The Apparition (2012)

Your House Killed my Dog!

The Apparition (2012)I am a very strange person. When a coworker of mine by the name of Ashley told me about this movie, she had nothing positive to say about it. And, even though she didn’t actually request the movie, her words did nothing but inspire me to watch it. I had gotten to thinking that, with the end of the year coming, I would be doing another list of the movies that came out this year, naming 3 best and 3 worst. But the problem was that I hadn’t really seen that much crap this year. I certainly wouldn’t see crap in theaters, and I generally would just forget about it when it came to DVD. This was a good opportunity to add to the bottom 3. Still, I went into the movie with an open mind. So let’s see how The Apparition did, written and directed by Todd Lincoln, and starring Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, Luke Pasqualino, and Suzanne Ford.

Four college students – Patrick (Tom Felton), Lydia (Julianna Guill), Greg (Luke Pasqualino), and Ben (Sebastian Stan) – attempt to recreate a parapsychological experiment known as the Charles Experiment, where six people stared at a picture of a dead dude until a table moved. With the use of some bullshit technology that amplifies their concentration 400 times over, something attacks the four students, pulling Lydia into a wall. Nowadays, Kelly (Ashley Greene) moves in with Ben to an empty neighborhood to watch her mom’s house. Gradually, strange events start to infect their new house.

Ashley did not do this movie justice. It was balls ass terrible. It mostly made no sense, showed zero originality, and was boring as all get out. I feel like good ghost movies need a motivation for the ghost. Or at least some kind of story to the ghost. This ghost has next to no reason to attack these people and is just some random dead thing that decides to start fucking with people. Sure, Ben participated in some experiment years before where random ghostie killed somebody, but why does it decide to come back now and start fucking with Kelly who had nothing to do with the original incident beyond dating the guy that was filming it? I think it may have been trying to kill Ben out of jealousy because he had filmed something because I think the ghost was an aspiring filmmaker who died before his time. Why else would a ghost drag a security camera along the floor to look at Kelly while she slept? And what the fuck is the deal with the mold stuff that indicated the ghost was doing something? Is this movie positing that ghosts have some relation to spores, mold, and fungi? Either way, somebody should’ve called Egon Spengler. And how the fuck is your big idea to defeat the ghost to get together and play the video or your séance backwards? The only thing you can do by playing stuff backwards is find inarguable proof that Paul McCartney was dead!

One of the few things I enjoyed about this movie was the look. It was always a pleasure to look at, but not for much more than the quality of the camera and that it was lit well. And that little unexplained creepy dead girl looked pretty cool. Granted, it was stolen from The Ring, but it still looked good. Though it was never explained and didn’t make sense to me, the moldy stuff always looked good. Granted, it was stolen from Dark Water… And those hands coming out from behind Kelly and covering her mouth at the end were cool looking. Granted, that was stolen from The Grudge… The thing with the sheets also looked interesting. Granted, the look of that was stolen from Nightmare on Elm Street… I’m beginning to see a pattern… Also, are sheets in hotels known for being made of rubber, and for being completely airtight? Otherwise Kelly should have been able to breathe through her sheets and was overreacting to having the ghost tuck her in snuggly. I got annoyed by how they handled their one failed scare attempt in the beginning of the movie because the moment that should have been the scariest in it was a split second, barely visible shot of a girl getting pulled into the air. I could tell she was pulled into the air by something, but not even whether or not she survived. It wasn’t until way later that we find that out. Their musical choices got on my nerves a lot in the movie too, mainly because they kept trying to sway the mood into spooky with musical scores when the movie itself wasn’t supporting that. Take, for instance, when Ben is trying to clean some strange burn thing off of the counter in the house. That doesn’t deserve spooky music! Sure, we find out later that the burn stuff is related to the ghosts (though we never find out how), but at the time you’re trying to convince us that a really stubborn stain on a countertop is frightening. They do the same thing later with random shots of the house and furniture. You can only do that if something scary has just happened or is going to happen! Granted, all of your attempts at scares failed, but you weren’t even trying then! They also had a part where a dog apparently died because it saw something in a corner. You do realize that it just looked to us like a dog was staring at a wall until it got as bored as the audience and decided to take a nap, right? You must have because you felt the need to just tell us later that the dog died because you weren’t able to show it to us.

The performances themselves in this movie were fine enough, but the characters all pissed me off. Ashley Greene was the other thing I liked about this movie. She didn’t blow my mind with her performance, but she sure is pretty to look at, and she walked around in her undies a pretty good amount. Her shower scene pissed me off because it was a total cock tease. Nothing happened to her while she was in the shower. If you weren’t going to have something happen to her, or at least have the decency to show her naked, then there was no reason for it in the first place. Also, this chick would piss me off. Early in the movie, she proclaims that she would like to “buy a saguaro.” Then she gets all condescending when Ben doesn’t know what it is. I know that a saguaro is a type of cactus, but I still would’ve slapped her in the face for not just saying “cactus.” She further pissed me off when she had to get all angry at Ben for no reason that I could discern. Are you mad because he participated in a parapsychological experiment in college? He wasn’t mad when you participated in a homosexual experiment in college! (Every girl does it, as far as my imagination is concerned) Are you mad because he used to date the dead girl in the picture? Because I got a good look at you and I doubt he was your first boyfriend. Were you mad because he didn’t tell you that he might know what was causing the stuff around the house? Because the ghost is fueled by people paying attention to it, so telling you would be counter-productive. And why the fuck would you kick him out because of it? So that you could be nice and alone with the ghost that’s trying to kill you? And why the fuck would you try to nail the door closed on a ghost?!?! Why is it that every horror movie is the first time the characters in the movie have heard anything about their predicament monster? It’s a ghost, honey! Have you never seen a movie? They walk through walls, whether you nailed the door closed or not. You know what kind of people are hindered by nailed doors? Living ones! Oh, you found that out already… Worst of all, it does not make sense that Ashley Greene could beat a dude at Street Fighter. Her fine ass doesn’t play video games! Or at least you better let me keep believing that lest I need to kidnap her and keep her in my basement. As for the rest of the cast: Sebastian Stan looks like a young Mark Hamill and Tom Felton is Draco Malfoy. That is all.

