Posts Tagged 'harry potter'

The 2012 Biggie Awards

The 23rd Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2011

MMXI (that’s 2011 in Roman numerals, noobs), it was a strange year at the movies. Very strange indeed. For the first few months of the year, I thought it might end up being the worst overall year for the number of quality films in my adult life. Though there were a couple nice surprises early on (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Adjustment Bureau), it wasn’t until April that I finally saw a movie I truly loved (Hanna). After that, we went most of the rest of spring and almost the entire summer without a truly great movie, which instead was an unending string of disappointments and bland sequels. And I mean real bland, bland by even modern Hollywood standards (I mean, even Pixar made a subpar movie this year). That includes almost all of the major summer “tentpoles”. The big Marvel Avengers tie-in comic book flicks (Thor, Captain America) were both okay, but just okay. Then there was Green Lantern, which can only be described as godawful. I’m still having nightmares over the fact that a giant cloud of diarrhea was a villain in a movie that cost more than $250 million. Michael Bay continued crushing the memory of my childhood heroes with another shitty mess of a Transformers movie (Dark of the Moon, which was only 8.2% better than that atrocity Revenge of the Fallen), while Todd Phillips followed up one of the greatest comedies ever made (The Hangover) with an offensively lazy sequel that was almost literally a carbon copy of the first. I wanted more from J.J. Abrams‘ much-hyped Super 8 (hated the creature design, hated the ending), and although I enjoyed X-Men: First Class, it didn’t hold up as well upon a second viewing recently on Blu-ray.

Continue reading ‘The 2012 Biggie Awards’

IT ALL ENDS: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Deux Review (and series retrospective)

In case you hadn’t heard, it’s all ending.

The Harry Potter behemoth has endeth, at least in theaters. At least for now. Like I’ve said a billion times, I’m not a “real” Harry Potter fan. I’ve only read the first 3 books, and honestly, that was so long ago that I’d need to read them again before I started the Goblet of Fire book. One day down the road, I’ll probably sit down and read the books, but probably not anytime soon. I think the entire world could use an extended Harry Potter vacation once this movie dies down. The previous movies didn’t really inspire me enough to want to immediately dive into the books, and The Deathly Hallows won’t, either.

In terms of wrapping up various plot elements and storylines, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 certainly does that, but as we’ll discuss, I feel it does so far too quickly in some cases. Regardless, as an “ending” to a series, it satisfies all the basic requirements from a storytelling standpoint.

Having just rewatched Part 1 and now seen Part 2, I really just wish they’d had the balls to make one Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as a gigantic 3 hour, 15 minute movie. A true epic. At the very least, Part 2 should have been as long or longer than Part 1. Currently, Part 1 is 150 minutes long (that’s 2½ hours, noobs) and Part 2 is 130 minutes long. That split should have been 130/160 or thereabouts. I did enjoy Part 1 more the second time I watched it (it looks amazing on Blu-ray), but I still feel it’s very different than the previous 6 movies, and it should’ve been shorter so that Part 2 could be longer. It just seems logical to me that Part 2 should’ve been longer, ESPECIALLY given that it’s the last movie in the series.

Where do the Deathly Hallows movies rank for me among the entire series? It’s tough to tell. For a long time, I said Goblet of Fire was my favorite Potter movie, then I rewatched Prisoner of Azkaban this past winter and really enjoyed that one (Azkaban seems to be the unanimous “best in show” amongst movie geeks, Potter diehards and critics, but that’s never been a foregone conclusion to me). I also like the original film a lot. Chris Columbus is a fairly….we’ll call him “non-visionary” director to be nice, but he did a wonderful job introducing moviegoers to this fantasy world back in 2001 and should at least be given credit for that. So the short answer is that Deathly Hallows (both films put together) is among the top 3 Potter movies. If I were to watch them all in a row, I might end up putting Part 2 as #1 in the series, but again, I need to watch some of the others again to have a definitive favorite. If I were to choose a “least favorite” from all 8 movies, it would probably be Deathly Hallows: Part 1 or The Chamber of Secrets. But even with Chamber, I haven’t seen it since it first came out (in 2002), so maybe that opinion would also change upon further review. Long story short, I have no idea in what order I’d place these movies.

Honestly though, in the end I really don’t care enough to rank them all. I really LIKE the entire Harry Potter series. I don’t love it. I like all of these movies, but none of them were truly great on the whole. The only consistently great thing about all the movies is the craftsmanship that went into them, but we’ll get to that. I think Part 2 is good enough to consider for Best Director and Best Picture nominations (and even potentially some of the supporting acting categories) at my own awards come January, but it’s unlikely they’ll make the final cut given how backloaded this year appears to be. Miserable 2011 remains wide open for the taking as far as awards season goes.

That’s the big picture. Now let’s bust out the magnifying glass and get our hands dirty, shall we? As always with the Potter series, my opinions are based on what we’ve seen in the movies only. If I criticize something that’s addressed properly in the books, goodie for the books. I’m talkin movies, baby.


The cast. Duh. Almost every noteworthy British actor has been in at least one of these films, and almost all of them are here in one capacity or another. With regards to our trio of heroes, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, they are each as good as ever. I say that as a good and bad thing. It’s good because they’ve been consistently solid over a 10-year span, which is amazing in itself, but none of them have any truly great dramatic moments, even in this, the finale. There are hero moments aplenty, but nothing that required any of them to really stretch, and I was disappointed by that. The movie goes through the key beats, but doesn’t take any great risks with any of the characters. It’s frustrating. I think Radcliffe, Watson and Grint are pretty good actors, but it’s impossible to determine from these movies what their true range is. I’m just guessing though, that in 50 years, when you look back at each of their careers, you won’t list any of the Harry Potter movies as their best work. Hopefully not, anyway. I know that sounded like faint praise, but most of the best lines and individual character moments in these movies have gone to the professors or villains or other student characters.

Ron is no longer impressed by your evil.

It was good to see Ralph Fiennes finally get some serious screen time, and his Voldemort is certainly a worthy villain, but I still feel there was potential for more. I also wish Voldemort were more hands on. He prefers having other people do most of his dirty work, and even when it’s time for him to kill Snape, he has the snake finish him off. Man up, son! If it’s so important that Snape die (as you’ve just spelled out in your exposition), kill the fucker yourself! Voldemort is a villain, but we’re never made to truly despise or fear him through any of his direct actions. Truly terrifying villains do their own evil in critical moments. The best recent example of this is Heath Ledger‘s Joker in The Dark Knight. In that film The Joker kills almost everyone that opposes him himself, which makes the audience fear him and puts us on edge whenever he’s on screen, because what will he do next? You never really get that sense from Voldemort, and I really never have. He pops in and out of the earlier films, but is never the primary antagonist until this last one. It’s like the Potter movies were a video game, and Voldemort is the Big Boss at the end of Level 8. He’s looming over the proceedings, making quick sneak attacks or talking shit, but you don’t actually get to fight him til the end. I’m not a fan of that. It would have been much cooler to me if he and Harry had had another epic confrontation in at least one of the earlier films. He inspires fear in his fellow bad guys just because he’s the most powerful among them, but how often is that power truly put on display in any of these movies? I’d argue very rarely (though his 1 vs. 1 with Dumbledore in Order of the Phoenix was pretty epic). Voldemort is a good villain, but definitely not a great one. People fear him more on reputation than actual deed, which works much better on the page than it does on the big screen (take note, screenwriters). In movies, we have to see people do things to understand what they’re capable of. Voldemort fights Harry man-to-man (or man-to-teenage boy) at the end, but that’s about all the fighting he does in the movie. He comes in at the very end of the Hogwarts devastation after his minions have done the heavy lifting. Anyway, I’m off point a bit, but I got my Voldemort “Like” and “Didn’t Like” out of the way.

Make no mistake, Fiennes definitely brings a lot to the role, and has the most fun with it in this movie. I was happy whenever he was onscreen. I really liked the forest scene when Potter finally confronts Voldemort face-to-face. When it first seems as though Potter won’t show up, Voldemort seems genuinely sad when he says, “I thought he would come.” Awww.


Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore. I was wondering how they’d bring him back for this one, and I’m really pleased with the way it was done. We get to learn some new details about the motives of his actions in previous films, and I found that whole sequence of Harry viewing Snape’s memory fascinating. That “Wizard Heaven” scene with Harry near the end is also excellent, because the focus is primarily on the writing. I like how the movie uses death as a major theme, and I thought it handled that theme both delicately and profoundly, with Dumbledore acting as Harry’s sort of Grim Reaper. I wasn’t expecting that.

