Sunday, November 24, 2013

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) review


This intense drama keeps you on the edge of your seat with compelling performances from the lead actors and a contagious story.

PLOT:Eva (Tilda Swinton) has been a troubled soul since her son, Kevin (Ezra Miller) was born. Kevin has never liked her and has always tried to defy her from toddler years to teen years, running to his dad, Franklin (John C. Reilly). However, things start to change when Kevin grows even more violent and his baby sister is born. Kevin's rebellion and resistance may end up leading the family into the ground. It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in this film are excellent. Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller both played excellent roles as Eva and Kevin. I really saw a characterized personality in each of their performances and actions. John C. Reilly also played a great part as loving father Franklin. All performances were good and fitting. Even the child actors such as Jasper Newell and Rocky Duer as young Kevin did a great job.

SCORE:The score in this film is pretty cool. It fit the mood very well. It wasn't anything too special though.

OTHER CONTENT:This film is very intense in every sense of the word. As Kevin gets more and more violent and defiant, we get more and more involved in the story until the climactic ending with a single line that expresses so much muddled emotion. However, with all of the vague muddle of the reasoning, we never really find out why Kevin was so mean all of these years. It seems to leave an open hole of opinion to the reason of why Kevin was the way he was. Also, this film could come off as confusing to those who don't understand its form, making it not as widely accepted by everyone. However, this is still a brilliantly done film by director Lynne Ramsay.

OVERALL,a great film with a great plot, excellent performances, cool score, intense twists, and a bunch of emotion hidden, but the reasoning can seem lost and the format of direction could confuse some people.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Rugrats Movie (1998) review


This childhood favorite of mine still holds true to the relaxed and nostalgic feeling for me, but with age came a less involved attitude toward the more juvenile aspects of the movie.

PLOT:Tommy Pickles (E.G. Daily) and his family star in this new adventure when Tommy's new brother, Dil Pickles, is born. Dil, however, seems to be a big nuisance, for all he does is cry and hog the attention from Tommy's parents. One day, Tommy's friends decide to take him "back to the baby store" in Stu's invention, the Reptar wagon. This attempt doesn't go well and ends with Dil and the babies stranded in the middle of the forest with Angelica (Cheryl Chase) and Spike looking for them. Now it's a search for the babies by the Pickles family and their neighbors and an adventure for the babies to get out of the woods. However, Dil is growing more and more stressful by the minute, and Tommy's running out of ways to deal with him, as well as the rest of the babies. Will the babies find their way out of the forest with Dil calm? It's an okay plot executed decently.

VOICES:The voices in this movie are the same as they've been for the series. E. G. Daily, Cheryl Chase, Christine Cavanaugh, and Kath Soucie all play their parts as Tommy, Angelica, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil as well as they could. It wasn't a big difference from the show. The performances that seemed to stand out more from the series would have been Jack Riley as Stu Pickles, Michael Patrick Bell as Drew Pickles, and Joe Alaskey as Grandpa. The emotion they put into this seemed a bit more amped-up as compared to the series. Along with these, the additions of Tim Curry as Rex Pester, Whoopi Goldberg as Ranger Margaret, and David Spade as Ranger Frank were the best voices in the movie. I really enjoyed their work.

SCORE:The score and soundtrack in here is more juvenile than anything. The various songs sung by the characters weren't particularly enjoyable, but the deeper soundtrack with names like Blackstreet and Busta Rhymes weren't half bad. As for the juvenile soundtrack, there was a pretty nice cameo from Lenny Kravitz, Beck, the B-52s and others. I enjoyed that.

ANIMATION:The animation in this movie kept the same style as the series but fine-tuned it for the big screen. It was more detailed and thematic than its relaxed look on TV.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie still holds a part of me close considering it was a great part of my childhood. The nostalgic characters, humor, and songs from the nineties and my childhood still hold a part of me. However, my age brought a dislike for the more juvenile humor types. This is definitely a family movie, with some more adult jokes and lots of little laughs throughout. The aspect I still appreciate about this movie is the heart-warming lesson about how responsibility and love can change a person. I'm still a sucker for the charms this movie has. The movie is a lot more juvenile to me now, but the lessons still take effect.

OVERALL,a good movie with an okay plot, some same and some improved acting, juvenile original score and cool nineties score, finely-tuned animation, nostalgia from my childhood, and a charming lesson, but this movie seems so juvenile to me now for the most part.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) review


This entertaining movie remains fairly accurate to the books with great direction and a stellar performance by veteran comedy actor Jim Carrey.

