Deathly Hallows: Part Two PosterWith the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, legions of Harry Potter fans will now no doubt be drifting aimlessly through a sea of bittersweet closure. The culmination of the highest grossing movie franchise of all time, it isn’t just a movie. It is an event. Part Two has already broken the record for (among other things) highest grossing opening weekend of all time, and it raked in almost $45 million in midnight showings alone (also a record).

This final installment (directed by David Yates, director of the last four installments) is the second half of the two-part movie based on the final book in a set of books you may have heard of, called the Harry Potter series; and is the continuation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One. Part Two picks up at the very same scene where Part One ends, and barely stops to catch its breath until the epilogue. In this installment, Harry meets his nemesis for one final battle and the fate of the world (and all the characters we’ve grown to love or hate) will be decided. (I won’t really bother with any more of a synopsis than that, because if you’ve seen the other movies, you know what is going to happen, and if you haven’t, it probably just won’t make any sense.)

Compared to Part One, Part Two is an improvement. It doesn’t feel quite as much like watching half of a movie, and there is significantly more action, significantly more plot, and is significantly more interesting. (And the characters don’t spend half the movie camping in the woods aimlessly, which helps.) There is a sequence of dense flashback exposition, but it is necessary for explaining the nuances of a plot twist. (And, to be honest, it may have just seemed talky, because the rest of the movie is so relentlessly climactic.)

Despite the fact that the movie is just over two hours long, and is a continuation of another two-and-a-half-hour movie, the pace is almost feverish. The pace is understandable because it is the climax of a 7 movie storyline, and have you seen the size of the book?! Nevertheless, I felt like it would have been nice if they had added some of the content that felt rushed or overlooked in Part Two to Part One, and truncated the pointless second act camping reenactment that was so long and drawn out. Or heck, why not make it two and a half hours or even three hours instead of two hours? Nevertheless it was a satisfying culmination to the eight movie saga. If you’ve seen the other movies, no doubt you’ll be itching to see this one as well. And if you enjoyed the other movies, this should prove to be a suitably exciting and emotional conclusion.

While many of the previous Potter movies have been fairly capable stand-alone movies, the final two movies really do need to be seen as the bookend to the series as a whole, and viewers who haven’t read the books, or at least seen the other movies, will probably either be very lost, or emotionally uninvested in the proceedings.

The Harry Potter films have been consistently above average in quality, and while certain installments were better than the others and vice-versa, the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, and the rest of the Potter pictures are well worth the time. If you’ve seen the other movies, you owe it to yourself to see Part Two and finish off the series. But then you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

4 out of 5 zipped lips.

Have you seen Deathly Hallows: Part Two? Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Robin Hood (2010)If you remember the list of my Top Ten Most Anticipated of 2010, then you remember that Robin Hood was sitting pretty, atop the pile in the #1 spot.

So what did I have to say about it almost three months ago?

“Robin Hood is one of my favorite literary figures, so I’m understandably excited that there’s a new Robin Hood movie being made.  Gladiator was one of the greatest historical epics of all time, so the reunion of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe is promising.  It’s also promising that they abandoned some of the weird ideas that they were toying with back when they were calling it Nottingham.  The trailer doesn’t show much, except for lots of epic looking battles, but the tone seems darker and grittier than most other Robin Hood movies (the awful Prince of Thieves being the one possible exception), which could go either way.  Just please, God, don’t let them try to make it nuanced.”

So, how did it turn out?  Glad you asked! Read the rest of this entry »

I hope the movie turns out to be as awesome as this trailer is.

Edit: 14 right, 9 wrong.  That’s 60%, could have been worse.

These are my Oscar predictions, and picks (who I think should win).

I have to admit, there are a few categories where I haven’t seen any of the nominees, (like Best Supporting Actress) so I’ll refrain from making picks for those categories, but I’ll still be a sport and make a prediction.

So without further ado, I’ll start off with the big ones:

Best Actor:

Prediction: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

Pick: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

Best Supporting Actor:

Prediction: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds).  If they don’t, they’re morons.