Dumbledore has some wonderful dialogue in this film, and Gambon is up to the task in delivering it perfectly. As a writer, this line was especially meaningful to me,

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

Ain’t that the truth?

The visual effects. As always with this franchise, the effects are nearly flawless. Whatever these movies cost, you can always be sure every penny of it is on the screen. I’ve nominated 5 of the first 7 movies for Best Visual Effects at the my own awards, and this will likely make it 6 of 8 total. Special kudos go to the Gringotts dragon sequence (the moment where it busts through the glass dome of the building and takes a moment to enjoy the fresh air was absolutely wonderful- it’s little moments like that that elevate good effects work to the stuff of legend), all of the work done on Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, and pretty much every second of the final battle scenes. I particularly enjoyed the look of the evil giants. Very cool stuff. The thing I found curious, though, was that ILM was not involved with any of the effects on either Deathly Hallows film. They had been the primary effects company on every Potter flick until this one. I’m sure I could do some research and find out, but I wonder why they weren’t involved with the finale. They were probably too busy creating all those spikey gray robots for Michael Bay‘s movie. Special shout out also to visual effects supervisor Tim Burke, who has worked on every Potter movie but the first one, and also supervised the effects on Ridley Scott‘s Gladiator, Hannibal and Black Hawk Down. I’ll be very interested to see what Burke does next now that Potter is finished.

Eduardo Serra’s cinematography. Gorgeous wide angles, closeups only when they’re needed, an excellent sense of mood in the visuals. I don’t see how this movie could’ve been photographed any better.

-All the other technical aspects. The sound design is superb, and of course, as always, the production design, art direction, costumes and makeup are A++. These movies are a wonder just to look at. They really ought to keep some of these sets in place (many of which have been standing since the first film) and save them as tourist attractions. If I were in England for a week, that’s something I’d want to see. Production designer Stuart Craig should get a Knighthood for his work on these films. He was a damned good designer before the Potter series, but has done nothing but these movies for the past 10 years; a remarkable achievement.

Alexandre Desplat’s score. Desplat [IMDb] is one of the most overused composers in Hollywood right now, and though he’s done a lot of good work, he didn’t seem capable of the kind of grand, thematic score a movie like this demands. His score for Part 1 was downright mediocre, so imagine my delight when his work on Part 2 was actually damned good! I was hoping for it to be a tad more epic/grand, but it’s an excellent score by any standard, and in my view the best work he’s done yet. There were a couple of very good new motifs in this film. Of course, when compared to The Great One, John Williams, no one really measures up, but I was glad to see Desplat bring back some of Williams’ Potter themes on this one. I just wish they’d had one composer through the entire series. It’s one of the only areas they weren’t able to stay consistent. For example, I can’t help but imagine what would have been had Howard Shore done the music for this entire series like he did for Lord of the Rings, or if Williams had at least come back for the final film. A boy can dream, can’t he?

For today’s Recommended Listening, here’s my favorite track from this score, called “Courtyard Apocalypse”, as performed by the almighty London Symphony Orchestra. I’m sure you can guess what scene that title refers to.

-Last but certainly not least, the fine direction of David Yates. Yates, previously known only for directing various British TV series, has directed every Potter film since Order of the Phoenix, and he’s been steady every step of the way. He’s a natural at big budget effects filmmaking, while showing equal skill at handling actors of all ages. You rarely get both qualities in a director, and more recently you don’t seem to get either. It’s tough to tell how much of his own visual style is in these movies, but the visuals in all 4 of his Potter movies have been a sight to behold. British directors are awesome, I think it’s just that simple. I’ll see pretty much anything this guy does next, but first he’s said he’s taking a long holiday (British speak for vacation), and no one can begrudge him that. I’m always relieved when directors this good are given considerable clout. It’ll be interesting to see how he wields it going forward.


The run time. As I explained above, I think the runtimes of the two films should have been reversed, so that key moments in Part 2 could have been stretched out, or rather given the time they deserved. Where the runtime most affects Part 2 is in the handling of the deaths of some memorable secondary characters. The two that stick out most to me were the deaths of Lavender Brown (Ron’s jealous, obsessed girlfriend from Half-Blood Prince played marvelously by Jessie Cave) and Fred Weasley (played by James Phelps). Brown of course had a major role to play in Half-Blood Prince, then in Part 2 she appears in a couple scenes (with no lines), and is killed off as a footnote. Fred Weasley’s death is much more egregious, primarily because we don’t even see it occur. This is a character who has appeared in every single movie, a character (along his twin brother) who audiences have come to love. Not only do we not see him die, but the scene where we see his body laid out on the floor, with the other Weasleys mourning him is way too quick and kind of dismissive for such a popular character. At the very least, he should have had a really good death scene, with the other twin seeing it and avenging him, or something like that. But no, here, it’s…we see the twins just before the battle, we see him dead, family has a quick cry, and we’re moving on. We lose track of a lot of the main characters during the final battle. What was Ginny doing the whole time? This is Harry’s future wife, and she has about 2 minutes of screen time in the final movie. FAIL.

In general, the secondary characters are underserviced in both Hallows films. Snape appears in literally one scene in Part 1 and is then a major player in Part 2.
Bellatrix Lestrange (played by the marvelous Helena Bonham Carter), who had been a very good baddie since first appearing in Order of the Phoenix, has a few important scenes in Part 1, then appears in Part 2 basically just so she can get killed. It’s these kind of inconsistencies between the final films that bugged me. My point is that you can’t have a character play a huge role in one movie (i.e. Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody in Goblet of Fire) and then have that character quickly killed off, sometimes offscreen, in the final movie (or in Gleeson’s case, the first 10 minutes of the first part of the final movie). You gotta give them at least one moment of glory. These are problems that could have been rectified with that extra 20 minutes of screen time, which no one at all would have minded (at least no one who has enjoyed all of the other movies).

They brought back pretty much every big-name actor from the previous films, seemingly just so they could say, “EVERYBODY was back for the last film!” Well, that’s great, but simply cutting to them one or two times (which they did with Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney and Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn) doesn’t really qualify as having them all “back”. The only person that got a bump in screen time from the previous few films was Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, which was great. She had been greatly reduced in the past few films, and didn’t appear at all in Part 1. Last, but not least, in Part 2, we don’t see Hagrid at all until the final 20 minutes or so. When, where and how was he captured?

I can’t help but compare certain moments here to how Peter Jackson & crew handled similar situations in The Return of the King, so let’s compare The Battle of Hogwarts to the battle at Minas Tirith, the centerpiece of the final Lord of the Rings film. I’m gonna separate the battles into 3 categories: Buildup & Preparation, The Battle Itself, and The Aftermath. Mmkay? Now, on a scale of 1-10, Return of the King would get a 10 on all 3 fronts (criticize the long endings all you want, but that battle is undeniably one of the best extended sequences of any kind in movie history). In comparison, I’d give Deathly Hallows: Part 2 a 7 on buildup & preparation (it happens a bit too fast, we don’t ever see Voldemort’s army gathering- they just kinda show up at the outskirts of Hogwarts), an 8 on the battle itself (great action and effects, nice busy frames, but points off for losing track of some key characters and dismissing the deaths of others), and a 6 on the aftermath (didn’t like how they handled reactions to the major deaths, and the movie is rushed to its conclusion immediately after the battle is over). Almost every beef I have with the last hour of the movie could’ve/should’ve been solved with another 20 or so minutes of runtime. Part 2 is the shortest film in the entire series by 8 minutes. Boo! Hiss!

-I wasn’t crazy about finding out ahead of time that Harry would be brought back to life after being killed by Voldemort in the forest. Kinda lessens the impact of that confrontation. I dunno if it’s the same way in the book (I’m sure it is), but in general, you don’t want your audience to be more in the know than your characters that deep into the story, especially about something that important. If we didn’t know (or simply weren’t blatantly reminded) that Harry had the resurrection stone in hand before facing Voldemort, you would have at least maintained some level of suspense and doubt, especially amongst those of us who haven’t read the book. And you could have even kept the Harry & the ghosts scene. It would have come across logically as a 17-year old kid knowing he might be going to his doom. Just don’t tell us that he already knows he’ll be brought back to life. Again, the execution of these scenes as they stand was wonderful, but if you simply rearrange a couple of details, it would’ve been more compelling.