PLOT:After their mansion mysteriously burns down and kills their parents, inventor Violet (Emily Browning), bookworm Klaus (Liam Aiken), and sharp-toothed Sunny Baudelaire are sent to live with their strange "relative", Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), an actor in self-written plays. Olaf is a mean-spirited, greedy person with an eye on the enormous fortune willed to the kids by their parents, and he's willing to do anything to get to it, including killing the kids. The Baudelaire orphans must run from Olaf, whether it involves strange inventions or jumping from distant guardian to distant guardian. It's a great plot executed very well.

ACTING:The performances in this movie are alright. Jim Carrey definitely stole the show as the strange and greedy Count Olaf. Carrey has always been a favorite actor of mine, and this performance is just as comedic, entertaining, and overdone as most of his are usually. I really enjoyed him in here. The orphans were okay. There really wasn't anything special about their acting, as they were still child actors. Liam Aiken wasn't bad as Klaus, and I suppose Emily Browning was okay. The more mature extra performances, such as Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine and Billy Connolly as Uncle Monty. I really liked the way they played their roles as the paranoid grammar freak and the open-minded snake professor. Jude Law's narration as Lemony Snicket was also very nice as well. The other performances worth mentioning would be Cedric the Entertainer as the Constable and Catherine O'Hara as Justice Strauss. I didn't care too much for Timothy Spall as Mr. Poe.

SCORE:The score in here is very cool and detailed by the great Thomas Newman. Some themes are lighter pieces while others are dark and intense, with a very modern-sounding piece for the end credits.

EFFECTS:The effects in this movie weren't expertly done, but they did what they were supposed to do. I enjoyed the Lachrymose leeches and the destruction of Aunt Josephine's house best. The rest seemed a bit lazily done and almost too fake in appearance.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie is a fun watch. The movie almost stays true to its source material and is directed very nicely by Brad Silberling. The movie strays a good bit from the books by a few plot twists, but its pretty well adapted for the most part. Aside from the few inaccuracies and a couple bland performances, I also found myself upset that they didn't continue the story or explain the backstories of the family and villains clear enough. I was still left asking far too many questions. Its a fun movie, but I believe there could have been more made, or there could have been more information added.

OVERALL,a good movie with a great plot, decent acting aside from Carrey's comedic performance, cool score, lazily done effects, very nice direction, and fair accuracy to its source material, but some important twists are left out, including the backstories of the secret groups.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Room 237 (2013) review


This documentary wasn't particularly my cup of tea, but I enjoyed hearing the different perspectives from different film buffs as well as hearing the possible glorification of Kubrick's master brain.

SUBJECT:Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining deviates away from Stephen King's novel a great handful of times, but is it all for a good reason? A group of film buffs that have seen this film countless times have developed many arguments and theories about what the purpose of Kubrick's adaption of the film mean, deviations and all intact, including hidden messages, mistaken imagery, and subtle hints toward certain subjects. However, is this more a study of the film or critics' obsession with the film? It's great subject discussed fairly well.

PEOPLE:The people chosen to be interviewed for this subject aren't that widely known, from the names of Bill Blakemore to Juli Kearn, which gives the documentary an even more mysterious approach to the film and its possible messages. I believe the opinions of the interviewed persons were very well discussed and very well justified overall. However, I feel that some of their theories are the offspring to blind paranoia and tripped-out minds. The conclusions just seem a bit preposterous overall, but supported with excellent accuracy, along with the discussions of symbolism over the deviations in the film.

SCORE:The score of this documentary is mainly composed of previous themes from Kubrick's films, including this one alike, with a few interesting variations of the classical work Dies Irae by Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, as well as other interesting themes by them.

OTHER CONTENT:This documentary is enlightening to those who enjoy it in more than one way. If the opinions of the many critics don't please or convince you, the hidden meaning in the whole film will. This documentary could also be seen as a raging cinephilic obsession with the subject film and the obsession of film buffs in general. I found the film to be a very stimulating documentary, but with opinions I don't agree with for the most part. It was enlightening to see the "carefully placed" items in the background I hadn't noticed before as well as hearing the discussion of symbols not included in the King novel. I also enjoyed watching the subject film overlapping itself near the end. The product was pretty shocking. However, I overall found this film to be an over-thought study of cinephiles general deriving mind.