Pick: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Actress:

Prediction: Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Pick: Streep kind of overacted in my opinion, so I’m going with Sandra Bullock, because she basically carried The Blind Side.

Best Supporting Actress:

Prediction: Mo’Nique (Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire) – And the Oscar for Worst Movie Title of the Year goes to…!

Achievement in Directing:

Prediction: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).  Or they might give it to Cameron as a consolation prize for not giving him Best Picture.

Pick: I’m gonna go with Tarantino, because Inglourious Basterds was amazing.  Kathryn Bigelow can have runner up, because the directing was the best part about The Hurt Locker.

Best Picture:

Prediction: The Hurt Locker

Pick: Inglourious Basterds

Best Animated Feature Film:

Prediction: Up

Pick: Up

Achievement in Cinematography:

Prediction: Avatar

Pick: Inglourious Basterds… or maybe Avatar… or Inglourious Basterds

Best Original Screenplay:

Prediction: Up

Pick: Up or Inglourious Basterds

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Prediction: Up in the Air

Pick: District 9

…And now for the stuff most people don’t care about:

Best Original Score:

Prediction: Up

Pick: Sherlock Holmes

Best Original Song:

Prediction: The Weary Kind (Crazy Heart)

Pick: The Weary Kind (Crazy Heart)

Achievement in Film Editing:

Prediction: Avatar

Pick: District 9

Achievement in Sound Editing:

Prediction: The Hurt Locker

Pick: Star Trek

Achievement in Sound Mixing:

Prediction: Star Trek or Avatar

Pick: Star Trek

Achievement in Visual Effects:

Prediction: Avatar

Pick: Probably Avatar.

…And now the stuff abso-friggin-lutely nobody cares about:

Achievement in Makeup:

Prediction: The Young Victoria

Pick: Star Trek I guess…

Achievement in Art Direction:

Prediction: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (although they do kind of have a thing for movies about British queens, so who knows.)

Pick: Probably The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Achievement in Costume Design:

Prediction: The Young Victoria

Pick: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Best Documentary Feature:

Prediction: Food, Inc

Best Documentary, Short:

Prediction: The Last Truck, Closing of a GM Plant

Best Foreign Language Film:

Prediction: I’m gonna go with El Secreto de Sus Ojos, because it’s from Argentina.

Best Animated Short:

Prediction: A Matter of Loaf and Death, duh, it’s Nick Park!

Best Live Action Short:

Prediction: I have no freakin’ clue, but Instead of Abracadabra has a nice ring to it.

We’ll see how I did tomorrow night.

10. Hot Tub Time Machine


Honestly, with a name like Hot Tub Time Machine, I’d probably go see it regardless of who was in it, behind it, or what it was about.  Fortunately, it’s got the likes of John Cusack, Chevy Chase, Craig Robinson, and Lizzy Caplan starring, and it’s directed by Steve Pink, who wrote High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank, and directed Accepted (which kinda sucked, but not because of poor directing.)  We’ll see how it turns out.

9. Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

So Prince Caspian kinda sucked, but the book wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of the series.  Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the other hand, is one of the better books (even though personally I never cared that much for it.)  But this one needs to do some awesome business so that they freaking make The Silver Chair already!

8. Red Dawn

No one knows anything about this one yet, but the original Red Dawn was cheesy 80′s awesomeness.  Therefore, even though I know they’re going to royally screw the remake up, it’s a shoo-in.

7. Alice in Wonderland

This may be the perfect adaptation for Tim Burton.  He does, after all, seem to be cut from the same cloth as Lewis Carroll (which, if I had to venture a guess, must be some sort of seersucker/hemp combination).  The trailer looks good, and the cast is fantastic.  Here’s hoping it’s better than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was.

6. The Expendables

2008′s Rambo was astonishingly good, so Stallone writing and directing another action flick is probably good news.  This particular action flick, however, also happens to star (in addition to Stallone himself) Jet Li, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Dolph Lundgren (aka Ivan Drago from Rocky IV), as well as UFC champion Randy Couture, and WWF wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Danny Trejo.  Which basically makes this a LOT more interesting.