-It doesn’t make any sense at all that at the beginning of this movie, Hogwarts is seemingly operating business-as-usual. Apparently, classes are still in session, even with Death Eaters hovering above the premises and evil henchmen on the grounds abusing students. You’re telling me that in the magic world’s darkest hour, with the long-standing headmaster having just recently been ASSASSINATED, with the “Dark Lord” imminently returning and his evil operatives operating a fifth column inside the school, parents are consenting to send their young kids (first-years are mentioned specifically at one point) to Hogwarts like everything is hunky dory? I’m sorry, that’s fucking absurd. That’s not just a plot hole, that’s a black hole of logic.

-This is sort of a non-issue in the grand scheme of things, but for credits sequence geeks like me, it’s kind of a big deal. I thought the series deserved a more fitting final end credits sequence than we get here. Don’t you? Something more than just names over a black screen? I feel really strongly that they should have done a big picture credits sequence at the end of this one. I mean, you’re wrapping up 10 years of movies here. Indulge a little. They did something like this after Return of the King, with those really nice illustrated photos of basically every cast member. What I would have done for Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is something akin to what you saw at the end of Slumdog Millionaire. Of course, it wouldn’t be that flashy, but for all of the kids, I’d have put their names up, and then 3 pictures or really quick video clips; one showing how they looked in the first movie, another from Azkaban or Goblet of Fire, and then the third of what they look like now at the end of the series, so the audience could see their progression. It would have been a cool way to remind everyone how cool it is that all of these kids have been there since the beginning. Then each adult character would get two pictures/clips and the actors’ name, one showing them in a lighter moment, and the other showing them in serious mode. It would be nice recognition for the adults, because I doubt most of the general audience could tell you who Michael Gambon is. Or who Robbie Coltrane played. Yes, that would have added a couple minutes to the runtime, but you’re telling me 90% of the people in the audience wouldn’t stay through the entire picture credits sequence? I say they would. For the diehard fans, and people who have seen every movie in theaters, this would have been a much better final sendoff than the typical, boring end credits that we got. It’s the little things, people.

-Here’s a final nitpick for ya regarding the “19 Years Later” sequence at the very end of the film: Are you really telling me that at age 36, Harry Potter is still wearing the circle glasses? He wouldn’t have chosen a new design that actually made him look like an adult? He couldn’t have undergone some wizard lasik by then and just been rid of the glasses altogether? Hermione doesn’t have a spell for that? Retinus Improvus! There, I just made one up.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
8/10 (IMDb), 4/5 stars

Wow. That’s the first movie in a while where the likes greatly outnumbered the dislikes. More of this, please.

Here’s the bittersweet finale of Desplat’s fantastic score:


I have called The Lord of the Rings trilogy the greatest accomplishment in cinematic history. What I mean by that is that not only was it the most difficult adaptation to get right perhaps EVER, but that they shot them all at once over a 3-year period, and that they all turned out as masterworks is astonishing (the extended cuts are among the greatest films ever made, in my view). Seriously, check out the documentaries on the Extended Cuts and you’ll understand what I mean. On a “degree of difficulty” scale from 1-10, having those films turn out the way they did is an 11.

As far as degree of difficulty, I might have to put this decade’s worth of Harry Potter movies in second place all-time. That doesn’t mean I think this is the second-best series of movies ever (I don’t), but the fact that this has been relatively smooth sailing from a production standpoint is a frickin miracle. There are literally hundreds of things that could have derailed this franchise over the years, or at the very least forced it to lose a lot of momentum. They only had to recast a couple of parts (one, Dumbledore, because Richard Harris died in 2002 after playing the role in the first two films), none of the kids ever quit (I believe they were originally all signed up for the first 4 movies, then all had to be re-signed after Goblet of Fire), none of them ever had a drug problem or had to leave the movies and go to rehab for an alcohol addiction (though Mr. Radcliffe has recently come out saying he had a drinking problem, but has been sober since 2010), and you never heard about anyone in this cast or crew being difficult on set or making egotistical demands. In fact, when the movies were being made, you never really heard anything about them until it was time to reveal the first trailer. This kind of good fortune is unheard of in the movie industry. Just ask the people who made Citizen Kane, Jaws, Apocalypse Now, Titanic, or just about anyone making a high profile, big budget movie in the past 50 years. It ain’t easy to make one, let alone 8 in a row. Hell, even a movie coming out next year, Men in Black 3, has had serious production problems since day 1.

Warner Bros. has kept this train rolling, and a lot of credit has to go to producer David Heyman, who has overseen every Potter movie, and who I believe is the one who first showed interest in turning the books into movies in the late 90’s. All told, there was never more than 2 years between movies, an amazing logistical feat. Then you have Steve Kloves, who wrote the scripts for every movie but Order of the Phoenix (where he was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict). How does one choose what to include and what to exclude from these increasingly massive books? And when do you rearrange the sequence of events, or place certain events in different locations? And how will that go over with the fans? The fact that Kloves was able to handle that with such consistency for 10 years is quite impressive, no matter what you think of these movies as adaptations. Most movies this big have 3 or 4 writers (sometimes more who go uncredited). J.K. Rowling never actually wrote any of the scripts, but every indication is she happily cooperated with Kloves and the filmmakers every step of the way, even telling certain actors what their characters’ futures held before the books came out so they could take that information into account for their performances. Pretty damn cool.

Consider also that these kids (all of whom are still under 22) have now been involved in 8 movies that cost $100 million or more. That’s something the majority of actors and filmmakers twice their age can’t say. That takes a hell of a lot of mental and physical toughness. The combined production budget of all of these movies is well over $1 billion. Really, after all this time and fame and money, all before the age of 21, it’s a miracle these kids are still sane. And imagine if one director had made all 8 movies? I don’t think even Peter Jackson would have survived that. I can’t express strongly enough how surprised I am that Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint seem to have turned out so well after all these movies. Kudos to Chris Columbus and his casting team for making such solid choices from the beginning. Not only did they fill the main parts with good actors, but it seems like they’re all good people as well.


I won’t call her “hot”. How about “insanely cute”?

OH, HAI, Luna!

So I can’t pick a favorite movie just yet, but who are my favorite Harry Potter characters? That’s easier to do. Of the Big Three, Hermione is easily my favorite. I feel like she was the most fleshed out character in the series. She had the most personality and some of the best individual character moments throughout. I like Ron, but he was mostly one or two notes, either the loyal friend or the comic relief. It’s funny, because Harry Potter himself is not a very compelling character, and easily the least interesting person of the three. Really, “chosen one” characters are rarely that interesting aside from the fact that they have the most world-changing potential or inherently have the most skill or power amongst their peers. As far as being strong, three-dimensional characters, The Chosen One rarely fits that bill. He or she is usually introduced into a story as a necessity in defeating an imminent evil. They usually don’t have to grow or change much as people or adapt to their new hero roles. They were born for it, so they just end up doing it. That’s pretty much Harry Potter in a nutshell. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Frodo, for instance, is a normal guy who has to adapt to being The Ring Bearer. Luke Skywalker is the son of a Chosen One, but he has to learn all his powers and adapt to being the only Jedi in existence after Obi-Wan and Yoda die. Other characters I loved; Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch, pictured beautifully above), because I love characters who speak their mind plainly, and because she seems to not have a filter. I was a big fan of Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), but she never got the screen time she deserved. I’d also have to go with Mad-Eye Moody, Hagrid, and the Weasley twins. I really like a lot of these characters. Credit to Rowling for coming up with so many characters and giving each of them their own voice.

I’d actually be interested in seeing a movie about Albus Severus Potter one day down the road. What is the wizarding life like for the son of the Chosen One? Is it a big budget spectacle where he faces new evils and does heroic deeds like his father? Or is it a low budget drama where he grows up as a rebel, feeling a sense of entitlement because of who his father is, commits crimes while in London, then he knocks up an older girl at Hogwarts (or Ron & Hermione’s daughter, which REALLY fucks everybody up), and overdoses on some experimental hallucinogenic potion? I’d pay to see that movie, wouldn’t you? Albus Potter and the Gryffindor Gangstas. Coming Summer 2015.

Wrapping things up, the only place I feel Warner Bros. fucked up with this series is in the quality of the DVD and Blu-ray releases. I only own a few of the movies, but most of the special features are either lackluster or aimed primarily at children. There’s nothing for a geek like me to dig into; no hour-long documentaries, no commentary tracks, and very few deleted scenes. Maybe they do have stuff like that and they’re just sitting on it for a huge box set release sometime down the road, but I’ve heard nothing to that effect. And why didn’t anyone think to do extended cuts? I hate to compare Potter to Lord of the Rings again, but how many additional copies would they have sold of each movie, with 30+ minutes of completely finished, fully integrated new scenes? Come on. Shit, Warner Bros. owns New Line, which released the Lord of the Rings extended cuts. After those were so popular, nobody thought to do something similar with Harry Potter? With all these fans clamoring to see more stuff from the books that wasn’t included in the theatrical releases? I immediately thought of it years ago, yet I don’t have a job at Warner Bros. Marketing. What’s wrong with this picture?

