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Tag Archive: Ciaran Hinds


The phrase “famous firsts” usually conjures images of inventors and inventions.  It also conjures early explorers, those who crossed an ocean to find a new home to settle in, those who climbed the tallest peaks, those who made it the farthest to the North and the farthest to the South.  And of course it all conjures famous scientific feats, famous explorations upward.  A real-life famous first explorer is the subject of one of today’s trailers, two are science fiction visions of firsts of the future, and we added one other trailer just to bookend the set–the latest post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie.

It’s probably the right time for a big-budget movie to showcase Neil Armstrong’s first moonshot with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.  Then again, it’s a bit early, as the Apollo 11 50th anniversary doesn’t arrive until next summer.  Beginning with Clint Eastwood at the helm, a movie adaptation of Professor James R. Hansen’s 2005 biography of Armstrong, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, was passed around with development issues for several years.  The result, First Man, is finally arriving in theaters in October (we previewed the first trailer back in June here at borg.com).  One of Hollywood’s current go-to guys, Ryan Gosling was cast as Armstrong, with Claire Foy as his wife Janet.  A more interesting supporting slate may get some attention, hopefully filling out the story as a worthy follow-on to The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, although the trailer looks like a family drama focused on Neil and Janet.  Ciarán Hinds plays NASA director Robert Gilruth, Kyle Chandler (Early Edition, Super 8) plays astronaut Deke Slayton, Jason Clarke (Terminator: Genisys, Winchester), plays astronaut Ed White, Ethan Embry (That Thing You Do, Hawaii Five-O) plays astronaut Pete Conrad, Xena: Warrior Princess’s William Gregory Lee plays astronaut Gordo Cooper, and in the big seats Corey Stoll (Marvel’s Ant-Man) and Lukas Haas (The Revenant, Solarbabies) play the other guys in the capsule, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Another big first will no doubt be humanity’s first trip to Mars–if we get that far–and a new Hulu series will take on chronicling what that project may be like in the series called simply First It stars Sean Penn.

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Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner in 2017 and a Golden Globe nominee again this year for best actress in a television series, all for The Crown, Claire Foy is quickly becoming an actor to keep an eye out for.  Her career continues on an upward trajectory this Fall when she stars in two big screen movie releases.  Both of these films saw their first trailers arrive this weekend.  One is a historical biopic and the other a crime story, both adaptations of bestselling books.

Coming first is director Damien Chazelle’s First Man from Universal Pictures, a film about astronaut Neil Armstrong starring Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, The Nice Guys), with Foy co-starring as Armstrong’s wife Janet, based on a book by James R. Hansen.  The film also stars Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) as Buzz Aldrin, Lukas Haas (Witness, The Revenant) as Mike Collins, Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Winchester) as Ed White, Ethan Embry (That Thing You Do!, Batman Beyond) as Pete Conrad, Kyle Chandler (Super 8, Argo) as Deke Slayton, and Ciaran Hinds (The Sum of All Fears, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2) in an undisclosed role.

Next will be director Fede Alvarez’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web from Sony Pictures.  This is a sequel to the film adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Foy takes on the role of Millennium series star Lisbeth Salander, formerly played in the Swedish film by Noomi Rapace and later the American production by Rooney Mara.  This is the first story in the dark and violent series not written by Larsson–David Lagercrantz was tapped to pen the novel this film is based upon.  The film co-stars Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049).

Here is Claire Foy in new trailers for First Man and The Girl in the Spider’s Web:

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Sometimes writers find the right obscure but fascinating event of the past to tap for the next fictionalized tale.  The Terror, a new series beginning tomorrow on AMC, has the potential of being the next clever idea in the historical horror category.  By all accounts it looks like a secret prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (just as the movie Split was a secret film in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable saga).  That’s not really the case for this suspense-thriller, supernatural-horror series despite its similarly chilling, desolate, Arctic setting, blood and gore horrors, and lurking menace.  It’s a fictionalized account of actual events from 1845-1848, written by author Dan Simmons in his 2007 novel of the same name.  But it couldn’t look more like a John Carpenter creation.  It begins tomorrow night on AMC.

