Who the hell isn't in this movie? Let's start with the cast. When I said Sisqo, yes... I meant that Sisqo. He did this movie right before his one-hit-wonder "The Thong Song" made it big. This was also, apparently, Kirsten Dunst's first music outing, and her song appears in the soundtrack. And acting wise, she does well. And she's very pretty, so that helps. I mentioned earlier a similarity to Easy A (despite this one coming out years before), and there is more than one. Besides having a "well, this is a crazy cast" vibe, the certain "mentionables" are exactly the same. In Easy A, the ones most talked about in reviews were her parents and the teacher. It's the same here. Berke's parents are, similarly, very laid back and "hip" parents who don't do any form of punishment, even if necessary. In fact, they're often inappropriate with their responses (at one point, after picking Berke up from being arrested at a sex club, they offer to take him out for yogurt or let him go home so he can "polish the rocket"). But the true standout of this film is undeniably Martin Short as the drama teacher. He actually had me laughing out loud. You can tell almost all his lines were probably improv, with Martin coming on set and just going crazy. Hell, I'm not 100% positive he didn't just show up on set and start acting--not even supposed to be in the movie. There's even an entire blooper reel on the DVD that focuses on him, and you can see all the cast struggling not to laugh during takes (Mila Kunis fails the most). But then, of course, you have Ben Foster who--despite being the main character--is listed second under Kirsten Dunst (though she was a bigger name). He does just fine with his character. I wouldn't say it's my favorite performance, but I think that's more on the director not knowing what he was going for than anything.
Which leads me to my first complaint. The movie feels scatterbrained. It can't seem to focus on what it wants to be. You know how Easy A was stretched a hundred different ways but still found a way to make it work? Imagine if it struggled more with it, and you'll get an idea what I'm talking about. This is a pseudo-musical, though only one song is in true musical-fantasy form (and it's at the beginning, almost as if in parody to musicals). There are cartoonish moments with thought bubbles with Martin Short. There's gross out humor (though very rare). There's slapstick... and more. It couldn't find a clear grasp on what kind of comedy it wanted to be, trying to put in laughs for every kind of audience... except maybe fans of dark humor. This is a very light film. Take, for instance, that the writer's previous effort was She's All That, and the director's next film was Ella Enchanted. Though, believe it or not, this was actually edited down from an R-Rated version, which I might have liked more. Maybe that was the problem. You can tell this movie was edited down.
I might as well continue with the Easy A comparisons. Like that one where they're reading The Scarlet Letter and her story has similarities, this movie has them performing Midsummer Night's Dream while the story has similarities. Now, despite being an English teacher, I've not read all of Shakespeare's works, including this one. I would actually like to, eventually. However, I know the general story and characters, though maybe not all their personalities. This brings me to my point: Allison is a bitch. She treated Berke like crap in their break up, and all he wants to do is get back with her at all costs. Granted, the movie is called Get Over It.
I've made plenty of Easy A comparisons throughout this review, but the fact is... Easy A is much better. That's not to say this movie is bad. It is really entertaining. But the script needed to be tightened up a bit, as it tried to have too much going on, never giving enough time to all of them to bloom (they should have cut the basketball subplot completely, as it never gets enough screen time, and it never comes to fruition. There's no purpose to it). Though whether it's attributed to the script or to Martin Short, his character is fantastic, and he would be the primary reason to see this movie. But fault lies partially with the director, too, not being able to stay with a certain feel or tone--granted, this might have been fixed in the full, R-Rated version, so I have no idea. If you're a fan of Ben Foster, moderately quirky comedies, "modern Shakespeare" films, Martin Short, or (yes) Easy A, I'd recommend checking it out. It's no masterpiece, and it's pretty predictable, but it's a fun way to spend an hour and a half.
Happy Thanksgiving, all (unless you're not American... or you are American, but the Native kind... in that case, I sincerely apologize for what we did to you)! For those of you wishing to hide from relatives, settle down from a big dinner, or prepare your iPods for an early morning Black Friday sale, do I have a treat for you! Normally, I have been releasing episodes of The Demented Podcast every other Saturday. But this week, in celebration of this holiday of togetherness, I want to share with you the episode that brought together two bloggers... that have spoken quite frequently, but that's beside the point.
What an episode. We start off with an introduction of this week's guest, Jason Soto of Invasion of the B-Movies (Warning: There's adult language). Then it's time for The Challenge. This week we take on a scene from Clerks 2--the Pillow Pants scene where Jason speaks for Randal as Tommy Wiseau, and I take Elias as Jeff Goldblum.
From there, we get into our main discussion: Our Top 5 Favorite Time Travel Movies. No, we don't include any Back to the Future or Terminator films, as we feel those are a bit too obvious. However, there is a spoiler warning a ways in. If you've not seen the movie being discussed and would like to skip over the spoiler section, just skip ahead to about 25:35 after I give the spoiler warning.
When we finish the main discussion, it's time for a little Demented Tower. Can Jason even get past the first level? Listen and see! Also, I want to apologize. Every time I say "a dock of 5/10 points," I mean to say stamina. You never lose points in the game (unless it's the bonus round), only stamina. I don't know why I keep saying points.
And stay after the closing song for a bit of behind-the-scenes fun... especially if you wanna know Jason's original impression before it changed to Mr. Wiseau!
Current Leaderboard (The Demented Tower):
1) Rachel - 179 Points
2) Jess - 95 Points
You can listen to the episode on the player below or find me on iTunes.
