Sean K. Cureton

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Best Potter Adaptation Since Goblet of Fire

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on July 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Theatrical Poster

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Directed by David Yates
3 out of 4 stars

When moviegoers last saw Harry Potter, he was burying an old friend, Dobby the house elf, and it had been made known to the audience that Lord Voldemort had taken the elder wand from Albus Dumbledore’s grave. And that’s right where the second installment in this final chapter picks up.

Right from the beginning of this film, Yates makes it very clear to the audience that despite the fact that the seventh book has been split up into two films, that does not mean that he intends to make the film series feel like eight complete works. Which is something to applaud Yates for. Finally, after the last two Potter film fiascos, Yates has taken the time to actually slow down with the last book in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, and start adapting it more accurately and with more care and love. Bottom line, the last two installments in the Potter film franchise could very easily have been done by a Potter fan, which is exactly the kind of feeling the film series has been without since the 2005 film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Another thing that makes this film adaptation of the much-beloved book series so great is the fact that, yet again, there are wonderful scenes in which we get to see the actors at hand be able to truly act, and immerse themselves completely into their characters. Much like the beautiful scenes in the first half where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are wandering around in the wilds alone searching for the final horcruxes, this installment includes many sequences where there is only speaking between two characters, with no overbearing score to ruin the tenderness of the moment. In particular, the film starts with a rather long scene of Harry talking to Griphook the Gringotts Goblin about getting into Belatrix Lestrange’s vault to find one of the final horcruxes, and then moves right on to a conversation with Olivander. In fact, all of the scenes in the movie are so beautifully done and perfectly scored this time around that nothing feels too rushed or done in a dishonest way.

But probably most importantly, or certainly of great significance, is the fact that in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the audience is finally able to witness an accurate portrayal of Severus Snape, with Alan Rickman supplying the performance. Although the book may not have had Snape come out as such a hero, whereas the movie does, the fact that Potter fans will finally be able to see Snape on screen for what feels like the first time due to the fact that Rickman has never really been given the chance to do much with his character previously more than makes up for this slight departure from the source material.

In conclusion, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is able to beautifully and satisfyingly conclude a franchise that has meant so much for the current generation of children and young adults. If you’re a Potter fan, you will be ecstatic when you go to see this film. If you’re not, then you might want to start getting into the series, as you are truly missing out on one of the greatest fantasy tales of our time.

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Unhinged in Paris

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on July 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Theatrical Poster

Midnight in Paris
Directed by Woody Allen
3 ½ out of 4 stars

Of all the great American directors who have come along within the past couple of decades, Woody Allen is certainly one of the most successful. Since the 70’s, Allen has been one of the busiest directors in America, and has made some of the most culturally relevant films of the past forty years. From 1977’s Annie Hall, to 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, Allen has been writing and directing blockbuster films that have been able to steep themselves completely into the American consciousness. This legacy continues with Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris.

Set in France’s most famous city, Midnight in Paris is a comedic drama about a young writer named Gil, played by Owen Wilson, who accompanies his fiancée Inez, played by Rachel McAdams, and her parents on one final trip before the wedding. However, as the film proceeds, it becomes apparent that Gil is far more concerned with his own novel than he his with his bride-to-be, or her oafish friend and former teacher Paul. In hopes of taking a break from his traveling companions, Gil decides to sit down on a street corner at midnight one evening, while his fiancée goes elsewhere with her parents and Paul. While sitting, Gil is approached by a car, which transports him back in time to the 1920’s. Here, Gil seeks writing advice and commentary from such great writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway, while meeting other such artists as Pablo Picaso and Salvador Dali. It is within this time period that most of the film takes place, with brief appearances in the present time, where Inez and her parents believe Gil to have gone crazy. Ultimately, the film ends with Gil returning to the present for good, after realizing that staying in the past will not solve his problems in the present, and that true happiness in life can only truly be found within one’s true present.

Much of what makes this film so great are all of the performances given that are supposed to be the great artists of the 1920’s. From Allison Pill’s delightful performance as Zelda Fitzgerald, to Corey Stoll’s hysterical portrayal of Ernest Hemingway, Allen has his audience hooked just from the standpoint of trying to catch all of the artists being presented.

Aside from the obvious fun of seeing performances that are supposed to mimic the personalities of such writers as Hemingway, Allen’s new film also boasts the best performance of Owen Wilson’s career. While Wilson is certainly not a bad actor, as can be seen in his brilliant performances in several Wes Anderson films, Wilson truly delivers in this picture in a way that he has not in the past. If the Oscars were to take place within the next month, Wilson would win Best Actor hands down.

In conclusion, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is the kind of film only Allen could deliver. With a plot that centers on an anti-social protagonist who becomes completely unhinged within his own world, this is classic Woody Allen fare. Midnight in Paris is a definite must see.