Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

A- (8.5)

I've been both a Harry Potter fanatic and at the same time a cynic of the franchise. I've read the books when I was 12 and could never stop loving it. To any cynic who wants to know what's the appeal of it all, it's Harry Potter himself we're fascinated as he evolve from being a boy losing his parents from an evil wizard Voldemort to a young person getting back prepared than ever. But then there's the cynical side of me when it comes to the franchise. I felt that bringing David Yates into the helm isn't worth the piece of the pie. I felt disappointed with the last two films. Half-Blood Prince was disappointing because the plot is distracted to a romantically corny subplot while the first part of the Deathly Hallows was also corny and it felt confusing at points, despite having had read the novels.

This is the real deal from Yates as it is truly a real film about Harry Potter's ordeal (no pun intended). A decade ago we see HP's first two adventures with the ballsy Ron and clever Hermione that are both charming and fun where it secretly builds up pessimism to Potter. Up to now, The Prisoner of Azkaban shows the trio's true development as young adults as the tone of each film slowly reveals its change. Now Deathly Hallows (Pt.2) had matched everything fans of all types have been waiting for to impossibly high levels.

In Pt.2, we start off what was halfway of the Deathly Hallows where Voldemort holds the Elder Wand that doesn't belong to Dumbledore in where he finds it, but to Snape. This makes him more powerful; while Harry, Ron and Hermione must find the remaining Horcruxes, Voldemort's possessions and once they destroy the Horcruxes, he becomes weaker giving Harry a probable chance of defeating him. Also involved in the battle is Professor Snape who became headmaster of Hogwarts keeping it highly secured with Dementors and Deatheaters.

This is an epitome of a Harry Potter film. Every point crucial in the books are taken and is perfectly nailed to the wood. From Harry knowing how to destroy the Horcruxes once and for all to scenes where Harry realize the sacrifices he'd and should make to defeat Voldemort to many of the complex storylines that will take some time to decipher. In fact it has many storylines so multi-layered that you either have to watch the movies (especially Part I) and read the novels again to pull yourself into the magic. 

What I like about this adaptation is that it's more than the average adaptation of Potter. This has so much heart, it goes where no Potter film had ever gone before. In every sequence of action, you feel like watching a war movie. The final battle. In every character you'll know their story and their involvement with Harry's life especially Alan Rickman who in one flashback had me crying when we're revealed the true person his character Snape really is. We get Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall as a badass leading an army of Hogwarts students. And we get Neville Longbottom also a badass breaking out from his role as the shy, and completely awkward secondary character.

It's Alan Rickman who brings out soul to Professor Snape, a character more fascinating than Potter. As we see through flashbacks, he's the real hero of the series so far when outside he's a superior villain with so much fear. If more than anything Rickman should get an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Many of the performances are solid from a cast of veteran British actors such as Julie Walters and Ralph Fiennes, but the heart of it all Harry Potter played by Daniel Radcliffe is flawless and has its best moments. Although I wasn't impressed by Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy given that his character is so wimpy for the entire film

Director Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves had brought back my trust for ending the Potter franchise in the most epic style. Not one moment was a tease. I loved the visual flair placed by Yates and I thought the cinematography was gorgeous. Yates and Kloves justified how this movie is split into two parts by sticking into the complex plot and bringing the emotional drama that never hits the sentimental bottom.

Belonging into this generation that experienced 9/11 and spending the majority of our daily routine on the internet, the Harry Potter franchise is something I and everyone in this generation cherish and value. The Deathly Hallows ended an epic conflict between good and evil in spectacular form like Lord Of The Rings. The franchise had become the modern Star Wars of our time. Overall this movie is not just the masterpiece of the series and the best summer movie in terms of being a blockbuster, but also the best movie I've seen so far this year.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Transformers: Dark of The Moon (review)

C (4.3)

This will be a deadly honest review as I've seen this with a friend watching this film. Transformers: Dark of The Moon is exactly two and a half times better than Revenge Of The Fallen. It improved from fixing the problems from the first sequel of the franchise - some of it. However it's still bad.

