Friday, November 30, 2012

Gary Oldman and the Harry Potter Movie

 By Casey Wren

Image property of Warner Brothers

That’s right, boys and girls, it’s the third Harry Potter movie! And Gary Oldman’s in it! The third book in a series of seven by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban follows yet another of young Harry’s adventures in the wizarding world. It’s possibly my personal favourite book in the series, with what I think is a passable movie adaptation. Let’s take a look.

As always, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson play Harry, Ron, and Hermione. This movie shows the continuing growth in their acting abilities, with their performances looking much smoother than they did when they first started out.

David Thewlis plays Remus Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher (hey, I’m starting to notice a pattern here). I’ve heard and seen a few complaints about this choice, in regards to the age of the character. A few people seem to believe Thewlis was “too old” for the part. These complaints appear to be few and far between, but I’ll address it anyway because I happen to disagree. Though I don’t think Thewlis looked or was particularly “old”, I remember Lupin being described as looking a bit older than he actually was (or something along those lines) in the books. Besides, after watching his performance, I feel Thewlis was an excellent choice to play the mild-mannered, kindly new teacher, and I wouldn’t have replaced him if I had the chance.

Sirius Black is played by the talented Gary Oldman. Much like Alan Rickman was THE choice for Snape, Oldman is THE choice for Black. His every action, from the delivery of lines to his facial expressions, portray the insane character of Black to perfection (yes, portraying insane perfectly IS a compliment in the right context).

Image Property of Warner Brothers

Crookshanks the cat is portrayed beautifully by...a cat. Why am I even mentioning a cat? Well I’ll tell you. Not only am I simply fond of cats and like to mention them whenever I can, Crookshanks played a bit of a bigger role in the book than he did in the movie. How much bigger a role can a cat possibly have? You can read the book to find out, or leave it at “she’s fond of cats and like to mention them whenever she can”. Either way, you’re not wrong.

Michael Gambon plays Albus Dumbledore in this movie. A replacement for the late Richard Harris (who played the character in the previous two films), Gambon is closer to what I imagined Dumbledore to be. Don’t get me wrong, Harris played the character exceptionally, but I pictured Dumbledore as more energetic. Gambon portrays this better, though I must say, both actors portrayed the character beautifully.

Emma Thompson plays Sybill Trelawney, the Divination teacher at Hogwarts. In the book, she’s there mainly to annoy students and readers alike, casting doubt on both her seer abilities and the validity of divination in general. In the movie, she is no different. Still annoying and perhaps slightly delusional, the character is a pain in the neck...but you can’t help but like her just a little bit.

Lastly, we have Aunt Marge, portrayed by Pam Ferris. Though her appearance is only a few minutes long, she quickly earned a place in my heart as the most hated of Harry’s aunts. Yes, even more-so than Petunia. See, for as much as I hate Petunia, she has a story behind her and her actions, and maybe has her own reasons for being as ghastly and dislikable as she is. Marge....Marge is just a bitch. Ferris shows us this in a span of maybe five minutes. Very well played, Ferris, I applaud you.

Next, we have settings. There’s not a whole lot I’d like to note here except for Hogsmeade. Within the first few pages of the book, you learn Hogsmeade is a wizarding village near Hogwarts, and students can get permission to visit the town in their third year. And no wonder they want to go! There’s the entertaining joke-shop, magical candy shop, and even their very own haunted shack. You can see clearly how excited the students are to be there in the movie, and you wish you could be there yourself.

Finally, we have the special effects. The Dementors, in particular, are as pants-wetting scary as they’re described in the book. The guardians of the wizard prison, Azkaban, these are some no-nonsense monsters who don’t take sass from anyone. They drain the fun and happiness out of everything with their mere presence, and they’re not even trying yet! You feel cold, watching them drift around on the screen. Which is good, because that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel.

Buckbeak the hippogriff looks pretty much like the hippogriff that was described in the book. And with effects updated since the last movies, you feel like you can reach into the screen and feel his feathers.

The beloved Whomping Willow makes another appearance. Last seen smashing stuff up in the previous film, it is now seen...smashing other things up. But now, it’s looking better while it’s doing it. My only complaint is the location. It’s a nitpick for sure, but I noticed it. The tree is much farther away from the school than it was in the last film, and that bothers me more than it really should.

All in all, this was a good adaptation from the book. There was a lot from the book that was cut out and/or didn’t get as much attention, and some of it was fairly important. According to a valuable wizarding source (Wikipedia), this was due to time issues. Which is forgivable. If you tried to fit every detail from a book into a movie, you’d get a movie that’s a week long.

