Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harry Potter Top Ten List Part 3

Number eight, number eight – thanks to my hockey affiliation, I always associate eight with Alexander Ovechkin.  One day, his time will come and he will be great, just not yet.

The following are my most favourite and least favourite character, but we’re at eight out of ten.  You can reference the rest of the list using the tags at the bottom for ‘harry potter.’  This list is really composed of two baddies.

# 8 Least Favourite Character: Dolores Jane Umbridge

When I think of Order of the Phoenix, this is the character that jumps to the forefront of my mind.  In the most simplest way, Dolores Umbridge represents everything that is wrong in the Harry Potter universe.  While we can all agree that Voldemort is evil, Umbridge brings her sick, demented view of order into the picture and holds nothing back.  Her unmitigated dedication to ‘the system,’ even when she clearly knows it isn’t right is fascinating.  Her ambition to advance her own agenda is really that out of horror movie.

The woman’s crazy!  And it plays so well, both on screen and in the books.  I can’t ever forgive her for torturing all those kids and her evil is an evil that most of us can see in the real world.  Working with people who are just mean and hateful for the sake of being mean and hateful; and that is who this woman is, without a doubt.  I could argue that I love to hate her, but I don’t, I just plain hate her.

# 8 Favourite Character: Bellatrix Lestrange

You might be saying to yourself, Bellatrix?  But Hina, she tortured one of your favourite characters (Hermione) and kills Dobby.  And while that is all true, this is one character I do love to hate.  Yes, she’s also not riding the banana boat of sanity, but by that same token, she is dedicated to Voldemort, and nothing else.  It isn’t about getting promoted or getting revenge, she’s a loyal subject.  And who doesn’t want to have someone in their midst who is that loyal?  I mean, yes, she takes it a mile too far, but she’s great for proving that loyalty does get you something, it gets you busted out of prison, in Order of the Phoenix, and for three whole years, she’s jail-free.

And without Bellatrix, we wouldn’t have the wonderfully conflicted Draco trying to kill Dumbledore with Snape saving him in the end.  We wouldn’t have the sweet, but I find grotesque scene, of Ron trying to save Hermione.  I hate Ron.  We wouldn’t have the iconic scene I can’t wait to see on screen between Molly and Bellatrix.  It will be epic.  You can’t make a novel without someone like this and Bellatrix is just great at being evil.  I love reading the passages with her referenced, she’s as mad as a hatter.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

X-Men First Class Review

In a few words, by far the worst X-Men movie of all, and I've seen Wovlerine Origins and that farce of X-men 3. This one had a very week story with an ending that was so contrived, it was something out of daytime television. The critics praised James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, Professor X and Magneto respectively, but both were tepid, if you ask me. They did have some on-screen chemistry, but it wasn't 'that' sort of movie, so it honestly didn't fit to me.

The basic premise revolves around how the X-men were created and what caused the two 'friends' to go their separate ways. I really think, after seeing yet another beloved comic, and I actually started reading comics because of X-men, this needs to stop. This big screen adaptation thing was a nice try, really it was, but every single great comic is packaged and distilled for mass audiences and the watered down end product is disgusting.

Now, I have read my fair share of X-titles, I even have the original Wolverine series and Giant Size X-men #1 which brings the intro of some key characters into the X-verse, like Wolverine. I even have some older Batman titles, though nowadays, having graphic novel compilations are much more cost effective and easier to handle.

To get back to the point. This movie was decent. It had its moments, even a great line here or there. My poor rephrasing of one is: 'Your power and strength lie between pure anger and serenity.' In a lot of ways, that is true. Aren't we are best, all of us, when we are either really calm, or so infuriated we can only concentrate on one thing. I wish I had time to go off on a tangent about how many great lines are in bad movies, but this isn't the place.

The movie had merit, but as with most superhero movies that derive from a time honoured media, it was all jumbled. There were too many characters, too many storylines and too many moving parts. There were some great 'cameos' from Hugh Jackman and Kevin Bacon as the main baddie. And let me tell you, Bacon really showed some range! I was surprised and impressed. For a matinee, the price wasn't bad, but overall, this might not even be worth a rental.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Lantern Review

I’ve been reading comic books for too long, though I’ve since stopped due to other addictions, like video games.  Green Lantern was not one of the comics I regularly read.  I was more of an X-men fan.  But as I grew older, I started reading more and more DC comics, like Batman, Nightwing, Flash and even Green Lantern.  The issues I read had Kyle Rayner as the Lantern, not the current Hal Jordan that we see in this movie.

The premise is simple enough.  The guy has been irresponsible his whole life, and all of a sudden, something very important is entrusted to him.  He fights having to be responsible until he has no other choice because something important to him is being threatened.

I hate to agree with the haters, but this movie was unnecessarily shallow.  Ryan Reynolds can do more than just be Ryan Reynolds, but you wouldn’t know it from this movie.  Blake Lively was one-dimensional and the overall story had little heart or drive to it.  After reading the comics, I watch this movie in only mild amusement.  At least I can say I remember the snacks I ate better than the movie I watched.

The effects are worth seeing, but not for more than $6.  It wasn’t a great movie and it is sad, to once again, see a wonderful comic book legacy muffled and inaccurate thanks to big box studios trying to bilk a dime out of the fan base.  I’d rather have a B-level Indie movie and be true to the story than the tripe I was treated to.  I gave it 3/5 stars overall because it was decent, but if you’re a fan of comics or the actual Green Lantern, you should take a doggie bag.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ode to Cool Whip

I was having cake yesterday, after I went to the gym, so it cancels out, and I thought to myself: Cool Whip is the best topping for desserts ever.  I can think of so many desserts that Cool Whip is great on. 
Mom made chocolate cake over the weekend, and as I rummaged through the fridge looking for something else, I saw a few containers, only one of which had Cool Whip in it. We use those, and many other containers for leftovers instead of buying actual Tupperware for them.  We’re Indian, it is what we do.  As soon as I saw it, and without the sometime frequent, less savoury green friends inside, I was relieved.  Now the dry cake mom made can be almost moist again.

