Tag Archives: 2007

On blogging, Summer Movie Write-up 2007

16 Aug

     So, clearly I’m not very good at the whole keeping a regular blog thing. I was good for about a week or so there… and now not so much.
      If I stopped demanding so much quality of myself I’d be able to update more. Actually, I’d be able to create a lot more if I stopped demanding that everything I make be of a certain caliber. The problem with my high standards for art/movies/writing is that if I never meet them it means I never actually create anything.

I never even finished the summer movie write-up. Of course since it’s still summer, and I never set a deadline, I’m not late.

4.0

     Live Free or Die Hard was, surprisingly, pretty awesome. Obviously it’s better than the second one, but that’s faint praise. I’m not going to think too hard about the actual premise ’cause I’m pretty sure it’s mostly implausible, but… moving on! Kevin Smith’s character is in a different movie, and in that different movie he’d be really funny, but in Die Hard 4.0 he just feels sort of out of place. Perhaps that’s the point, but it still took me out of the movie when I watched it. Those two quibbles aside however, the movie is really quite fun.
     Once the hacker/terrorist’s plan is put into effect the sudden excitement from realizing that the world may actually be forced to change is pretty awesome. It feels like a big deal. It’s not confined to a tower or a plane like the first two, it’s more broad, so it feels like there’s more for Bruce Willis to overcome. There’s something to be said too for the way in which they made this feel like an action movie from the 80’s (like the originals) and not a new fancy one from today. There’s no hyper-fast editing, no fancy colorizing, no slick computer generated camera moves, and thus the action is really easy to follow. I don’t tend to walk around wishing that I could see someone launch a car into a helicopter, or fly an F16 into a freeway in an attempt to disable a big rig truck, but they’re still cool things to have seen.

Zeus

      If the ancients had made movies about Zeus and Mt. Olympus instead of telling stories and putting on plays, they would have made Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
      From what I gather I am among the minority in my liking of the third Pirates movie – but I’m also in the minority for my relative disliking of the first two. I mean, the Curse of the Black Pearl is ok, entertaining enough I suppose, and it does have two things going for it in Captain Jack Sparrow and the special effects/underwater skeletons. It’s really hard to impress me with special effects, and the Pirates movies are by far the best of modern day cinematic spectacle. But special effects do not a movie make. The second one is… well, more of the same. More mediocrity, more awesome special effects, and more Captain Jack Sparrow, but instead of underwater skeletons (who were obviously the coolest part of the first movie) there are gross looking half sea-creature half-corpse dudes. Oh, and Davy Jones. He’s a pretty cool looking marvel of special effects but he doesn’t do much other than play the organ. But just look at him! And there was a Kraken. That was cool too.
Davy Jones
      But the third movie had weight to it. If you want to ascribe meaning to At World’s End it will hold up to it where the first two don’t, but at the same time it doesn’t betray the fact that it’s the cinematic equivalent of a Disney theme park ride.
      In addition to the cool stuff from the first two, Pirates 3 had awesome extra weirdness (crabs, dead people in boats, islands made out of shipwrecks, ships falling off the edge of the world, up is down, more crabs, etc.) and, perhaps more significantly, it treated its storylines like an ancient myth. Of the trilogy it’s by far the most entertaining to watch.
      Will, Elizabeth, Jack, Barbosa, Davy Jones, Calypso et al turn out to be modern day Zeus, Aphrodite, Hades, Apollo, et al. Some have more power than others, and just like their ancient counterparts their foibles conflict with their virtues, so they’re basically pawns for the derivation of meaning. This aura of epic mythology didn’t exude from either of the first two movies, but At World’s End is clearly different right from the start when a song with Orpheus-like power serenades the murder of the young boy who started singing it. The whole intro is brilliant, by far the best opening of the three (and if you don’t believe me you can watch it right here on YouTube).
      Now I actually long for a sequel that follows Jack and Barbosa on their neverending (and never-succeeding) quests for immortality and Black Pearl captain-hood. It’s The Epic of Gilgamesh combined with a new Epic Cycle for a new generation.

