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All reviews - Movies (34) - TV Shows (2) - Books (8) - Games (11)

Harry Potter and the Movie of Fail

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 15 September 2008 07:23 (A review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

Anyone who's read any of my previous Harry Potter reviews likely knows that I'm a Harry Potter fanatic. I've seen all the moveis, I've read all the books, and I have very specific opinions when it comes to them.

That said, I have to say, this is the worst of the movies so far.

Granted, I'm not that fond of the book, but I'm even less so of the movie. There was simply no heart in this movie. It was torn out by a screenwriter who is so caught up in his crush over a girl a third his age that he forgets the movies are about Harry, and not Hermione.

I'm not even going to go into all the minor issues here. But there is one major one--Barty Crouch. Now, I wondered how they would do this storyline. It's really rather vital to the underpinnings of this specific story, but also to the world at large. And I knew they'd have to do it right to make it work. They failed.

Barty Crouch and his son are the central part of this plot, and without that story there to flesh out what is otherwise a very rediculous year (I'm not even going to go into *why* Dumbledore felt Harry had to compete--that's a book issue.), the story feels rushed and rudderless. Without the knowledge that Barty spent time in Azkaban along with the other Death Eaters, or that Barty was one of the ones who attacked Neville's parents, why does he need to even be insane at all? And why would he have not gone straight to Voldemort's side as soon as he could? Not to mention the fact that he apparently only does his crazy-tongue thing when he's looking at his father?

Removing that one fact took about 75% of the punch of this storyline, and left me wondering why they were still bothering at all.

And then there is what that takes from the overall story of fathers and sons in this series. Barty and his son had such a bad relationship that it makes you see the flaws in the Wizarding World so much sharper than any of the father/son relationships we have seen before. And also shows that not everyone who is fanatical is just bad, and that not everyone who is "good" is perfect. A much more important story than focusing on the rediculous tasks Harry and the others had to compete in.

The only time the movie truly came close to redeeming itself was Voldemort's rise at the end. From the moment the boys appeared in the graveyard, we suddenly had a real plot again, and Harry had a true purpose once more. Magnificent.

Too bad the rest of the movie couldn't have just been excised so that we could have enjoyed it more.


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Another Fairy Tale for the Modern World

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 15 September 2008 05:12 (A review of Penelope)

I went into watching this movie with low expectations. I'd read a little about it, and people had generally said that it didn't live up to its potential. Saddened me, but I had to see it at least once.

I'm glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Christina and James did an excellent job in this story, and the only bit I felt was lacking was more of James after Penelope escaped into the real world. I'd have liked to see them interacting more there.

The story itself is pretty much as expected. Family curse, girl's happier with it than her parents, suitors can't get over her looks (that seemed far overplayed, actually), girl wants someone who can accept her, and knows no one will. Enter boy. Boy needs money, doesn't care--at first--what she looks like, the two hit it off better than both expected, but he can't break the curse (no reason given at first), boy runs off, girl runs away from home.

I love that James's character is as rich as he is. And I can see that he probably wasn't given much to play with, because he feels a bit paper-thin on the surface, but James makes him work. Christina's Penelope is absolutely wonderful, and so strong. A great role-model for little girls. And the solution to the curse is absolutely perfect.

Definitely a movie to watch if you like fairy tales, though if you're expecting a traditional romance, it might fall a bit flat for you.


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Sid Meyer does it again

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 11 September 2008 02:59 (A review of Spore)

I'm not sure that Spore will be as addictive as Sim city or the Sims, but Spore is definitely a worthy addition to his catalogue of games. I do have to admit that at this time, I haven't managed to play a game all the way through to the end, but I have enjoyed the first few stages. I'll probably edit this review once I have.

I am a bit disappointed that the evolution inherent in the game isn't based on outside (in-game) influences, but rather on the way you decide to build the creature with the parts you find. I think I would have preferred a root-based system, where the parts you choose lead to other parts, but you can drop parts if you want to go a different evolutionary route.

Still...extremely playable right out of the box. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy Sid Meyer's other games.


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Redefining Bad

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 10 September 2008 11:39 (A review of Ghost Rider)

We all have those camp films that we like to watch. Movies that somehow redeem themselves simply because we enjoy them, but usually there is a favorite actor, or theme, or character, or something, that redeems them in some way.

This film doesn't. Granted, I'm not a fan of the comics (though if I was, I think I'd be even more pissed off by this movie), and while I like Nick Cage, he's not one of my all-time favorites either. Still, I know that there's a good story in the comics, and I know Cage can act. So how did they end up with this crap?

The film doesn't even feel like an homage. It feels like a bad computer game. You know, the sort that end up in the bargain bin a week after they come out, because no one likes it? The effects are poor, the script terrible, and the acting is horrendous--and that even from Cage, who I have seen do a million times better than this.

Overall? This is simply not worthy. Don't waste your time.


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Where the story gets lost

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 3 September 2008 08:34 (A review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

This is actually my favorite of the movie series so far. Though that is likely because it is also my favorite of the books. But even saying that, I have to admit--this is where the series began to fail.