I love Cool Whip on Pumpkin Pie.  Warm up the pie in the microwave for just a few seconds and it is sweet goodness with the melted Cool Whip on top.

Cherry pie, another fantastic pie that is better with Cool Whip, though I’d argue that Apple pie is only slightly better than Cherry with respect to Cool Whip.

And don’t think the fat free one is the same, because sadly it is not.  But given my desire to watch my waist, on occasion, I have to partake in the less tasty, less fattening version.  Ah Cool Whip, what can’t you do?

Harry Potter Top Ten List Part 2

For our ninth place finishes in the list, I have two characters that are both very polarising in their fandoms.  Both are integral parts to Harry’s success in his battle against Lord Voldemort.  For a recap of #10 for each, see the beginning of the list or hit the tag ‘harry potter’ at the bottom of the page.

# 9 Least Favourite Character: Severus Snape

I know, he was really in love with Lily, he sacrificed himself for the common good, blah, blah, blah.  In the end, Severus Snape was a callous, sullen child that didn’t get his way and made others pay for his mistake, Lily and James Potter, Sirious Black, Draco Malfoy; he was the reason a lot of people really had a tough go of things.

He is inherently unlikeable, and JK Rowling wants the readers to dislike him so that his redemption at the end is that much sweeter.  But I never felt that way.  Yes you could argue that his actions were justified, but that still doesn’t make them right.  You can both be right and wrong and I think that’s where Snape fits in for me.  To the end he antagonised those he was supposed to be helping.

I have to give Snape credit where it is due, and that’s why he’s at #9 on this list.  He did redeem himself in the end.  But it is his jealous of James Potter, and to some extent, Harry as well, that lead to his ultimate demise.  JK Rowling wrote the series as she did, but as a person, Snape had opportunities to be better much earlier on then what he chose.  In the end, he helped save the world, but the costs could have been averted had he controlled his anger better.


# 9 Favourite Character: Luna Lovegood

Who doesn’t love Luna?  I mean, she serves a purpose in the story, really helping Harry through a difficult time in the series.  It is in the fifth book, after Harry witnesses Cedric’s murder at the hands of Wormtail, that Luna first crops up.  She isn’t the most helpful character all the time, but her peculiarities grew on me and I found her endearing.  I think more so because both Ginny and Hermione liked her as well.

I think a scene my sister always points out to me is the one that strikes me.  I believe in the 7th book, towards the end, the group are being attacked by Dementors and she tries to encourage Harry to think of something happy, as he is standing in the ruins of Hogwarts.  A lot of credit goes to JK Rowling for giving the line to her, but she evokes such empathy from Harry.  In some ways, they would have been a cute match, but she probably would never challenge Harry the way Ginny can.

If I have time, I’ll try to get the #8’s up soon too!

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This same issue is stopping me from commenting on some of your entries - don't think I'm not trying though!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super 8 Review

Upon first seeing the initial trailer for this movie, I knew it had something that would interest me.  The stage is set in a small town, probably in the Midwest of the US in the late 1970’s.  The focus falls on a family grieving after the mother is killed in a steel mill accident.  The father and son are estranged somewhat, not really interacting much.  As the story progresses, the intimacy in their relationship increases, but it is apparent that without the mother, there will always be tension.

The young boy and his friends spend their days and nights making movies.  One of the friends, the funny, overweight one, is a self-proclaimed director and writer and has all his friends assist in the creation of his movie.  As you would imagine, at some points while filming the kids are unsupervised and in places that they shouldn’t be in, spending their middle school summer working instead of playing.

On one eventful evening as they filmed at a train station; what started as a simple scene turned into a massive train crash.  The main character, Joe Lamb, was the only one to truly witness the oncoming crash, warning his friends before the impact hit them.  The only other witness was the camera they were using to film the sequence with.

To keep this review spoiler-free, I’ll refrain from giving all the details, but the story does carry the weight of the world on a child’s shoulders, and does so without pretension or pretences.  JJ Abrams is known for his work on Lost and the resurrected Star Trek franchise.  But what fans come to expect from Abrams are sympathetic believable characters and epic story-telling.  He did not disappoint.  Without being too pointed, Abrams stole a page from his iconic hero Steven Spielberg in creating what some may argue is a modern-day ET. 

But I would counter that this story has little to do with aliens, as ET did, as it was a coming of age story of the main character.  The story more closely follows the journey the young man takes as he leaves his old life behind and starts a new one without one of his parents.  I found it ironic that his last name was Lamb, somewhat referencing the scripture of the lamb and lion lying together, as if our main hero was now to be paired with something fearsome and best it.

The acting is spot on.  I was surprised by how well all of the young actors played.  Especially the ‘hero’ of the movie being made within the movie, Martin, played by Gabriel Basso and the director of said movie, Charles, played by Riley Griffiths.  Both had innate comedic timing that made their interactions that much more enjoyable.

Abrams spins a perfect story that keeps the audience guessing.  The protagonists are characters most can identify with, and by that same token, want to see them succeed.  The antagonists are the typical, stereotypical characters that see no reason, and follow unknown, pointless orders.  While the story is ultimately unoriginal, the compelling nature of the characters and circumstances makes this movie memorable and enjoyable.