The Apparition fulfilled my expectations completely. Those expectations were admittedly low, but that’s a quote they can put on their DVD cover. They might not want to use the rest of this though. It was dumb, it was completely devoid of scares and originality, and the performances were nothing to write home about. But the movie was watchable, and probably worth watching just to make fun of it. Of course, I can’t imagine anyone thinking of jokes that I didn’t already use, so instead you can read this and skip the movie. The Apparition gets “It’s like a virus. It knows you’re afraid” out of “Ghosts only exist because you believe in them.”

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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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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.”

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!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

You could make the argument that there was no summer movie that I wanted to see more than Rise of the Planet of the Apes because no other movie I’ve seen in a summer involved such preparation. Before watching this movie, I coincidentally came across a very good price of $38 for the original 5 Planet of the Apes movies and decided to buy them, then proceeded to bomb through all of them within 2 days. Also throwing in there the Tim Burton remake with the strangely attractive Helena Bonham Carter ape. So I decided today was the day to witness the Rise.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – or, for brevity’s sake, Rise of Monkey Town – includes James Franco (with both arms), Brian Cox (who can not be held down by Wolverine’s claws or Magneto’s chains), and Tom Felton (You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Potter?). I say includes because, let’s face it, the star is the monkey named Caesar. Franco is a geneticist trying to cure his father (John Lithgow) from his Alzheimer’s disease. He invents something that reanimates the brain and tries it on some monkeys. He first tries it on Bright Eyes who shows considerable improvement, but then she goes ape-shit (pun intended) and has to be put down with extreme prejudice. As the drunk dude from Zak and Miri Make a Porno is being forced to put down all the apes they tested on, they find that Bright Eyes went ape-shit because she was protecting her baby, later to be Caesar. Unable to put down the baby, Franco takes him in, only to find out that the drug has affected the baby and it’s smart. Over the ensuing years, he teaches Caesar sign language and Caesar gets smarter and smarter.

Now, it should come as no surprise that eventually the apes break free of their shackles and head towards their inevitable dominion over man. If that’s a surprise, then you probably know nothing of the series and probably won’t be seeing this anyway. They don’t quite take over, but Caesar gets locked up in a habitat where Draco Malfoy tortures the other apes ’cause he’s a jerk-face. Caesar don’t like that. He retaliates by making all the other monkey’s smart, breaking free, laying a whooping on man, and taking to the forest. Also, he makes people render unto him the things that are his, and probably gets stabbed 30-something times shortly after the movie. Et tu, Green Goblin?

So one of the things I heard about this movie beforehand is that it breaks with continuity, which I say it does and it doesn’t. Granted, it does not follow the story of the 4th movie in the series which is kind of where this part of the story would be happening. To give a brief recap: 1) Heston lands, captured by talking monkeys, turns out it’s earth year 3800, OH NO! 2) Other guy lands, finds Heston, mutated people pray to a bomb, set that bitch off, OH NO! 3) Turns out 3 friendly chimps got off the planet, go back in time to human times, turns out girl’s preggers, humans think this will lead to humanity’s end, kill parents, baby lives on, OH NO! 4) Baby now grown up, called Caesar, already talks, gets mad, takes over, OH NO! 5) Last of humans gets all pissy with fairly peaceful apes, start fight, lose, OH NO! 1 – Remake) Screw up all of that stuff. There, now we’re up to speed. So, obviously the monkey doesn’t already talk, doesn’t come from future apes that can talk, etc. But in the 3rd movie, when the dad is telling about how apes rose up, they talked about how the first ape was super smart, kept getting beaten by man and ordered around by man, but then finally said the first words ape spoke, which was “NO”. That story is basically how it happens in this movie. So it follows 3rd movie continuity, but parts from 4th movie continuity. And I’m okay with it.

Another good thing about this is the fan service in the movie, the things you’d notice if you had just recently watched all 6 other movies. Bright Eyes is what one of the apes calls Heston, there’s background story about a rocket getting launched and going missing, of course “Get your hands off me you” yada yada yada is in it. I like these things. Makes you feel special for catching on. Problem of course being if I were to look it up now, I’ve probably missed about 107 more things.

There really wasn’t that much bad in the movie. I liked all of the acting well enough, even the acting of the apes, but the apes were pretty obviously CGI, though better than the young Jeff Bridges abortion in Tron Evolution. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of bad to this movie. At least nothing that stuck in my over tired brain long enough to make it home and write this. I apologize in advance if it’s not as funny as when I tear apart a bad movie; I can’t help that this movie was good. But worry not, I RedBoxed Priest. Coming soon!

Pay the money, see this shit … out of 20 …