it all seemed very sound as far as I could tell.  The drama aspects of the movie also succeeded with me.  The part of young Ellie calling into the Ham radio to try to talk to her recently deceased father broke my heart.  And you feel pretty shitty for Ellie in the other parts of the movie, especially when Drumlin keeps getting control and credit for her historic find.

The look of the movie holds up pretty damned well.  It’s not that old of a movie, but the graphics are mostly sound in the movie.  The opening of the movie was both a cool idea and a really good look.  They started out looking at Earth, listening to radio transmissions.  Then they backed up through the galaxy, playing older and older transmissions until silence.  They also put Bill Clinton into a bunch of scenes.  Adding his face to the scenes was convincing, but it obviously dates the movie a little bit.  The older and older this movie gets, the more likely it will be that people wouldn’t know who that was supposed to be.  Also, the graphics of travelling through the wormhole were really cool looking.

I really liked all of the performances in this movie.  For the most part, they stuck to some really good actors, so it wasn’t really a shock.  I think the world knows that Jodie Foster is a good actress, or at least was twice when she got her two Academy Awards.  But she was very good in this movie as well.  Foster is really believable and cute in her role, being able to convey her character’s excitement when she talks about the stars and the planets, and it’s very endearing.  This movie is probably the only occasion that I can think of that I was not annoyed by Matthew McConaughey.  His character in this movie was the one I identified with the most, and he did a good job doing the acting that was required.  The best example for me was the part where he had to ask the question that he knew would get Ellie disqualified.  The conflict is very evident on his face.  John Hurt was another character I liked.  He was definitely eccentric, and I liked the fact that he always seemed to know more than he was letting on.  Tom Skerritt was a very unlikeable character throughout the movie, but he did a good job at it.  He was always trying to steal Ellie’s thunder, but he did get me to start warming up to him near the end, which made what happen slightly after more effective.

All things being equal, the simplest answer is that this movie is really good.  The slightly more complicated answer is that I really liked the story, the look, and the bulk of the performances in the movie and it made for an interesting and thought-provoking movie.  I really recommend the movie, even though the inevitable outcome is the bulk of you saying that I can’t consider it a science fiction movie, let alone my favorite one.  Well to hell with you too.  Contact gets “I think it’s worth a human life” out of “You could call me a man of the cloth, without the cloth.”

Congratulations goes to Loni, who won the long battle to try and figure out this controversial choice for my favorite non-reviewed science fiction movie.  And more congratulations goes to her for being wise enough to say it was a good movie.  To hell with the rest of you!

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 (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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 One and Two (2001 and 2002)


Amazing! This is Just Like Magic!

Ah, Christmas time. No better time, as far as I’m concerned, to start my reviews of the Harry Potter series. Now that all of them are available on DVD and BluRay, I decided I should do all 8 movies back to back, in sets of two. I remember exactly when I first saw Harry Potter. I was still in college and my mother came out to visit and we decided to see a movie. She suggested that we see Harry Potter, but I was hesitant. I was just 18 and that, as I saw it, was a kid’s movie. But we saw it anyway, and I was instantly drawn in by it’s engaging story and amazing effects. From there, I was pretty well hooked. So hooked that I actually purchased a VHS copy of the second movie because it came out while I was visiting my grandma and she didn’t have a DVD player. Needless to say, I didn’t need my mom to drag me to the subsequent 7 movies, nor was her recommendation necessary to get me to buy the books (which I still haven’t read). But enough setup, let’s review some movies! Today’s review is of the first two years of Harry Potter. As with the Star Wars movies, heads up for spoilers. But if you still haven’t seen these movies by now, you never will and also are a fuck.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year One) (2001)

Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Chris Columbus, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Hart, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Tom Felton, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, John Cleese, Warwick Davis, John Hurt, Zoe Wanamaker, Sean Biggerstaff, David Bradley, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, and Matthew Lewis.

The story of Harry Potter starts long before the films, when a giant douche bag leaves his wife. In her despair, she starts writing books with such imagination and compelling stories that they turn into a series of 8 books, 8 films, numerous video games, and billions of dollars. The giant douche bag kills himself, and the world is better without his stupidity in it.