Sorcerer's Stone is Harry discovering the world of magic. He's still a boy, and most of the world is Hogwarts. He knows no better.
Chamber of Secrets is Harry learning a bit about the magical world at large. That not everything is good and descent there any more than in the Muggle world.
Prisoner of Azkaban is where he truly begins to learn about his own past. And because of that, there are vital pieces to what is to come in the rest of the series. This movie fails, in several fundimental way, to show some of those pieces. And without those pieces, later pieces get lost, and fall to the wayside. A dangerous thing when you're telling a story as complex as Harry's.

Quick, anyone who has not read the books, but has seen the movie. Cold you tell me where the Map came from? Or why Harry's patronus is a Stag? Or how about what the prank on Snape was?

I loved the difference in tone in this one, but overall, it is slowly but surely leading to the downfall of the series. And that makes me very unhappy.


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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets review

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 3 September 2008 08:28 (A review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

This was the first of the movies I watched after reading what there was of the series at the time. All in all, a good translation from the book, though a few things stuck out at me. There was absolutely no need, for instance, to take out the introduction of Lucius away from conflict.

Overall, I quite liked this movie. We still have our Quidditch match, we get the basilisk and the phoenix, we meet Lucius Malfoy and Guilderoy Lockhart...

They kept enough of the story, and the important bits of the story--like the identity of Tom Riddle.

Again, worthy of watching.


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A good start

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 3 September 2008 08:23 (A review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

In many ways, Sorcerer's Stone is the best of the series. Aside from the books (which were fairly well taken into consideration at the time), they had a blank slate to play with. The cast they chose was fantastic, and they did a good job of translating the story from the book.

I watched this well before reading the series, and so I could see it with fresh eyes that are a great deal more jaded these days. There are additions and changes, but any movie of a book will have that, and the magic and wonder that are needed are there.

I just wish the same could be said of some of the later movies.


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If this is Atonement, where's the apology?

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 2 September 2008 08:24 (A review of Atonement)

I need to start this off by saying I'm a fan of both Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. If anyone else had been given those roles, I likely wouldn't have even watched. And to be honest, I'm glad I did, but I don't think it's any great masterwork, either. Overall, it has two serious flaws, and that makes it a less than memorable story.

The setting has been done many times, though the story is something slightly different from the norm. Especially the fact that it's an English telling of World War II, rather than an American one.

The flaws are simple, basic storytelling flaws, unfortunately.
The first is that the flow is erratic and choppy. Sometimes jumping forward in huge jumps, other times falling back in time to see a scene from another angle. I understand why it was done, but I don't think the overall effect was done well, and it left the story hard to follow.
The other is that we have two characters we are supposed to feel empathy for, but neither stands out as horribly empathetic. Not that they don't deserve our empathy, but that we have nothing to make us care about in the first place. I think this can be attributed to the choice of storyteller. The little girl chosen to tell the story is completely and totally unsympathetic, and impossible to empathize with as a character. And because she does not seem to care about her characters, and about those around her, neither can we.

James McAvoy did a good job with what he was given, and is the most sympathetic character in the story, but it almost feels a relief when his part of the story ends, because you can see it coming a mile away.
Keira Knightley's character is completely lackluster in most ways, and her reasoning for doing anything is never fully explained. A waste of a great actress on a bad role.
As I have said before, the "main" character of the piece--the young sister Briony seems to have no empathy in her, and the story piece about her having a crush on James's character seems tacked on and entirely unnecessary. I would have liked to either see that bit played up, or excised entirely.

The best bit of this film? The sound of typing that begins the story. It tells you from the get go: "This is all just a story you are about to see." Because it is. The finale seems to negate what little the story has done, and leaves you staring at the screen wondering why you bothered to watch at all.

An interesting period piece, but it will never be a classic.


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Worth the wait for weather

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 23 August 2008 12:57 (A review of The Sims 2: Seasons (Expansion))

As of writing this review, I haven't used any expansion packs past this one, though I just got Free Time, so expect a review on that one in a couple of days.

That said, I think this is my second favorite pack after Nightlife. The actual changing of the seasons is fun, and the new things the sims can do depending on the weather are quite fun, though I haven't yet tried everything.

It wouldn't seem like an expansion pack revolving purely around weather could be that exciting, but it is. There are a few flaws, of course--the sims want to run to the windows every five minutes when there's new weather, just to check it out. But overall, the weather makes the world feel more cohesive. The winter interactions in particular are great fun.

Overall, one of the best expansion packs. I highly recommend it.


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Only for those who *must* have animals

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 22 August 2008 09:58 (A review of The Sims 2: Pets (Expansion))

Pets was one of those mythical additions for Sims. It was one of the last expansions of the previous version of the game, and while it was fun, you also ended up with random critters running around and peeing on your lot.

The Sims 2 version isn't a whole lot better. Unless you're a real pet person who wants to spend a lot of time micro-managing your sim's animals, I'd say this probably isn't the expansion for you.

The pets you're allowed in this expansion are not too dissimilar from the original--cats and dogs, with birds like there in the original, and the addition of a rodent-creature to replace the viral hampster.

There's also one other addition to the animals you will see wandering around--a large black dog with glowing eyes. If your sim gets bit by this dog, they become a werewolf, and sprout fur every night when the moon rises. Fun for a little bit, but otherwise...

Overall? Definitely only for a limited audience.


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