I hope somebody writes a really good behind-the-scenes book about how this all came together, with a bunch of cool facts, photos and anecdotes that people haven’t yet heard about. I’d buy such a book the day it came out. That’s all I got at this point, or all I care to discuss anyway. I hope all the Potter diehards out there are able to cope now that it’s all over. There’s still two more Twilight movies coming, right? Right? Bueller? Not the same audience? How would I know.

If you’re wondering, yes, this was a pain in the ass to write. I’ve been working on it on and off for two weeks. It probably would have been much easier if I were a Potter diehard, but I’m not. The reason I wanted to be so thorough is because I deeply respect the work done by everyone involved with these movies. Like I said, the fact that they pulled this off as smoothly as they did is something that may never happen again, so even if you’re sick of Harry Potter and happy beyond words that the movies are over, you need to at least be able to appreciate the simple fact that it happened in the first place. Would you rather a franchise like THIS has eight movies, or a “franchise” like Saw or Final Destination? I’ll take 8 Harry Potters over 8 thousand shitty Scary Movie spinoffs like Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie or Vampires Suck any day of the week.

Finally, congratulations to Warner Bros. and the thousands of hard-working people involved in making these movies the global phenomenon they are. Your success is well-deserved.


There have been endless amounts of Harry Potter retrospectives on all manner of websites these past few weeks. I have neither the time nor the desire to seek out all the good ones, but here are a few tidbits that I’ve stumbled upon in my travels that I think are worth your time to check out.

-Here’s an interesting breakdown of where all the Potter money has come from. It’s estimated the franchise (books, movies, TV rights, video games, merchandise) has brought in $21 billion total. [HOLY $HIT]

-Here’s a cool set of “then and now” photos showing the progression of most of the Potter kids through the years. [Yahoo!] Really, just search “Harry Potter kids then and now” for about a trillion galleries like this.

-Also, take a look at the domestic box office of every Potter film listed on one page. Interesting that it’ll be the first and last movies that made the most. Actually, I guess that makes sense. [Box Office Mojo] Those are some frighteningly high numbers. Even more frightening? Avatar‘s worldwide gross (close to $2.8 billion) is more than the domestic grosses of the entire Harry Potter series. I’ve just gone cross-eyed.

-Film School Rejects did an amusing, but also mostly accurate list; “7 Reasons Why Hogwarts is the Worst Cinematic School Ever”. [FSR]

Now, related to that list, can I toot my own horn here for a moment? I’ve been knocking the logic of the Potter universe for years on most of those points. Here is what I said in a Livejournal post 5 YEARS AGO, on March 8, 2006, in a post called “I bet Harry Potter gets attacked in the 5th year, too!”:

I have a fundamental issue with J.K. Rowling’s storytelling, as should you.  And it’s this…when is Dumbledore gonna wake the fuck up?  Every single year, there’s a massive conflict at the school involving Harry Potter which places every student and teacher’s life at risk, yet each year they go in all happy dokey like nothing’s wrong and it’s gonna be a swell year of peace and prosperity and learning at Hogwarts.  You’d think by now this kid would be in protective custody.  Or they’d send him packing because he’s such a massive insurance risk.  At the very least, enrollment at Hogwarts should be down.  Shit, you send your kid there and he or she could be killed because of Harry Potter’s feuds.  This kid could get my kid killed!  Over a stupid lightning bolt on dude’s forehead!  I ain’t sending my kids to Hogwarts!  Fuck that.  The point is that the good guys in the Harry Potter world play on the defensive constantly.  This is bad battle strategy at the very least.  They just sit there and wait for trouble to come to them, no matter who it puts in danger.  Dumbledore even says it, “Dark times lie ahead, Harry.”  SO!?  DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!  God forbid Dumbledore prevent something from happening.  No no no, he’s gonna wait until his students are attacked.  Think about it.  In Star Wars, the Rebels attack the Death Star (twice!).  The Jedi try to find out who the Sith are and understand they must be destroyed first.  In Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits take the Ring to Mount Doom to destroy it.  They don’t sit around and wait for Mordor to come get it.  The good guys have to take the fight to the bad guys, because the bad guys aren’t gonna quit.  You can win the battle, but they’re just gonna regroup and come back at you.  And eventually they’re gonna win, or at the very least do some major damage.  You can’t just sit there and assume “Oh next year’s gonna be nice and quiet around here.”  Are you kidding me?!”

This is me doing a curtsy.

-Another important series has recently come to an end, this time on NBC. That would be Friday Night Lights, one of the best TV dramas of all time. I thought this was the type of show that could have run for 8-10 seasons, but because of poor ratings, it lasted only 5 (and we were really lucky to get the 5th). Its fans, myself among them, are passionate, and for years we’ve been telling anyone who would listen to check out the show and be converted. Well, it’s over now, but every season is available on Netflix or for purchase, so I’ll now ask you all one more time to do yourselves a favor and give it a chance. Most of the seasons are HBO-length (13-15 episodes), so if you got into it and really loved it, you could probably finish the entire series in a week, week and a half.

For people like me, who don’t even try to get into most TV shows unless they come recommended by others, it was a refreshing breath of fresh air. It’s not a cop show. It’s not a medical drama. It’s not a legal drama. It’s not a generic romcom. It’s not shot in L.A. completely on soundstages. It’s REAL. It’s also not a sports show, if that’s what’s held you back from giving it a chance. People who don’t care about football love this show. There’s typically only one football scene in each episode, and the discussion of football is always secondary to the personal conflicts between the characters.

There have been several rumors going around that they may still make another Friday Night Lights movie, this time with the show’s cast, but I’ll believe that when I see it. However, I fully endorse the idea. Duh, WINNING.

Here’s a pretty cool oral history of the show, with actors, producers and other filmmakers describing what it was like making the show, from inception to completion. A fascinating read for fans, or for anyone interested in alternative filmmaking methods, which was one of the primary ingredients to the show’s creative success. [GRANTLAND]


This gave me a pretty big LOL last week. George C. Scott watches Jack and Jill trailer:

I had completely forgotten this movie even existed. For good reason, too, it seems. I guess Adam Sandler is long overdue to try the dual role/cross-dressing gimmick. It’s such a fresh angle. When was the last time he made a good comedy? It’s not even worth checking. I guess I just never thought Al Pacino could be so reduced as to appear in one of these Sandler movies. Mr. Pacino, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

-I try my absolute best to avoid celebrity gossip as much as possible, but…WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, TODD PHILLIPS?!?! This has not been a good year for my favorite working comedy director, creatively, and apparently, personally. I just died a little inside, bro.

On that note, we’re finally finished here.

Rory McIlroy, Whether You Like It Or Not (and other late June randomness!)

Here is the latest trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, and likely the final official trailer for the entire Harry Potter movie franchise.

I dig it. As I’ve said, one of the greatest strengths of the Potter franchise is its consistency. That may also be its downfall. All of the movies are at least okay, most are good or very good, and none of them are anything close to bad (as movies!- you diehards can argue their merit as adaptations of the books elsewhere with someone who gives a shit). However, because they stay within a certain comfort zone and have to exclude or compact a lot of additional character and plot details/depth from the books, none of them have been spectacularly great, either. I’ve never nominated any of them for Best Picture on my own awards, or in any of the other major categories either (director, adapted screenplay, no acting nominations). I’d love for this to be some Return of the King-level, biblically epic finale, but I have literally 10 years’ worth of Harry Potter movies telling me that would be an unrealistic expectation. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful. And let’s face it, with the way 2011 is going, this is the best chance the series has had to crack the end-of-year “best of” lists.