Harry’s actual story starts with him as a baby. His parents were recently murdered by He Who Shall Not Be Named (Lord Voldemort … yeah, I break the rules). Baby Harry is delivered by the giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) to the wizard Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and witch Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith). They leave young Harry to be raised by the only family he has left, the Dursleys: father Vernon (Richard Griffiths), mother Petunia (Fiona Shaw), and son Dudley (Harry Melling). Turns out that wasn’t the best idea, ’cause they’re super shitty to Harry. We join back up with Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), now living under the stairs. He starts getting mysterious letters, delivered by owls, but Vernon refuses to let Harry have them after seeing a seal on the back of them. The letters keep coming and coming, finally forcing the Dursley’s to pick up and move. Hagrid shows up to personally deliver the letter to Harry and inform him that Harry is a wizard and he’s to go learn magic at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Entering through the wall to platform 9 3/4, Harry boards the Hogwarts Express. Here he meets, and quickly befriends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson). Once we reach the school, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are sorted into Griffindore, while the boy who makes terrible first impressions, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), is sorted into Slytherin. We also get to meet the obviously evil Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), the innocent stutterer Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart), and the Charms teacher Professor Flitwick (Warwick Davis). The three kids start finding strange things around the castle that seem to be linked to something called the Sorcerer’s Stone. First, they come across a cave troll which they defeat only to realize a strange cut on Snape’s leg. Then, Harry is almost killed when his broom goes crazy during a Quidditch game and Snape is seen speaking a curse. The kids determine that Snape is trying to use the Sorcerer’s Stone to resurrect Lord Voldemort and they follow to stop him. But, it turns out it’s the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrell, with Voldemort partially resurrected into the back of his head. Harry defeats Quirrelldemort with his touch, which hurts him because Harry’s mother sacrificed herself to save him, infusing Harry with her love. Thus ends Year One.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Year Two) (2002)

Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Chris Columbus, and starring the same plus Christian Coulson, Jason Isaacs, Kenneth Branagh, Shirley Henderson, Toby Jones, Mark Williams, Miriam Margolyes, Gemma Jones, and Julian Glover.

Harry gets locked in his room and told that he cannot go back to Hogwarts for the minor offense of dropping a cake on the head of Vernon Dursley’s guests. But it wasn’t even him! It was a house elf named Dobby (Toby Jones), trying to keep Harry Potter from going back to Hogwarts. Ron, with the help of his mischievous twin brothers Fred and George (James and Oliver Phelps), rescues Harry and takes him back to the Weasley house. Here (only because I had no place to introduce them in the last description) we re-meet mother Molly Weasley (Julie Walters), father Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams), and youngest daughter, starting this year to Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). Back to Hogwarts we go! Again, strange things are happening at Hogwarts, this time surrounding something called the Chamber of Secrets and someone called the Heir of Slytherin. Also there’s a new Defense Against the Dark Arts, a pompous buffoon by the name of Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh). These strange events take the form of people (and one cat) being found petrified all over the school. Harry finds an empty diary in a bathroom haunted by a ghost named Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson). As Harry writes questions in the book, the ink disappears and answers his questions, and then shows Harry what happened. The vision implicates Hagrid in the death of Myrtle because he brought a giant spider into the school, named Aragog. When Hermoine gets petrified as well, they find out from a note in her hand that it is a creature called a Basilisk. Harry goes down to face the Basilisk alone, but first finds an unconscious Ginny Weasley and a guy Harry had seen in the diary’s vision, the diary’s owner Tom Marvolo Riddle (Christian Coulson). By rearranging the letters of his name in the air, he reveals that he’s a projection of the teenager that would later become Lord Voldemort.I.Am. Riddle sics the Basilisk on Harry as he continues to draw the life force out of Ginny, but then Dumbledore’s bird brings Harry a hat. Oh come on, Dumbledore! It would’ve been nice if you put something useful like a sword in the damned thing. OH WAIT! YOU DID! STAB! Basilisk dead, Harry stabs the diary with a Basilisk fang, killing the book and Riddle. Then it ends with Harry tricking Draco’s father, Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), into giving Dobby a sock, setting him free.

