Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movie Tuesday - It's a Three'fer!


Well Blogophiles, this week you get Three For the price of Two, for I have not only prepared the usual 2 DVD reviews, but an actual "I broke down and spent the nine bucks to see it on the Big Screen" movie review!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 2 out of 6 stars

My wife had been dying to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, better known as "The New Harry Potter Movie" for a while before we got the chance. When we finally got to see it last week, it cost over a Hundred Bucks, because we brought along 14 pre-teen and teenaged kids.

We had intended to take them Spelunking (that's a fancy word for crawling around in dark, muddy caves) instead, but our appointment at Raccoon Mountain Caverns got lost, and when we showed up at the gift shop with three vehicles full of children ready to go caving, we were greeted with the frightened stares of the just-slightly-older children who worked there.

So we went to the movieplex instead, and Becca knew exactly what we were gonna' see!

It has been mentioned elsewhere by myself as well as others that reviewing the third part of a trilogy is an exercise in futility. The same holds true for the fifth of the "Harry Potter" movies, if not more so. Those who are following Mr. Potter's Adventures are going to see it no matter what I say, and for those who have managed to avoid any interest in the first four films, I probably will not stir them to go see this one.

That being said, here is my verdict: the movie pretty much stunk. With the exception of seeing the originally peculiar characters of Dolores Umbridge and Grawp the Giant beautifully brought to life, there is little to recommend this movie. There are some really well-done Special Effects (The aforementioned Grawp is one), but there are also some really low-tech, cheezy ones, such as the Broom Flight through London, and Sirius' Fireplace appearance.

I thought the Movie could be better called Harry Potter and the Basic Outline of the Phoenix, or Harry Potter and the High-speed Montage of Doom, Or maybe Harry Potter and the Cliff's Note's™ of Destiny. The difference between the story contained in the Book and the story contained in the Film is like the difference between "Visiting The Grand Canyon" and "Visiting someone's home for a slideshow of their trip to the Grand Canyon".

The fact of the matter is this; it's impossible to make a single, good, movie out of any of the later Harry Potter Books. They are too long and complicated to compress into a movie that the Masses of Moviegoers could be expected to sit through. A four hour flick could probably capture the story, but, even as I just finished typing the phrase "Four Hour Flick", I heard the sound of wallets snapping shut coming from all the way in Hollywood. This movie made wads of money despite being, in my opinion, not much good, because it's riding on the High-Tide of PotterMania. But that tide has turned now, and Movie #7 will be coming out years after everyone who really cared already knows how the story ends.

Whether the Franchise would make it through all seven movies was a gamble the studio made when they took on the first. It has already weathered the death of the first Dumbledore, and the puberty of its stars, but I'm going to think hard before turning over my hard earned Nine-and-a-half Bucks for Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Synopsis

------- Haiku Movie Review™ --------
Book into a Film?
Might as well try Compressing
Film into Haiku
----------------------

RIYL - The last four Harry Potter Movies.

Happy Accidents - 5 out of 6 stars

Thank Goodness for Netflix! Without it I never would have stumbled upon this surprising little sleeper romance starring Marisa Tomei and Vincent D'onofrio. I love surprises!

I think Vincent D'onofrio is a terrific actor, but I had only ever seen him in weirdo, "Charater Actor" roles before, and I added this movie to my queue to see if he could pull off the "Leading Man" in a romantic comedy.

I don't want to give away too many of the twists and turns of the story, but it is much more than the basic romantic comedy I thought I was getting. It is more drama than comedy, and has a very clever story that picks up steam, from the basic beginning all the way through to a screaming climax.

Everything in this movie hinges on the identity of Sam, the mystery man played by Mr. Donofrio. He is clearly different, oddball even, but as we only get to view him through the eyes of Ruby, our "Leading Lady" played by Marisa Tomei, we are never given the chance to figure out exactly what is his deal, until the very end.

The Movie could have been a lot better - Marisa Tomei's portrayal of the "Sex and the City"-esque protagonist was not as likable as it should be, there were some quasi-flashback sequences in which the editing was distractingly stupid looking, and something seemed kind of "low-budgety" about the whole film, but the script tells an amazing story that is very well thought out, and keeps you guessing.

When I noticed I was still wearing a dopey smile on my face half an hour after the movie was done, I knew it had earned 5 out of 6 stars.

------- Haiku Movie Review™ --------
Something About Sam
Is Very Unusual...
What Is His Story?
----------------------
RIYL - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Garden State, Phenomenon


Hotel Rwanda - 4 out of 6 stars

I can appreciate this movie more than the others in this week's review, but I don't like it more. You can call me uncultured, or low-class, but I like movies that make me feel good. This movie made me feel bad. really bad. I knew it would, so I actually put off watching it. It is a good movie, maybe even a great movie, but I can't get over the fact that it is no fun to watch. It's about Genocide, for crying out loud!

I thought for a while that Don Cheadle was a great actor. Then I saw Swordfish and Family Man and changed my mind. I was wrong. The second time, when I changed my mind, I mean... I mean I was right when I thought he was great! He is. This movie settles it once and for all. Don Cheadle is a terrific actor, who was unfortunately cast in Swordfish and Family Man. His depiction of Hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina was outstanding. Another low-class prejudice of mine is a respect for accent work. I know, intellectually, that faking a foreign accent in a film is nothing compared to the sort of gut-wrenching emotional work that Denzel Washington did in John Q., or that Mel Gibson did in Ransom, but nonetheless, I hear a non-native accent come out of an actor's mouth and I think "oooh.. He is quite an actor!" Anyway, Mr. Cheadle gives us BOTH a fancy foreign accent AND a powerful emotional performance.

Other actors did well in this movie as well. Sophie Okonedo does an awesome job in her role as Paul's Tutsi wife, Tatiana.(Paul was a Hutu.) Joaquin Phoenix takes on a surprisingly insignificant role as a cameraman with a western news outlet. Nick Nolte pays a Canadian soldier in charge of UN peacekeeping troops.

The film was a work of art, full of great acting and memorable moments, but if you want to feel good, watch Cars or Happy Feet instead.

------ Haiku Movie Review™ --------
Hotel Manager
Paul Rusesabagina
Saved Twelve Hundred Lives.
----------------------


RIYL - Last King of Scotland, Life is Beautiful, Schindler's List.

Be sure to log on next week ("Same Bat-Blog, Same Bat-Channel"), when we put A Very Long Engagement and Everything Is Illuminated under the Review-O-Scope, squeeze them, and see what comes out!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

ah, so this is what I meant to do whhen I emailed you...

yeah, I agree that you can't really do any of the last books in 1 movie like that. Oh for the days of the glorious 4-hour epic movies, complete with intermissions included in the film reels!

Thhough "Harry Potter and the High-speed Montage of Doom" seems a pretty apt title ; )