-Another interesting new trailer is the first clip for Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis‘ best-selling book. It stars Brad Pitt, of all people, as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (yes, you read that right). For the non-sports people out there, Moneyball is about how Beane was one of the first executives in baseball to adapt sabermetrics and computer analysis into his player personnel decisions (a common practice now, probably most expertly utilized by Theo Epstein and his team for the Red Sox if I do say so myself), and how his careful attention to minor statistical details allowed the small market, low budget A’s to field a competitive, playoff-bound team at the tail end of the steroids era. It’s a fascinating inside-baseball story. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve always been curious about it. In other words, if I read books at the same frequency I see movies, I’d have read it long ago. The project has a solid cast (Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, and most interestingly former MLB player Royce Clayton making his acting debut playing another real baseball player, Miguel Tejada), but took a long time to come together, because yeah…how do you make a movie about this that more than 50 people will want to see? Whether or not you care about baseball or sports movies in general, there’s only one thing you need to know about this to get your ass in a theater…the script was written by Mothafuckin Aaron Sorkin (he is now elevated above being just Aaron Sorkin). I would watch a movie written by Sorkin if the subject was the forming of a friggin internet company (ba-dum-bum). Moneyball comes out September 23, positioning it as one of the first awards contenders of the year, though I’m not totally convinced this is an awards-bait type movie. I’m very interested to find out. Regardless, I love baseball movies, and I love movies and shows about behind-the-scenes goings on (something Mothafuckin Aaron Sorkin specializes in), so I think it’ll be right up my alley.

-I saw the trailer for Horrible Bosses again in front of Green Lantern. I think the movie has a great [whitewashed] cast and looks really funny, but I can’t get over the logic breakdown with regards to Jennifer Aniston‘s “boss” character. Am I really supposed to believe a guy in his early 30’s is gonna be offended by his superhot female boss constantly making sexual advances at him? That’s every man’s dream! Geez. They better address this conundrum in the movie, cuz right now, I ain’t buyin it. And on the topic of whitewashing (this is going to be a recurring theme going forward, like it or not- I’ve f’n had it with Hollywood’s hypocrisy), it’s worth noting that the only black character we see in the trailer (played by Jamie Foxx) refers to himself as the “murder consultant.” Need I say more?

No! Don’t do that! Get away!
Puh-leeze, bro.

-It’s looking like Quentin Tarantino‘s next movie, Django Unchained, has the potential to be even more badass than Inglourious Basterds (the first film of Tarantino’s that I truly loved). First off all, what a cool premise; Django, a freed slave, teams up with a German bounty hunter to take on an evil plantation owner in order to retrieve his long-lost love, Broomhilda. It was just announced that Jamie Foxx will play Django (awesome!), and we already knew that Basterds Oscar winner Christoph Waltz will play the German bounty hunter, and the villainous plantation owner will be played by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio’s first major villain role, and it’ll be a Tarantino villain. Holy shit. On top of all that, Tarantino veteran Samuel L. Jackson will also appear, playing the right-hand man to DiCaprio. I’m sorry, but that is one fucking amazing cast. The role of Broomhilda is not yet locked in, but rumors are it may go to Kerry Washington, who I also adore. Tarantino is claiming this will be made in the style of the old Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, a genre that’s always had a huge influence on his style. My friends, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained; one more reason 2012 will be the best year in movie history. Just remember who’s been calling it.

TV Recommendation: If you have Netflix Watch Instantly, I must politely demand that you check out the BBC’s new Sherlock Holmes show, simply called Sherlock. The show debuted last year, and was just 3 episodes, but each episode is close to 90 minutes long, so they’re more like TV-movies than episodes. This iteration stars Benedict Cumberbatch (which may be the most British name in history) as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson, who in this version is British army doctor who has just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. What’s most interesting about the show is that it takes place in modern day, and it assumes the classic, 19th century Sir Arthur Conan Doyle characters never existed. It’s a very cool way to “reboot” that character on television. Funny enough, Martin Freeman is playing the younger Bilbo in Peter Jackson‘s two Hobbit movies, and Cumberbatch was recently announced as being cast as the voice of the dragon Smaug.

Two of the three episodes were directed by Paul McGuigan, who directed the highly underrated Lucky Number Slevin (as well as the properly rated Push and Wicker Park). His direction and visual style are on point, so the episodes aren’t just movie-length, but they also look as good as a studio movie, too. Though the show is totally unrelated to the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, some of the show’s visual style is certainly reminiscent of the new movie, and the music from the show is heavily influenced by Hans Zimmer‘s fantastic 2009 Holmes score, and I intend both those things as a compliment. The middle episode was just okay, but the first and third parts are excellent. They’re beautifully shot and exquisitely written. I won’t spoil anything, but the way they handle and introduce Holmes’ arch nemesis, Moriarty, is equally great. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Good drama, good detective procedural stuff, great writing, great acting, great filmmaking, and thick British accents. If you’re interested in any of those things, this show is for you.

No word on when we’ll be able to see season 2 in the States (to the best of my knowledge it hasn’t even aired in the UK yet), but I am really excited to see more of this version of these characters.


-So the first season of Game of Thrones is over, meaning I have nothing to watch on HBO until the final season of Entourage begins late next month (sorry, I don’t do True Blood). After just 10 episodes, I’d say Game of Thrones easily makes my all-time top 10 favorite TV shows, if I had an official list (I don’t, though the top 3 would be locked in: Star Trek: The Next Generation, The West Wing and 24). I thought it would be really good, and I was excited because it was going to be so ambitious, but I couldn’t have imagined I’d love it as much as I did. Thank god for HBO, because this show could not exist in this form on any other network. They’ve been hit or miss of late (you couldn’t get me to watch Hung with a gun to my head, and Treme just looks utterly boring, unless you live in New Orleans), but GoT was a 3-run homerun. It wasn’t a grand slam, because I’m pissed that the first season was only 10 episodes (but you can understand why, when these 10 shows cost a reported $100 million). I love these characters, and I find this fantasy world fascinating, rich with detail, and full of life. And it’s still obvious they had to leave out a great deal from George R.R. Martin‘s 4 books (though if I’m right, the first season only covers part of 1 book). The only thing I didn’t like about the finale was that it ended on such a huge “Holy shit! Now what!?” cliffhanger. I’m becoming increasingly less and less a fan of cliffhangers as season finales on TV. I’m outright angry that I’ll now have to wait until April 2012 for season 2 to begin (HBO loves a long wait). That said, the books are out there, and because I’m so interested in finding out what happens next (and I want more details about what we’ve already seen), I’m probably gonna end up buying the books sometime soon and diving in, because I refuse to wait 10 months to learn more. If this season doesn’t get nominated for at least a dozen Emmys, the TV Academy is even dumber than the Oscar voters.

-In this space, I was going to do a bit about Shaquille O’Neal‘s retirement, but in the interests of time (I wanted to get this posted by Sunday), it’s getting left out. For now. I was gonna do an entire post about Shaq, because he was the first professional athlete I was ever a true fan of, and if not for him, I might not be as big a sports fan as I am today. Maybe I’ll get to a Shaq retrospective at some point, but for now, thank you Shaq, for making me an NBA fan, which eventually allowed me to become a fan of the NFL and MLB. It’s just a shame you couldn’t stay healthy when you were finally on my home team. Despite that, it was cool to see you in Celtic green, even if it didn’t happen til you were 39. The game will not be the same without you. With the loss of Shaq, that leaves 2 or 3 true centers left in the NBA. In Shaq’s glory days, we had Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, and Alonzo Mourning (when he was healthy) all clashing with each other. It was the pinnacle of big man play. Now, the utterly skill-less Dwight Howard is considered the “best” center in the league. Ugh. I miss the NBA from 1994-2000. I miss real centers (6-11 or taller big men with skill, athleticism and strength).

Rory McIlroy, an unassuming 22-year old from Northern Ireland, is golf’s new superstar, whether you like it or not, whether it’s actually true or not. This is the power of the media in 2011. The reason is because he blew away the competition this past weekend to win his first major, this year’s U.S. Open. He did so by leading wire-to-wire and winning with a U.S. Open record final score 16-under par and an Open record score of 268. The national sports media, lacking someone to idolize now that Tiger Woods‘ career is stalled by injury, age and personal matters, has been begging for years for “The Next Tiger”, or at the very least for someone to consistently challenge Tiger at the major championship tournaments. When Tiger isn’t winning, they turn their focus to Phil Mickelson, but Mickelson is hit or miss during most majors, and he and Tiger are rarely great at the same tournament. Also, for the casual fan, when Tiger isn’t doing well, golf just isn’t that interesting. Thus, the sport (and all its well-to-do writers) needs another player who is good enough consistently enough to draw attention to the sport, and viewers to the TV ratings. Many of these people believe McIlroy is that player.

