Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review

The Bearded Bullet’s Review of The Deathly Hallows: Part 1

I couldn’t pick any better film to review first than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (DHP1).  Its no secret that I’m a huge Potter fan (this past summer I and two other Order members took a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) so I’m going to try to keep this review as unbiased as possible.  I’ve grown up with the franchise in both book and film incarnations.  The film series is one of my absolute favorites.  I’ve looked forward to each successive film with eager anticipation and DHP1 is no exception.   In fact, the only other film that surpassed my anticipation this year was the outstanding Inception.  For me, the wait was well worth it; I absolutely loved DHP1.

Directed by David Yates (films 5-8), the story picks up very shortly after the events of the sixth film, The Half-Blood Prince.  Harry is on the verge of turning 17, making him an adult in the wizarding world; a time at which his mortal enemy, Lord Voldemort, is free to attack him (any magical protection afforded Mr. Potter dissipates upon him turning 17).  Harry and his companions, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, must set out on their own to hunt down and destroy the remaining Horcrxues; relics that contain a part of Voldemort’s soul.  Only upon the Horcuxes’ destruction will Harry be able to finally confront and defeat the man who murdered his parents.  

This film marks a departure from the formula of the previous books and films; this time around the crew is on their own, without the comfort of family, friends, and Hogwarts itself.  Very early on they are thrust out into the cruel world that is ever more crashing down upon them as Voldemort and his Death Eaters pursue them at every step of their journey.  The story is much darker than the previous films; death and pain is more present than ever in DHP1.  Without spoiling much, there are several emotionally heavy scenes that will have even the most hardened moviegoer holding back tears. The pacing of the film is quite brisk despite the somewhat-dragging source material.  The at-times long-winded camping scenes that populate the vast majority of the book move by quite quickly in the film adaptation; the trio move from set-piece to set-piece with outstanding transitions that help to give an amazing flow to the film.

If you are a fan of the book then you will undoubtedly notice all of the changes/additions/subtractions screenwriter Steve Kloves (all other Potter films except Order of the Phoenix) made to JK’s original story.  I personally separate the books from the films with regards to story changes; I try not to get hung up on whether or not the film was 100% faithful to its written counterpart.  I try to enjoy the film for what it is, and I was completely fine with the changes that were made to the story (for fear of any spoilers I’ll refrain from providing examples).

Overall this is perhaps my favorite of the Potter films.  The acting from the main trio was their strongest of the series, with the supporting cast fantastic as always.  Despite having very limited screen time, many of the power players from the previous films (Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes etc.) turn very strong performances.  There were actually very few scenes or lines of dialogue that I had any issue with; in fact, only one line felt out of place and didn’t make much sense in the context.  The editing and cinematography were top-notch as always, expertly displaying the grand vistas the trio trek across throughout the film.  After six films with incredible practical and visual effects its hard to believe there are any tricks left, but the effects team from DHP1 continued to impress; key scenes included the chase in the beginning of the film and a thrilling escape from a group of snatchers toward the end.  The camera work outside of the vista shots was spectacular as well.  There were several instances of what we like to refer to as “circle cam.” The scene with the multiple Harrys and the close call with the snatchers in the forest are excellent examples of the coolness of the circle cam.

The emotional tone of this film differs from the previous entries in the series.  Since the trio is on the run with little hope or guidance, an ever-present sense of despair and loneliness hangs over the film’s proceedings.  There are several bright spots in the darkness; while not as funny as the other films (Half-Blood Prince especially) there are plenty of the great lines that will make you chuckle and remind you of the journey that these actors and characters have gone through over the years.  The bits of humor are drowned out by some excellent dramatic scenes and performances from the main cast.  The source material called for these young actors to step up their game and in my opinion they fully delivered; they’re asked to portray jealousy, rage, anger, joy, despair, pain and they pull it off with aplomb.  There are a few key deaths in the film, one of which I feel wasn’t paid enough time to - as a result the character in question seems to accept what had happened quite quickly.  Per the plot one could argue that there was not enough time to lament the incident but more time could have been given to what occurred.  

