Tag Archive: Daniel Radcliffe


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.

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always looking for a good movie to see in January and February.  (If you’ve already seen all of the Oscar nominated films, they can be a pretty bleak movie going months.)  In the spirit of our examination of scary movies leading up to Halloween, I have a feeling this movie will be in the wheelhouse of the writers of borg.com as well as the readers.  Here’s the trailer:

So, just to recap, here are the elements of the movie we can see in the trailer:

1)  Daniel Radcliffe

Boom.  If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’re probably already sold.  If you’re a fan of English men with sideburns that ride in horse drawn carriages, and really, who isn’t, then you’re really in luck.

2)  Weird Dolls

If you watch Doctor Who you probably saw this season’s “Night Terrors.”  I don’t need to tell you that dolls coming to life or just watching you from a corner make everything feel eerie.

3)  A Poem Slowly Read

It took a couple of listens, but anytime you have a vaguely sounding nursery rhyme spoken beneath a bunch of scary images, it brings out a feeling of dread.  Add in the fact that the voice is a young girl and it gets worse, much worse.  Which brings us to the last item from the trailer…

4)  OHMYGOSH MORE CREEPY GIRLS

Get out of my head people.  I’m tired of being scared.  I’m beginning to think that the worst possible place on the planet to be at any moment would be a Justin Bieber concert, and while just listening to the music and maybe dancing in place, because you know, it’s the Biebs, every single tween girl turns around as one and stares at you with eyes that have turned completely black.

Shudder.  Never mind.  Pay no attention to those last sentences.  I don’t want that movie being made.  Well, at least until I get to see The Woman in Black.  Give it a few months until after I see this and then make it.  I’m sure by then, I’ll be ready to be scared again.

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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