Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Review – 4 Stars

From the get go, HP7 Part 2 has it’s foot firmly on the plot accelerator. Daniel Radcliffe suggested that one of the reasons  The Deathly Hallows was split into two films was because the book itself has no subplots or side quests. Everything builds the singular story to it’s climax.

It’s great to see everything come together; minor characters, horcruxes, hallows, Ron and Hermione’s snog.

The highlight for me was Snape’s flashback where everything about his past is revealed. It was probably the most moving moment in the whole series. My heart was beating and I had a lump in my throat the entire time. I was honestly sickened and devastated when it was done.

Sadly however, everything feels a little rushed. This is the shortest of all the films, so it’s not as if they didn’t have the time to allow some breathing room amidst the action and narrative. Ron and Hermione are very much supporting players, Mrs. Weasley’s big moment is brief and just doesn’t have enough build up, and it would have been emotionally beneficial to see more of Fred and George.

The only other criticism I can bring, is perhaps a bit picky. I just feel that as spectacular as The Battle of Hogwarts is, director David Yates failed to truly capture the visceral sense of combat and dread that Jackson did so well with The Battle of Helm’s Deep. It was simply not gritty enough for mo, but perhaps in the context of the Potter franchise, it was what was required.

The truth is, this is Harry’s show, and it does need to be. It’s Radcliffe’s hour to shine, and shine he does, bringing to the fore, every emotion and every conflict he has been wrestling with over the previous seven films. Radcliffe has always enjoyed, and been more comfortable with the darker, more brooding elements of the role, so sit back and just watch him go.

Looking back over the Potter films, one thing is clear:-  These are eight movies with very intriguing and well told stories, and a host of colourful characters you really care for. The suspension of disbelief is phenomenal and you are truly caught up in another world for the entire film, never disengaging to comment on the effects or hunt for plot holes. You are too caught up in the adventure to look around and judge, something the Transformers of this world will never achieve.

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Review – 3 Stars

Dark of the Moon is better than Revenge of the Fallen, I’ll give it that. Unfortunately that is not saying much, and many of Bay’s usual problems crop up in this threequel. It is clear from the speed in which Bay whips through his dialogue and comedy moments that he is uncomfortable with actors and scripts. He doesn’t linger with the characters for long and gives us some cheap laughs as quickly as he can so he can to the part he really likes – CGI hunks of metal beating the crap out of each other whilst soldiers fire, buildings collapse and other things blow up… a lot.

It is in these moments that the imbalance is felt even more because the action scenes, the last one especially, are far too long and drawn out. I appreciated his inclusion of Linkin Park’s ‘Iridescent’ theme throughout the film and I like what he tried to do when he brought it in during the aftermath of the invasion. I don’t think he quite got to grips with the potential of combining such a great song with the haunting images of desolation, but he tried.

It was great to see Shia again, back in his signature role, but I think he would agree that it is now time for him to spread his wings, and use his talent in other roles. He has done enough quirky, everyman performances for now and he needs to branch out before the typecasting sets in. He can always return to this type of character down the line.

The other characters all seem to get rushed on screen time. John Malkovich is always good value, and it is clear that Megan Fox’s replacement, Rosie Huntington-Whitely is purely cast because of her looks. Her opening shot is simply the camera tracking behind her pantie clad butt for twenty seconds.

This film is however, as Shia LaBeouf promised, the craziest action film ever made. The effects are phenomenal. One scene that especially impressed me was when the characters are inside a collapsing skyscraper and decide to jump out the window and slide down the exterior of the building. Well down to ILM for continuing to push the envelope but now, please, move on… we’ve seen enough robots fighting each other. In fact the only thing in my head when I left the film was the mechanical sounds of motors, levers, switches, and metal scraping and smashing against itself. Clang bang whrrr zzzzz zip brsshhh! You’ll know what I mean.

Lastly, I just felt the coda at the end was extremely short, especially when ending off a trilogy. I’m not asking for Return of the King’s twelve endings, but after a gigantic one hour action scene at the end of eight hours of Transforming, the three minute tag on doesn’t carry any weight.

The Joscars – Official DVD

Support the Joscars by purchasing the official DVD containing all 4 short films and a 10 min ‘Behind the Scenes Featurette’, in a slick, smart, slim line case.

DVD’s are R50 and the profits will go towards the budget of a future project.

Simply comment on this article and leave your name and contact details. You will be placed on the order list and someone will get back to you.

Thanks once again to all those who supported the event. SPREAD THE WORD!

Hardware: Appreciating ‘The Terminator’

For just under two weeks, The Labia has been running the ‘Celludroid’ Film Festival, dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy films. The centerpiece of the festival were several feature films and documentaries by a largely unknown, cult filmmaker, Richard Stanley. Most famous for being the director who got fired from ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’, he has directed films you have never heard of such as ‘Dust Devil’, ‘The Secret Glory’, and one I had the extreme displeasure of seeing ‘Hardware’.