OVERALL,a good documentary with great subject matter, obscure names with seemingly-true theories discussed, interesting original themes by Snipes and Hutson, intelligent hidden meaning, and enlightening opinions, but I don't fully agree with the opinions withheld in this documentary; I'd almost deem them preposterous if I didn't respect Kubrick's eye for detail so much.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Give It a Year (2013) review


This reverse rom-com may offer a more fresh idea to the table with some pretty great laughs, but it still seems too familiar with some crude jokes falling flat.

PLOT:Nat (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) have just been married with intent on having a great life ahead of them. However, due to their hurry to their marriage, a profound doubt is found in their friends that it won't last past the first year. This starts to show when Josh meets up with an old flame, Chloe (Anna Faris), and Nat meets a new interest through her business, Guy (Simon Baker). The two are secretly in love with their old and new flames, and their marriage is failing. Will their marriage be saved before the first year is up, or do they even care? It's a good plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances in here weren't anything truly special, but there were a few entertaining moments for each character. Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall were okay as their roles as Nat and Josh, with Spall doing better than Byrne. Anna Faris and Simon Baker were also pretty good in their roles as Chloe and Guy. There were some good and some bad performances in this movie, but my favorites would have to have been Rafe Spall and Anna Faris. They seemed to know the role well enough.

SCORE:The score wasn't anything too special. The soundtrack contained a few cool pop songs that helped the movie along.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie was supposed to go against the common rom-com formula, but I felt that it still followed the formula in certain areas, so it wasn't as fresh as I had hoped it to be. However, there were a great bit of laughs throughout. A lot of the jokes were really funny and entertaining, but for the most part, the crude and embarrassing jokes just fell flat. This was an entertaining movie, but it wasn't anything new or special.

OVERALL,an okay comedy with a good plot, entertaining acting, a cool soundtrack, and laughs throughout, but this still felt very formulaic and had a bunch of jokes falling flat.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Harry Potter Films: Ranked From Least to Most Favorite

 Hello readers! In this ranking list I'm going to rank all of the Harry Potter films in accordance to my ratings and which I like best. I'm a huge Potterhead and love them all, but I will admit that some are better than others. Well, we all gotta start somewhere, so I guess I'll start here:

8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:
Like I said, we all gotta start somewhere. This was a great and magical introduction to the beloved family fantasy franchise, but the inexperienced performers (at the time) were a little annoying and way to unconvincing for me to truly get immersed. Also, the tone feels too light at the time for a film like this. It's a great start, but it isn't the strongest. It's good to look back on through the rest of the series though, like a memory. 

7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: 
This one had some brilliant performances and a big emotional impact, not to mention plot execution that could swallow you whole. However, this one actually lacked the joy that its predecessor's had at this point. This one felt like the most depressing and bleak out of the series. I just was left with a feeling like more could have been done. 

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1:
This one, being in the latter additions to the franchise, was one of the most powerful emotionally and carrying excellent performances. However, it felt too much like a prequel and a character study. This one lacked some great action as compared to its predecessors and focused more on the characters. This is great and all, but it makes the middle lag a bit and move slow. It feels like a glorious filler at times even. This film isn't bad by far, but it's slower than the rest in more ways than one. 

5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 
Though this Harry Potter film is also home to more inexperienced acting, I appreciate it because you see a great change in the tone and performances as compared to the first one, not to mention the story is much more complex than the first was. The tone starts to get just the right amount darker in this one and the actors show a great deal of improvement over this brief amount of time. This one also seems to bring back the most memories from my childhood out of the Potter films, so I'm pretty partial to it. 

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
This Harry Potter film is one of the best in my opinion because of the characters' convincing portrayal of real emotions and the fine, fine direction of the great David Yates. This one was a really great addition and a great preparation for the two-part conclusion as well. The only thing I thought negative about this would have to be that it felt a little bland as compared to its predecessors. The story just wasn't as complex and in-depth as the others were. The twists weren't authentically present until the very end. However, this was still a great HP film overall. 

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
This addition was the first the developed a plot and story so complex that I literally couldn't peel my eyes off the screen for a minute. The complexity of the story and its twists was so amazing to me, especially with the time travel aspect added in, that I was just enjoying myself fully. The only thing keeping this from being a step higher would be that the performances, though really great, still showed a signal of immaturity. The kids were still kids here. 

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
This one comes in second place for me because it, like its direct predecessor, has an extremely complex story that kept me glued to the screen. However, the performances are more mature and the story takes its turning point with announcing Voldemort's powerful return as a living being. This is definitely where it all changes, and its where the border of children's movie and actual film is shattered. I really loved this one. 