     There. Now I finished the Summer Movie Write-up. Unless I see The Simpsons Movie (which I hear is actually really funny and good) and/or Stardust.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

18 Jul

The short review is that this is debatably the best Harry Potter movie. The longer review is as follows:
After seeing the fourth Harry Potter movie I said that they finally figured out the right balance between what to leave in, what to take out, and what to change when going from a Harry Potter book into a Harry Potter movie. While I still think that’s true, the final result of Movie Four (Goblet of Fire) feels somehow segmented. It’s one part, which leads to another, and then another, and so on until the final part. It didn’t feel as cohesive as Order of the Phoenix, which flows smoothly from frame one to the final showdown without stuttering.
Book five is among my least favorite of the books, and this time around the book is deleted, changed, and deviated from more than the other four but I think it’s to the benefit of the movie. We’ll soon know if anything too important was left out. Also, this movie does what none of the others have: it proves that Harry Potter is real.
Let me explain.
Luna
When I was at Hampshire we had a conversation where several of us stated that Harry Potter is not, in fact, fiction. I mean, you can get on a train in London and actually go to Hogwarts! It’s a real place and it’s all really happening! This movie proves it. You see, I make movies, I’ve worked with and seen performers, actresses, you know, and Luna Lovegood is no actress. Sure she has a pseudonym of “Evanna Lynch” but it’s really just Luna Lovegood. Yes, the crew this time around hired the actual character to play herself, on the condition that they call her “Evanna” so that we wouldn’t notice.
So let’s see, what else was cool about this movie? I’m glad that they finally started to use clips from the previous movies, and they managed (mostly with a lot of montages using The Daily Prophet) to set up a feeling that there’s a lot going on that we’re just not seeing on the screen. Things like Ginny and Hermione hanging out a lot, Fred and George planning on starting a store, Ron playing quidditch, etc. haven’t been deleted from the movie per say, they’re just not being shown on screen. There’s a lot that (could be) happening in between all the scenes. This also lends the movie an air of authenticity because it implies that the world of Harry Potter is too big for a movie. There’s mysterious “disappearances” going on that are only mentioned. There’s politics and secret societies and meetings that the younger characters aren’t involved in. There’s exams and classes and relationships that we don’t have time to see. But we know they’re all happening. Because it’s all real.
The payoff for all of this is that Harry has a weight to him that he’s never had before.
This is due in no small part to the increasingly talented portrayal by Daniel Radcliffe, as well as the way the script revised the story to focus solely on Harry. However they did it though, it makes this movie the most involving so far.
Did I mention that the final half-hour involves massive wizard duels including a showdown between Dumbledore and “Tom” himself? Cause it does. It’s awesome. No dragons though.
Oh yeah! I almost forgot to say that after a second viewing I noticed things about the structure of the story that have thus far eluded me due to the longer and more complicated nature of the book. There’s a huge running theme in this story about older, more experienced people versus the younger, more eager ones. The two new main characters are the best example. One is an older female who is proper, pink, and evil. She inspires, you could say, Umbrage. The other is a younger female who is naive, innocent, and joyful. She is, you could say, Lovegood. Another example is the M logo which represents the Ministry of Magic, that benevolent government out to maintain peace in the wizarding world (or perhaps just cause a war due to denial of reality). In any case if you flip their logo, the M, you get the W. W as in “Weasley.” It’s seen most prominently right after the fireworks burn Umbrage and erupt cheers out of everyone else (including the audience). The older characters in this story are mostly wrong, mostly blinded by their experience or their desire and end up in trouble for it. You know what they say about good intentions…
The younger characters are usually eager, strong followers of their desires and end up stronger and wiser for it. Perhaps the most poignant example is Dumbledore, who in this one is seen to be more humble than we’ve ever seen him. Especially when he admits, at the end, that he made a mistake with the way he dealt with Harry all year. Harry, on the other hand, seems more confident than ever.
One can only imagine how strong he’ll become once his unrequited love for Ginny is unbridled…