Do you like fluffy cats as much as I do? Or, more importantly, how do you feel about this adaptation?
Image Property of Warner Brothers

Nevermind the first two rules of Fight Club...

Let's talk about Fight Club.

Page to Screen's David Tabron discusses both Chuck Palahnkiuk's novel and David Fincher's 1999 cinematic adaptation.
Breaking Dawn Part 2: The Acceptable Finale

Breaking Dawn Part Two, the final movie adaptation of the Twilight saga directed by Bill Condon made its theatrical debut November 16th. The movie finale was highly anticipated by Twilight fans around the world. Rumors had been flying around the Internet that the ending of the movie was different then the book and even hinted that Suzanne Collins was going to continue with the series.
To set the record straight, yes the movie is different from the book BUT the endings are the same. The movie just shows something that you don’t necessarily see from Bella’s point of view in the book. But other then that I would say that the final movie adaptation was very accurate to the book in terms of events and such. But the one thing I have never really liked in all of the adaptations is the choice of actors for a majority of the main characters.
Image Property of Summit Entertainment
I have never really been a big fan of Kristen Stewart’s acting especially in the Twilight movies. In the books Bella is just a quiet girl who falls in love with a vampire. I feel like Stewart made Bella look a lot more helpless and awkward then described in the books. Keep in mind in this last installment Bella is now a vampire so she is not exactly helpless but still awkward. But one thing I do think that Stewart acted out well was the mother daughter bond between Bella and her daughter Renesmee. I was very curious how it would look on the big screen because due to the fact that Renesmee ages very quickly, I was worried that the two would look more like sisters instead of mother and daughter. I also thought that the chemistry between Stewart and co-star Rob Pattinson (who plays Edward) was well done as well. But I guess it helps that the Pattinson and Stewart are dating in real life.  
Rob Pattinson’s acting in the Twilight movies is acceptable. Pattinson brings Edwards undying love for Bella to life effortlessly. In the movie and the books, a lot of Edward’s character revolves around his feelings for Bella. I was hoping in the movies we would be able to see more to Edward’s character and learn that there is more to him then just a lovesick vampire.
Taylor Lautner fits the description of Jacob exactly and had a majority of the Twilight fan girls going crazy every time he took off his shirt. His acting on the other hand wasn’t great, but at the same time wasn’t horrible. In this movie we find out that Jacob has imprinted on Bella and Edwards daughter Renesmee. In the movie when Jacob was telling Bella about this I could feel that Lautner was uncomfortable talking about being in love romantically with a baby. In the books Jacob isn’t really that uncomfortable so I know it’s a thing that the actor was actually feeling, not acting. I also feel like Jacob seemed a lot whinier in the movies then in the book. Other then these two things I thought Lautner did an alright job.
I really liked the choice of actors for the Cullen family. My personal favorites were Ashley Greene as Alice, Peter Facinelli as Carlisle and Kellan Lutz as Emmett. Each of these actors brought the characters from the book to life perfectly. From Alice’s bubbly personality to Emmett’s cockiness each character was brought to life exactly how I imagined them in the book series.
Image Property of Summit Entertainment
We don’t see too much of the Volturi coven in the movie or in the books but the storyline revolves around them a lot. The Volturi coven is a group of big bad vampires who are pretty much in charge of all vampires. The two performances from the Volturi coven that really stood out to me were Michael Sheen as Aro and Dakota Fanning as Jane. Aro is the leader of the entire Volturi. He is the big bad guy throughout the series. Aro is the type of bad guy where on the outside he just looks like a creepy guy but he can be truly terrifying when you realize what he is capable of and Sheen did a great job bringing this to life. Jane is a younger vampire in the Volturi with the ability to inflict excruciating pain on anyone whenever she pleases. Whenever Jane did so in the movies the expression on her face would almost give me nightmares at night.
Finally, my favorite acting performance throughout all of the Twilight movies would have to be Billy Burke playing Charlie Swan, Bella’s dad. Charlie Swan was my favorite character in the movies. He is a broken man who’s ex wife had left him and was used to living alone until his teenage daughter (Bella) moved in with him. Burke’s performance in all of the Twilight movies blew me away. You could tell that the Charlie was depressed but trying to hold himself together for Bella, but at the same time he is trying to be a cool understanding dad. Burke’s performance was hands down the best acting performance in the whole saga.
Image Property of Summit Entertainment
I wasn’t exactly a big fan of the special effects in Breaking Dawn Part 2. I feel like they could have been done much better especially since it was the last movie in the series and they probably had the budget to do it. The biggest effect that bugged me throughout the movie was Renesmee growing up. I see why they used special effects for this instead of just hiring a bunch of different actors because Renesmee grows up so fast it would be extremely obvious if different people were playing the different stages of her life. Instead they just used animation for different stages of Renesmee’s life and hired one actress to play her at the age we see her most in the movie. This really bugged me throughout the movie though because it was always extremely obvious whenever Renesmee was animated and it would just bug me so much that it was hard to pay attention to what was actually happening in the movie.
Overall in the end I think that director Bill Condon did an alright job with the last movie installment of the series. It could have been much better, but at the same time it could have been much worse. He stayed true to the book but also made it more appealing to a visual audience.