5. Paul

Paul

What’s that you say? Simon Pegg and Nick Frost? I’m in! Oh? It’s got Sigourney Weaver in it? Even better! And Jason Bateman too!? Oh, trust me, I’m seeing it! And it’s about Comic Con and Area 51? That’s it, where do I get in line?!

4. Iron Man 2


With all due respect to The Dark Knight (and all due respect in this case happens to be about thirty boatloads), Iron Man was just more fun.  Hopefully Iron Man 2 manages to avoid descending into Transformers 2 territory.  Cross your fingers.

3. Kick-Ass

This wasn’t even on my radar until I saw the first (brilliant) trailer for it, whereupon it instantly shot to #10 on my list.  Having seen the second trailer, and having discovered that Matthew Vaughn (who directed the woefully under-appreciated Stardust) is directing, it’s gone even higher.

2. Inception


Everything Christopher Nolan touches turns to gold.  Hopefully Inception is no exception.  The trailers are all kinds of trippy, and give next to nothing away, although it does seem to be in a similar vein as The Prestige and Memento, which is a good thing.  This is one to put on your calendar.

1. Robin Hood

Robin Hood is one of my favorite literary figures, so I’m understandably excited that there’s a new Robin Hood movie being made.  Gladiator was one of the greatest historical epics of all time, so the reunion of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe is promising.  It’s also promising that they abandoned some of the weird ideas that they were toying with back when they were calling it Nottingham.  The trailer doesn’t show much, except for lots of epic looking battles, but the tone seems darker and grittier than most other Robin Hood movies (the awful Prince of Thieves being the one possible exception), which could go either way.  Just please, God, don’t let them try to make it nuanced.

Good News for Superman?

February 11, 2010

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that in addition to getting started on Batman the 3rd, Christopher Nolan is going to be taking some sort of supervisory role on the Superman reboot.

If this is true, this could be the best thing to happen to Superman since Christopher Reeve.

Read the rest at Deadline.

Review: Daybreakers (2010)

January 25, 2010

DaybreakersDaybreakers begins with a most intriguing premise.  Vampires have taken over the entire world.  They have successfully turned nearly every human on earth into vampires, and the few that remain are farmed for their blood.  Vampires have become the new uncontested king species, and the world is now tailored to their unique needs: blood is served in coffee at the corner Starbucks, everyone is nocturnal, and all windows (even car windows) have sheet metal curtains to keep out the sun.

Unfortunately, it is exactly this total victory that has become the greatest threat to the vampires’ existence.  You see, if the vampires don’t drink human blood often enough, they start to become hideous, mindless, bat-creatures that roam the sewers of the cities attacking anything or anyone who crosses their path.  Until now, finding human blood wasn’t a problem, because the blood farming corporations produced an adequate supply, but after twenty years, the humans in the blood farms are starting to die off, and there aren’t enough left in the wild to replace them.  Cue Dr. Edward Dalton (played by Ethan Hawke), chief hematologist for the largest of the blood corporations.  He’s working on a synthetic blood substitute (and failing spectacularly.)

It’s hard not to feel a little bit like Daybreakers is the anti-Twilight.  (Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.) It’s gory, and the vampires don’t sparkle in the sunlight, they burst into flames, and they explode when shot with crossbows, etc.  That said, it does all feel very B-movie: the gore is over the top, but done well, the CGI is fairly middling, and there seem to be an overabundance of loud bats flying suddenly into the screen.  The performances are fine: Ethan Hawke seemed a little stiff, but Sam Neill makes a fantastic blood-sipping CEO, and Willem Dafoe is as colorful as we have all come to expect as the rogue human named Elvis.  The Spierig brothers (who both wrote and directed) show real talent as directors, and the pacing and editing are both excellent.

If you’re itching for a schlocky, sci-fi gore-fest, Daybreakers might just hit the spot.  Don’t expect anything too brainy though, unless those brains are splattering all over the screen.

Zipped LipZipped LipZipped Lip

3 out of 5 zipped lips.

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