The novel is such prime fodder for a novel it’s incredible it hadn’t been adapted before in this way.  In the real world the British Captain John Franklin was leading an Arctic exploration for the Northwest Passage with two ships, the HMS Terror (The Terror!  Yes, really!), and the HMS Erebus (in Greek mythology Erebus was a primordial deity representing the personification of deep darkness, shadow, and chaos).  It is no secret that the expedition is noted in history books as a famous lost expedition.  The British character names sound like you’d expect in a fictional seafaring crew penned by the likes of C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian, or Robert Louis Stevenson: Commander James Fitzjames, Dr Harry D.S. Goodsir, Cornelius Hickey, Seaman Magnus Manson.  Playing Captain Franklin is Ciarán Hinds, the brilliant character actor we’ve loved in everything from Mary Reilly and Jane Eyre to The Sum of All Fears, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Woman in Black, John Carter, and Shetland (and he was the voice of Steppenwolf in Justice League and starring now in Red Sparrow).  The captain of the Terror is played by Sherlock Holmes film star Jared Harris (Far and Away, Last of the Mohicans, Lady in the Water, The Riches, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Fringe, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Fitzjames is played by Tobias Menzies (Star Wars: Rebels, Outalnder, Casino Royale, Law & Order: UK, Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones).  Alistair Petrie (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Victor Frankenstein, Hellboy) plays Dr. Stanley.  And Greta Scacchi (Emma, The Player, Presumed Innocent) plays Lady Franklin.

The production for The Terror looks gorgeously historic, the ships and costumes as intricately crafted as those in the A&E Horatio Hornblower series and Master and Commander.  The show’s production design is by Jonathan McKinstry (known for the original Total Recall, Band of Brothers, Penny Dreadful, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Borgias, and Sphere), with supervising art director Matthew Hywel-Davies (Doctor Who, Torchwood), and set decorator Kevin Downey (Mary Shelley, King Arthur, Penny Dreadful, Little Women).  Costumes were created by Annie Symons, who designed the wardrobes for King Arthur, The Woman in Black 2, and TV shows The Hollow Crown, Doctor Zhivago, Sweeney Todd, Dracula, and Great Expectations.  Showrunners are David Kajganich (In the Clouds, A Bigger Splash) and Soo Hugh (The Killing, Under the Dome, The Whispers).  The fact that Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Alien: Covenant, Coma) is executive producer has been heavily marketed.

Here is a preview for tomorrow’s first episode of The Terror:

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Game of Thrones - Season 3 Ygritte Rose Leslie

Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its third season a week from tomorrow.  And HBO has released several previews to give fans something to get psyched for.  If you’re not caught up on the series, Season 1 is available in a five-disc DVD version for $39.99 and a seven-disc Blu-Ray version for $47.99 and Season 2 is available in a five-disc version for $37.99 and a seven-disc Blu-Ray version for $47.99, both from Amazon.com.  You can also stream each episode of Season 1 and Season 2 also at Amazon.com to get caught up on the series at $2.99 per episode.

On Sunday, March 31, 2013, HBO airs the Season 3 opener “Valar Dohaeris.”  “Valar Dohaeris” is an expression in the Game of Thrones language High Valyrian, meaning “all men must serve”. It is a saying in the continent of Essos, and is the answer to the expression “Valar Morghulis” – “all men must die”. Sort of reminds us of the Ancient Roman Latin soldier sayings “Nos morituri te salutamus” meaning “We are about to die salute you” or “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” meaning “It is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland.”

HBO is certainly on top of things when it comes to previews.  It seems like no other series has put out so many.  Here are several that should either catch you up on the series or give you a look at what is coming soon.

Here is an official ten-minute Season 1 and 2 recap:

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The first movie trailer for the screen adaptation of Les Miserables the musical (not to be confused with countless prior adaptations of the original Victor Hugo novel) is here.  The trailer features Anne Hathaway as she’s never been seen before as the desperate and sickly French worker Fantine, singing “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Check it out:

It all looks very epic and bleak–hence, the misery of the title.  I know audiences love the Fantine song but I’m thinking I would have marketed this more as a rousing war movie, as the best part of Les Mis the musical in my view were the big chorus numbers with the soldiers or the “Master of the House” bit.

Hathaway in Les Mis.

Epic historical costume dramas focusing on music have to work to find their audience, and once in a while, as with Amadeus, you score a hit that brings everyone to the theater.  Is Les Mis capable of that success?

Crowe and Jackman in Les Mis.