That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.
Because of this, I had to make a switch. I needed something from later on my list that could match with the sci-fi theme. And if I could find an added bonus, something that I could use to segue into my next category, considering this is the final film of this month/category. And I was able to do just that. Originally, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) wasn't set to be viewed until May. But I'm kinda glad this happened for a few reasons. First, I've been kinda itching to see this movie for a while now, ever since I had a conversation with Kai Parker of The List about it and how we both needed to see it; second, I was not really looking forward to 2001 anyway; and third, it actually leads into next month even better, as both this and next week's Westworld have a theme of "people" not being quite what they seem. Now that I've thoroughly explained this switcheroo (which is slightly ironic considering the movie), let's get into it.
You know how sometimes you get paranoid thinking somebody is watching you, maybe from the other side of a crowd? Well, imagine if you were right, except that it's the entire crowd watching you--the entire city, even--and they want you to join them. The movie follows Matthew Bannell (Donald Sutherland), a health inspector, and his friend and co-worker Elizabeth (Brooke Adams). Elizabeth starts to notice that her boyfriend Geoffrey (Art Hindle) is acting weird, but Matthew doesn't think anything of it at first. That is, until he gets complaints from other people and other townspeople start acting weird. He turns to a psychologist named David Kibner (Leonard Nemoy) for help, though he doesn't think much of it, no matter how many people complain to him. And then there's a friend of Matthew, Jack (Jeff Goldblum), and Jack's wife Nancy (Veronica Cartwright), who discover a human-like shell in their mud bath shop. Together, they must try to figure out the mystery of what's going on before it's too late and the mystery quite literally takes them all over, too.
There have been many incarnations of this story. It started out as a book, then was made into a film in 1956, then this one, then 1993, and finally in 2007. There are also notably similar stories, such as Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Master (which actually came first by about 4 years), which was later made into a film in 1994. And this similarity was disputed in a film that takes the story with its own little twist, Robert Rodriguez's vastly underrated flick, The Faculty. And I'm probably missing loads more. This particular incarnation, however, is considered the best. So... is it?
The Faculty aside (because that's something else entirely), I do think so. It isn't perfect, but it is damn good. I know I'm only three movies in (so this doesn't mean much), but this one is my favorite thus far for my 60/60 List. Of course, because the story is so well known, because I knew all the rules and whatnot of the "pod people," and because I even already knew how this particular film ended, there was a slight loss in excitement value. Nothing was really surprising or anything since I knew everything that was coming. It's just like watching any good mystery film after knowing the ending and all the clues along the way--the thrill of wonder is gone, leaving you to just admire how the film was put together. So that's what I want to focus on here.
Visually, this movie is magnificently shot. There are some very bizarre angles and shots that make the film seem very dream-like at times. And that's pretty cool considering the "sleep" issues that arise in the story. I'm sure that it was intentional. But anyway, there was an overall great eye for setting atmosphere and a total trippy vibe. Anything in the mud bath place in particular was a trip.
The acting is pretty hit or miss--usually more hit, fortunately. A few characters fall under the "Equilibrium" problem: If you're having characters that aren't supposed to emote, don't have them emote. Also, Leonard Nemoy's character was mildly annoying in the first half or so of the movie. It's nothing against Nemoy, though; that's more of a character complaint than an actor complaint, I suppose. And Donald Sutherland was great.
The movie only starts to feel slightly long near the end. It could have been maybe 10 minutes shorter--though I honestly wouldn't know what to cut out. If anything, it would be scenes near the beginning of the film. It's tough, as most scenes that seem to be irrelevant at first actually do serve some purpose (the mud bath scene, for instance). And even if they don't, the sense of unease and creepiness is worth keeping in the majority of later scenes.
I don't have much else to say about the movie. It's a fantastically made film, and it's very much a slow burn as you figure things out along with the characters (assuming you don't know it all already)... and they take their time figuring things out. And the ending, despite already knowing it, I still find is effective. There's always that question of "What if?" right before. So yeah, very well shot, very creepy, sometimes disturbing (the "growing" segments, generally), and pretty good acting. A really effective film, and I really recommend it to Sci-Fi fans who haven't already seen it.
Hatter has apologized to me a few times since, saying he caught me off guard and that he kind of took over the episode, not allowing me to talk much. It's OK, Hatter. I had fun!
In this episode, we start off with Hatter asking me some questions to let the audience get to know me a bit. Then we start talking about favorite actors and which ones can get us to go see a movie (or... can actors really do that much these days?). Then we get into our discussion of Deathly Hallows Part 1 before wrapping up with our Top 5 lists of our favorite "magic" movies.
It was a good time (regardless of being caught off guard :P), so check it out! I can't figure out how to embed his player, so go check it out in his post here.
On the day after the release of Deathly Hallows Part 1, I would like to discuss the previous installments. I did something similar right before Half-Blood Prince came out, where I gave my Top 10 Worst Things About Harry Potter Films 1-5. Like before, this post will largely be comparitive to the books, and I'll just be talking about the ones already out on DVD (i.e. the first six). Also, a couple things from that list might overlap with this post, but I'll try to keep it mostly new.
-OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO FLITWICK?! Besides the obvious complete makeover, he's been turned from the Charms professor to the choir teacher. Right.
-Cho Chang. She's actually introduced in this book, but it's within the Quidditch subplot that was cut. We start seeing Harry's crush on her here.
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-He's become affectionately known as RBK... that is, Random Black Kid. He apparently belongs to Gryffindor house in the same year as Harry. If they wanted to give stilted lines to a black student in Harry's year, just give it to Dean Thomas. He's horribly underused in the films as it is.
-Freeze frame blur? Really?
YEAR 4: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
So, Nick, if the critically panned Chamber of Secrets or your personally panned Prisoner of Azkaban aren't what you think are the worst film of the series, what is? Well, dear reader... this one. It does a couple things right, and even one thing amazingly well (the Graveyard scene), but everything else is just so... rushed. It's the first "big" book of the series. They also were tempted to split it into 2 films. But Alfonso Cuaron talked them out of doing it, despite him not coming on to direct the installment. It probably would have been a good idea.
-Wormtail? Why are you calling Peter Pettigrew Wormtail? Oh, that's right. You didn't explain that in the last movie, and you're not bothering to do it in this one, either. So let's just toss it in and see if any non-book readers get confused.
NOTABLE EXCLUDED CHARACTERS
-Fleur Delacour... what? She might as well have been. OK, fine... ignore this one.
-Bertha Jorkins. There's an entire subplot about a Ministry official named Bertha Jorkins that goes missing, though they think she just got lost because she's really ditsy. Her characters' entire purpose was how Wormtail got Voldemort at least partially alive and into his little weirdo baby form.
-Ludo Bagman. There's a red herring subplot involving Ludo Bagman and the Weasley twins. You're meant to think it was Ludo who put Harry's name in the Goblet, but it just turns out Fred and George won a gamble against Ludo and he paid them in fake money, but he wouldn't meet with them to pay up.
-Dobby and Winky. Yup... believe it or not, Dobby comes back after the second book (and prior to the 7th). He reappears in Goblet of Fire working in the kitchens of Hogwarts as a free elf. Winky is a house elf that belongs to the Crouch family at the beginning, but they free her (much to her chagrin), and she's put up in the kitchens, as well. Her distress (and drunkenness) sets off Hermione to start up one of the more annoying subplots of the book series--S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. But most of Dobby's point in the book was handed off to Neville (who also took this position in the next film, as well).
-Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix is first introduced in the Pensieve scene. In the movie, we just get Karkaroff. In the book, we get a few different prisoners, including Bellatrix, who is the one to admit to torturing Neville's parents along with Barty Crouch Jr.
-Bill Weasley. He has a short scene as a judge during the first task, but it's an important scene due to Fleur and, well... what you'll see in the seventh film.
-Peeves. He has a good suspense scene in this one, but as he was never introduced, he couldn't be in it.
-The Dursleys. Yup, for the first time in the series, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley were cut from the films. This was a funny one, too, as the Weasley's come to pick up Harry so he can stay at their place for the rest of the summer. Well, they come via Floo Powder, but after the letter fiasco from the first book, the Dursleys sealed up their fireplace. After literally breaking into their living room, the Weasleys totally freak out the Dursleys... not to mention Fred and George slip Dudley some Ton-Tongue Toffee, which makes his tongue grow to an obscene size.
-There's so much that it buggered up that it's hard to remember everything. Let's start with Rita Skeeter's shortened role. There was a huge subplot with Rita and how she was getting a lot of information for her column. As it turns out, she was an unregistered animagus spying on them as a beetle. Hermione uses this as blackmail later, but we'll get to that.
-Why was so much time spent on the Yule Ball? That was one mere chapter in the book, and it takes up a huge chunk of the movie.
-They could have easily cut down the dragon challenge. There would be no way they wouldn't enchant the chain so that it can't break. There would be no way they would let a dangerous dragon chase Harry Potter of all people across the school where they can't keep an eye on him or protect him, especially since he's not even supposed to be involved. It makes no sense on any level.
-They really changed up the maze challenge. The book had sphinxes and giant spiders and all sorts of nasty things.
-Speaking of the maze, Krum had the imperious curse on him. The point of said curse is that nobody can tell you are cursed and they can make you do whatever they want. So why did they have to fog up his eyes? That takes away the point.
-The death of Crouch Sr. was so boring as compared to the book. In the book, his body goes missing and you find out later that he was killed and then transfigured into a bone so they couldn't find him as easily. But I guess they needed immediate reactions.
-In the book, Crouch Jr. gets the Dementor's Kiss and loses his soul. In the movie, he's just sent back to Azkaban. During the Azkaban breakout later on, that would probably put Crouch Jr. up there as Voldemort's right-hand man due to his success. Yet, he's never heard of again. I smell a plot hole!
-What the hell, Mike Newell? No Quidditch World Cup? Not even a few glimpses of it? Pfft... fine then.
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-Priori Incantatem. I could forgive a lot of this movie had they not screwed this up. Visually, it looks wonderful and the scene in the graveyard works great. However, Dumbledore doesn't explain WTF happened... at least in the movie. And this is hugely important for the final book. Voldemort and Harry's wands share the same core--a phoenix feather from the same phoenix (Fawkes). They're brother wands, which means they can't fight against each other. When they try, Priori Incantatem happens, where the "beams" crash and whatnot, and figments of previous spells show themselves in reverse order. They almost definitely need to have this explained in Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Update: They pretty much do... not referencing Priori Incantatem, but referencing how they can't use their wands against each other).
-Hermione blackmailing Rita. Because the animagus thing is never visited, neither is Hermione holding it over Rita's head. Because this happens, the most important news article in the whole series can't be written in the next film.
-No Bill Weasley. Because there's no Bill, Fleur can't exactly meet him...
-Where's the prize money? Since Harry didn't get any prize money for winning the tournament in the movie, he couldn't give it to the Weasley twins. Therefore, they have no money to start making Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products, nor any money to start up the store by the sixth film.
-What's with the random, no-point-to-it scene of Karkaroff going into the Great Hall just to check on the Goblet? It's obviously a red herring, but once you take that factor out, there's no real reason for him to be doing that to begin with.
-Could they have made it any more obvious that Crouch Jr. was disguised as Moody with the whole tongue thing? What the hell was that all about?
-Speaking of Moody, what's with the strap? Moody has no strap for his eye!
-Completely random, but it's always bugged me that at the end of the Malfoy, The Amazing Bouncing Ferret scene, Moody's walking stick goes from crooked to straight between frames.
-Nigel. Oh, Nigel, Nigel, Nigel... couldn't they have just re-casted Colin Creevey? Or introduced him as Dennis, Colin's little brother? Oh well... I guess Nigel has just become a brand new character for the films.
-This was the book where Harry really began to connect with Sirius. In the movie, Sirius has one (really poorly done) scene, and that's it. That kind of leaves it up to the next film to set up their relationship.
-ANGRY DUMBLEDORE. WHY?
YEAR 5: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Oh, the introduction of David Yates. Yates seems to split people. Some think he's ruined the Potter films. I think they're crazy. I personally think Yates has made the best Potter films of the bunch. In fact, he managed to turn the longest, clunkiest book of the series into the shortest film, and tell it pretty straightforwardly at that. But does it have issues? Sure... let's get into them.
-I actually think one of Yates' strengths is his brilliant eye for continuity. He's brought back things from every film, from the clocks and lock-down mechanisms in Prisoner of Azkaban to the moving staircases in the first two films and more. That being said, there are a couple things I want to bring up. First, it would be animalizing the centaurs. They're very bestial in this film, whereas Firenze wasn't as much so in the first film.
-Second, during the Dumbledore/Voldemort fight, the two wizards have a Prior Incantatem moment. This is impossible. The only way this could happen is if Dumbledore had picked up Harry's wand. For continuity purposes, this makes no sense.
NOTABLE EXCLUDED CHARACTERS
-Frank and Alice Longbottom. There is an amazing scene in the book that takes place at St. Mungo's Hospital where Harry goes to visit Mr. Weasley after his attack. While he's there, he meets Neville, who is there visiting his parents, who are completely mentally destroyed. Neville still gets to explain this to Harry in a scene in the film, but it's not done nearly as heart-wrenching as in the book (all those gum wrappers...).
-Gilderoy Lockhart. Yup, that's right. Lockhart does make another appearance. He's at St. Mungo's while Harry is visiting with the Weasleys. It's a very funny moment right before the heartbreak of Neville's parents.
-Marietta Edgecomb. In the book, Marietta is the snitch, not Cho. She's Cho's friend, but she doesn't agree with Harry or his methods, finally giving in to Umbridge. She ends up having a bad curse placed on her by Hermione due to her breaking the rules of Dumbledore's Army. In the film, Cho is made slightly more sympathetic by having us see it done through Veritaserum.
-Aberforth Dumbledore. Aberforth is technically in the film, but they weren't completely aware it was Aberforth at the time. He's given almost nothing to do but chase a goat out of the room. Of course, his role was recasted for the final film, as it is slightly more substantial.
-Zacharias Smith. I think he was also kind of in the film, but under a different name. He's a total twerp and member of Hufflepuff. He's pretty anti-Harry, but he's a part of Dumbledore's Army.
-Peeves. I would have liked to see Peeves if just for this movie. During the Weasley twin escape, they tell Peeves--who has never listened to anybody ever--to "Give her hell from us." And he solutes them and does so. It's an epic moment that had to be lost thanks to the first film.
-Rita Skeeter. I mentioned her subplot here in the previous film. Hermione blackmails her into writing an article about Harry's side of the story (i.e. Voldemort's return), and they publish it in Luna's father's newspaper, the Quibbler. Of course, Umbridge has it banned from school, which only makes it skyrocket in popularity.
-Dobby. Again, he's in the book helping out Harry from time to time.
-Firenze. After Trelawney is fired, Firenze is hired on to take her position as a permanent sub, basically. He also continues this role in the next book, which causes some conflict between the two characters, having two teachers teaching the same subject and splitting the classes.
-The book's Ministry invasion was over 200 pages long and included multiple rooms and some really crazy stuff. The movie's Ministry invasion was... not. They went straight to the Hall of Prophecy and then to the Veil Room. It was already the shortest movie. They could have spent a good amount of time on this climax.
-The office scene at the end of the film is drastically different from the book. It doesn't bother me too much, except for one thing: the prophecy. It's not explained almost at all. And to top it off, they weren't even given the full prophecy. They actually cut out the most important part of the prophecy, the part that would have let Voldemort know who to go after. Without that part of the prophecy, Voldemort has absolutely no reason to know it could be about Harry (and actually, in the books, it could also be about Neville... which was totally removed from the movie, though I can understand why, I suppose). And none of this is explained. All we get is the "one of you must die" and "I love you, Harry."
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-There is actually a Horcrux clue in the book, but it's in a throw-away line during a chapter about cleaning, which... of course... was completely cut from the film.
-The reveal of Grimmauld Place is kinda lame, but they couldn't do it totally right due to no Fidelius Charm introduction in the third film.