There is so much damned typing involved in writing a synopsis for multiple movies. Although, I did manage to compress two novels into under 1000 words, so I guess that’s pretty good. And speaking of pretty good: these movies! Perhaps slightly better than pretty good, actually. The story of these movies is very entertaining with only a few hiccups. I understand that Harry needs a reason to not want to be with the Dursleys anymore, but they go pretty far over the top with their amount of abuse towards him. He’s living under the stairs, tortured by a fatty, may or may not be fed with any regularity, and plenty of other things. It also got on my nerves how people kept getting surprised that Harry didn’t know anything about the magic world in the first movie, even though he had just found out about it. There was one part when Snape was quizzing Harry about different things in potions class just to show how little Harry knew. I would’ve said “I just found out that magic was real (and that I could do it) like three days ago, so why don’t you step off my nuts!” These people let magic go way to their heads anyways, like when the Broom Flying teacher Madame Hooch told them to step up to their brooms and command it with “Up”. How about walk up to your broom, lean over, and pick it “Up”. Yelling at it wasn’t doing that well for most of them. This movie sets up a couple of staples that these movies go back to a few times. 1) The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will range from douche bag (Lockhart) to evil (Quirrell), and 2) The movie will try to mislead you with the obvious evil person (Snape or Malfoy) and it will actually be the person you should expect least (Quirrell or Ginny). I caught on to these things pretty quick, but it didn’t ruin any of the other movies for me. I also found that the movies do a lot of misdirection throughout, which causes them to have to do a lot of tying together of loose ends at the very end of the movie, and some of the things that wrote you into a corner can be easily explained away with “Magic did it”. For a couple other things that got to me, if Platform 9 3/4 is between Platforms 9 and 10, that makes it Platform 9 1/2. When McGonagall calls the kids up to get sorted into their houses, what order is this list in? It was like Ron, Draco, random girl, Hermoine, Harry, the end. I guess that makes it in order of importance to the movie with a random girl thrown in, then to Hell with the rest of the students. Also, with owls delivering the mail over the table, how man times has that hall heard the statement “Aww, man! The mail pooped in my breakfast!”? When the kids defeat the giant troll, why did Hermoine take the blame for it? She said that she decided to try to fight the troll and Ron and Harry rescued her. How is that better than “I was in the bathroom, they came to warn me because I wasn’t there for the announcement, and they saved me.”? It also made me laugh when Harry got a package that was shaped like a broom and everyone crowded around to see him open it to find out what it was.

Moving on to the second movie, it’s also great. Once you’ve watched more than one of the movies, you can already see them slowly begin to head down dark paths. The first one was pretty light throughout, with a couple moments of darkness. The second movie gets a little bit darker, having a lot of people (including major characters) nearly die. This movie had another big “tie things up for the audience” thing at the end. I also noticed in this movie that our three little detective kids get a lot of their information from people (mainly Hagrid) outright saying it and then saying “I shouldn’t have said that.” It kind of takes the impressiveness away from it because they’re kind of just getting aimed and being used for the footwork by Dumbledore. For a couple things about this movie that stopped me: I understand telling broken-wand Ron not to try to stop the rogue bludger from attacking Harry, but why was the World’s Greatest Wizard Albus Dumbledore just sitting there watching his student get attacked by a lead ball? I also didn’t understand the character of Lockhart. I understand he was not meant to be a likeable character and that he was not as good at fighting as he acted like, but why does he volunteer himself for all of these fights when he knows he’s so bad at it? He volunteers to take out the pixies and fails, he signs up to fight Snape and loses, he decides to take out the snake Malfoy conjured but only serves to piss it off. Why not just let the other people do the stuff you can’t instead of showing everyone you suck? The biggest thing that got me was at the very end. Harry puts his sock in a book that he gives to Lucius Malfoy, who then gives that book to Dobby, freeing the elf from his slavery because that only happens when the master gives clothing to the elf. Malfoy’s reaction? He starts to cast the killing curse at Harry right outside of Dumbledore’s office, but is stopped by Dobby. Fer reals? The proper reaction to putting a sock in a book is to kill him?

The effects on these movies is another huge reason to come see them, but the first movie does sort of show the movie’s age. The sets are all huge and beautiful, and the CG creatures even worked very well, but I found that some of the CG effects involving people were noticeable. This was most clear in the broom-riding scenes. The people could tend to look a little fakey. The goblin creatures from the beginning of the movie were pretty convincing except for their hands. The way they would grab things really caught my attention with how obviously they were gloves. But those are two minor gripes in a typically extraordinary movie effects roster. The sets alone are reason enough to forget the few under par spots. I loved Nearly Headless Nick though, mostly because he was John Cleese, but when he showed how he got his name, that’s when I first started getting confused about these movies. They are clearly movies that are great for kids, but there are also some bloody and (as in this case) gruesome parts that seem a bit dark for kids movies. They get away with it though. By the second film, the CG effects have improved. Not drastically because they were already so great, but the parts that caught my attention as being a little fakey had improved significantly.

