So, I'm making a big change with how I'm doing reviews. Few will probably even see this in the short-term, but I still find it important to explain what I'll be doing on here for the foreseeable future. I don't want to build up the reveal for a long time, so I'll just cut to the chase and *then* explain:
I will no longer being doing weekly reviews. I will also no longer being do movies older than one year; I will focus strictly on new releases in theaters or movies that have been released recently on Blu-Ray and DVD.
The main reason for this is basically that my viewership stats have been declining over an extended period of time lately. It hadn't bothered me much, but now it's gotten to a point where scarcely anyone is reading a new post. And anyone who's ever done any sort of content creation--whether it be blogging, video content or whatever--you probably know that it's frustrating to put time and effort into something and then have hardly anyone see it. I blame this partially on Facebook's algorithms--I post my reviews on a Page for the website there, and in the last year FB has set their algorithms so that Pages in general don't show up as much in a person's News Feed anymore (at least by default, anyway).
With all of that said, I can't really stop altogether. Overall, I enjoy it too much. Movies and writing are two passions of mine, and I find that I kind of need to combine the two--even if not on a timed basis like weekly, at least on occasion. So quitting altogether isn't really something I want to do.
But it still kind of feels like a waste of time at this point to be investing time and energy into writing up reviews for older movies that a lot of people have probably already seen and then have basically no one read those reviews anyway. This is also compounded with the fact that my life is a lot busier now than it was when I first started this site.
So the question is: how often will reviews be now? Well, it's not really a question of how often anymore; it's really just a matter of when I get around to watching certain new movies on my list. I do try to get to movies that I want to see in theaters on the opening weekend. I can also say with reasonable certainty that there should be at least one or two new reviews every month--and on a good month, hopefully a lot more than that. But some months may be quieter than others, and vice versa.
Also in the future: while I won't be doing any more reviews for movies older than one year, I may still drop a rating without a link in the Review Index for movies that I never reviewed that are part of franchises. For example: Ralph Breaks the Internet is about to hit theaters. I never reviewed the original Wreck-It Ralph. I'm not planning on watching/reviewing the new one until it's released on home media, but before then I may put a rating for the original in the Review Index--without linking a review. I may do this for other franchises as well that have new movies coming out but also have missing reviews--simply for completeness and reference's sake.
So, that's the gist of things. I don't plan on seeing any more movies in theaters in 2018, but there should still be a few reviews coming down the pipeline over the next couple of months. Until the next review...
Saturday, November 10, 2018
It took eleven years and eight movies, but the Harry Potter series finally came to a conclusion. (Well, until the Fantastic Beasts prequels, that is.) It's kind of an impressive achievement to pull off to be able to make that many movies without ever really losing momentum--especially when some other book-to-movie adaptation series don't get the chance to finish, even with less movies. But perhaps that just drives home just how big of a phenomenon Harry Potter was/is.
Anyone who was disappointed with Deathly Hallows Part 1 due to its slower pace won't be disappointed here. The film picks up right where the last one left off (literally doing a short replay of that film's final scene), and pretty much throws us right into the action. Here, Harry Potter and company are continuing their search to destroy the remaining Horcruxes and defeat Lord Voldemort once and for all. Unlike Part 1, though, there's less searching here and a lot more battling.
Admittedly, even the first action set piece--a heist scene of sorts--may still feel like just killing time. However, a new destination immediately emerges afterwards for the next Horcrux--Hogwarts itself. And right when they go to find it, Voldemort's forces descend upon Hogwarts to eliminate Harry once and for all--and anyone who stands in their way.
As such, it doesn't take very long for the big battle to begin. And when it does, even though we don't actually see all of the main war taking place, the film never lets up from there. We don't get a nearly-hour-long battle like in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (and that wasn't even the final act!), but everything that happens from here out is either action or setting up for action, and the only real breaks are for plot twists and needed exposition moments.
While the first third of the film or so is just fine as far as Harry Potter films go, what follows from there (particularly the final 45 minutes) is so good that it puts almost the entire rest of the film series to shame. Whether it's all the awesome magical battle/dueling scenes, or one of the greatest plot twists ever pulled off late in the game, or also one of the better "apparition(s)-from-the-dead" scenes ever, there's hardly anything to not like here. Yes, we could grump a bit about one of the plot points that allows Voldemort to be defeated--but in all fairness, it was kind of shaky in the book too (regarding that blasted Elder Wand). But what we're given is still so good that one can overlook a couple of the more shaky plot points. Sometimes a film's or book's conclusion can still be great or spectacular--even if it's not quite perfect.