I agree that golf needs a new star, or at least a backup star for when Tiger is out of action for extended periods of time (aka right now). My problem is how quickly and unanimously the sports media has leaped onto this McIlroy bandwagon. They want a new star so badly that the first guy who showed any kind of legitimacy is being handed the throne in Tiger’s absence. I say it’s too soon. And I’ve always hated when everyone in the media thought the same thing. There’s just something inherently wrong with that. And I looked. There’s hardly anyone brave enough to cast any serious doubt.

This reminds me of how the media spent a decade desperately trying to find “The Next Michael Jordan“. How many guys did they give that label to? At least 10? And how did that turn out for Isaiah Rider, Anfernee Hardaway, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner? The closest we ever got is Kobe Bryant, and I think the Jordan vs. Kobe debate is a legitimate one. The point is that it’s not good enough that a player be extremely talented. He has to also win. A lot. That’s what sets Jordan and Tiger (and yes, Kobe) apart. What also sets them apart is an unrivaled competitive drive.

This is also akin to what Hollywood has been doing for the last 10-15 years, trying to force new “movie stars” on us (i.e. Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom, and now guys like Sam Worthington, Bradley Cooper and Robert Pattinson), instead of letting it happen naturally. They don’t realize that audiences make movie stars, not casting directors or producers. It’s very similar in sports, where stars are made with a combination of skill, winning and fan adoration. You can’t just tell us Rory McIlroy is The Man. He has to earn it.

And please, while you’re at it, name the last non-American athlete who was truly a superstar in America. If we still don’t care about David Beckham, why is a 22-year old Irish kid gonna capture the hearts of Americans? As far as mass appeal goes in sports, Americans generally love Americans. I could personally list about 5 non-American athletes I greatly respect and admire (Roger Federer for one), but for Joe ‘Podunk’ Smith in Missouri, if it ain’t Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, he’s not someone worth remembering. Maybe I’ll be wrong about this, but I doubt it. Until then, if McIlroy hasn’t won 5 majors by the time he’s 25, he’s not The Next Tiger Woods.

The good news is McIlroy isn’t buying into his own hype, and I’m certainly not implying he’s cocky, or anything like that. In fact, all signs point to the contrary. This false/premature idolatry, like much of our woe, is the media’s creation. For my money, I hope Tiger was watching the U.S. Open and thinking, “I can’t wait to come back and kick this kid’s ass.”

You ain’t Tiger, bro.

-I’m starting to get interested in the 2012 election. The Republican field seems to be taking shape, and President Obama has all but jettisoned the idea of getting anything done and is basically in full re-election campaign mode (which is kind of infuriating, isn’t it?). It seems to be true that a new President has about a year and a half to implement policy, then he spends the next year and a half fighting with the opposing party, and spends the final year campaigning for his job. Have I mentioned that the two-party system SUCKS FUCKING HIPPO ASS? Yes, I have, haven’t I?

I’m not particularly enamored with any of the GOP candidates (as always, I need to state that despite my constant railing against liberals and Democrats, I am not a Republican), but I was pulling for Mitt Romney in ’08, and I’m glad he’s the frontrunner now, although obviously it’s still very early. However, most pundits get the sense that Romney will maintain this momentum, and that Michelle Bachmann is likely to be his most formidable challenger. Bachmann seems to carry herself well, but like many of these guys, she’s probably too far to the right for my personal taste, and the attack dogs in the mainstream media will do everything they can to attack her credibility. Though it’s hard to imagine the media hate for her eclipsing what they did (and are still pathetically doing) to Sarah Palin. I don’t get the sense that Jon Huntsman or Tim Pawlenty can set themselves apart (they’re too, how shall we say…vanilla), and Rick Santorum is way too far right for me (basically, if you bring God into 100% of your policy decisions, you’re too far right for me). I continue to admire Ron Paul‘s fighting spirit, but after ’08, it’s clear his libertarianism will not get him the support needed from the GOP base to make any serious headway. He also doesn’t LOOK presidential, does he? President Paul? I don’t think so.

I don’t know if he’s a good enough candidate yet, but nothing would please me more than to see Herman Cain win the nomination and challenge Barack Obama for the presidency. I wonder, will the media cry racism every single time Cain gets criticized? Actually, I don’t wonder at all about that. Of course they won’t. Cain is a great speaker and an energetic presence, but we still have a long way to go. I didn’t officially endorse anybody last time out, but I’d certainly like to be able to strongly believe in a presidential candidate for once. God forbid.

-LAWL! Did you know that President Obama’s position on gay marriage is “evolving”? Sounds deep. In the words of Keanu Reeves…whoa. [Politico]

-Because just about everyone on the internet has weighed in on this, I thought it might be worth a moment to talk about the death of Ryan Dunn, the Jackass star who drove his Porsche while intoxicated at twice the legal limit of Pennsylvania. As a result of his drinking and likely a good amount of stupidity he already had, he crashed the car at such velocity (reportedly he was driving as fast as 140 mph, nearly triple the 55mph speed limit) that it basically disintegrated upon impact with a tree, killing himself and his passenger instantly. And I chose those words on purpose. He didn’t die, he killed himself. It was no accident. When you drink that much and then decide to get into a Porsche, you want to crash. I’m not gonna say he deserved to die, but yeah, better the drunk asshole than an innocent bystander or innocent motorist who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Are you getting the sense that I have no sympathy here? I’m not happy about it, of course, but let’s face it, the man died as he lived. It’s pure luck that it was 3:30am and that he only killed himself and his friend. That’s something to be thankful about.

I also found interesting that Dunn’s fellow Jackass mate and close friend Bam Margera threw a weeping hissyfit once a few people on Twitter pointed out how unsurprised they were by Dunn’s death. He choose to lash out against those people, instead of using his influence among young people and fans of Jackass-like insanity to point out what can happen when you drink and drive, and to actively speak out against it. That was sad.

And now here’s Margera and his mom several years ago predicting Dunn would do this:

-Finally, if you can’t get enough Stanley Cup Bruins porn, check out the 9-minute video in this story of the Bruins visiting Fenway, placing the Cup on the mound and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. []

Recommended Listening: I know a lot of you don’t share my love for electronic music, but I’m kind of obsessed with this song right now. This is Ron Hagen & Al Exander‘s “Now is the Time (Armin van Buuren Intro Edit)”, and it’s track 1 on Disc 2 of Armin van Buuren‘s A State of Trance 2011 compilation. I love the mood this song creates. It’s got both a sense of longing and regret, but with some hope mixed in as well. In other words, pretty much exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. This is what electronic music does better than just about every other genre, in my view…it encapsulates moods and feelings. That’s what most people who dismiss it don’t understand. Their loss.  Anyway, check it out, brah:  

My Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2011

2011, aka The Nolan Off-Year. Christopher Nolan has been releasing a movie every other year since 2006, so while we wait for his 2012 Batman finale, The Dark Knight Rises, we must first live through 2011. As it turns out, there are some pretty cool and interesting films on tap. 2010 was a very good year for movies (a big upgrade over the disappointing 2009), so let’s see what you got, ’11. If you had no idea what was coming out this year, well, that’s one of the reasons you keep me around as a friend. I’ve done the homework for you. After digging through several lists of hundreds of movies coming out this year, here’s what interests me and tickles my cinematic taste buds the most;

Looking at this camera only reinforces that I never want to shoot in 3D.


I can’t believe I’m doing this after the disaster that was Revenge of the Fallen, but I can’t help myself. The original was my most anticipated movie of 2007 and the sequel was my most anticipated movie of 2009. Michael Bay also had my most anticipated movie of 2001 in Pearl Harbor, so this is the 4th time he’s topped this list. Despite his many flaws, he’s like a drug I can’t get enough of. Combine that with my childhood love for Transformers and I’ll be right back in line for the midnight show, excited as shit to see giant fucking robots, explosions, and…an entire movie taking place at sunset (as per Bay’s requirements). I’m still hesitant to believe Bay has learned his lessons from the second movie, but after reading THIS big piece about him on Collider, my fears began to subside. The only way you can fix a problem is to acknowledge its existence, and Bay admits to almost everything I hated about Revenge of the Fallen in that interview. Whether or not he’s full of shit remains to be seen, but the way those guys described some of the footage they saw from Dark of the Moon got my geek antennae all warm and fuzzy again. The teaser trailer was really cool, and I think they spent more time on this one on the story, even though it is coming out just 2 years after the last film again (blame the greedy studio for that, not Bay). Bay also claims that this one will be darker, which is cool, but everyone says that after Dark Knight. Yes, they got rid of Megan Fox. No, I don’t really care. They replaced her with a British Victoria’s Secret model, so apparently Shia LaBeouf is just one irresistibly sexy bitch. I’m very interested to see what they’ll do with Shockwave as the main villain, though I guess Megatron will still make an appearance. I don’t know how that will work, but logic was never Michael Bay’s strong suit. Bay shot some of the film in 3D, despite previously bashing the medium as a gimmick. This is probably so he can make more money off the premium ticket sales. Or is that being too cynical? See, I’m already bashing the thing and I haven’t even seen it. But I am very excited about it! No, really! I know one thing they’ve done right already…they gave Optimus Prime his trailer! It better magically disappear in the movie just as it did in the cartoon. I’ll be very upset if it actually serves some practical purpose. [IMDbTRAILER]


Yeah, Optimus and I are boys. What of it?