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2:
I'm part of the bandwagon on having this one as my favorite, but for a good reason. This story is just as complex as numbers 2 and 3 on this list, but the emotional impact and raging action are amped up even more than these two and is just a brilliant film overall with every twist, hidden backstory, or excellently-directed scene by the great Yates involved. 

 So there you go. These are the Harry Potter films ranked in accordance to my favor of them. I love the Harry Potter franchise with all my heart, and I'm sure you're tired of hearing about them from me. So without further ado, farewell to the Harry Potter reviews. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011) review


This conclusion to the Harry Potter franchise is powerful in performance, emotion, action, and story all together. Director Yates definitely knew where he was going in making this film that concludes a franchise of a childhood.

PLOT:After Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) finds the Elder Wand, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends continue to the best of their abilities to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes before Voldemort and his army build up and destroy Hogwarts, where the three head next. A war of epic proportions is about to start between Voldemort and Harry and their many followers, but Harry might find that the only way to win it is through a tragic sacrifice. It's an excellent plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in this film are excellent as well. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson shine brightly in acting their last performances as Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The emotion they put into the roles this time feels real, more real than its predecessor's have been able to accomplish, except maybe in its latter additions. Every performance in this film was excellent; there was no bad acting that I could spot. The best performers in this film would be Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, Alan Rickman as Snape, Tom Felton as Draco, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, Maggie Smith as Prof. McGonagall, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Matthew Lewis as Neville, and James and Oliver Phelps as Fred and George Weasley. These few really tied the whole film together.

SCORE:The score in this film is beautifully done with intense and gentle themes by the great Alexandre Desplat. Desplat really knows where to go in conducting scores for these kind of films.

EFFECTS:The effects in this one were very well done and detailed. There was so much creature and magical action from the army of stone soldiers, to the many spells cast by each wizard, and even to the snake attacks. The effects in this one were really action-focused and worked very well.

OTHER CONTENT:This Harry Potter film had to have the best balance between action, emotion, and story that actually works. The emotional backstories of certain characters revealed in here really hit home among audiences. I believe this addition was truly made as a conclusion more than an individual film, but it ended right with a bang and a nod to nostalgia of the generation that grew up with this franchise. Everything in this film just falls brilliantly together to form an ending worthwhile.

OVERALL,an epic Harry Potter film with a brilliant plot, excellent performances, beautiful Desplat score, very well focused effects, a great balance between action, emotion, and story, great emotion in backstories, and a fine conclusion to a childhood franchise of mine.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (2010) review


This first addition to the Harry Potter conclusion is a very deep character study with impressive direction and brilliant performances by the leads. However, the film picks up a little slower than the rest in certain parts.

PLOT:Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) are not returning to Hogwarts this year with intent on finding the remaining Horcruxes, or parts of Voldemort's soul stored in an item, and destroying them. However, finding these objects aren't easy, especially when they possess life-changing dark power. Also, Hermione notices a strange symbol in every place they end up that might be connected to finding the Horcruxes and the mysterious Deathly Hallows. It's a great plot executed excellently.

ACTING:The performances in this film are brilliant, especially by the main three. Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson really outshine their classic roles of Harry, Ron, and Hermione with more emotional character interaction than ever before. We see some of the true personalities of the characters flow more outward in this film. The other performances in this film were just as brilliant as well. The other shining performances that really kept me entertained and complimented the film well were Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, Alan Rickman as Snape, Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood, Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew, Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody, and Toby Jones as Dobby. All performances were good as usual, but these were my favorites of this film aside from the main three.

SCORE:The score in this film was very intense and beautiful composed by the great Alexandre Desplat. I believe every theme is loads darker and more beautiful in this one. Desplat has great skill in this film.

EFFECTS:The effects in this one weren't as broad as the others have been, but they were still pretty cool. I enjoyed the snakes, wand battles, and Disapparations. The wand battles were really great I'd say.

OTHER CONTENT:This film was under the fine direction of David Yates and seems even more finely-tuned than its predecessor by Yates. This film, in reality, is a slow-boiling character study of the main three with a added mystery of the Horcruxes and Deathly Hallows. The chemistry of the characters in this one is really well shared and emotional altogether. However, I believe this one is a bit slower in the middle than its predecessors have been. The middle consists more of character study and mystery than of action or eventful twists. It almost seems like a shock when the end comes with so much eventful action. The slow parts aren't unecessary, but they're not to overlap the action. Overall however, this film is pretty great and a good prelude to the final chapter of the Harry Potter films.

