Cinepub


Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 by Jamie

Well the end is nigh for the Harry Potter series and it begins with this film, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’ or Harry Potter 7 for brevity’s sake. Yes it’s been a long, strange trip with it’s ups and its down but how does this film fare as the opening of the close? Let’s find out.

So the basic story is that of Harry, Hermione and Ron roaming Britain trying to find and destroy the horcruxes that contain Voldermort’s soul and the effects that the Dark Lord’s return are having on the wizarding world in general. That’s pretty much it. It’s a pretty simple story and yet it manages to be complex in it’s simplicity. Wow, that might be the wankiest thing I’ve ever written.

Wanky or not, it’s true. The film manages to be both incredibly simple yet deep and complex at the same time. The biggest change from earlier films is that all of the action takes place outside of Hogwarts. Gone are the little whimsical touches that were littered throughout that school in general. Instead what you get is a far more realistically grounded film. Yes, you still have people using magic and that but there’s no keys with insect wings or talking portraits. It’s much more serious fare.

And with good reason. This is a very, very dark film compared to others in the series. For one thing, there’s a very fascistic overtone to Voldermort’s overtaking of the Ministry of Magic. The parallels are obvious with Nazi Germany. There’s a scene where they are actually creating propaganda entitled ‘Mudbloods And The Danger They Pose To A Perfect Pure Blood Society.’ So yeah, you don’t really need to scratch the surface too much to find the analogy.

What I am surprised by is just how far they’re willing to take everything for what is still technically a kids film. There are scenes of Hermione screaming as she’s tortured by having the word ‘mudblood’ scrawled into her skin, an opening scene where someone is killed because they promote the ideas of muggles and wizards ‘mating’ (as Voldermort puts it) and a beautifully animated sequence about three wizards and their encounters with Death himself. Beautiful but dark.

There’s been much talk about the number of scenes where the trio are just camping with some saying that the film is basically just that but I honestly didn’t feel as if that was dragged out at all. In fact the film seemed to be paced relatively well, perhaps a little slow here and there but not egregiously so. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some problems with the film. For example, one of the horcruxes they find is a locket which, when worn, turns the person wearing it into a bit of a douche bag so my question is why wear it? Hermione had a magical Mary Poppins-esque bag so why not just keep it in there?

Importantly, this is also the first film where the story of the kids was the most interesting part of the film. In earlier instalments I found myself not really caring what the youngest generation of wizards and witches got up to, caring far more about the story of the adults. In fact I really wouldn’t mind a prequel that told the story of Voldermort’s rise to power the first time around and the death of Harry’s parents/ This time round, however, it was all about kids without much input from the adults at all and I went into the film thinking I might have some problems but the story was engaging enough that I didn’t really mind at all.

Still over all, it is a highly, highly enjoyable film. Just don’t see it if you haven’t seen the films that came before it because you really do need to know the story up to this point in order to follow it. I also have to say I wouldn’t recommend it for younger children, no matter how much they beg. Seriously, that scene with Hermione screaming continuously for what seemed like forever was almost too much for me and I like dark shit. Oh and thank fuck there’s no fucking Quidditch. That’s gotta make it one of the best in the series so far. Anyway, overall 4 pints out of five. Laterz.

Advertisements


Last Year In Film: In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by Jamie

There are tales as old as time. Tales of bravery, of good versus evil, of kings and wizards. Then there are tales of people with plastic personalities, wearing plastic armour and fighting with plastic weapons against men in rubber suits who move as if there balls are always uncomfortably caught in their underwear. Uwe Boll’s In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is the latter.

I suppose I should begin by saying I’ve never played Dungeon Siege so I have no idea how faithful this film is to the game so there’s that. What I can say, however, is that I have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy and my guess is that Uwe Boll has certainly seen them as well. There are shots, costumes and even an actor directly lifted from the fantasy epic and as you watch it, there’s something you simply have to admit. Uwe has some massive balls. For it does indeed take massive balls to so relentlessly rip off a series of films that everyone has seen, received almost universal acclaim and then stand back and still consider yourself a director of any worth. Yet Uwe does and he’ll fight you if you say otherwise.

Anyway, the films about Farmer, a man so called because that’s what he is, who must rescue his wife and avenge his son after an attack on his village by the murderous Orc hordes… Sorry, I mean Krug hordes. The Krug army is controlled by evil wizard Ray Liotta who is playing Saruman wanna-be Gallian. He has a base in a volcano, like Mordor and beneath it is a big lava filled foundry, like Isengard. This is where Farmer and his companions, Norrick played by Ron Pearlman and Bastian played by someone else, must travel to if he ever hopes to see his wife again.

Meanwhile King Burt Reynolds decides to fight this new menace by sending out his armies and stuff. He’s betrayed by his nephew Duke Fallows, played by Matthew Lillard. Oh God, I’m getting bored just writing this synopsis. Anyway, Farmer finds out he is Burt Reynolds’ son and true heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Ehb or something. Then Fallow kills the King and the armies of man join up with the tarzan-esque Elves who go on to assault the land that would be Mordor. Farmer kills Ray Liotta and all is right with Middle-Earth… I mean Ehb. Oh, John Rhys-Davies plays Merick, the kings Magus. Yep, somehow he got roped into this shit. Maybe he just really like getting payed to LARP or something. Oh one more thing. There are ninjas in it too. Make of that what you will.

