Archive for review

Harry Goes Splat

Posted in Harry Potter, movies, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2010 by jamesdrax

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 | Dir: David Yates | 2010 | 7/10

After the dastardly Harry Potter Meets Porky’s, we get Harry Potter Needs Prozac Part Infinity.

Being the first part of a two-movie arc based on one book, Warner Bros. dreamed of avarice by charging us full price for half a movie. You’d think Gringotts goblins were running the studio. Yet, it’s such a labour of love that was indeed better than the original novel, which wasn’t all that difficult to achieve since it was a mediocre book to begin with.

Our battered teenage heroes Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), all have to gear up once more to fight evil baddie Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his screechy minions who are all out to kill the bespectacled one, but like poor marksmen, they keep missing the target. All the while the three leads are looking at each other as if to say author J.K. Rowling must really hate them. If Emma Watson ever said she felt “trapped at Hogwarts”, she should have at least been grateful that instead they spend a great deal of time in a fifth-dimensional tent on loan from Doctor Who. She even deletes herself from photographs in her parents house like she’s Marty McFly. Whose movie is this again?

Unlike the cure of insomnia Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), this film actually raises the stakes and kills off several well-loved characters within minutes of each other. This new turn of urgency actually makes it feel like a suspensefully well-paced motion picture rather than obligatory filler like the previous film. Remarkably, director Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves actually take liberties that are likely to infuriate hardcore Potter aficionados into hissy fits of werewolf rage.

Stretching out over what felt like ten hours of miserably mournful gazes, Ron chucks a tantrum and storms out in a fit of jealousy over Harry and Hermione who shrug him off with a really heart melting dance scene, which is destined become the most controversial snippet of film in Potter history among nerdy factional canonbots and devoted shippers. If these two have been having almost eternal eye-sex over several films, then this scene must have been the metaphorical orgasm – a veiled expression by the filmmakers by saying “UP YOURS!” to Rowling and her one big happy Weasley family. It was a glimpse of what might have been for all those Harry/Hermione tragics out there like yours truly. Ginny who?

Ron gets to play hero for one scene by destroying the horcrux locket (which contains a piece of Voldemort’s fun-loving spirit) with the Sword of Gryffindor after two ghostly images of Harry and Hermione torment him and start making out like its Woodstock at Hogwarts in front of him. There, there, Ron. Was that necessary? At least Voldemort knew what the audience wanted and you crashed it, you pathetic little party-pooper!

The shiver-me-timbers You-Know-Who is up to his evil plan for world domination by seeking out the Elder Wand, a weapon so powerful, he’ll finally be able to distribute his Nazi Germany-style anti-Muggle propaganda to school children without that meddling Potter ruining everything over and over again. Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) looks a bit haggard and worse for wear; did his cellmate in Azkaban make his life a living hell?

Alexandre Desplat’s score is so depressing, it almost makes you want to make a sharp turn off a bridge. Who was the target audience, Christopher Nolan geeks? Nevertheless, the tone fits like a glove even though John Williams’ presence is still sorely missed.

We better be in for a grand ole’ finale come 2011, then finally we can all sing “Ding Dong, the Snake is Dead”.



Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by jamesdrax

The Dark Knight | Dir: Christopher Nolan | 2008 | 7.5/10

A little late, aren’t I?  Well folks, that’s the gag, I waited for the bargain bin mark-down… and I thought my jokes were bad! HAHAHA.

Following the ultra-serious Batman Begins (2005), director Christopher Nolan bat-a-rangs his franchise re-boot with the unabashedly super-serious The Dark Knight – a film so serious, even the main villain can’t help but mind his surroundings and continuously ask us “Why so serious?”  It’s like the late Heath Ledger’s Joker character is so anarchistic, he not only wants to upset the order of Gotham City, he wants to challenge the pre-established order of film itself by showing us not only a great performance, but also giving us a little push to how we really see ourselves.