OVERALL,a great Harry Potter film with an excellent plot, brilliant performances, beautiful score by Desplat, cool effects, fine direction, and an intriguing character study, but this film doesn't pick up as fast as its predecessors have and it seems a bit too reliant on its next part.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) review


This Harry Potter film was made under fine direction with outstanding performances, excellent execution, and an even balance, but does it have as much spice as its predecessors' had?

PLOT:Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts this year with knowledge that Voldemort and his followers are going to strike the school soon, as they've already started making disturbances in the Muggle world. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) acknowledges this fact and hires one of the best colleagues, Horace Slugworth (Jim Broadbent), at school to take over the Potions program and watch out for these things, pushing Snape (Alan Rickman) up finally to Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Throughout all of Voldemort's evil and the new suspicion that Draco (Tom Felton) is soon to be a Death Eater, the teens still seem to find a time to work on love and relationships, especially Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). Also, secrets seem to uncover that could lead to the final defeat of Voldemort. It's a great plot executed excellently.

ACTING:The performances in this film are outstanding. Every performance in this film is top-notch. There are so many good ones that I'm afraid I can't mention them all. Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson all played their stellar recurring roles as Harry, Ron, and Hermione, acting with even more human emotion than I've seen in a while. The best, shining performances in this film would be Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, Alan Rickman as Snape, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, and Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. These few really showed a shining performance of emotion that convinced me and stood out from the rest. All the performances in this film are really excellent.

SCORE:The score in this one is very well done with touching themes and beautiful sound by Nicholas Hooper yet again.

EFFECTS:The effects in this Harry Potter film are actually even better, mainly near the end. In the ending scene, the effects are way more astounding than I expected to have seen. Overall, the effects in this one were really cool.

OTHER CONTENT:This Harry Potter film was done just really well. The direction by David Yates stood unique and visionary, the performances stood as outstanding, and even the jokes stood as fairly mature. The only "flaw" I saw in this one was that the plot wasn't as cleverly thought out as the others have been until near the very end. Most of the film is focused on relationships, Slughorn's secret, and Draco's secret until the very end with less twists as compared to a couple of previous additions to the canon. Don't get me wrong; the plot and its ending were amazing and executed brilliantly by the actors. I just thought this one to be a bit more "closed" than some of its predecessors' have been. Overall though, this is a very well made film.

OVERALL,an awesome Harry Potter film with an excellent plot, outstanding performances, touching score, cool effects, visionary direction, and fairly mature laughs, but the plot wasn't as broad as some of its predecessors' have been.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) review


This addition into the Harry Potter canon is acted brilliantly throughout with a thorough sense of maturity and a great plot, but this film seems to leave a colder feeling than the rest have overall.

PLOT:Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) just barely returns to Hogwarts this year after nearly being expelled by the Ministry of Magic for using a Patronus charm to save his cousin. After Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) helps Harry fight through the system, Harry starts to learn of the theories that Dumbledore and he are in a conspiracy against the Ministry and have made the return of Voldemort up. Thinking this is preposterous, Harry tries to enjoy himself in Hogwarts again this year with Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). However, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), has intent to take over the school and make it her way in every way she can, setting it up to the Ministry's code. Through all of this commotion, Harry learns of a secret order that was made during the last moment Voldemort was seeking power, the Order of the Phoenix. With the knowledge of this old order, Harry takes it into his hands to form a new army to take on Voldemort and rebel against the new school standards. It's a great plot executed very well.

ACTING:The performances in this film are excellent. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson play brilliant parts as the classic Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Imelda Staunton also plays a very convincing part as the villain of Hogwarts, Professor Umbridge. There really wasn't a bad performance in this film, but the best performances alongside these would have to be Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney, and Robert Hardy as Cornelius Fudge. I believe these few did the best job aside the main few performance-wise. I was convinced by them. The honorable mentions of this one would be Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley, Tom Felton as Draco, Alan Rickman as Snape, Matthew Lewis as Neville, Katie Leung as Cho, and Natalia Tena as Tonks.

SCORE:The score in this one was very intense overall and fit the mood very well, conducted by Nicholas Hooper. There were a few themes that really stood out in this one.

EFFECTS:The effects in this one were very detailed overall, from the centaurs to the spell effects and from the Grawp to Voldemort himself. The effects by this time have gradually built up to reach a high point, and it's more than likely going to stay there.