This film wouldn’t even be in the so bad it’s good if not for two people, Ron Perlman and Matthew Lillard. Ron Perlman always brings a smile to my face, no matter what piece of shit he’s in. Hell, he was the best thing about Alien Ressurection. As for Matthew Lillard, well, what can I say about Matthew Lillard. His over the top portrayal of Duke Fallow is so fantastically awful that you can’t help but enjoy it on some level, though I guarantee not the level intended. Everything he does is terrible. He minces through scene after scene overacting to a ridiculous degree, his accent not helping at all. In fact it’s the accent he puts on which reminded me of another performance that made another bad film so bad that it was good, the heroically stupid role of John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, my own personal yardstick by which all other terribly hilarious performances are measured.

Unfortunately, Lillard isn’t in the film nearly enough during it’s two hour running time to make this really worth watching but I will say this for Uwe Boll. Terrible as this film is, he did actually manage to make a film. It has a plot, actors and direction. All of them terribly, terribly poor but it’s still more than you can say for Meet The Spartans and Disaster Movie. Well done Uwe, you get a whole pint out of a possible five.



Last Year In Film: Frost/Nixon by Jamie

I am an all round geek. A jack of all geek trades and a master of none and one of the facets that makes up that geek whole is political geekery. I first started to become interested in politics around the time that George W. Bush came to power as the president of the United States and so my interest has always been with American politics, which is far, far more interesting than our rather underwhelming British system, and in particular the dark, shadier side of the political scene.

It should be no surprise then that Richard M. Nixon is a particularly fascinating figure to me. His name has become synonymous with political corruption, scandal and abuse of power. There are many who blame him for thousands, even millions, losing faith in the democratic establishment and the political process. The Watergate scandal shook the American system to it’s very core and even today it’s ramifications are felt, so much so that the suffix -gate is attached to almost every political scandal.

Three years after Nixon resigned from the presidency, Nixon agreed to be interviewed by British talk show host David Frost, for the sum of $60,000 and 20% of the profit. The film Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, tells the story of those interviews. Now, I’ll admit it doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject matter for a film but bear with me.

This film is fucking awesome. I cannot impress upon you just how good it is. I remember seeing the trailer at the cinema, possibly before Oliver Stone’s W and I was instantly interested but the trailer did give me the impression that it was heavily, heavily overly dramatised and I’ll admit that having seen the film it most certainly is but to be fair what do you want? It’s a movie, it has to have heightened drama.

The performances are incredible. Michael Sheen is perfect as portraying the young David Frost, a cocky playboy type filled with confidence who you should probably find annoying but he remains insanely likeable. Sheen also has Frost’s voice down perfectly and, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve grown up knowing Frost as the older gentleman he is today, I’d probably forget I was watching someone else portray him.

Frank Langella delivers a powerhouse performance as Richard Nixon. Ugh, I feel disgusted with myself having read that sentence. Let me try again. Frank Langella fucking rules as Richard Nixon. There much better. He manages to convey a strange mixture of devious intelligence, ignorance and genuine sadness to create a Nixon who is so more compelling than the one-dimensional prick who people are generally thinking of when they talk about the former president.

Rounding out the cast are Matthew Macfadyen as Frost’s producer John Brit, Oliver Platt as journalist Bob Zelnick, Sam Rockwell as journalist James Reston Jr, Rebecca Hall as Frost’s love interest Caroline Cushing and Kevin Bacon as Nixon’s Chief of Staff Jack Brennan. The cast is all pretty good but Rockwell and Bacon really stand out. Rockwell plays Reston as a man who clearly feels as though Nixon has twisted the very concept of Democracy and must be made to confess and Bacon is great playing a man who’s dedicated to Nixon until the end and seems to genuinely believe that the former president is a great, great man that the American people never appreciated as he deserved.

The film runs to about two hours but it never loses it’s pace, even during some of the long pauses during the interviews themselves. In fact these pauses are integral to the interviews, particularly during the last one and manage to rack up the tension as if you were watching a kind of Mexican stand-off and in a way you are. Several times throughout the characters refer to the interviews as battles and that’s the way they seem especially, once more, that final interview about the Watergate scandal. The only difference is that instead of guns they are using words.

Now, if there’s one complaint I have about the film it’s the occasional intrusion of the main storyline by short little, pseudo-documentary interviews. It features the actors portraying the characters discussing the events that have just happened in the film and at times it can really take you out of the film. It’s certainly an interesting idea and at times, it can work by giving a sense of the story going on around the main storyline without intruding on it with unnecessary sub-plots but at times it can come off as superfluous and some of these scenes feel almost like they were just used as padding to build up the running time.

Ooh, now I think of it, there is one complaint I’ve heard and that’s the historical accuracy of the film, in particular the Watergate interview. I can’t really speak to that, I’m afraid as although I have the interviews on DVD I haven’t watched them in a good few months and I have the recall of a goldfish who has repressed most of it’s memories. Probably should have watched them again before I watched this. Nevermind. I’ll probably watch them again later and if it turns out that the Watergate interview is radically different from the way it’s portrayed in the film then those intrusive interviews will probably take me out of the film even more than they did before.

All that having been said though, I really do recommend this film particularly if you have even a passing interest in politics. It really does manage to give you a sense of how people felt about Nixon at the time and just why distrust towards the system, particularly in America, is so rampant today. I can’t wait for the sequel Frost/Skeletor in which Frank Langella reprises his role as the The Evil Lord Of Destruction and answers tough questions on whether or not he let down the people of Eternia during his ill-fated invasion of Castle Greyskull. Until then I give Frost/Nixon four and a half pints out of five.

Laterz.




%d bloggers like this: