Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular – A Review

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Earlier today, I had the delight of attending the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular at the Sydney Opera House.   This is not my first experience attending an event such as this, having also experienced the music of John Williams, and a Star Trek compilation at the same venue.   The following is a summary of my thoughts of today’s event.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Helen McCrory, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, David Thewlis, Julie Waters, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Natalia Tena, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Ciaràn Hinds, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent

Synopsis: The final chapter in the popular series of eight films that began ten years ago, based on the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.   This is the final battle for Hogwarts, and the time when Harry must face his final confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort.

Given that this franchise has been with us since 2001, it is almost with a sense of disbelief that with this film, it draws to a close.   The film proves a thrilling conclusion, providing fantastic action sequences and special effects, some great character moments and, for those that have not read the books, a few unexpected surprises along the way.   If there is one complaint I can level against the film, it is that it is too short.   The 130 minutes pass very quickly, and not a minute of it seems wasted.

The films have certainly come away since the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.   The quality of the special effects are amazing, truly taking advantage of advances in technology in the intervening period.   More significant, however, is the improvement in the performance of the three leads.   Watson’s performances have been of high calibre for many films now, leaving the boys behind, however Grint and Radcliffe have both had substantial acting experiences themselves outside of the Potter franchise, and the benefit of these project shows.   Radcliffe gives a very commanding performance, leading no doubt that this young man is capable of the extreme responsibility on his shoulders.

Fans of the novels may be somewhat disappointed.   Always the price of an adaptation like this is that some of the finer details get left out.   Those fans, myself included, would argue extra time could have been added to this running time to highlight some of these elements more clearly.   This in the end is a minor criticism, given that the film does succeed in giving screen time to almost every single significant character from previous films, both living and dead.   The fact that most of these characters have been played by some of the most brilliant actors in the UK today is an added treat.   They each manage to shine despite many getting scant time on-screen.

In the end, this is the classic battle of good against evil, that addresses thematic concerns as the nature of evil, dealing with loss, and not being too quick to judge others.   Some may question some of the choices made in adapting the novel, but apart from this the film delivers everything one could demand for the final instalment of a beloved story.

4 stars out of 5.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on IMDB

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NYt1qirBWg]

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – A Review by Film Nerd

For details of cast and crew, and links to IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and the trailer for this film, please see the review already posted by Urban Fantasist;

UrbanFantasist’s Review

It is with pleasure that I write this review, especially in reflection to the original goals of this blog.   As this film has the potential to be reviewed by at least three different contributors.   As linked above, Urban Fantasist has already provided a fantastic review of the film, and Bride of Film Nerd has promised to follow-up with her own very shortly.   I am also left with a dilemma though.   Urban Fantasist’s review I found to be absolutely spot on, so my challenge is to provide my own comment more specific to my own interests, without covering too much of the same ground and just being repetitive.

Here it goes.   From the absolute outset of this film, a very different tone is established immediately.   In the promotional interviews for ever Potter film from Chamber of Secrets onwards, the claim was made that each film was darker than the last.   Though this proved never a false statement, in the case of The Deathly Hallows, it could not be more apt.   No potter film before this has started on such a drastic note.   It makes it very clear that this is not another year at Hogwarts, that this is war and the odds could not be mounted higher against our lead three protagonists.   All this was achieved before even the Potter logo appearing on-screen.   In a way, i was reminded of how the pre-credits sequence in Bond takes you out of the real world and right smack bang in the middle of the action of the film.   Viewing it was perhaps even a little uncomfortable, but at the same time it is clear that this is what director Yates is aiming for.

This is evident as this is overall a film with comparatively little levity.   Yates chose to prepare the audience early, and I certainly found his methods effective.   He further illustrates what is at stake by an early interlude between Ginny and Harry.   In discussing why a wedding was held at a time like this, Harry rightfully points out that maybe preserving moments like those was one of the most important things they can do.    As an audience member who has seen it to the end, I am inclined to agree with him, given the prices that were paid over the 2 and half hours of this film.    Just as Urban Fantasist did, I cried, at an identical point to which I cried during the book.   At the risk of being beaten up later, even Bride of Film Nerd, who mocked my reaction to Toy Story 3, was affected by the emotion of the moment.

A quick note should be written on what has improved overall with this film.   The lead three actors have all grown into their roles,  and their ability to convey the emotions of each is now at an admirably high level of talent.   Special note I feel should be made of Tom Felton’s performance as Draco.   He really became an acting force in the last film, and though given less to do overall in Part 1, he provides a nuanced performance that makes a three-dimensional character of what had initially been a two-dimensional villain.   The pacing of the film was just what was needed.   We know all the real action is yet to occur in Part 2, so this is in many respects a long preamble, but at no point does it become boring, and I could easily have kept sitting past the end credits for them to start playing the next instalment for me then and there.   The pacing is in itself a huge improvement on the book, which often lagged during the events shown here.   The other improvement was in the CGI.   The house-elves return in this film, the creatures that had previously been incredibly fake, especially in an era of Peter Jackson’s Gollum.    This is no longer the case, with the elves being absolutely amazing, not only gaving softened and life-like facial features, but now blending pretty much seamlessly with the external environment and with the actors.   I am especially glad for this as without these improvements, some of the scenes with the house-elves would not have had anywhere near the same impact.

Urban Fantasist finished her review with a comment concerning what an absolutely wild Potter fan she is.   I should perhaps add to my review that I was also an established Potter fan prior to this film, however I could never compete with my colleagues level of obsession.   I only actually read Deathly Hallows once, much less than any other book in the series, and I had forgotten a  surprising amount.   I do feel though that this extra knowledge did make the film viewing experience richer for me, and there were a few things extra I would have liked to have seen.   Looking dispassionately at what was cut though, it is easy to see how it would have adversely affected the pacing of the film, while adding comparatively little.   I also feel enough information was available for the uninitiated to enjoy.    In the end, the main thing that stops mew giving this 5 stars is because I am petulant and want to see the finale to the series right now!!

4 stars (out of a possible 5)