Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Release Date: November 19th, 2010

Click here for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Trailer.

Following the death of his friend and Headmaster of Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) at the hands of Professor, and Death Eater, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) decides to drop out of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in his final year in order to complete the mission entrusted to him by Dumbledore: finding the remaining horcruxes that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) created to hold pieces of soul, essentially making him immortal.

Accompanied by his two closest friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Harry sets off across the many places where Voldemort could have hidden his horcruxes. But things quickly spiral out of control when, in a daring move, Voldemort kills Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) and takes over the Ministry of Magic as well as Hogwarts, appointing Death Eaters Pius Thicknesse (Guy Henry) and Severus Snape as Minister of Magic and Headmaster of Hogwarts, respectively.

With the ministry under Voldemort's control, Harry, Ron and Hermione must go into hiding as Harry has been deemed Undesirable No. 1 by the ministry, who has placed a 10,000 Galleon bounty on the boy wizard. With the only person able to stand up to Voldemort on the run and Voldemort's forces growing stronger, it is only a matter of time before the dark lord reveals himself to the wizarding world, taking control of everything. If he is to be defeated, Harry, Ron and Hermione must find the remaining horcruxes and destroy them, before all they know is lost.

The highly anticipated film adaptation to the final chapter in J.K. Rowling's epic masterpiece has finally arrived.....well, the first part at least. That's right, the final book in the Harry Potter series has been deemed so epic that it was forced to be split into two separate movies, the first which was just released and the second set to be released in July of 2011.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the first half of the two part series set to round out the Harry Potter franchise. The film sees our main trio of characters on the run from Voldemort's forces while trying to destroy the dark lord's remaining horcruxes, objects into which Voldemort has placed pieces of his soul.

Anybody who has read all the books, or even just seen all of the films, has seen how as each book or movie comes out, the feel and the theme of them have gotten progressively darker, especially in the previous film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (who could forget the dramatic death of Albus Dumbledore?). Well, this one proves to be the darkest film yet and is definitely not one for the younger Harry fans out there.

This film is definitely dark with a lot of sad and even depressing themes to it. For the first time in the series the main setting is not the safety and security of Hogwarts. Instead, our trusty trio takes to the hills for their journey, one which holds the fate of both the wizard and muggle worlds in the balance. This change of scenery is a much needed break from the traditional halls of Hogwarts Castle. For me it added a sense of realism. It also helped to show just how far our characters have grown since we first laid eyes upon them in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

When I say that this film is darker than the others, I mean it. There is a lot of drama in this film. With all that is going on around them and the weight and severity of the mission they have set out upon you can really get a sense of how serious things are for our three wizards.

Taking one book and making it into two movies is no easy task but director David Yates does a great job of finding the perfect cutoff point (Chapter 24 for those reading the book) and leaving fans with a huge cliffhanger and probably more anticipation for the next film than is needed.

There isn't a whole lot of action in this film as many may expect from the previews. There are about four or five mini-fight scenes in the film that help keep pace and are very exciting to watch. However, I find that this film wanted to focus more on developing the characters and the drama as well as the story than action. And that is exactly what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 does.

With this film you really get a sense of dread and despair that the characters are feeling. You can really feel the weight and importance of their decisions and how they will affect everybody around them. I love how through this movie you can really come to terms with who these characters have become and how grown up they have become through the course of these films. This film is so much darker than the other six that it may be a bit too intense for some of the younger fans of the series. There is definitely a more adult feel to this film, mainly because our characters are, in fact, adults.

Some fans of the series may find this film to be a tad on the boring side, reminiscent of the last film in the series, which many fans were less than impressed with. However, fans of the book will understand the direction this film takes and will remember that the whole of the action will take place in the second installment of the film.

As far as following the book goes, the film stays pretty close to the subject matter. There were things here and there that were left out that I, as a huge fan of the book, would have loved to see in the film, but I understand that they were not crucial points. On the other hand, there were instances in the movie that only people who have read the book may comprehend. For instance, the scene in the film where the gang infiltrates the ministry in order to capture one of the horcruxes felt a bit rushed and thrown in there. And many people may be a little confused about what is going on if they haven't read the books. There were a few parts like that in the movie but for the most part, everything seemed to flow quite nicely.