The performances are hit and miss, but excusably. The kids of the movies weren’t that convincing in parts of the first movie, but they had improved some by the second. I give them a pass on this because they were all around 11 to 13 years old in the first movie and most of them had never been in a movie before, and certainly none had been in a movie of this size before, and the main kids had some pretty heavy acting on their plates. But they had already started to improve by the second movie, and they get better with each passing movie. The biggest thing I got to thinking about was that (knowing what I know now), how did the people that did the casting for this movie know that these 11 year old kids were going to be hot when they grew up? The main characters all got to be pretty good lookin by this point in their life, but how do you look at an 11 year old and say “They’ll be hot one day”. And, if you think that, are you a pervert? The adults were all pretty phenomenal too, but that’s also to be expected because they are a collection of some of England’s best. I really liked Maggie Smith. She’s such a motherly type in the movie. She’s obviously looking out for the kids, but also has to get mean and strict on them from time to time. Alan Rickman is so evil in the movie that it makes you pretty sure he’s the main bad guy, then he turns out not to be. This would be novel if they didn’t go for this same thing with him in every subsequent movie, even though he’s never really a bad guy. John Cleese doesn’t do much in the movies, but I’m just glad he’s there. I’m happy any time that guy is around. Robbie Coltrane is great as Hagrid too. He’s this big, tough guy with a really warm and emotional side to contrast it. You don’t see much, if any, of the Weasley parents in the first one, but when you get to hang out with them in the second one they’re great. Julie Walters plays it super sweet to Harry, but really strict with her kids. Mark Williams was just funny. Jason Isaacs was great as Lucius Malfoy because every word out of his mouth was just spit at people with such disdain. That dude doesn’t seem to like anybody. Moaning Myrtle kinda worked the nerves a bit in the second one, and she was a pretty decent sized part. The same could be said about Toby Jones as Dobby.

No surprises here, I’m recommending these movies. I love the whole series so you won’t be getting any surprises in that regard. They get a little predictable in the story, and try so hard to misdirect you that they need long parts at the end to explain it all, but overall they are just great fantasy stories with a lot of imagination and emotion. The graphics in the first one got a little spotty, but I probably won’t be able to say that about any of the other movies in the series. The cast was awesome, but the kids are doing a lot of catch up to their heavy hitting adult counterparts. I already said I own all these movies on BluRay, and I think you should too, even if you don’t have a BluRay player. Time to get with the technology already, people. Harry Potter, years one and two, get “It’s LeviOsa, not LeviosA” out of “If you die down there, you’re welcome to share my toilet.”

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Immortals (2011)


Let’s Write Reviews … WITH BLOOD!

I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a review request for a movie that’s still in theaters before, but then again, with over 100 reviews at this point, it’s a miracle I haven’t reviewed the same movie more than once. One should not expect much from my memory. Either way, I was happy to take this request (even though it cost me money) because one of my favorite passions or interests in life is Greek mythology. Not Roman though. Fuck those guys. But I will happily watch any movie about Greek mythology, or even just that time period. This has taken me down good roads (Troy) and bad roads (Clash of the Titans remake), but I will not waver from my beliefs. So let’s see how this Greek mythology movie holds up in my review of Immortals, directed by Tarsem Singh, and starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, and Kellan Lutz.

Loosely based on the story of Theseus and the Titanomachy, we jump into this story as the Heraklion King of Crete and Awesome Names, Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), is searching for the Epirus Bow – a powerful bow with infinite ammo and Rambo-esque explosive capabilities – because it can help him free the Titans and destroy the Gods. He’s mainly doing this ’cause they ignored his prayers to save his family from illness, so fuck those guys. In order to find the bow, he goes to a monastery and takes 4 priestesses, one of which is an oracle named Phaedra (Freida Pinto), but they won’t reveal which one is the PreCog. Meanwhile, a peasant in a village chops wood while listening to an old man talk. This peasant is Theseus (Henry Cavill) who lives in this village with his mother and is trained in combat by this old dude (John Hurt). The village finds out that Hyperion is on his way towards their village, some guy defects to Hyperion’s side and gets his balls smashed for it, and Hyperion shows up in the town. Theseus lays a beating on a good portion of them by himself but gets captured and has to watch as Hyperion kills Theseus’ mother. Theseus is put with other prisoners like the four oracles and a thief named Stavros (Stephen Dorff). Together, they escape and make their way back to Theseus’ village, where Theseus finds the Epirus Bow and fights a Minotaur. Up on Olympus, Zeus (Luke Evans), Athena (Isabel Lucas), Poseidon (Kellan Lutz), Ares, and Apollo argue about whether they should intervene and stop Hyperion from releasing the Titans, but Zeus forbids it. Theseus has to do this himself.