OTHER CONTENT:Though this Harry Potter film has a great story and excellent performances to suit, the overall feeling of the film isn't as bright near the end. In fact, there isn't really a true powerful emotion. I'd say this is the bleakest of the Potter films, for it leaves most audiences with a cold feeling, like more could have been added, or that not enough was done. This is an excellent and mature Potter film overall, but I believe it could have left a feeling better than bitter by the end.

OVERALL,a great Harry Potter film with a great plot, excellent performances, intense score, very detailed graphics, and maturity throughout, but this addition left me with a colder, bleak, and less-satisfied feeling than the others have.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) review


This Harry Potter film may be halfway through the series, but it's only the beginning of the inner story. This film is where everything from the plot to the performances and on start maturing drastically, and frankly, I could not look away.

PLOT:It's Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) fourth year at Hogwarts and things are already going bad. After a nasty attack by the Death Eaters, which are Voldemort's followers, at the Quidditch World Cup, talk about the dark lord coming back is among the teachers. However, things have to stay positive, for Hogwarts is hosting two other wizarding schools for the Triwizard Tournament, which is a dangerous three tasks which only one student from each school 17 or over can be in. The three from each school are picked, but then the goblet spits out a fourth name, which turns out to be Harry's. By this strange turn of events, Harry is the fourth and youngest participant in this years Triwizard Tournament. However, Harry didn't even want to be entered in the tournament. Could this strange coincidence be linked with the Death Eaters, Harry's frightful dreams, and this year's new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the dark wizard-hunter, Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson)? I'll leave you there. It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in here are excellent and greatly matured overall. This is where I can truly call the youth actors' performances adult, or at least comprehensible enough to be out of the "child-actor" stereotype. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and even Tom Felton have greatly matured in their roles as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Draco Malfoy. The other performances I found really convincing and emotional would have to be Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Brendan Gleeson as Moody, Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr., and Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. These performances, especially with the introduction of Fiennes and Tennant, were very excellent and convincing as well as entertaining. There wasn't a terrible performance in the bunch this time. The other performances I would consider honorable mentions would be Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy.

SCORE:The score in this one was more intense and beautiful than it had been in the past Harry Potter films, composed this time by the great Patrick Doyle. I really liked the themes put into this one; they fit the mood and could stand alone nearly as well.

EFFECTS:The effects in this film are even better than in the last. They add some even cooler effects, from the merpeople to Voldemort himself reforming, and even the dark mark. The effects seem a bit more detailed than they have in the past few films.

OTHER CONTENT:This Harry Potter film was one that I could not look away from. The story was so compelling that I was kept glued to the screen the whole time. The performances, twists, and all kept me watching thoroughly to the very end. This is where we start to learn about Voldemort's true history and power, so in a sense, this is only the beginning. I believe this addition to the series is the beginning of the mature Harry Potter, but still with some teenage perks (like great interest in the opposite sex and a laid-back attitude).

OVERALL,an epic Harry Potter film with a great plot, excellent and mature performances, intense and beautiful score, more detailed effects, a compelling and new story, and an introduction to the young adult Harry Potter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Donnie Darko (2001) review


This intelligent cult classic is beautifully-shot with a creative plot and a great performance by the lead actor. The development of the story really wowed me.

PLOT:Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled teenager in a dysfunctional family. Before a jet engine falls on his room from out of nowhere, Donnie starts to be plagued by the presence of a being called Frank (James Duval), an apocalyptic-style bunny rabbit. As Donnie deals with Frank, he starts to notice what's going wrong in town and a mysterious link between Frank and what may be time travel. It's a great, unique plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in this film were very excellent. Jake Gyllenhaal played a brilliant role as troubled teen, Donnie Darko. His performance is beyond memorable in this film, for I could see his true character unfolding in this film. James Duval also played a really great part as Frank, Donnie's vision. I believe his performance is just as memorable as Gyllenhaal's. There really wasn't a bad performance in this film. The other really brilliant performances in this film would be Jena Malone as Gretchen Ross, Patrick Swayze as Jim Cunningham, and Katharine Ross as Dr. Thurman. They seemed to have the most emotion in terms with dealing with Donnie. The other performances I'd like to mention would be Maggie Gyllenhaal as Elizabeth Darko, Drew Barrymore as Karen Pomeroy, Seth Rogen as Ricky Danforth, Mary McDonnell as Rose Darko, Noah Wyle as Professor Monnitoff, Holmes Osborne as Eddie Darko, Beth Grant as Kitty Farmer, and Patience Cleveland as Roberta Sparrow.