As far as the acting goes, this film was the best yet. It has really been cool to see how these main actors have grown up throughout the films and to see how far they have come in their acting careers. This movie strays away, for the most part, from the lightheartedness that was key in the other films, and the actors take it in stride. Daniel, Rupert and Emma really show their range in this film which takes the characters down whole new roads.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It was not my favorite out of the series but it definitely added a lot to the plot and added a great deal of depth to the characters we have come to know and love. While some fans may find it a bit boring, true fans of the book will love it. The movie leaves you with an epic cliffhanger, so to speak, and makes anticipation for the next film that much more intense.

If you haven't seen this film yet and you are a true Harry Potter fan ,then you must see it. Growing up with these characters makes this feel less like a movie and more like a part of life. While I wished they had kept a few things from the book, I can honestly say that Yates stayed true to J.K. Rowling's subject matter. Definitely one of the best in the series.

I give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 9 Horcruxes out of 10.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

Release Date: October 22nd, 2010

Click Here for the Paranormal Activity 2 Trailer.

Kristi (Sprauge Grayden) and Dan Rey (Brian Boland) come home from vacation to find their home burglarized. Every single room in the house is trashed but the only thing that appears to be stolen is a necklace that Kristi's sister Katie (Katie Featherston) had given her. To prevent any further disturbances, Dan installs security cameras all over the house in order to keep an eye on every room. When mysterious "disturbances" start to plague the family, Dan's daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) begins investigating with a hand held camera.

When Kristi and Katie talk about how they were tormented as children by "something" things begin to get out of hand. Kristi begins to feel personally attacked by whatever is in the house and her and Dan's new baby boy, Hunter, begins to be at risk as well. When the baby is mysteriously taken out of its crib by an unseen force and Kristi is viciously dragged out of the baby's room and into the basement Dan finally starts to believe the stories Ali has been telling him.

Dan tries to figure out a way to get rid of the "spirit" tormenting his family any way he can before everything he holds dear, Kristi, Hunter and even Ali, are hurt or worse, killed, by whatever it is that is terrorizing this family.

I love horror movies but I must admit that there isn't really a whole lot that can scare me. Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, none of these "monsters" can really make me bat an eyelash. What does, however, get my spine tingling is anything that has to deal with demons, demon possession or the devil. The thought of somebody being "occupied" by some otherwordly force that has powers beyond imagination is quite literally terrifying. And seeing somebody physically effected by something nobody can see is just as bad.

That is why Paranormal Activity 2 was an instant hit in my book. The film follows the story of a family terrorized by what appears to be a demon bent on nothing but destroying this family. Like its predecessor, Paranormal Activity 2 is shot a little differently. Reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project style of shooting, the first film was shot using a hand held camera whereas the second used a mix of hand held camera and installed security cameras.

I feel that this style of cinematography adds an extra "creepy" feel to the entire film. It makes it feel more real. It is this style of shooting that is one of the key factors that makes this movie scary.

This film isn't really a sequel, and it isn't entirely a prequel either. The best way I can describe it is that 3/4 of the film is a prequel and 1/4 is a sequel/continuation. You definitely need to watch Paranormal Activity in order to fully understand what is happening in Paranormal Activity 2. Also, Paranormal Activity 2 explains a whole lot in the plot of the first film. By the time this one ends, everything about the first film will make sense.

The scares in this film were definitely freaky though the pacing was a little off. I felt like I spent a lot of the movie waiting for something big to happen. However, when those moments finally came they were well worth the wait. The big scares in this film were definitely terrifying. There were even a few scenes involving the baby that made me want to scream out at the screen in defense.

With any sequel/prequel/parallel/whatever movie you generally find yourself comparing it to the other one. In most cases one is way better than the other. Not the case here though. Neither one of these films was incredibly better than the other. They were both very good.

Overall I liked this movie. I thought is was very scary but not to the point of making me pee my pants. I thought all the characters were really good and most people will be able to relate. All the actors did great jobs in their roles and it was really cool to see how the first film, along with its two main characters, was tied into this one.

If you loved the first Paranormal Activity then you will love this one but DO NOT go see this one if you haven't experienced the scares of the first because the ending will not make sense. Oh! I almost forgot about the ending! The ending was incredible. It was a huge twist that I did not see coming at all and I even thought they were going to end the film at a different point. But then the real ending came and I was blown away.

I give Paranormal Activity 2 9 Helpless Babies Dragged from their Cribs by an Unseen Demon out of 10.

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