Probably my greatest gripe of all with this film is how they handled Dumbledore's past. For all of the good that was done by splitting the movie into two parts and not having to cut out important stuff, they still didn't really do this part well. We meet Aberforth, Albus's brother, who attempts to cast doubt in Harry's mind of Albus. And their sister, Ariana, is briefly referenced (book fans will know the importance of all this). But the situation never really comes up again. The idea that Dumbledore isn't quite the man everyone thought he was is, in my opinion, so important in the book--but they touch on it so little in both Deathly Hallows movies.
But beyond that, there's very little negativity that can be said. This is just a stellar conclusion to a great series. Some film series have a hard time ending things on a strong note--and seldom does a final chapter actually get to be the best one of the series. But perhaps it's easier when the final book of the source material was as good as it is.
Saturday, November 3, 2018
The first ten minutes of this film -- on a purely cinematic level -- are some of the best in the entire Harry Potter film series. Beginning with a *rusting* Warner Bros level that helps to set the mood, followed by a rousing speech from Bill Nighy's Minister of Magic, Hermione having to wipe her parents' memories (for their safety), and Snape rendezvousing with Voldemort and the other Death Eaters for a creepy set-the-stage meeting--all to some of the best music in the entire series, courtesy of Alexandre Desplat.
Of course, this is kind of one of the more infamous films of the Harry Potter series--for being the drawn-out prelude to the finale where supposedly not much happens, for being a Part 1 in general, and for being the one where Harry Potter and friends go camping. So such compliments in the first paragraph may seem a bit much.
Here's the thing--it was a good idea to split this movie into two. Not just for the sake of the cash-grab, but the book is done better justice this way. Because it's a very long book, and a lot of important stuff happens in it. You couldn't have squashed all this into even one 150-minute movie. The final battle in Part 2 would've been very rushed. All the various plot twists towards the end would've been rushed, and some "less critical" ones might have even been left out. And how could you squash the hunt for about four or five Horcruxes into one movie? If you're still annoyed by all of this, you can blame the author for writing the book that way. (And even then, not quite everything got done proper justice--namely Dumbledore's past that comes to light in this book/movie(s).)
And actually, a fair bit happens in the first hour of Part 1. Aside from what was previously mentioned, we get a pretty good action scene early on involving the "multiple Harry's" gambit, and we get a pretty awesome Ministry infiltration scene, which also shows us Voldemort's grip on the Wizarding World (via his pawns) starting to take full effect in alarming fashion.
It's after that first hour where the whole "camping trip" starts, and things do admittedly get pretty slow-paced here for a bit. Here's the thing, though--unlike other installments in the series, it's kind of by design here--if that makes any sense. The idea is to instill the dreariness of the situation over lots of minutes of runtime, and to further explore the relationships between the main trio--which is done decently. It does feel like it could've been cut down a bit at times, and the slow pace just might be too much for some expecting more action in a penultimate film. That said, things do kick up again in the final 20-30 minutes, and a lot of interesting/exciting stuff happens there; the origin story of the Deathly Hallows stands out due to it being told in a unique animated style.
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is, in other words, actually pretty good. The pacing may not be what some would like, but it kind of works in context. And David Yates continues to do a good job at directing. There were a few changes in director early on in the franchise, and I feel that having the same one down the stretch only helped the series.
And now for the obligatory paragraph about the cast. There's actually not a lot of new faces with important roles in this one. I mentioned Bill Nighy earlier, but he's only onscreen for about five minutes. John Hurt gets arguably even less to do. Rhys Ifans fares better as Luna Lovegood's father, though. With regards to returning members, Helena Bonham Carter gets more deliciously over-the-top in this one. Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort is a welcome menacing presence after being gone in the previous movie. Jason Isaacs is also back as Lucius Malfoy, and he does quite well in portraying a more disgraced, desperate version of the character. And of course, Radcliffe and Watson are good as always.
This probably won't ever be remembered as one of the better Harry Potter films. And that's fine, because it still really isn't. But it's still not one of the worst either--for example, this is certainly better than the previous installment, Half-Blood Prince. And it still does a good job of setting some things up for Part 2. Not really a whole lot more that can be said; this film plays its role, and I guess your opinion of this film might depend upon your opinion of that role it plays.