What do YOU think???

Written By Marcie Culbert

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Return of the King: The Vlog

Patrick Fenton
Resident   ______
Well kids, if I may take about 17 minutes of your time before you sit down and watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey I thought it would be "fun" to sit down and watch Return Of The King, the third installment of Peter Jackson's epic franchise based on J.R.R. Tolkiens epic book.

I didn't get to cover everything I wanted to due to time constraints; that were tossed to the curb like a ______ from a _______ already. Of course when you've been awake for as long as I have the occasional word may slip out and seriously damage the human mind because that's what words can do apparently, contrary to everything children are (were?) taught. So if you like pen clicking and people too cool to take off their shades inside while mumbling incoherent thoughts into a webcam please enjoy this vlogamajig.

Note the pen is actually a grenade. If I stopped, I would have died.
Thanks a lot Q branch.


Yes, that just happened.

P.S. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't mention the biggest disservice to the Frodo and Sam arc. Frodo would never have turned Sam away and if was ever insane enough to forget everything Gandalf had told him about Gollum and push Sam away, Sam would have cried for a bit and followed Frodo anyways. End of story.

P.P.S. Almost every scene not mentioned here was outstanding, from the book or no. Here's two great examples.

1 Pippin lighting of the beacons from Minis Tirith over the mountain range to the Golden Hall at Edoras with Aragon sitting there smoking his pipe.

2 Frodo and Sam getting caught up in the band of orcs and forced to march with them until they cause a rucus and amscray.

P.P.P.S. Please make use of the comment section to tell me never to get near anything that broadcasts a signal, and don't forget to join our Facebook group to send me threatening messages.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Harry Potter: The Adventure Continues

Image Property of Warner Brothers

By Casey Wren

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in a series of seven, written by J.K. Rowling. The Movie adaptation was made in 2002, and focuses on Harry Potter’s second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

It’s a whole new year of wizarding shenanigans for young Harry. So, was it as good an adaptation as the first movie? In short, yes. But this wouldn’t be a very interesting post if I left it at that, so I’ll give you the long answer too.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint play Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, respectively. In the first movie, I felt their acting was rough, but decent. This basically applies to this movie as well, but there are some improvements. While still pretty rough and having problems like overacting, it’s starting to come a little more naturally to them.

Bonnie Wright plays Ron’s sister and the youngest Weasley, Ginny. Her performance is much like the main stars of the film. Her facial expressions are good, but it doesn’t feel completely natural and is sometimes over-exaggerated. Considering her young age, though, it’s still a fair performance.

Kenneth Branagh was fantastic as Gilderoy Lockhart, the arrogant, vain, and incompetent best-selling wizard author. In the book, there’s a bit of a love-hate relationship between the character and the reader. You hate how self-absorbed and downright annoying he is, but love how thoroughly entertaining he is. Branagh portrayed that perfectly on the screen.

Jason Issacs plays Lucius Malfoy. He simply makes your skin crawl. Besides being Draco’s father, he is every bit the sleazy character you’d imagine in the book. Every time he appears on screen, you want to reach through it and slap him.

Julie Walters is absolutely perfect as Molly Weasley. In a relatively small amount of screen time, she captures the exact nature of Mrs Weasley as she’s described in the book. Going from scary-angry to loving, doting mother quicker than you can blink, it’s a fabulous performance.

The moping, moody ghost, Moaning Myrtle, is played by Shirley Henderson. So hopelessly self-pitying and miserable, it’s a very amusing performance. I thought the character was a little more “tragic”, in a way, in the book. There were more opportunities in the book to show that side, but the movie simply didn’t have enough time to fit all that in. It’s not a complaint so much as an observation.

Mark Williams plays Ron’s father, Arthur Weasley. He didn’t talk a lot, but when he did, he was every bit the Mr Weasley from the book. In his fairly brief appearance, he portrayed the quirky, muggle-loving character very well.