-Speaking of Grimmauld Place, Sirius' mother's portrait was really toned down to almost nothing in the film, huh? Only a book fan would have even caught anything about it in the film.
-Tonks is given almost nothing to do... poor Tonks.
-Kreacher seems like a throw-away character at this point, again given nothing to do.
-The whole subplot surrounding Percy and his family has been completely dropped, much like the character in general, really. I guess there will be no redemption moment in the final film.
YEAR 6: HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
-I actually can't think of anything wrong with the continuity in this film. It actually fixes previous continuity errors. For instance, Flitwick, who only seemed to be a Charms professor in the first two films and a choir teacher in the rest... is once again referenced as a Charms professor, while doing choir on the side.
NOTABLE EXCLUDED CHARACTERS
-Madam Rosmerta. She had a part in Draco's plan that actually helps tie together a few very minor plot holes left by the film.
-The Gaunts. This is probably the biggest cut of the film. The Gaunts is a pensieve scene where we get to see Voldemort's parents and grandparents, as well as a couple other things.
-Hepzibah Smith. This was another marginal cut in the film for a pensieve scene that ties into another category, so I'll get to it later.
-Professor Trelawney. There's a pretty major scene where we find out how Trelawney was first hired, that she was the one who made Harry's Prophecy, and that Snape was the one that had overheard it and gone to Voldemort with the first half of the prophecy (which is all he had heard). Granted, as they cut out the bulk of the prophecy, it makes it kinda clunky as to what he could have heard to begin with.
-Firenze. I already mentioned why during the previous film's section.
-Dobby and Kreacher. The two house elves appear to help Harry keep track of Draco, as Harry becomes insanely obsessive about Draco's whereabouts and plotting throughout the book.
-The Dursleys. Yup, for the second time in the series, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley are absent from the film. And how sad, as this was a funny one. Dumbledore shows up at their house and totally messes with them (mentally and physically). He also has Kreacher appear to see if Grimmauld Place (and Kreacher) belong to Harry or Bellatrix.
-So... the Weasley's house burned down, huh? I can see why they added this scene in the film. It was a much-needed action sequence in an otherwise non-action film. Still, I've never decided how much I actually like its inclusion. Mostly, I'm not overly bugged by it.
-A ton of memory sequences were cut. The book has a handful of them. The movie only has about 2 or 3 main ones. I actually kinda miss the memories, as they give us Voldemort's history. And not only that, but they give us insight into the Horcruxes.
SETTING UP FOR LATER
-Due to the cutting and/or trimming of certain memory sequences, the majority of the Horcrux clues went missing. Hepzibah Smith's scene introduces us to one of the possible Horcruxes, as well as the possibility of what the others could be--objects belonging to Hogwarts Founders. What the "Young Tom Riddle" sequence doesn't set up is that Voldemort collects trophies from his most important victims. He sees value in prominent victory. And, like Harry, since Hogwarts was a major part of his life changing and it felt like home, it would be most logical that he'd find objects that belonged to its founders to use as Horcruxes. Of course, Slytherin's locket was introduced, though not as belonging to Slytherin. The ring is introduced, as well, but without the Gaunt sequence, we don't know its significance, either. We also know of his diary, but we don't learn that it was his first thanks to the death of a girl named Myrtle (to later become Moaning Myrtle). In other words, Harry is left to be even more in the dark in the films than he was in the books.
-The book doesn't focus on the Half-Blood Prince subplot much, either, though Hermione was more focused on trying to figure out who it was. In the movie, there's almost no curiosity of who it could be. I think if this were played up a bit more, the reveal at the end would have been stronger. There is no explanation in the film why Snape called himself the Half-Blood Prince, as Hermione does explain in the book. Overall, however, there's no real point to that whole subplot besides discovering Snape is a half-blood, so it didn't really bug me that much. It's just slightly strange in the film to go from little focus to "I am the Half-Blood Prince."
-Snape could have reacted stronger to Harry's "COWARD!" That's a huge moment in the book, and the fury from Snape at being called a coward is intense. The movie had almost no reaction to it.
-The movie didn't set up the Inferi... at all, really. The book has a few moments (including a Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson from Snape) about them, foreshadowing the end of the film.
-Speaking of DADA, the book only has one lesson from Snape in it, but the movie could have at least included it.
I'm sure I missed a ton in this. I know for a fact there were one or two things I wanted to mention in here somewhere, but I can't remember what they were. If you have anything else you'd like to make note of, please leave a comment!
Part 1 of the final installment picks up with the trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) preparing themselves for what they know is coming. The Order of the Phoenix must transport Harry to safety from his house. Once safely at the Burrow, Harry decides he must leave as soon as possible to find the remaining Horcruxes, the pieces of Voldemort's soul that he must find and destroy before going after the beast himself. Meanwhile, Voldemort is in search of a new wand, as his and Harry's share a core and are technically brothers; therefore, they cannot be used against each other. The trio end up on the road, endlessly searching for Horcruxes and, eventually, anything that can help them destroy Horcruxes. The trip will pit them against Death Eaters, Snatchers, the Ministry of Magic, nature, and even themselves.
This movie is dark. It's not a light movie whatsoever. Yes, there are some light and humorous moments sprinkled throughout, but they're not incredibly common. The stakes are high, and the film shows us this. They say with every installment that it'll be "the darkest one yet." And, sure, it is darker than the previous. But if you were to put this one a scale in comparison to the last two films, it's a good 4 or 5 notches ahead. And this means it captured the book pretty well.