With as much as the adaptation of the musical of The Phantom of the Opera had going for it, with superb performances by Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow, Poseidon) as Christine, Gerard Butler (Timeline, 300, Tomorrow Never Dies) as the Phantom, Minnie Driver (The Riches, Ella Enchanted, X-Files, GoldenEye) as Carlotta, Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, A Gifted Man) as Raoul, Ciaran Hinds (The Woman in Black, Munich, Harry Potter VII, Pt 2, Ghost Rider II, Lara Croft II, Road to Perdition, The Sum of All Fears, Mary Reilly, Excalibur) as Firmin, and Simon Callow (Doctor Who, Amadeus, Shakespeare in Love, Howard’s End) as Andre, it did not receive the critical acclaim it deserved.  It will take an incredibly well done Les Mis film to out-do The Phantom, so this new film has a lot to overcome.  And even then it may take a lot to get folks to see it again but this time on-screen or less likely, see it on-screen without first seeing the musical.

Patrick Wilson and Emmy Rossum in the brilliant adaptation of the musical of The Phantom of the Opera.

Hopefully more interesting, and not yet revealed, will be performances by Sacha Baron Cohen (Talladega Nights, The Dictator) and Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, Harry Potter series) as the horrible inn keepers.  But Hugh Jackman looks appropriately haggard as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe looks uncharacteristically vile as the relentless Javert.  Amanda Seyfried looks just plain miscast as Cosette.  Can Hathaway pull off a singing and gritty role like Fantine?  She’s done serious work before and was great in the musical Ella Enchanted, although that was a comedy and didn’t require that she take herself seriously.  If she can pull this role off–a role that might as well be up there with the best known Shakepearean characters–it could catapult her into a different league of actresses and away from the typical modern 20-something roles.

Les Miserables hits theaters December 14, 2012.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Regular readers will recall that one of our most-anticipated films of the season opened this weekend.  The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and borg.com favorite Ciaran Hinds (everything!), is a classic ghost story set in the late Victorian era, and offers up plenty of spooky atmosphere and a handful of startling horror sequences, though ultimately nothing too terribly terrifying.

Based on the 1983 novel by Susan Hill, and following a successful run as a play in London, The Woman in Black recounts the tale of Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), a young, widowed solicitor hired to settle the affairs at the creepy, isolated Eel Marsh House in the equally creepy village of Crythin Gifford.  The film opens in true gothic fashion, with the young protagonist’s journey into a landscape that is both literally and metaphorically haunting and despondent.  Here, the unearthly fenlands and heavy-handed Victorian furnishings are used to excellent effect, setting the scene for a tale of loss and decrepitude.

From his arrival in Crythin Gifford, Kipps is made bluntly unwelcome by nearly everyone he meets: his innkeeper, his local employment office, and the brooding villagers in turn.  Only Mr. Daily (Hinds), a worldly stranger he meets on the train, makes any effort at friendship or hospitality, and will become a welcome ally during the course of the film.  Finally at work at Eel Marsh, Kipps discovers a house with a secret, suffused not just with damp and cobwebs, but with old memories and desperate grief turned to vengeance.  As Kipps works in the mansion, the titular Woman in Black works her deadly influence on the villagers.

Since a great deal of the fun of a good ghost story is the unraveling of the backstory (and, even more importantly, since that backstory makes up about 80% of the plot here), we won’t reveal more about the actual storyline.  Purists will want to note that apparently the story presented in the film is a rather sharp departure from that of the novel, so consider yourself prepared.

This is a gothic-styled ghost story (with actual ghosts), in the vein of The Others or The Turn of the Screw, so it relies on building an unsettling atmosphere, more than in depicting graphic horror.  The scares here are along the lines of what we saw in The Sixth Sense, although sadly, if you’ve seen the previews, you’ve already seen essentially every startling scene.  There is one brief moment of gore, hardly enough to warrant the PG-13 rating (though more sensitive viewers may find the plot sufficient for that).  The story is likewise somewhat thin and fairly predictable–yet The Woman in Black managed to deliver an ending I found immensely satisfying.

The highlight of the movie (aside from the incredibly grim Victorian set dressing at Eel Marsh, which deserves attention come awards season) was probably the performance handed in by veteran British character actor Ciaran Hinds.  Playing the only villager willing to confide in Kipps, Hinds adds a needed gravity to the film as a man of reason, determined to deal with his grief on his own terms.