Hugh Mitchell plays Colin Creevey, a first-year Gryffindor and thorn in Harry’s side. The character in the book was innocently annoying, buzzing after his idol like a stubborn mosquito. I feel Mitchell portrays this very well, but has the same small problems as the main actors. Also like the main actors, though, he gives a good performance.

Image Property of Warner Brothers
Last, but not least, we have Toby Jones voicing Dobby, the house-elf. The voice fits the character nicely, and matches up to the effects making-up his face perfectly.

Speaking of which, the special effects used to create Dobby were fantastic. He looks about as realistic as you’d expect for the time, and still look quite impressive now.

Near the beginning of of the movie, we see a flying car, a frying pan washing itself, and of course, the moving pictures and paintings common in the wizarding world. Considering it’s only a little while after the first one, the effects overall have improved.

Finally, we have the settings. The Burrow (the Weasley home), is exactly as it’s described in the book. Multiple stories stacked haphazardly on top of each other, a cute little kitchen (full of self-cleaning dishes), it looks exactly like you’d imagine a wizarding home would.

Knockturn Alley is the dark, scary alley even wizards don’t want to find themselves in. You’re as creeped out as Harry is when he’s first experiencing it. It’s only on the screen for a few minutes, but I felt it was worth including for how pants-crappingly creepy they managed to make it.

The Chamber of Secrets, the story’s namesake, is exceptional. Stone snakeheads lining the walls, the monkey-esque giant stone face. Pretty much everything looks like it is from the book, right down to the eerie green glow.

Overall, this was a good adaptation worthy of the Harry Potter title. What do you think of the movie adaptation?

The Hobbit Will Rise Again!

By Patrick Fenton

Well advance tickets are now on sale for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and I thought it would be fun to get drunk and ramble on about the trailers. Sound cloud wouldn't let me load it thanks to content I do not own. I guess they've never heard of viral fan advertising. At least youtube's still cool. Anyways...

Hobbit Trailer 1

Hobbit Trailer 2

TV spot 1

TV spot 2

TV spot 3

TV spot 4

Homer's Iliad vs. Troy

Page to Screen writers David Tabron and Patrick Fenton talk with a McMaster Classics professor concerning Wolfgang Petersen's 2004 adaptation of the Homeric epic.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mirror vs. Huntsman: Which Adaptation is the Fairest of them All?
In the year 2012 there was not one but two adaptations of the classic fairy tale Snow White released in theaters and on DVD. Mirror Mirror directed by Tarsem Singh was in theaters March 30th 2012 and on DVD June 26th 2012. This adaptation was very family friendly and had a very light and comical feel to it. Snow White and the Huntsman directed by Rupert Sanders was released to theaters June 1st 2012 and to DVD September 11th 2012. This adaptation was MUCH darker than its competing adaptation and was geared towards an older audience. After watching both movies, I have come to the conclusion that they are pretty good. I feel like both directors did exactly what they set out to do and brought what they thought of the classic fairytale to life. But in the end, when it comes to which adaptation was closest to the actual book I would have to say they are both on the same level. Each movie only used key elements of the fairytale to build off of and create their own story.

            When most people think of Snow White they think of the Disney movie adaptation they came out in 1937 and not the actual story written by the Brothers Grimm. This movie adaptation the closest movie adaptation I have seen of this story but Disney just spiced it up to make it more “magical” and “G” rated. In the story written by the Brothers Grimm, there are four elements that I have never seen in a movie adaptation of Snow White.
1)   In the story after the Huntsman brings the Evil Queen the fake heart that is not Snow Whites the Queen proceeds to eat the heart.
2)   The queen disguises herself three times to try to kill Snow White. The first time she tries to kill her my strangling her with lace, the second time with a poison comb and the third time with the legendary poison apple.
3)   The BIGGEST thing that has NEVER been mentioned in a movie adaptation of Snow White is that there is no magical kiss that breaks a spell! The kiss was just something Disney started with their adaptation and other people copied. In the book the Prince and his servants were simply carrying Snow Whites coffin home to his castle when they stumbled over a tree stump and the piece of the apple that Snow White ate fell out of her mouth and she came back to life.
4)   Last but not least the Evil Queen died of a heart attack after seeing that Snow White was still alive.
No adaptation of this classic fairytale has been exact. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman do, in the end, follow elements of the original story. Keep in mind these elements mainly consist of story characters and a piece of fruit.