So let's get into how it was adapted and get that out of the way. Obviously, if you haven't read the books or watched the other movies, you're going to be incredibly lost. This movie hinges on the fact that you know the world and its characters. On the whole, this was an insanely faithful adaptation. And why shouldn't it be? It had 2 and a half hours to adapt roughly 2/3s of a book. The other films get that long (or even less) to adapt the entire thing. But is it like the first two films, where it was a bit... too faithful? No. I don't think so.
Because it had this extra time, the movie was able to slow its pace and give us some introspective. This movie is very much a character piece. It's all about how the characters interact with each other. There are entire moments where they stare off silently in deep thought, and you're left to watch the anguish or confusion or hopelessness on their faces. And much more than any of the other movies, there is a lot of intensity to the acting. And by this I mean they don't put all their acting chops on stressing words or what have you, but instead on the subtlety in their faces and expressions.
There is a lot of amazing acting all around, from those who've been around from the beginning to those new to the series (such as Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour). But the film rests almost completely on the shoulders of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, all of whom give some amazing performances. I've always felt Emma Watson was the least of the three, but by God does she deliver some amazing stuff in this film... particularly near the end in a scene I won't spoil if you've not read the books.
There is also a lot of heart involved with these characters. You know them inside and out and how they work. You know Ron and Hermione are into each other, and you know that Ron has a jealous streak. So when emotions run high, the slightest things can tear them apart. But at the same time, the simplest things can pull them together, such as a dance with a friend when you're feeling down.
The magic is still there, too, though. It's not all grit and grime. From bottomless bags to flying motorcycles to full-out wizard duels, it's all there and more... including probably every spell that has ever been used in the entire series. Of course, it isn't all happy and full of wonderment, but that's to be expected when you have a movie full of Nazi symbolism, death, and destruction. And yes, there is death. By the time a certain scene comes up, I didn't cry like I did in the book, but I came damn close.
What also helps the film, besides the gorgeous visuals and cinematography, is the music (and lack thereof). I once heard that the best film score is the one you don't realize you're listening to, as it's supposed to sink into the background and become one with the film, only to enhance the scenes--not overtake them. This score does exactly that. But not only is the music great in each scene, but there are a lot of very quiet moments where there is no music. There are fight sequences with nothing but the sound effects. There are the moments of quiet desperation. And those are sometimes even more powerful that those with the enhancing music.
If I were to find any negatives with the film--besides the fact that Part II won't be coming out for another 6 months--would be a couple things that lack explanation. Of course, I know exactly what's going on due to having read the books. But because the past films have lacked certain things, this one slightly suffers at times. For instance, there is absolutely no explanation to the mirror shard that Harry carries around with him through the movie. The marriage of Lupin and Tonks is a mere offhand comment, and her pregnancy announcement is interrupted. The relationship between Bill and Fleur is barely discussed--nobody mentions how they met or anything like that. It just is. It was little things like that which slightly hurt the film, but it's not as much the fault of this movie as it was the previous ones.
Overall, it was a fantastic film. I personally think it was the best of the bunch thus far, and once matched up with Part II, there's no doubt it'll be the best as one film. The visuals are gorgeous, the music is good, the acting is spectacular, the emotions are high, and everything else about this film is fantastic and on a near perfect pitch. It is unlike any of the other films in the series in every way. And I didn't even mention the animated segment that tells the story of the The Three Brothers, which is equally brilliant. Now that I've been rambling on and on, I'll stop. I could go on, but I won't. If you're a fan, you'll be seeing this film regardless of what I've said. If you don't like the series, you probably won't be going to see the seventh installment, regardless of what I say. But if you're a casual fan, have seen the other films, but are on the fence on this one (though I somehow doubt any of you exist), this review is probably for you. Go see it. It'll be worth it.
For those of you who don't know, the movie follows a couple different people. The main character is Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), who is... I'm not too sure. An electrician or something. He has a "close encounter" with some UFOs, and all he gets out of it is a bad sunburn and a loss of his job... for some reason. It also follows Jillian (Melinda Dillon), whose toddler son Barry has some kind of connection with the aliens. Then there are a bunch of government people who are trying to make contact with the aliens. And all of them are connected by a giant landmass that they can't quite figure out what it is. Oh, and a song that gets stuck in their heads.
This is a very bizarre movie, to say the least. There isn't much of a plot as much as it is over 2 hours of people running around confused and upset. Richard Dreyfuss was good casting, though I could just picture Spielberg telling him "Quirkier! Be quirkier! You aren't nearly quirky enough!" Though despite the lack of any real plot, after the horribly boring first 30 minutes (or so) before we really get any kind of structured narrative flow, it's entertaining enough.
The special effects are pretty cool, especially the UFOs themselves. And although the cloud formation bits looked fake, it still looked really cool for some reason. Overall, visually, the movie both holds up and feels dated simultaneously. It's very strange. I think it's because the effects themselves are really good, but you can always tell there's a green screen, so it takes away from it.
The last act is something out of Fantasia... it's very bizarre. I'm sure if they remade this movie, it'd be changed into a rap battle showdown or something. As for the aliens, the tall alien looks freaky, and the tiny ones look like the tree sprites from Princess Mononoke. The very end of the movie, however, is slightly confusing. Was the government working with the aliens, or were they just sending people to go experience them? And what the hell was with the hand movements? I know they showed them throughout the film, but were they supposed to symbolize the musical notes so they could communicate with the aliens without music? That's the best I could come up with.