-As an aside, I dug through my old MySpace blog and found my Revenge of the Fallen review, which is probably the best, most entertaining movie review I’ve ever written. Forgive the small fonts, but whenever MySpace redesigned their site, they literally reduced the size of the blogs. It looked much better when I originally posted it. Check it out if you’ve forgotten just how ridonculous that movie is, and what a big mountain they have to climb to get the series back to where it was on the first film.

Still waiting for a moment like this in the live-action Transformers movies;


Despite how disappointed and utterly confused I was by Part I, I still have faith that the series will end in spectacular fashion. This one will also likely by 2½ hours long, but most of it should be character-building action, which I’m all for. There isn’t much else to say here, but apparently all the cool stuff in the trailer was from Part II. I will remain spoiler free until it comes out, so who lives and who dies and what happens should all be new to me come July. Interestingly enough, since this is a huge Warner Bros. release, we may also see the first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises attached to it. Here’s hoping. I don’t care if it’s just some Hans Zimmer Batmusic, the logo and the release date. Just give me something. P.S. Per my New Year’s resolution, I will not be seeing Potter in 3D. [IMDbTRAILER]

Spielberg on set.

3. WAR HORSE (December 28)

Unless it’s called Tin-Tin, any Steven Spielberg-directed movie will make my top 5 most anticipated of any year. Unfortunately, the last taste in our mouths of Spielberg directing anything was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, one of the most absurd movies I’ve ever seen. And it pains me to say that, but I have to be honest. This one is based off of Michael Morpurgo‘s book of the same name (which was later adapted to a stage play), and the story takes place during World War I (an underused time period in modern films), where a kid’s beloved horse is sold into the British cavalry and sent into action. The horse ends up in the thick of things, being used on both sides of the war, and the kid, too young to enlist, sets out on his own to find the horse and bring it home. That appears to be a story right in Spielberg’s wheelhouse, and I have every confidence he’ll knock it out of the park. There are no big stars in the cast (the most recognizable one is Emily Watson, playing the boy’s mother), and they did a huge search in the UK to cast the role of the boy, Albert. A kid named Jeremy Irvine eventually won the part. I’m very interested to see a trailer for this, but we likely won’t get one til the summer. [IMDb – No trailer yet]


I have no real reason to be so excited about this, other than the hype I’ve heard and the insane popularity of Stieg Larsson‘s books. I became hooked when David Fincher agreed to direct it, and then by the excellent cast they’ve put together. Fincher cast his Social Network star Rooney Mara in the coveted lead role of Lisbeth Salander. Then they cast the great Daniel Craig in the lead male role, Mikael Blomkvist, and we also get Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard, and Christopher Plummer. I heard an interview recently where Fincher admitted he was hesitant to get involved with another murder story, but that he was excited about the prospect of creating a movie franchise for adults. I’m so happy that Benjamin Button and Social Network have cemented Fincher’s place as one of Hollywood’s prestige directors (meaning he’s one of the first people called when the best projects come up), even though his fans have known that since the mid-90’s. By the time this opens in December, I probably still won’t have read the books, but I will have seen all of the original Swedish movies, which are coming up soon on my Netflix list. It’s interesting that the Lisbeth Salander of the Swedish movies, Noomi Rapace, is now being cast in some big mainstream American projects (one of which is coming up on this list). Needless to say, I’m interested to see what all the fuss is about. [IMDb – No trailer yet]


A lot of people may disagree with me, but I think the Mission: Impossible films have gotten better and better each time out. This is usually the exact opposite of what happens with most Hollywood franchises. Though J.J. Abrams is not directing again, he’s back in a producing capacity and was involved in coming up with the story, both of which are good things. The director this time is Brad Bird, and this marks his live-action directing debut (he previously did the fabulous The Iron Giant, and The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Pixar). Normally, I’d be skeptical of an animation director taking on a project like this as his live-action debut, but not in Bird’s case. I think this was a smart choice, and I also like that Tom Cruise was humble enough to take part in a story that’s supposedly set up to phase him out of the series. Jeremy Renner is Cruise’s protégé in the film, and apparently if there’s a 5th movie, Renner would become the star and Cruise’s Ethan Hunt would be gone or reduced to a small part. Another very smart move I think. Not that I lack confidence in Cruise (I think I’m one of 15 people left in America who still love the guy as an actor), but in order for a franchise like this to continue, you’ve got to get new blood involved and turn over the lead role from time to time. Renner is überhot right now, and it was a wise casting choice. They seem to be borrowing a page from the Bond films, and that’s not a bad formula to emulate (new leading men, new directors each time, etc.). Simon Pegg returns, which incites smiley faces everywhere. Also joining the cast are the beautiful Paula Patton and the excellent Anil Kapoor (of Slumdog Millionaire and 24: Season 8 fame). We don’t know anything about the story, but some of it takes place in Dubai, and in the photo above, you’ll see Tom Cruise doing stunts on the Burj Khalifa, the recently completed tallest building on Earth. I can’t wait to see what they did with that. A few months ago photos came online (I couldn’t find it again to post here) of Cruise literally sitting on the top of the tower. It was mindboggling. That dude has some balls. Should be f’n awesome. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

6. SUPER 8 (June 10)

J.J. Abrams‘ next directorial effort is shrouded in maximum secrecy, but we know it’s a sci-fi movie in the vein of old-school Spielberg (who is a producer on this, but that could mean nothing). Or so we’ve been told. Regardless, after what Abrams did on Mission: Impossible 3 and Star Trek, I’d get in line to see him make a Barbie movie. You heard me. I really can’t say much else about it. It seems to take place in the late 70’/early 80’s and involves a creature or aliens on the loose. I know, that sounds like Cloverfield, but I’m assuming Abrams isn’t gonna rip himself off. The cast includes my boy Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) and a bunch of other white people. Watch the teaser trailer and see if you can make anything out of it. Just the fact that they’ve been able to keep it such a secret in this day and age is applause worthy. [IMDbTRAILER]

7. SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 (December 16)

I simply adored the first movie. Turns out Guy Ritchie
was the perfect filmmaker to modernize the character, and they pulled it off with visual flair, clever action scenes, smart writing and terrific performances across the board. Almost all of the original cast and crew are back (though my girl Rachel McAdams has not been confirmed), and they add the aforementioned Noomi Rapace in the female lead, and Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty, Holmes‘ greatest foe. The introduction of Moriarty in the sequel reminds me of how Christopher Nolan saved The Joker for his second Batmovie. I’m not saying this sequel will be anything close to as good as Dark Knight, but I like the idea of bringing in your big gun villain after you’ve spent one movie setting up the world and your main characters. In that sense, there’s great potential here, but in the end it will all depend on the writing. Robert Downey‘s comeback still amazes me. After Johnny Depp, he might be the second-biggest movie star in the world right now, and no other actor can say they’re simultaneously carrying 2 franchises like he is. [IMDb – No trailer yet]


I think the original was perhaps the best comedy of the 2000’s. I’d have to do some digging to see what else would be on that list, but The Hangover has to be right up there. With its massive success, a sequel isn’t surprising, but I have to admit, I was not keen on the idea of a sequel to this story. I mean, what could possibly bring these 4 characters together again, and what could they possibly be doing so that they’d end up in another set of such insane circumstances? After all, you have to up the ante for a sequel. I just thought (and might still think) that anything close to what they went through on the original happening AGAIN would be too much of a stretch. They haven’t released a whole lot of info on the plot, but this one will supposedly follow what happens when the guys travel to Thailand for Stu‘s (Ed Helms) wedding. So they’ll have to introduce whoever it is Stu is marrying (looks like she’s played by Jamie Chung), and then international hijinks will ensue. Since they got the cast back, and since Todd Phillips is back, I’m psyched to see it regardless of whether or not I think it should have been made in the first place. The first one was mostly based in reality, and I just think if that kind of stuff happens to them again, you run the risk of making them all look cartoonish. But I’m open to being wrong. I’m also very curious to see all these cameos (Liam Neeson and Paul Giamatti have small parts, and even Bill Clinton shot a scene, which may be a first for a former President). [IMDb – No trailer yet]

