This was it. The end of the magic. The finale of an era. The epilogue of the childhood for many hardcore Potter fans who grew up with JK Rowling’s worldwide-selling and extraordinarily phenomenal franchise that lasted for 13 amazing years. Forgive me for using an overlong run-on sentence, but I guess it’s only appropriate for Harry Potter.
And the best part? The last Potter installment, reportedly the biggest and most epic picture of the series, offered me more than I could ever imagine.
I won’t waste time describing the details and how everything ends happily ever after, for me, it was the process that matters the most. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, now adults with the mission of saving the world from evil, step up to carry the huge emotional burden as they say good-bye to their own childhood, and prepare to sacrifice themselves if necessary for the greater good. For Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, this was their final chance to show off the magic as they portray the iconic roles that made them household names.
I gotta admit, I wasn’t all that excited after seeing part one of the two part finale. Don’t get me wrong, David Yates is a spectacular director, he gets better and better every time. His innovative approach for handling each of his four Potter pictures always strikes me with awe. I guess “Half-Blood Prince” simply left too strong of an impression for me, as the first part of the “Deathly Hallows” didn’t, for me, quite live up the expectations. Nevertheless, I was pumped to see part 2, after all, this was an essential part of my childhood and I wanted to be there when it draws to a close.
What Yates does is very interesting. Yes, the special effects were stunning. And yes, the story telling was faithful to the book. But what satisfied me the most was how much he understands the film. Let me elaborate on that: Yates is a huge fan of realism, as one can clearly tell the difference from his Potter films to those of, say, Chris Columbus. He doesn’t shy away from showing the bloody and maybe even gruesome scenes that he feels must retain from the books. And because of that, his Potter films are always that much darker and less grandiose than the early installments in the franchise. I guess that can be a drawback sometimes as it sucks out all the magic and leaves a theater filled with seven year-olds crying over a PG-13 movie. But as Harry perfects as a wizard and a human being, we as the audience are growing with him. Sooner or later, he’s got to realize the world isn’t always a little magical bubble filled with fairytales and butter beers, but that he has to act as a responsible young adult and rise to the occasion. I guess that’s what the later Potter films are about, a little gruesome, true, but definitely worth the lesson. And perhaps that’s what JK Rowling was trying to tell us as well: there are imperfections even in the wizarding world.
Yates knows how too much of a good thing can lead to the exact opposite. He always stops before crossing the line too much. In this grand, almost war-like movie, there are no wild celebrations or emotional cheers after Harry defeats Voldemort, instead we see the trio taking a long walk with relief along the severely damaged Hogwarts bridge. The message was clear: the magic world isn’t perfect anymore, but we can always learn to pick ourselves up and rise from the ashes.
Of course, there are lots of adrenalin rushing moments, along with a few great laughs and tons of applauses. I think I even saw a few audience members wiping their tears as the train takes off during the 19 years later epilogue. It really was quite an emotional moment, and nobody knows it better than those of us who grew up with the series.
Kudos to the cast and crew, notably Dame Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman, as they owned their parts and made this journey a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And Ms. Rowling, our childhood couldn’t have been the same without you. Most importantly, thank you, Harry Potter, for making me a believer through ten unforgettable and magical years with you.
First off, I’d like to make one thing clear: this movie certainly won’t last long in my memory. Don’t get me wrong, “Unknown” is a very interesting work; it has a highly intriguing concept that opens up great many possibilities. Unfortunately, it fell short as a done-and-done again cliché piece which doesn’t and cannot offer the audience anything fresh or innovative. Ten minutes into the movie and I already felt I’ve seen it before. Well, that’s saying something.
Liam Nelson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, an American scientist traveling to Berlin for a medical summit. An unexpected car accident sends him into a coma for four days. When he wakes up he finds himself stranded in a foreign country with a stolen identity and killers after him. Diane Kruger and January Jones costar, alongside big names such like Frank Langella.
While I was impressed by the early, misleading direction, “Unknown” doesn’t quite fool me. Something about the film feels sloppy. The way the filmmakers ignore essential details to persuade cinematic effect can sometimes be clotting the film and, therefore, leaving it overpopulated with chaos. The visually whirling car chase sequences---yes, there were multiples of them ---soon became not only unnecessary, but also extremely tiresome to watch. Introducing a new character 2/3 through the movie is perhaps the worst mistake a director can make, regardless of much of a big shot the actor portraying the character is.
Neeson’s Dr. Harris brings the eager desperation into the character itself, but fails to realize his own importance. From the moment Harris finds out about his situation, he’s stepping onto a roller coaster of purposeless search for something even he doesn’t quite sure what. The aimless action sequences keep colliding with each other to produce new story lines, disregarding the fact that it leaves behind a trail of unanswered questions. By the end of the film, the style changes so much that I almost felt like I was watching a completely different movie than the one from an hour ago. Although the surprise twist towards the end quite neatly ties up some of the loose ends, the overrated build-up and its somewhat perplexing conclusion left much to be desired.
On a positive note, the film kept me mystified all the way through, and I suppose that’s a good thing. I genuinely cared about the characters, and every twist and turn kept me on the edge of my seat. Mismatched as they may seem, Diane Kruger and Liam Neeson did share a couple of interesting moments. Despite the fairly banal the-other-woman scene with January Jones in the museum, Kruger brings the light into an otherwise gloomy and slightly agitated road-rage thriller that contains too few plausible moments to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Not a memorable piece, but no doubt a solid action thriller, “Unknown” knows how to capture the audience with its appealing concept and unusual direction, as well as its fast-paced cleanness. Certainly not the best Liam Neeson picture, but it’s still worth watching in every way.
As I was making my way out from the theater, I overheard a friend giving his opinion on this movie which described it precisely, “It was E.T on steroids”. Well, maybe it was little something like that, but it was nonetheless one of the best summer movies I’ve seen in a while.
Now, this isn’t really an adventure movie made purely for kids, although it certainly made an effort to be children friendly. The fact that the filmmakers raise the emotional stake to break the norm of your average Sci-Fi adventure film proves that Super 8 is intended to be a film for pretty much everyone from all age groups.
Still, the new J.J. Abrams summer flick was quite remarkable. We miss seeing movies like this. There is something pure and innocent about the movie that awes me. A group of kids accidentally witness a horrifying train-wreck and capture the footage using a super 8 camera. Unexplained disappearances and deaths soon begin as the kids dig deeper into the truth behind the seemingly normal accident and the grave danger that lies behind. From there, they off-set a series of exciting and over-the-top adventure.
Not exactly an original story, but the filmmakers handle the plot so delicately and superbly, that it becomes almost nonessential in the end. The kinds, played by mostly newcomers, delivered everything a bunch of twelve and thirteen year olds has to offer, and maybe more. Young they may be, the chemistry between the two main characters, Alice (Elle Fanning), and Joe (Joel Courtney), was worth every scene. Abrams works his way and gives the audience exactly what they came to see, and he does it stylishly.
You won’t feel over-satisfied after seeing the movie, nor would it let you wanting for more. It concludes in the right place at the right time. Most importantly, the film makes you wonder, behind the laughter and tears, what does it the movie really leave us with? Is there more to the story than what appears onscreen? What does it truly represent?
My guess is that they really don’t matter at the end of the day. The kids are safe, the bad guy has left. Although on second thought, maybe we shouldn’t really be thinking this in terms of good and bad.
The only dissatisfaction I had with this movie comes in its somewhat uninspiring third act. Once we get a clear picture of the secret behind the mystery, we’re leave with no choice but to Hollywood-ize everything. The last twenty minutes of the film offer me just that. On one hand I was amazed by the fact that after the kids survive so many near fatal explosions they can still play heroes, on the other hand I was exhausted by the non-stopping chase sequences which did very little to advance the story plot. Then again, I guess that’s understandable. Don’t forget we’re dealing with Steven Spielberg here.
But all in all, this was an extraordinary movie. Abrams raises the bar of science fiction and serves the audience justice and fits well in the director’s shoe. Not you everyday Hollywood big pic, but Super 8 is certainly a fresh face among the summer popcorn flicks, and honestly, movies don’t get better than this.
Having never been a huge fan of Robert Rodriguez, I must admit, “Machete” is in many ways, very watchable. It is Rodriguez’s second attempt to construct a mind-blowing, audacious exploitation film, following his debut grindhouse feature, “Planet Terror”, in 2007.
The film is just your average revenge flick. Its R-rating signals the potential violence the audience would come to expect in a film named after a broad blade knife. In fact, the amount of violence in the film is almost outrageous. Rodriguez doesn’t shy away from the blood spattering, gut-ripping, head-chopping gruesomeness, he embraces it. Then again, the movie wouldn’t be the same without it.
But with all the blood and guts aside, the story itself is cliché in an almost childish way. Trejo plays the title character, who swears revenge on an ex-federal agent after witnessing the cruel decapitation of his wife. The plot thickens when he soon realizes that his path of vengeance would uncover the secrets of many others, including a corrupted Texas senator portrayed by Robert De Niro.