I guess in the end, I suppose I enjoyed it, but it didn't blow me away. The effects were pretty good for their time. There could have been a clearer story, and the movie probably could have been a lot shorter. Richard Dreyfuss was good. But if I had to choose one Spielberg alien movie, I'd definitely go E.T. So yeah, I guess that's about it for this one. On the upside, I now understand the keyboard joke from Monsters vs. Aliens.
For the second episode of The Demented Podcast, I'm joined by Rachel of Rachel's Reel Reviews. She introduces herself, and then I give some listener feedback. From this, I segue into "The Challenge," which is much shorter this time around, thanks to suggestions from listeners.
Then we move into our main discussion: movie trailers. We discuss how they've evolved from more "tell"-based trailers that give you tone but no story to "show"-based trailers that give you story but can confuse tone. We also discuss everything from teaser trailers to Red-Band trailers, as well as re-cuts, mash-ups, and parody trailers. I actually had to cut a decent amount from the end of the conversation, as Rachel and I digressed into ramblings about Harry Potter.
And then, of course, we wrap up the show with The Demented Tower. Jess struggled with the lemur's game last episode... will Rachel find an adversary with the lemur, as well--or will she even make it past the old man? Listen to find out!
1. Jess - 95 Points
As usual, I had to cut a decent amount from this last segment, such as long pauses. However, this time, I screwed up just speaking so many times. I had to re-explain rules and restate things, such as constantly saying "points" instead of "stamina." Anyway, you can listen in the player below or you can find us under iTunes. And please, leave comments or email in!
That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.
Starring: Ice-T, Christopher Lambert, Yuji Okumoto, Thom Mathews, Tina Cote, and Deborah Van Valkenburgh.
My Reaction: It's totally a Battle Royale rip-off, but there are hundreds of them out there. How is this movie not a cult classic? It is so completely awful that it's bizarrely entertaining. Ice-T is ridiculous. Christopher Lambert is insanely over-the-top, yet totally cool. I was rooting for the characters of Hoss and Crow (played by Yuji Okumoto and Thom Mathews respectively) the whole time, because they were so hilarious. The editing and overall style of the movie is incredibly annoying, yet somehow endearing in its crappiness. The entire soundtrack consists of mambo music, which is totally strange considering the violence. The acting is silly, the violence is absurd, and there are random, though rare, bits of dialogue that would make Tarantino proud. Oh, and there are a couple moments I swear The Matrix ripped off, action-wise. Not bullet time or anything, but there are a couple moves that look almost exact, only this movie came out first. Anyway, I can't explain how awful(-ly) entertaining this movie is. It's just one of those to check out if you haven't.
This is probably Ed Wood's most famous failure. It's about some dimwitted cops, a couple airplane pilots, and a couple others who fight zombies, a vampire, and aliens. The aliens have tries to reason with Earthlings in the past, but everybody ignores them. All their plans have failed. So now, they're left with Plan 9, which is to bring the dead back to life and destroy all humans. Why? Because they're going to create, eventually, a bomb so powerful that it could destroy the entire universe. Among the ghoulies roaming the local cemetery are Bela Lugosi (sorta), Vampira, and Tor Johnson.
I actually really like the idea behind the story. At it's core, it's about aliens who summon zombies to destroy the Earth in order to ultimately save the universe. That's a pretty epic idea, if I do say so myself (and actually, there already is an alien-originated zombie movie entitled Undead, which is also pretty good). But where the movie fails, of course, is... everything else.
There are really only no more than maybe 5 sets in the whole movie, and they're all terrible and obviously fake. The dialogue is laughable, the characters are boring, and the acting is atrocious. Even worse acting than those having to speak lines are those that don't--primarily Vampira and Tor Johnson. Vampira is just in this really awkward stance through the majority of the film. This was also Bela Lugosi's (famous for Dracula) last film, and he died during production. He filmed all the stuff for when his character was alive, but they got a different actor for his scenes after he had died. As such, his ghoulish character had a cape held up over his face the whole time so you couldn't tell it wasn't him.
It's really pointless for me to go into how bad the movie is. I mean, it's Ed Wood. He's considered the worst director who has ever lived. He, Uwe Boll, and Tommy Wiseau practically make the Unholy Trinity. When your UFOs consist of toys hung from strings... and you can still see the string... not to mention have people wonder if you just glued two plates together... you know it's bad.
Overall, I'd actually say I was disappointed with the movie. I was actually expecting it to be like OMG THIS IS RIDICULOUS LOLZ. And it was, at times. This would be a fun one to watch with friends. But watching it alone, it's just kinda boring. I really need to check out the Rifftrax with it. And I know they actually sell the DVD with the Rifftrax, which is awesome. So I'll check that out some time. But as for now... Plan 9 remains a good idea with a really bad execution. On the bright side? It really put me in the mood to re-watch Tim Burton's Ed Wood.
(P.S. This rating is based more on entertainment than quality. As I was expecting more and was bored, it got a low rating. If I had been rating this based on quality, it would have got a "Suck to Blow," obviously.)
This list was particularly difficult to put together. Why? Because not only are they grouped by theme, but every final movie of the previous month and first movie of the new month acts as a transitional between themes. And I wanted certain movies earlier on the list, while other certain movies during specific months. So this is what I've come up with... lemme know what y'all think:
Note: Within each particular month, with the exception of the first and last movies, they're in no specific order.