SCORE:The score in this film is excellent and beautiful under the conduction of Michael Andrews. The themes were unique, melancholy, and beautiful, with a very nice cover of Mad World, sung by Gary Jules.

EFFECTS:The effects in this film were very cool and strange all in the same. The effects of the "pathways" coming out of people and the wormholes were really cool.

OTHER CONTENT:This film is very unique and beautifully shot overall. The execution of it all is very well done under solid direction by Richard Kelly. The story told is also so complex and intelligent that it just blows your mind when everything comes together. This is one of those strange films that you either really love or really hate. I found myself loving it by midways through. The only thing I found wrong with this film is that it may actually be too smart for certain audiences, or that it's not everyone's cup of tea. I loved it, but I don't think it would be widely accepted by the general public.

OVERALL,an awesome cult classic with a unique plot, excellent performances especially by Gyllenhaal, beautiful score, cool and strange effect, beautifully shot scenes, solid direction, and a complex story, but I actually think the film's too smart and out of reach of most audiences' intellect.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) review


This third addition to the Harry Potter canon is a great improvement over the first two with an even darker atmosphere, matured acting, a complex story, and improved direction overall.

PLOT:Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to Hogwarts for his third year after a big fiasco with his aunt and other family, but with great care. This year at Hogwarts, a watch is out for the escaped murderer, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who is rumored to be after Harry himself for some strange reason. Posted around every major entrance to Hogwarts is one of many Dementors, which are dark, ghostly creatures that feed off of people's lives and happiness. Harry, after a conflict with one on the train that caused him to faint, has grown a fear for the Dementors. This year is like treading on broken glass for Harry and his friends, for there's a killer on the loose, there are dangerous guards on every corner, and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin (David Thewlis), has a bit of a mystery behind him. Will Harry and the rest solve the mysteries behind Sirius Black and the rest? I'll leave you there. It's a brilliant plot executed excellently.

ACTING:The performances in this Harry Potter film are even better than that of its predecessor. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have really matured by this point in their roles as Harry, Ron, and Hermione. By now, you can tell they're teens with more of a clue of what they're doing. Their acting skill has built up a lot by now. You could say that the same follows for most of the other youth performances as well. Of the adult performances, the introduction of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black and David Thewlis as Professor Lupin were excellent. Gary Oldman played a great part as the convicted prisoner, and David Thewlis did brilliant as well as the strange professor. The other great adult performances would have to be from Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley, Emma Thomspon as Professor Trelawaney, and Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew. All of these performance, returning and new, convinced me and just showed evidence of very skilled acting. The other couple of performances I would like to mention in specifics would be Lenny Henry as the shrunken head and Dawn French as the fat lady in the painting.

SCORE:The score in this addition was a little more intense than the past two have been, with a choral song added into the mix. John Williams, returning to the Harry Potter score chair, does a really good job at conducting the score to this one.

EFFECTS:The effects in this one were really good as well. The effects aren't as fresh as they were before, but it was still pretty cool to see the Dementors and the Hippogriff in action. The Dementors and their effects had to be the coolest of all the effects in this film.

OTHER CONTENT:This film is probably one of the best of the Harry Potter films out there. Unlike the first two, this addition has a more complex story to tell with many more secrets to find out and more aspects to play with, such as time travel. Along with the matured performances and more complex story/storytelling, this film adds a darker atmosphere to the franchise and shows evidence of a change in direction. The tone was pretty dark in this film's predecessor, but the addition of certain death, intense family struggle, and murder scandal make this one a more mature film overall. Aside from character development, this film could almost stand on its own without any assistance from the other films in the franchise. This one I really enjoyed in particular for its story, tone, and change of direction, for it births a more mature film all around.

OVERALL,an epic Harry Potter film with a brilliant plot, matured and convincing performances, more in-depth and intense score, cool effects, a more complex story, a darker tone, and an evident change in direction.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) review


This second installment to the Harry Potter film series is a big improvement over its predecessor. The story is darker, the acting is a bit more mature and experienced, the effects are cooler and plentiful, and it follows the book almost extreme in accuracy, aside from a couple of subplots.

PLOT:Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends are back this year, but things aren't going right at Hogwarts or in Harry's life. From a strange visit from pesky house elf, Dobby (Toby Jones), to not being able to get on the train at Platform 9 3/4, Harry is just receiving bad luck all over. The worst part of the trouble at Hogwarts would have to be the students and beings being petrified around the school, with hints toward a place still unfound in Hogwarts, the Chamber of Secrets, which is said to be ruled by the heir of Salazar Slytherin. It's up to Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) to solve the the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets, dealing with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his mean-spirited father, Lucius (Jason Isaacs), as well as the self-absorbed Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockheart (Kenneth Branagh). It's a great plot executed quite brilliantly.