Hard fact: “Machete” is no Oscar material. It’s almost trashy, depends on how you see it. But that’s what makes it unique, and yes, brilliant. The plot itself isn’t what matters here, it’s the action and visual, however stunning and bloody. It’s about the style. I mean, do we really need to see a half naked Michelle Rodriguez or better yet, a completely naked Lindsay Lohan? But without them, what else does this movie have to show for?
From its insane, over-the-top storyline to its first rated cast and crew, the film actually turns out to be much more funny than one would expect. In many ways, it shares a lot of similarities with Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill”. Equally as violent equally as meaningless. But like I said before, who cares? We’re not idiots, we’re fully aware of that fact the entire movie could’ve been told in less than two minutes, and the action sequences don’t do a thing to advance the plot, if there was any. But they are the juice in this movie, they are what makes “Machete” such an adrenalin rush.
Now, as always, every action-packed feature has a smoking female lead. In this case, we have two. Apart from tough girl Rodriguez, there was Jessica Alba. The part Hispanic hottie portrays a government agent who really has nothing to do with the story. But that is to be forgiven. We can just put aside the logic and simply enjoy the movie, and boy, what a hell of a crazy ride it was.
Almost two hours of building up leads to a rewarding but overrated climax. “Machete” is a cinematic carnage/summer popcorn flick and nothing more. It’s no “Inception”, but you certainly don’t have to see it a second time to understand. It’s pure madness, but hey, sometimes that can be a good thing.
For any die hard Pirates fan, four years are worth the wait for the latest installment of the world wide grossing franchise to happen. Being a Pirates nerd myself, I was very excited and a bit uneasy about the new film, directed by Rob Marshall and, once again, starring the witty and outrageously hilarious Johnny Depp.I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts when I saw the trailer for this film. In my opinion, the third Pirates tied up all loose ends and drew a close to the legacy of Captain Jack Sparrow and his adventure, which I thought, despise the opinions of others, to be very well written. In Stranger Tides, gone was the highly watchable romantic arc between Kiera Knightly and Orlando Bloom’s characters, instead we get a strange new Spanish flavor with a new character portrayed by Penelope Cruz, as well as a new villain, Blackbeard. Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t this has, “been there, done that” written all over it?Nevertheless, I went and saw the movie. I was mildly satisfied, partially because of the comic relief moments brought by Depp. The film, however, is a long shot from achieving the epicness of its predecessors, notably “At Worlds’s End”. The story itself couldn’t be more simple, but it’s beguiled by the many subplots that jump all over the places. The Black Pearl doesn’t even appear in this movie, and Jack Sparrow is being captured by pretty much every single other major characters. Penelope Cruz plays Angelica, a love interest from Jack’s past. Together, they join a quest with the evil pirate lord Blackbeard, played by none other than Ian McShane, in search of the Fountain of Youth.The title of the film, On Stranger Tides, suggests that the majority of the movie should be set on the ocean. In reality, the characters spend half of the movie in jungles and caves, leaving their ships and crew to vicious man-eating mermaids. Yes, there are mermaids in this film. In fact, a subplot involving a young missionary and a mermaid takes up almost the entire movie, and I must admit, it was probably the most uninspired and cliche story arc in any of the Pirates movies. It’s funny how the producers cast actors resembling to Bloom and Knightly in an attempt to compensate for their absence. Needless to say, they failed miserably.The highly of the movie belongs to Geoffery Rush, who once again portrays the wicked and funny Captain Hector Barbossa. Now working under the King, the former pirate forces Jack to join him oh his quest to find the fountain, but secretly allying himself with the Spanish in order to seek revenge on Blackbeard. As always, Barbossa’s screen time, way too small as it was, brings a few light hearted fun to an otherwise aimless sequel filled with mindless action stunts and cheesy CGI.Several notable veteran actors made a few unexpected cameos, including Richard Griffith, who is remembered for his role in some of the Harry Potter films. Judy Dench, who plays a wealthy noblewoman whom Jack briefly encounters. Keith Richard returns as Jack’s mysterious father, who once again serves as a sage type of figure.Hans Zimmer also returns as the film’s composer, who complied soundtracks from the previous films and threw in a fresh Spanish twist.Despite the many returning, the new film lacks the stunning visual and grand scope that has become a trademark for the Pirates films. With less characters, a less intriguing story line, and a somewhat disjoint cast, On Stranger Tides may leave fans question their reasons for watching another so-so Hollywood blockbuster sequel. Nevertheless, the movie doesn’t fail to captivate general audience with its new direction and fares well with its absurd but not too ridiculous plot while proving itself to be a solid continuation of Jerry Bruckheimer’s masterpiece.