If you’re looking for scares galore, graphic gore, and a film that will propel you screaming from your seats–this isn’t that movie.  If you’re a fan of costume dramas; misty, foggy landscapes; and traditional hauntings borne from compelling backstory, you’ll probably find The Woman in Black worth the ticket price.

Review by C.J. Bunce

(spoiler free)

Roger Ebert once said that he hesitated calling the movie Caligula the worst movie ever made, even though he believed it, because he thought that would drive certain types of viewers to actually see the movie.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is not the worst movie ever made.  But it is a contender for the most boring.  Where The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was over-packed with too much of everything it tried to be, Tinker, Tailor suffers from offering the viewer too little.  Tinker, Tailor promises to be sophisticated.  It is not.  It is marketed as being absorbing.  It is very far from that.

Some stories suffer from the battle between showing and telling us, showing us too much without dialogue to allow us to understand what is going on, telling us too much by having characters explain background to other characters who would really already know everything that is being said.  There is neither showing nor telling in Tinker, Tailor.  There is just a lot of slow, agonizing slow movement, no linear structure, and no perceptible plot.  No way to sleuth out the riddle, no red herrings, no intrigue.  Nothing relevant, nothing big at stake any current audience will care about.  Men staring at other men and not talking for uncomfortable stretches of time.  All supposedly intended to demonstrate some sophisticated moviemaking.  In the end, no coherent point emerged.  Halfway through the film I wondered if the theater would return my money or whether the course of the movie would change, or whether I should just ride it out.  I did.  So many scenes of nothing happening make it hard to watch the screen–my mind wanted to wander off into anything else.

The cast of actors, of course, was top notch.  But they would have been better utilized with a better story.  And even if John le Carre’s novel is as boring as this film, you would think the director would have accepted the challenge to try to make some of the scenes exciting, or at least mildly interesting.  Tinker, Tailor is not even mildly interesting as stories go.  Key missing elements:  There is no plot development.  There is no character development.  There is no reason given to like any character.  There is no building of suspense.  There is no payoff at the end.  There is an excruciatingly long beginning that merges with an equally long middle and end.  There is a lot of seat fidgeting-wishing you hadn’t sat in a middle seat so you could more easily escape to get some caffeine to make it through the rest of the film, maybe loiter in the hallway.

This perhaps explains why it was only initially run in limited release, and why it is still only playing in a few theaters around the country.  Why message boards are full of viewers asking questions.  Fans of the great roster of actors in the film, including this reviewer, could hardly wait to see this movie.  Here it was one of our ten most highly anticipated films of 2012.  It could be that such expectation makes the resulting movie that much more disappointing, yet even with little anticipation the average viewer must be befuddled with what is displayed on-screen.

I had read early reviews out of L.A. and NYC, half of which referred to Tinker, Tailor as boring.  Why did I brush those off?  The cast of actors.  If a friend of yours recommends this movie to you, ask yourself some questions.  Is this person really a friend?  All that said, I am not angry about seeing this film.  It may very well be that the lesson of this film is that, despite all the excitement we see in spy movies like the James Bond films, real spy work is as boring as any other job.  But I don’t go to movies to see real life.  I want escapism.  And I truly wanted to see these actors acting.  Ultimately I like the humans behind the roles and want to see more of them.  It is just unfortunate they all landed in this film.  Look at the great actors in the film one by one:

Gary Oldman.  Folks who rave that Oldman should be nominated for an Oscar for this role are really crediting him with his past work and potential, not the work in this film.  Most of the film is Oldman staring at the viewer blankly as others speak to him.  Or, as happens far too much in this picture, he is “en route” to someplace or “biding time” between scenes where normally there would be some action.  This includes Oldman, with glasses on, wading in a pond.  More than once.  For no reason.  What is he thinking?  Who knows?  Or Oldman walking upstairs.  Or waiting outside.  Or sitting in a car.  Is it that hard for an actor to sit still?  Now compare that to his stunning performances as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films, as the villain in The Fifth Element, as Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight, where, in each of these films, he was visibly passionate and demonstrated his acting range in riveting ways.  You would call nothing in Tinker, Tailor riveting.

Colin Firth.  Who doesn’t like Colin Firth?  He was Best Actor at last year’s Oscars.  All women love this guy.  He has a solid range of talent, whether in The King’s Speech, or Pride and Prejudice, or The English Patient, or Shakespeare in Love.  He is just wasted in this film on a character that gets little screen-time and when he does get screen-time it is all about his good looks.  Make no mistake, this is not another “Colin Firth movie.”