November 2010 - "Space/Sci-Fi" Month
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
2001: A Space Odyssey
(Plan 9 has been on my Instant Queue for a long time, and it's a good excuse to finally just get it off of there.)
December 2010 - "Western" Month
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
(True Grit comes out December, so why not dedicate a full month? And I wanted to get Seven Samurai--a pseudo-western--watched sooner than later.)
January 2011 - "Foreign" Month
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(Yeah, I know... the majority of my "foreign" here are British.)
February 2011 - "Comedy" Month
Kentucky Fried Movie
(A couple romances... I couldn't fit in pure romance. However, Annie Hall should be right around Valentine's Day, hopefully.)
March 2011 - "War!" Month
Gone with the Wind
Saving Private Ryan
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(Yes... I've never seen Saving Private Ryan.)
April 2011 - "Nazi" Month
Great Dictator, The
(Make sure I'm still alive at this point. It'll be one of the most stressful times at work, we'll be roughly halfway through this project, and I'll be watching a lot of movies about Nazis at this time... I don't wanna end up suicidal or anything.)
May 2011 - "What A Twist!" Month
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Crying Game, The
(I know... a very forced month. This one was one of the tougher ones to put together.)
June 2011 - "WTF" Month
A Clockwork Orange
(Seriously. WTF. This is gonna be one of my favorite months... second only to the following.)
July 2011 - "Hitchcock" Month
North by Northwest
(I can't wait for this one.)
August 2011 - "Crime" Month Part 1
Cool Hand Luke
The Maltese Falcon
(These are more traditional "crime" movies...)
September 2011 - "Crime" Month Part 2
Godfather Part 2, The
Godfather Part 3, The
(...as opposed to these more mob/gangster-types here.)
October 2011 - "Horror" Month
Shining, The (1980)
Shark Attack 3
(Gotta love that transition from "the worst" of the best trilogy of movies to the "best worst movie" ever made.)
November 2011 - "What's Left - Heavy" Month
Seventh Seal, The
City of God
Lives of Others, The
A Streetcar Named Desire
Lawrence of Arabia
(I slapped together the heavier of the remaining films for this month. It'll be a toughie to get through this one.)
December 2011 - "What's Left - Light" Month
Singin' in the Rain
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest*
(And, obviously, I put together the lighter of the remaining films to wrap it all up.)
*I saved this for last, as I'll probably be insane by the end of this project, and it'll be fitting.
These can be anything: classics, horror, comedy, drama, sci-fi, musicals, etc. Just throw up a ton of titles, and I'll take the ones I haven't seen and mix them with some of my own (if there are some that aren't listed that I know of). I'm going to be taking 60 movies, because taking the rest of this year and all of next year, that should give me an even 60 weeks.
So come on, guys! I know there are tons of movies you guys think I need to see. Start giving me some suggestions in the comments, and I'll put the new list up once I have enough (which is hopefully before next Wednesday).
Monsters is about a photographer named Andrew (Scoot McNairy) who is hired by his boss to find the boss' daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able), in Mexico and help her get back to North America. Why does she need help? Because a large part of Mexico, primarily the large chunk against the U.S. border, is full of aliens that crashed to the area 6 years prior. However, these two people that don't even know each other start growing closer to each other over the next couple days.
First off, the trailer (and title) are very misleading. This is not a horror movie--or even a thriller. It's more of a romance, to be honest. In fact, I could say that it's like if they took 28 Days Later, removed The Infected, and put it on Pandora. You see the monsters maybe 3 times in the movie: the very beginning, the very end, and at least once in between. It's just about Andrew and Samantha's relationship and how they grow to each other over their traveling experience. It's also about who the monsters really are--the aliens, the people, the United States, etc.
There were some inconsistencies that bugged me, though. First, they say that there are multiple types of aliens. They even mention "small ones." But you only ever see one (and their eggs), which are the giant ones. Granted, I know it was a small budget, but still. The other inconsistency that really bothered me was a wacky plot contrivance that contradicts itself. At one point, Andrew is trying to haggle a ticket onto a ferry for Samantha. The guy asks $5000 for a ticket. When Andrew points to all the other people sitting around, the guy tells him that they're waiting to cross the Infected Zone, which is prohibited. He says it's more dangerous, but it's cheaper for those who can't afford the ferry. However, the very next day, Andrew is robbed and they lose everything (including the ticket). So they go back to the guy and discuss crossing by land. Well, the guy tells him that it'll be $10,000 because it's dangerous and they need to hire all sorts of people and do bribes and whatnot. Ignoring the fact he mentioned the previous day how it was cheaper, why would all those other people cross by land for 10k if they can just take a ferry for 5k? After all, the guy basically said a passport really makes no difference. Whatever.
On a different subject, the cinematography was gorgeous. Really, this movie had a great use of the camera, as well as a stunning visual eye. The landscape helped, but there were other shots that were just mesmerizing. Mixing the great visuals with the soundtrack made you feel exactly what you needed to feel at any given time. Good stuff.
I don't have too much to say overall. It's a slow movie, and not what you'd expect. It's not really about the aliens whatsoever. The ending is also done very well, and there's an interesting little twist, too. I had to do a little bit of re-watching after it had finished. So between that and the really good visuals (and pretty good acting, as the whole movie rests on these two), I'd definitely recommend it. It has its flaws (besides what I said already, the first 15-20 minutes doesn't seem to flow very well), but it's worth a viewing.