In this installment, we found out the origin of the war between the two alien robot races: the Autobots and the Decepticons. And a cargo ship essential to winning the war had crashed into the moon and when NASA discovered it in the 60s, the US Government decided to make the famous moon landing to investigate the ship. Then they decided to cover it up to avoid being in a conspiracy. 

Now we get to explore Sam Witwicky (Shia Labeouf) who’s currently unemployed and has a new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who's obviously hot in here). He finds work from John Malcovich and he's caught up with the Autobots again after not only Optimus Prime discovered the cover up by the government, but revived his captain Sentinel Prime. At the same time the Decepticons return back to Earth coming from Carly's playboy boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) and of one of the Autobot's backstabbing just so they can blow up shit again.

Before seeing DOTM the critics have been bashing DOTM... because they wanted to hate this movie knowing that it will make almost a billion dollars at the box office and will make the audience dumb. The most scathing reviews came from Roger Ebert and Peter Travers. Watching this will destroy most of your brain cells and yet it will take brains to know that the entire franchise had never had one. 

Transformers: DOTM is the best of Michael Bay's trilogy. Unfortunately it's dumb and boring. Let's start up with the movie's positives. To hate Michael Bay is like hating a pedophile masquerading as a friendly guy from the neighborhood. But Bay delivers probably the best 3D sequences I've ever seen. The action is on the highest level of destruction there is and destroying Chicago is spectacular. Bay at least developed a coherent story compared with ROTF. The best performances of the film comes from Patrick Dempsey who's supposed to be the main villain if the entire movie had focused on its human characters, and Frances McDormand who plays the US Director of Intelligence since she's a top notch actress.

The biggest anger fueled by Michael Bay is that he's a crude, product-placing, sexist and exhaustingly clichéd director with no sense of flair. We have no idea what's going on with his mind during Revenge Of The Fallen and blaming the movie's poor critical performance on the Writer's Strike will not let him get away with it. There's too much to say on what was bad about ROTF but they did fixed only one problem: they changed screenwriters to develop the story of DOTM that added some common sense. 

Now let's go into the worst parts. I have never seen an action movie that can be so humorlessly wrong. The first ever shot of a human character that is Rosie Huntington Whiteley's character is pornographic. It still showed the sort of misogyny Bay tends to show to his actresses. The problem with Whiteley being in DOTM is that there's nothing interesting about her character that helps it to feel important. Shia Labeouf talks like if Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay without multiple layers of the dialogue, as it felt so clumsy and corny. We get shitloads of product placement and excruciating amounts of stupid humor. Exhibit A - Ken Jeong playing his usual one-note routine as the screeching and obnoxious Asian. Exhibit B - Alan Tudyk speaking in a Russian accent. Exhibit C – The parents, gremlins continuing their respective roles as being stupid for the entire movie.

I've seen a lot of movies and I cannot believe how many films had Michael Bay ripped off here. If you don't know where the robots were fighting, it's in the city of The Dark Knight and if you have deaf ears, the overwhelming score is the score from Inception. There are so many contrasts with Bay and Christopher Nolan and the salient difference is the change in IQ after seeing their films. DOTM is two and a half hours long so long that I’ve yawned 5x and checked my watch for about 6.

However the biggest flaw for this film and for the entire franchise is that it lacks a lot of heart. Unless you wipe the entire human race out of the movie, there’s nothing interesting about them as the films progress. And even with the 3D so effective and the spectacular action I was so bored and found nothing visually stimulating.

Those who enjoyed the previous adventures will not even care and it’s a Michael Bay film what do you expect? He may not be in the same league as David Fincher or Darren Arronofsky, so there’s no surprise that he’s a filmmaker filled with chaos.

Overall this is two and a half times better than Revenge of The Fallen, but Bay's direction and screenplay is so thin, that you'll realize the only problems fixed were minor and given that this is the best of the franchise meant that you're just watching an ordinary action movie. Prepare yourself for the biggest rollercoaster mayhem of the year!