As you can tell I am quite fond of Deathly Hallows Part 1.  I feel that the film exhibits a mastery of character, cinematography, visual effects, emotion, story and tone that mixes together for a great movie-going experience.  Unfortunately one of the weaker aspects, for me, was in the music department.  Alexandre Desplat’s score is quite effective at times, but seems almost non-existent for most of the film.  Yes, I heard the score playing throughout most of the film but none of it was nearly as memorable as John Williams’ score or even some of the score from the last few films.  The piece that plays at the beginning (eerily Dark Knight/Inception-esque) and at the conclusion of the film are quite strong and worthy additions to the Potter pantheon.  Overall I have very few complaints with Deathly Hallows; there really isn’t anything of the nit-picky nature.  If you are a fan of the series or enjoy great films with great characters, a fantastic story, and amazing visuals you absolutely must see this film.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1   5/5

My Name is Greg. I Watch Movies.

For those of you who do not know, my name is Greg, and for those of you who missed the title of this blog entry, you may find it surprising to know that I enjoy movies.

I have always attempted to watch a wide variety of movies in both the theater and while at home. Sometimes we want to be challenged by a film which questions the way we look at the world and how we live our lives (The Seventh Seal is one my favorite films in this regard), and sometimes we simply want to sit down and watch something relatively mindless but entertaining which requires little engagement on our behalf (Airplane comes to mind at the moment). Sometimes we want to watch something romantic (Casablanca), and other times we want to watch something which is guaranteed to bring tears to our eyes (Big Fish, please!). Films to me are the most powerful form of media because of the wide range of emotions one can experience during a single viewing.

Watching movies is one thing, but reviewing movies is a completely different animal, altogether. I've always found that good movie reviews written by talented movie critics (Roger Ebert remains the greatest in my opinion) include two important elements: a discussion of the relevance of the film to the lives of audience members (or to the reviewer) and an interpretation of the efficacy of the choices which were made by the crew in the course of creating the movie. I hope to strive for excellence in both these regards in all of my reviews.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

This is the Bearded Bullet

What's up Internet?

This is Kyle, one half of Two Guys, One Movie, and one fifth of The Order of the Nerd.  As the group to which I belong indicates, I'm a huge nerd and I'm super cool with it.  I manage a GameStop store, which means that I love video games; while gaming and selling games are my profession I share a general love of all things entertainment-related.  Games, movies, TV, you name it and I probably consume it.  As mentioned in the inaugural post, I absolutely love cinema; over the last couple years my consumption of movies has increased incredibly.  I'm averaging about 70-80 unique movies each year.  That number does not include ALL movies I've seen in that year..just the movies released within that year.  I'm super big on checking out all new releases, regardless of what others think and say.  I'm pretty easy-going in that respect; I'm willing to give almost anything a chance.  I'll watch just about anything, from Catfish and The Girlfriend Experience (probably unknown to casual film-goers) to blockbusters like Transformers or Prince of Persia.  While on the topic of hit franchises I have a couple favs.  Harry Potter, Star Trek, James Bond, Batman, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings top my list.  I'm generally a fan of most genre and nerd-friendly fair, most notably comic book and video game adaptations.  Some of my favorite directors include Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, Jon Favreau, Guillermo del Toro, David Fincher, JJ Abrams, Ridley Scott, and Clint Eastwood.  Not surprisingly, a large portion of my favorite films come from said directors: The Dark Knight, Saving Private Ryan, 300, Star Trek, Casino Royale, the LOTR Trilogy, Star Wars (original trilogy), Inception, Gladiator, Hellboy 2, Fight Club, The Prestige and Wedding Crashers just to name a few.  As you can see I enjoy a wide variety of films, which I believe gives me a unique perspective with regards to reviewing the movies that I watch.

I feel that its important that I give a shout-out to the best theater in central Pennsylvania: Penn Cinema.  I view about 99% of all of my movies there and absolutely enjoy going there, especially to their new IMAX screen that recently opened.  If it weren't for the awesomeness that is Penn and its great staff (Mike and Kenny, you guys are awesome!) I'd have to travel to inferior locations to see the movies that I love.  With all that being said, I'm not quite sure how our reviews will mentioned before, please bear with us while we figure everything out.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!  I hope you enjoy or opinions!

Kyle/Bearded Bullet

Welcome to Two Guys, One Movie

Hello Internet!

Welcome to the newest movie review blog on the web!  We're HUGE fans of all things cinema related and after many years of watching various manner of films we've decided to put our thoughts down on digital paper and feed it to you, Internet!  Between the two of us we see the vast majority of new releases, large and small, good and not-so-good.  While not watching new releases we spend most of our free time diving into our extensive DVD and Blu-Ray collections.  Please bear with us while we work out our review processes and iron out the kinks.  Feel free to give us feedback and share your opinions!  We're here to share our thoughts and spark lively debates!

Greg and Kyle