It is not often that you hate a film so much that it actually gets you thinking about the point of making films, and makes you ponder life, filmmakers, and the medium itself. Generally in any film I watch, no matter how bad, I can find something to appreciate, something that worked and that I can take note of as a lesson to myself. Besides a few minor pieces of set dressing that I thought were cool, this film had nothing to appreciate, especially when compared to the film that it tries so hard to be… James Cameron’s ‘The Terminator’.

Both films share similar concepts (Cameron’s came 6 years earlier), similar lead characters (sort of… Hardware doesn’t really have characters), and very similar narrative points. My quick argument and comparison is not to point out similarities and differences, but to highlight why ‘The Terminator’ is the legend that it is, and why some people have it (Cameron) and others, quite frankly don’t (Stanley). It also bothers me that there are many people out there who have never watched ‘The Terminator‘ and mistake it for a film like Hardware.

The Narrative:- Both have similar concepts at the surface level. A killing machine is on that rampage, targeting a seemingly innocent woman. The Terminator however creates an intricate, yet clear back story involving the future destruction of mankind after machines have taken over our planet, and end up using us as slaves. The unborn son of young Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) will become their only hope, so the machines of the future send The Terminator (Arnie) back in time to kill her before she can give birth to him. The humans however, also send their own soldier back in time to protect Sarah.

The T800 endoskeleton from 'The Terminator'

Hardware has something to do with a machine created for population control that is attacking people in a post apocalyptic world. That’s about as clear and as intricate as it gets.

The World:- The Terminator (even though spectacularly dated and trapped in the 80’s) creates a believable world, both in terms of visuals and in terms of a believable history (and/or future). The story of mankind’s technology turning on them is carefully detailed as is the future war etc…

Hardware on the other hand does not really delve into what has happened. I’m not sure that the writer, director or actors know exactly what happened, or what is happening. I’m not sure if the government system is the enemy and who our main characters are fighting or what they’re fighting for.

The Characters:- Between Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unstoppable ‘Terminator’, Linda Hamilton’s innocent ‘Sarah Connor’, and Michael Beihn’s brave protector ‘Kyle Reese’, The Terminator has bunch of characters that are believable and that you either love or fear. All minor characters, from the cops, to the psychologist, to the friends are also all well written and performed.

Linda Hamilton in 'The Terminator'

To say the characters in Hardware are one dimensional would be both a compliment and a stretch. The characters, who ever they are and whatever they are have no distinct personalities. You don’t care… you just want the machine to kill them… or kill you and put you out of your misery.

The Script:- The Terminator, James Cameron’s writing and directing debut is just a brilliantly crafted script. Everything from the dialogue to the structure are fine tuned. His biggest stroke of genius being the fact that he combined the action and exposition; so instead of having  a big action scene, then a boring dialogue scene explaining everything, he combined it together having Kyle Reese explain the intricacies of the plot on the run while driving away from danger and dodging bullets. And it also contains one of the most classic lines in history… ‘I’ll be back!’. Perfect!

Hardware quite simply has no characterization or memorable lines in any of its dialogue. The script is messy, boring, and unclear. There is simply no engagement into the world, the story or the characters. I can’t believe that a bunch of people looked at the screenplay and thought… ‘this is a good idea.’

The Score:- I am a huge believer in having  a memorable score. Think about Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, Jurassic Park… These themes help keep the film in your mind long after you’ve left the cinema and just give the films an extra level of immersion that they would otherwise lack. Brad Fiedel’s exquisite synthesizer score for the first Terminator movie is one of the most memorable themes around and is suitably heroic, epic and pulse pounding.

I can’t remember if Hardware had a score.

Sex and Violence:- Finally, non-cinema going people, and most people born after the release of T2 will think that The Terminator is simply an exploitation film filled with gratuitous sex and violence. Although my personal convictions will stray to not including sex in a film at any cost, at least in this film the action and the one sex scene is at least highly motivated and (honestly) is actually integrated into the story.

And yes, you’ve guessed it… Hardware really is just cheap, exploitation cinema at its finest, with copious amounts of gratuitous sex, language and violence.

The Terminator spawned three sequels, several Oscar wins, a TV series (The Sarah Connor Chronicles), videogames, comics etc… it is well worth your time. All Hardware spawned is this blog post.

News I’m liking

Thank you to Empire Online and my ears, for letting me hear a whole bunch of great news!

1. The Bang Bang Club is finally released this week, at NuMetro only it seems!

2. The Dark Knight Rises teaser is out!

3. Emma Watson may star in ‘Beauty and the Beast’… Heck, I’ll watch that!

http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=31499

4. James Bond 23 is apparently shooting in SA… I want in!

5. Joe Johnston, director of upcoming ‘Captain America’ wants to make a Boba Fett movie!

http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=31505

6. Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Diary #2 is out!