Ciaran Hinds.  Some of the best acting I have ever seen on film includes scenes featuring Ciaran Hinds, whether in Jane Eyre, Road to Perdition, The Sum of All Fears, Phantom of the Opera, or Munich–Hinds has incredible stage presence, and when he plays a character gravely it is palpable.  Like Firth, he is wasted here.  Worse yet, he pretty much vanishes at the end of the film with no resolution to his character’s story.

John Hurt.  At least Hurt gets to show what he can do, as a paranoid, hyper-intense spy leader.  But his scenes are pitched at us, often in unsuspecting flashbacks such as an earlier Christmas party that repeatedly underwhelms and is over-used, and his role, purpose, backstory and knowledge of the focus of the story is never made clear to the viewer.  For more than 40 years, back to The Man for All Seasons, to I, Claudius, to The Elephant Man, Alien, Skeleton Key, and V for Vendetta, he doesn’t miss a beat in his often bizarre roles.  Again, it is too bad the film can’t match his talent.

To be sure, the film does not suffer from the skills of any of its talented actors.

I can identify three saving graces for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which gives someone credit for trying, and rewards the casting director, composer, and the set designer for adding some realistic circa 1973 British style.

The soundtrack is quite good.  It is the soundtrack of an early 1970s suspense thriller.  Yet despite this, the movie never remotely matches the intensity of the ambitious musical score.  The composer Alberto Iglesias creates ambiance, and he, along with the production designer Maria Djurkovic, make you think you’re getting, and wish for, a suspenseful 1970s era film like All the President’s Men, or Three Days of the Condor.  In the opening scenes I kept looking across the screen, waiting for this to turn into a British version of our mob movies, like The Untouchables.  The look and feel is there, thanks to the composer and set designer.  But that story…  It’s like someone giving you a book with all the pages glued together.

The other saving grace is the young secondary cast members.  It is great to see them have the opportunity to develop their dramatic acting sea-legs working alongside such great older actors as Oldman, Firth, Hinds, and Hurt.  As a viewer, you wonder what they will be working on in their 40s:

Tom Hardy.  As the young clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis, Hardy got his first international attention.  Here, his passionate performance gives the audience something to hope for in the story.  It’s never fruitful, but Hardy is fun to watch, and his own hopelessness almost makes us want to care about the storyline.  The best surprise in the film was seeing that Tom Hardy can act.

Benedict Cumberbatch.  He plays a lackey for most of the film, Oldman’s sidekick, but gets a few chances to shine that he takes full advantage of.  Cumberbatch is not a typical looking lead actor but he is engaging, and in all of his roles he commands viewers’ attention.

Which leaves us with the best performance in the movie, that of Mark Strong (nee Marco Giuseppe Salussolia), who dazzled as the villain in the Robert Downey, Jr. movie Sherlock Holmes, and gave us the best part of the movie Green Lantern, playing Sinestro.  I point out Strong’s real name because he reminded me in the film very much of another good, and under-utilized, actor often seen in Italian roles, Andy Garcia (The Untouchables, The Godfather, Part III, Dead Again, Ocean’s Eleven) (who actually is not Italian but from Cuba).  Strong’s performance is nuanced, and we actually get to see his character go through a range of circumstances.  Of course, like the rest of the film, they take us on a slow ride to nowhere.  Still, if Tinker, Tailor leaves us with anything, we have the promise of great future careers for Strong, Cumberbatch, and Hardy.

Despite what you see in movie marketing, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy lacks anything riveting, lacks suspense, lacks basic elements of story like plot.  It lacks all the excitement that makes a typical spy movie enjoyable.  It feigns sophistication, but unlike something like the TV series Mad Men, it is only a pretender.  Unfortunately it is not worth your 127 minutes or $5-10 for any other feature of the film, such as performances by the top-level cast, and if you must see it, you might wait until the video release–and you can thank me later for waiting until you can use the fast forward on your remote to get through all the scenes where nothing happens.  If you go, don’t be surprised if you walk out and join countless commenters on message boards asking “what just happened?”  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is in theaters in general release beginning this weekend. 1 of 5 stars.