Let me explain. After all the nauseating hype surrounding this, it almost became a case of morbid curiosity for many members of the audience who just wanted to see how good Ledger was as a crazy clown – how good could this Aussie beach blond actually be? Well, Ledger would go on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (in a comic book movie disguised as a gangster drama, no less) for his surprisingly chilling portrayal of Batman’s arch-nemesis, he’s really as freaky and psychologically piercing as Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), another Oscar winning performance with just as many nuances that keep your eyes hooked on the screen just to see what he’s about to do next.  I remember when I was very young and still learning big words, I once mispronounced the word “posthumous” as “post-humorous”.

A real killing joke if I ever heard one – evidently Heath got the last laugh.

Explaining the plot to The Dark Knight would be like lecturing a clinical psychology class, I’d be suffering headaches and dizziness from telling you that it’s more than the basic premise of a new villain coming to town causing trouble for Gotham’s cops, citizens and generic mobster meanies. This is really about not only the escalation of crime, but how authority follows suit, and how criminals won’t just sit there and take the beating into submission, but the process of law and order is countered by chaotic personalities, manifesting with the Joker as the self-professed “agent of chaos”. The Joker flails his way through the story like a force of nature, whose motivation is to show the heroes and villains alike what they really are, either through dilemma or a knife to their face, and this can only be achieved when they are at a moment before almost certain death. He wants to prove that good people at their core are just as cowardly as he thinks they are and as evil as he obviously is, but the social order prevents them from becoming his vision of a world burning, and he uses Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) as the prime example of how low a human being can sink; in other words, taking Gotham’s “white knight” and bringing him down to his level. It’s not hard, apparently.

Ultimately, his punchline is to test peoples’ morals, what a sick joke.

What’s the problem with The Dark Knight?  It’s so dark and so damn depressing, I felt a sense of blues not unlike what I had after watching Zeitgeist: The Movie, you’ll need a whole block of chocolate to cheer yourself up afterward (or perhaps a copy of Batman & Robin (1997) will help you unleash your inner-lighter side). Even Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s subtle, yet textured and atmospheric score puts you in a state of unsettled discomfort for its sheer psychotic unlistenability. For a film with the Joker in it, you’re really never given a reason to genuinely laugh at any subtle humour and feel good about it; the film purposely makes you sort of gently laugh uncomfortably with the Joker, but then you stop yourself because you feel guilty when you realize you’re laughing at an unpredictable psychopath who thinks a pencil-in-the-eye is really hilarious. Could Ledger have been a bit too good in this role?

Wait a tick, have I even mentioned Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman yet? There’s really not much to say other than his mega-fake-deep voice was really distracting and difficult to understand at times, if he simply spoke in his regular Bruce Wayne voice, it would have been alright, but also the fact that the character seems strangely played down this time round. This really has to be a scripting quirk because as the film progressed, I actually thought Batman was becoming redundant in his own movie. It could have all been about Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the film probably would have been just as good – he brings so much more heart and perspective because he’s such an Elliot Ness sort of character, a man of integrity and Gotham’s “last good cop”. It really is a thankless performance. I could have sworn Oldman’s screentime and amount of lines was much more than Bale’s, it feels as though Batman is just a selling gimmick for marque value who could have been deleted entirely, and no-one would have batted an eyelid! Yet again, that was probably all part of the plan.

The Dark Knight is problematic, it didn’t exactly live up to the euphoric fanboy hype, and perhaps it’s not the most enjoyable flick to spin on a rainy afternoon because of its stark and cynical presentation of a so-called “world without rules”, but it’s at least a thinking-man’s Summer blockbuster, a true rarity these days and I look forward to the next one, perhaps the ambiguous Catwoman could be the answer to Gotham’s calls for a new masked vigilante while Batman is on the run? Good film, but it would have been nicer if it had more Batman in it to play a role – bit of a joke, really.

And… here… we… go!