ACTING:The performances in this film were very much improved all-around for the younger actors/actresses, as well as some adults. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson seemed to have gotten the gist of acting now as they grow up, as you can see a bit more maturity in Harry, Ron, and Hermione's roles. Among the more experienced actors, I believe the best were done by Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockheart, Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Snape, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and Julie Walters as Molly Weasley. All of these performances were either just as good as the first one or very well acted for the characters being played. I was quite impressed with a few performances. The performances in this film overall were really great. The other performances I'd like to mention as good would be Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Christian Coulson as Tom Riddle, Toby Jones as Dobby, Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley, Mark Williams as Arthur Weasley, and Julian Glover as Aragog.

SCORE:The score in this second film is just about as good as the first, done still John Williams along with William Ross. The score definitely got the job done, though it wasn't as fresh as the first was.

EFFECTS:The effects in this film were really good and even better than the first. From the spiders in the forest to the basilisk near the end, these effects were top notch and very detailed throughout. I enjoyed the near realism in some of them.

OTHER CONTENT:This would actually have to be one of my favorite Harry Potter films for its great show of improvement and darker tone to the story, as well as great character development among more characters. This has to be one of the most improved of the Harry Potter films, for the youth actors went from inexperienced to fully aware of their surroundings. I also enjoy the darker tone of the film as compared to the first one. This addition's story was a dark trip through the unknown fear inside. I appreciated the character development in this film as well. We learn more about each of the main child actors, such as Ron, Hermione, and Draco. I love how quickly that picked up. This film was just a great improvement over its predecessor overall.

OVERALL,an awesome Harry Potter film with an great plot, much-improved plot, good score, very detailed effects, a very much darker tone, and great character development as well as a close follow to the book, however, some subplots are left out and there is room for improvement.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) review


This magical start to the family-beloved series of films is a charming, whimsical, and child-like fantasy held together by an entertaining story completely accurate to the book. However, I believe the film would have been a tad better if the acting hadn't been so childlike at parts.

PLOT: Young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) was left on the doorstep of his abusive relatives, the Dursleys, as a baby and is now about age eleven, still living in the closet under the stairs and hoping for more. Things change days from Harry's birthday when a letter comes in the mail for Harry, which never happens usually. Despite the constant flow of letters from the same address every day, Harry never gets to read one due to his relatives' incessant doing away with them. It even gets so bad that the Dursleys have to move overseas with Harry to escape the tirade of letters. However, a great man named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) burst down the door and informs Harry that he's a famous wizard from two famous wizard parents and has been invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry unknowingly goes where he's astounded by the world of magic and where he meets his best friends, awkward Ronald Weasley (Rupert Grint) and know-it-all Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). Things are going well with Harry in this new lifestyle until he realizes of a danger involving a secret stone and a dark lord. It's a great plot executed very well.

ACTING:The acting in here is pretty great for the most part. The performances, whether young or not, are iconic either way. Out of the adult performances, the best would have to be from Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, and Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell. These three seemed to be the most excellently played and most captivating of the adult performances. The more childlike performances were pretty okay for younger kids. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson weren't the most expert actors at the time obviously, but their performances, whether childish or not, are iconic in the world of film. I don't believe their performances were the best by all means, but they definitely went down in history. The other performances I'd like to mention would be Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Richard Griffiths as Dudley Dursley, Richard Brummer as He Who Must Not Be Named, John Hurt as Mr. Olivander, and John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick.

SCORE:The score in this film is very well composed by the great John Williams and sets the magical mood for the film very well. The theme in this film is almost as iconic as the performances are.

EFFECTS:The digital effects in this film are still very high-end for being made in the early 2000s. The digital effects of "Fluffy", the paintings, the baby dragon, and everything are very well done and realistic for being made in the early 2000s.

OTHER CONTENT:This is one of the film series that goes down in history as memorable and iconic. This start of the film series starts us off in a very playful mood with a childlike wonder and great accuracy to the book. This definitely isn't the best of the Harry Potter films, but we all have to start somewhere, and starting off this light is a very great accomplishment.

OVERALL,a great fantasy with a great plot, pretty great and iconic acting, iconic and magical score, fairly high-end special effects for the early 2000s, and a very playful mood to start on, but the childlike performances almost deter the overall performance of the film.