Photo Credit: Relativity Media
            In Mirror Mirror, Snow White was portrayed by actress Lilly Collins. In Snow White and the Huntsman Snow White was played by Twilight star Kristen Stewart. Both actresses looked exactly as Snow White has been described with hair black as ebony, lips red as blood and skin white as snow. If I had to choose in the end who portrayed the fairest of them all best, I would have to go with Lilly Collins’ performance. Collins portrayed the sweet princess who would cook and clean for the dwarfs with ease. She brought my original vision of Snow White in my head to life. Stewart’s performance wasn’t as sweet. Keep in mind in Snow White and the Huntsman Snow White was busy being a martyr to cook and clean for dwarfs. I just felt like in the end Stewarts acting wasn’t very convincing. I felt like her character was very whiney. I do have to give Stewart one thing though; she can do a pretty nice British accent.
            The dwarfs were portrayed differently in each adaptation. In Snow White and the Huntsman, it didn’t focus too much on the dwarfs themselves. I felt like most of the time the dwarfs were just there. By the looks of it Rupert Sanders was focusing more of the camera time on Snow White and the Huntsman instead of the dwarfs, which is completely understandable in this movie’s case. In Mirror Mirror each dwarf had his own personality. I personally enjoyed watching the dwarfs more in this movie then Snow White and the Huntsman. Every dwarf had something for the viewer would remember them by that wasn’t something cheesy such as naming them after something they do a lot such as Sneezy or Sleepy.  

            Each prince in the movie was completely different. In Mirror Mirror Prince Alcott was played by Armie Hammer. Hammer’s version of the prince was a sweet but at times cocky prince from a far away land who gradually falls in love with Snow White throughout the film. In Snow White and the Huntsman the prince’s name is William who is played by Sam Claflin. Claflin’s version of the prince was a prince who grew up with Snow White and was her best friend until the Evil Queen took over her father’s kingdom. I enjoyed watching both actors portray their versions of the prince in their respective movies. The original book doesn’t talk much about the prince himself so it was nice to see them give the character more depth. In the end if I had to choose between the two, I would choose Claflin’s performance. I feel like Claflin’s performance showed so much more depth to the prince’s relations to Snow White.
            The Huntsman was another character who was not talked about much but portrayed well in Snow White and the Huntsman. Chris Hemsworth showed a side of the simple character that no one else had ever seen before. Mirror Mirrors rendition of the Huntsman pales in comparison not only because Hemsworth’s acting was excellent, but also because there was no huntsman in Mirror Mirror. Instead of hiring a huntsman to kill Snow White, the Queen gets one of her servants to take Snow White out to the forest for to feed her to some beast.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
            Any story or movie is not complete without the villain or, in this case, an evil queen. Charlize Theron played Queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman and did an absolutely amazing job. For the first time ever I found myself actually wanting to cheer for the villain while watching a movie. Theron embodied an beautiful queen that could become terrifying without warning. Her performance was very believable and was beautifully done. In Mirror Mirror the legendary Julia Roberts played the queen. Roberts’ version of the queen has a much more comical approach. Roberts’ performance may have made me giggle a couple times but it is not how I imagined the queen or have ever seen the queen in any other adaptation. I admire that is a different take on the queen but at the same time I feel like this side of the queen didn’t make me fear her. In the end I thought of her more like a shrew then a villain. When it comes to who I thought played the role of the queen best I would have to say Charlize Theron hands down.

Photo Credit: Relativity Media
            The settings in each movie were very well done. None of them really related to the setting in the book, but movie-wise they were great to watch. In Mirror Mirror the forest looked like your average forest. The only thing scary in it is the beast. One thing I liked about the setting in Mirror Mirror is that it was a winter setting with snow. It wasn’t snowing in the book or anything but I personally liked the effect the snow gave the film and it seemed suitable for the movie. In Snow White and the Huntsman the setting was much darker. The queen’s castle and the dark forest just radiated evil. The look gave the film a much more serious approach.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
            In my opinion, Snow White and the Huntsman probably had the best special effects between the two movies. The creatures of the dark forest and the queen’s magic mirror looked amazing! Mirror Mirror’s special effects were decent in the end. 

            In conclusion, I feel like both of the movies were overall enjoyable in the end. Not completely accurate to the original fairytale, but still enjoyable. The thing about these two movies is, although they are based on the same book, they each have their own genres. Snow White and the Huntsman is more action, suspense, a little bit of romance and still a fantasy. Mirror Mirror is more of a comedy and romance with very little action and still a fantasy. So in the end this is the type of audience I suggest for each movie.

Snow White and the Huntsman: Teenagers ages 15 and up.

Mirror Mirror: Family movie for children and parents.

What did you think of Snow White and The Huntsman or Mirror Mirror? Let us know….

Written by Marcie Culbert