I’m still trying to decide what I think about this movie, but don’t worry, I’ll work it out by the end of the review. I would say the story had potential but sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense. The entire premise that this douche Hyperion wants to kill the Gods because their cell phones didn’t have call waiting and they didn’t hear his prayers is a bit over dramatic on his part. His motivation is often a mystery to me as he punishes the defector that wants to join his army by scarring his face and smashing his balls (not a joke. That shit went down) for being a coward, but also has Theseus’ mother killed in front of him because he has the gall to single-handedly attack part of his army. What’s your game, Hyperion? Theseus’ story is intended to be a pretty typical rags-to-riches story as the peasant guy becomes leader of an army against Hyperion. They talk about this for the entire movie and don’t give him anyone to lead other than Stephen Dorff until the last 10 minutes of the movie. And I don’t know if I could follow this guy anyway because the greatest weapon known to man is put into his hand and he cannot hold on to the damned thing. He finds it and is immediately attacked by a minotaur that causes him to drop it. Then he kills 4 random dudes with it and is later ambushed and gets the damned thing stolen for good. Good work, hero. The oracle lady didn’t work out very well either. She has a vision of Theseus holding the Epirus Bow, embracing Hyperion, and standing over a wrapped up dead body. Well the dead body is his mother, and burying her did lead him to the bow, but he obviously can’t hold on to the damned thing and never embraces Hyperion. I guess 1 for 3 is a good enough ratio to call someone a psychic. Maybe she’s just there to be hot and get them titties out, which she kind of does but the shadows keep you from seeing anything. It’s vaguely tasteful. I won’t give away the ending for you, but I felt like it was a bit of a let down.

The visuals and the fight scenes make this movie stand out. It’s very CGI heavy and most of the epic landscapes are generated in a computer, but done in a pretty awesome manner. The village Theseus comes from is carved into the side of a cliff, the city at the end is a huge wall built adjacent to Mount Tartarus, and even the monastery is huge in scale. Everything has a great look to it. If a negative could be said about the visuals is that everything is really dark. You can always see what’s going on, but the colors are all really toned down and overcast through the entire movie. The one bright spot in the movie is the little pool they come across as prisoners for about 5 minutes of the movie, but even that goes dark when it turns to night time. I also appreciated the pretty freaky interpretation of the Minotaur. It’s basically the same Minotaur you’d expect but wearing a helmet made out of barbed wire tipped with poison. There’s also a big metal bull that had started to get on my nerves as they showed it about four times and I kept waiting for it to pay off in some way, but then it did and I was finally relieved. But the pay off there didn’t do anything for me emotionally as it seemed to be intended to. The violence worked very well in this movie. They didn’t have nearly enough fight scenes, but the ones they had were pretty great. Most of them were Theseus whooping ass on a bunch of guys by himself, but there are also two that involve the Gods themselves and those ones are pretty epic and awesome. The final battle was the best as it goes from Theseus whooping a bunch of Hyperion’s troops, to the Gods fighting the Titans, mixed in with Theseus going mano-a-mano with Hyperion. The fight with Hyperion’s troops had something I thought was the best use of the spear I had ever seen. Theseus stabs a guy, snaps off the end, stabs the next guy with that, snaps the end off again, and then stabs another guy. I thought that was wicked awesome. The fights with the Gods are pretty cool because the thing they hit goes into slo-mo even though everything else is normal speed, and I found it a pleasure to watch. This contrasted nicely with Hyperion’s throwdown with Theseus as there was a dagger and a bunch of cool wrestling/MMA moves mixed in and showed how mortals could do it. I liked the battle that ended the movie though I didn’t understand it. It was Theseus fighting alongside the Gods with Titans up in the sky and viewed from underneath. I mainly liked this because it seemed to be a bit of a nod to the famous painting by Antonio Allegri da Correggio called the “Assumption of the Virgin”. Yeah, I’m educated.

The performances are pretty solid for the most part. Henry Cavill didn’t make much impact on me beyond his whooping ass scenes. Mickey Rourke was good, though. I’m happy to see that Rourke is having such a renaissance recently. He used to be famous back before I paid attention to actors, then disappeared for a really long time, and has fairly recently returned in movies like Sin City, the Wrestler, Iron Man 2, and now Immortals. Not that Immortals is that great of a movie, but you know he got nice and paid for it. He’s still in pretty good shape and plays his character very well, being a bit of a disgusting character that will smash anything that gets in his way. John Hurt was pretty charming as the old guy too. Everyone else pretty much just looked good and didn’t really strike me for their performances.

Even being a little biased by my love of Greek mythology, I don’t feel comfortable recommending you shell out $10 dollars for this movie. It looks good and has some nice fight scenes, and even a few decent performances, but the story left me either confused or wanting. When this movie is available for rental, I definitely think it’s worth your dollar or two to get it from RedBox or something because of it’s visuals and fights, but the story keeps me from saying it’s worth seeing in the theaters. I give Immortals “To those who much is given, much is lost” out of “Fight for immortality!”

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!