BTW, the movie’s official website must be open to criticism, which is commendable.  Here this very review was re-posted on their web page:

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

Harry Potter never had it easy.  A kid with a dark destiny thrust into a world of muggles as a baby from a world of hidden magic and secrets.  As his story progressed no matter how many people acted in support of him, in the last two of seven episodes we learn that maybe the cards were stacked against him from even before his birth.  And only at the end do we learn the truth and his destiny is finally revealed.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, debuted in the UK last weekend and this weekend in the U.S. to record midnight screening and opening day box office sales of $92.1 million.  Thankfully, our devotion to Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends over 13 years of our lives was rewarded with a satisfying conclusion.  It’s not a perfect film, or even close to it, but it is a lot of fun and if your expectations after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, were as low as mine, you might just walk out as pleasantly surprised as I was, willing to go back for another screening. 

Look forward to the best Harry Potter movie since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  And it is much better than Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

Highlights of  Deathly Hallows, Part 2, include: 

  • Our favorite underdog, background character Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) finally gets his due screentime, and if there is any young actor we want to see more of post-Harry Potter, it is this actor as an adult. 
  • We get to meet a new resident of Hogwarts, Helena Ravenclaw, played beautifully by Kelly MacDonald (Trainspotting, Elizabeth, Gosford Park, State of Play, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, No Country for Old Men).
  • We get to meet Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore, played by the brilliant Ciaran Hinds (Excaliber, Sum of All Fears, Phantom of the Opera, Road to Perdition, Tomb Raider, Jane Eyre, Race to Witch Mountain).
  • Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, who will will not back down and demands to have her say, gives a performance that could very well have been the female lead in this movie.
  • A superb scene of a rescue from Gringotts of a white dragon, incredibly lifelike and a satisfying scene.
  • In the 3D version, we get to see Hogwarts like never before, with an introductory shot of the mysterious, ever-watching Dementors, seeming to bookend our flight as we soar into the dark journey ahead.  In fact, this is the best 3D movie I have seen–nothing over the top or dazzling–but good enough that you feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation between Harry, Hermione and Ron from under the stairsteps.  Or that you could grab a prop, like the Sword of Gryffindor, or like one of those thousands of gold chalices under Gringotts, from the production set.  I actually forgot it was a 3D movie.

My negatives are with the story, and the decision to break the novel into two films, more than the film itself.  Although it was a fun read, I did not love the novel.  I thought J.K. Rowling saved too much for the end, after three previous forgettable installments where not a lot happened.  Too much crammed into the last book, and if better planned out, some of the revelations in this last installment could have been more subtlely peppered through the prior installments.  And the jam-packed story was all too rushed. 

As an example, (a spoiler for those who have not read the book or seen Deathly Hallows, Part 1):  Rowling seemed to spend a lot of time with Harry’s sadness at the death of Dobby the Elf, yet snuffed out the life of Harry’s closest companion going back to day one at Hogwart’s–the only one at his side even while he had to live with the Dursley’s–his pet owl Hedwig.  And she goes on to snuff out beloved characters almost willy-nilly in my mind without much reflection by our hero.  Loyal readers probably will figure this occurs off-screen, but again I think the story presses forward like a freight train out of control at times–it must, because there are too many ends that need tied up.

 

Ultimately the tying up occurs, and we can walk out of the theater with our questions answered.  Finally, there did not seem to be enough Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), and when we did see them, Hermione’s role was more of a watcher than the heroine we’ve come to love.  There was not enough of Severus Snape’s (Alan Rickman) story, and I also am still not a fan of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) make-up and don’t believe Voldemort will go down as one of the best cinema villains despite Fiennes top-notch acting.

The slow, almost boring, parts of Deathly Hallows, Part 1, after watching Part 2, tell me that there never was a need to break the book into two films.  With the new Twilight installment following suit by splitting a book into two movies, to me this reflects greed of the franchise and nothing else.  For the sake of moviegoers, hopefully this is not the wave of the future.  Prices at my theater were at an all-time high.  With returns of $92 million on the first day, and all the blockbusters this summer, Hollywood can’t be doing that bad.

All said, this final installment is great entertainment, a must for Harry Potter fans, and an excuse to play catch-up on any past Harry Potter episodes you may have missed (for the three people out there who haven’t already seen them all).  The film offers a denouement that is a great wrap-up, thoughtful, and hopefully removes all possibility of any need of any future installments in the franchise.

Postscript for anyone who likes to see screen-used costumes and props–the Smithsonian Institution is arranging an exhibit of costumes from the Harry Potter franchise.  More details to be announced.

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