9. THOR (May 6)

For some reason, I get the sense this will be hit or miss. Either it’ll be very good or very disappointing. I have some confidence given Marvel’s recent history and how they’re tying these films together for The Avengers in 2012. We’ll get some carryover from the Iron Man movies (Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson and maybe a Sam Jackson as Nick Fury cameo or some other surprises), and Chris Hemsworth looks pretty damn good as Thor. We’ve also got Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and relative newcomer Tom Hiddleston (who’s also in War Horse) as Thor’s brother, Loki. I admit I’ll be going into this one pretty cold, as I’ve never read a Thor comic and know next to nothing about the mythology. So it’ll be cool to experience some discovery of a new world. I’m curious how much of the film takes place in Asgard versus how much is on Earth. I like the trailer, and whatever the machine thingy they’re fighting is looks pretty badass. It’ll also be interesting to see what Kenneth Branagh brings to the table as director. He’s certainly never done anything with this scope. Hopefully, he placed some of that Shakespearean gravitas on the film. If Marvel had total creative control of the project and didn’t let him do at least some of his own thing, then you wonder why they’d hire him. [IMDbTRAILER]

10. THE BEAVER (April 8 )

Though I don’t think it’ll make any money, I’m just hopeful Mel Gibson delivers the type of performance that allows him to stage a comeback in the industry (though you could argue he won’t make that kind of comeback until something he’s in does make money). I’d like to see a Michael Vick level turnaround, and based on how good the script for this thing supposedly was, I don’t believe that’s outside the realm of possibility. And I think under the steady hand of Jodie Foster in the director’s chair, the circumstances are ideal for Gibson to turn in a great performance. But we’ll see. I’m putting this in the top 10 because that’s how much I love Gibson as an actor. I think he’s a vital performer, and I want him back in the mix, both as an actor and perhaps even moreso as a director. Kudos to Summit for releasing the film. I’ll reward them by buying a ticket to their next goofy Twilight movie later in the year. [IMDbTRAILER]

10 RUNNERS UP (in A-B-C order):

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (March 4) – A very interesting sci-fi premise in a real-world setting, based on a Philip K. Dick story (shocker). Matt Damon and the lovely Emily Blunt star, along with Mad Men‘s John Slattery. [IMDbTRAILER]

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (March 11) – This looks very cool, but at the same time I won’t be surprised if it’s a complete disaster. However, I love the way they’re describing it, which is that it was shot Black Hawk Down-style from the perspective of a group of Marines as they fight off an alien invasion in LA. I’ll see pretty much any alien invasion movie, but few of the filmmakers involved have done anything in the past that I’ve loved. I guess there’s always a first time. I hope. The second trailer (which I’ve linked) is much better than the first one they released. [IMDbTRAILER]

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (July 22) – Here’s another instance where I know nothing about the Marvel mythology. I’m also a little nervous that we haven’t seen a trailer yet, and that it’s kind of flying under the radar, even though it’s an important release, particularly with regards to the Avengers movie. At first I was hesitant about Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, but I’ve since been put at ease by some of the publicity photos. The cast around him is pretty strong (Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones), and Joe Johnston is a competent enough director. I’m reserving judgment, but they gotta show us something soon. I’m curious to see what kind of Captain America they present in this day and age. I’m surprised the PC Police didn’t intervene and force them to rename him Captain Democracy or some shit like that. Something tells me this isn’t destined to be a hit overseas. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

COWBOYS & ALIENS (July 29) – Yet another alien invasion story, though this one comes with a very cool twist. It takes place in the old west. I love westerns, and I love alien invasions. Put the two together…and I’m intrigued. You also gotta love that title, simple and to the point. I think Jon Favreau has proven himself to be a competent director of summer blockbusters (though I’d like to see some more ‘vision’ out of him), and with Daniel Craig as your lead, you can’t go wrong. Then there’s a grumpy Harrison Ford (who ALREADY WORKS AROUND THE CLOCK!!!), as well as Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano…and Olivia Wilde! Woot woot! Should be pretty neato, and whether it’s good or bad, it’ll be unique. [IMDbTRAILER]

NO STRINGS ATTACHED vs. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (January 21 & July 22) – I just covered this in my New Year’s post, but I also intend on seeing both movies. Aside from Ashton Kutcher, I’m a big fan of the actors involved, and it’ll be interesting to compare the two films as well as seeing if the first one to come out (No Strings) affects the other’s prospects at the box office. It looks like they’re both gonna be R-rated, which is also a plus. It’ll be good to see Natalie Portman doing something lighter, and I’ll watch Mila Kunis in anything. Sort of reminds me of the “two movies with similar plot devices coming out within months of each other” situations we saw with Dante’s Peak vs. Volcano, or Deep Impact vs. Armageddon in 1998. [IMDb & IMDb – See trailers in the previous post]

HANNA (April 8 ) – This movie looks like an absolute trip. Eric Bana plays the father of a 14-year old girl (the amazing Saoirse Ronan), who he’s trained to be a cold-blooded killer. Then there’s Cate Blanchett as a government agent who’s been trying to track him down. It’s directed by Joe Wright, who did an excellent job with Atonement. I’d have a hard time describing the plot, so just trust me and watch this trailer. Ronan looks like she could give Hit Girl a run for her money. Oh, and The Chemical Brothers did the score. Badass. [IMDbTRAILER]

SUCKER PUNCH (March 25) – Zack Snyder, the king of slow motion, returns with this completely original, visually stunning, utterly awesome-looking action/fantasy. Forgive me, but I’m just gonna copy the plot summary straight from IMDb for ya; “A young girl is institutionalized by her wicked stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the facility.” Snyder’s got this whole scenario set up where we get this really cool looking fantasy dream world that looks part Inception, part Sin City, part 300 (all movies I love). I just think this looks fantastic, and because it’s an original story, I’m rooting for it to succeed in the same way I rooted for Inception last year. This is easily one of the most fascinating films of 2011, and it’s not gotten a lot of attention yet. The cast looks fantastic (both literally and figuratively), and I really wanna see how Emily Worthing does with her first big starring role. Girl is hawwwt! [IMDbTRAILER]

OH, HAI Vanessa Hudgens!

MONEYBALL (September 23) – They’ve been trying to get this movie off the ground for years, and for a long time it had Steven Soderbergh attached to direct. Instead, we’ll get Bennett Miller (Capote) directing, with Brad Pitt starring as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. This is based on the acclaimed nonfiction Michael Lewis book about Beane’s successful effort to build a winning team on a small market budget. Doesn’t sound like a really good basis for a movie, does it? That’s probably why it’s been in development for about 5 years. However, in the end, we’ll be getting a movie with a script that was worked on by both Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, two of the best writers in Hollywood (in fact, in my book, probably #1 and #2). We’ve also got Philip Seymour Hoffman as A’s manager Art Howe, as well as Jonah Hill and Robin Wright. With the talent involved behind and in front of the camera, I have faith that they’ve turned this into a story worthy of being told on the big screen. I’m also looking forward to seeing a sports movie that doesn’t require on-field drama to be compelling. And if you still think this sounds boring, consider that this time last year, few people thought a movie about the creation of Facebook would be worth a damn. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

SCREAM 4 (April 15) – I’m torn on this one. The original Scream movies (the last one came out in 2000 if you can believe it) are my all-time favorite horror series. That’s saying something considering I’m not a big fan of horror movies in general. I fell in love with the brilliant, original Scream in 1996 at age 16 while working at a movie theater, and I loved both sequels. That said, if we’re being honest, here we have another example of a sequel that probably didn’t need to be made, but much like the Hangover followup, we’ve got the original creative team back in place. Wes Craven is at the helm, and series creator Kevin Williamson wrote the script. As such, I retain a glimmer of hope that there’ll be some interesting new ideas here given the different world we live in now, both culturally and technologically. I kinda wish they’d rebooted it with a whole new cast, but Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox are also back. It’s tough to tell from the teaser trailer who the main characters are, but a slew of actresses (Anna Paquin, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Kristen Bell, and Friday Night Light‘s Aimee Teegarden) all make appearances, making me wonder who gets the Drew Barrymore/Jada Pinkett scene at the beginning of the film. They’ve been talking about making a 4th Scream for a decade, and now we have it. We’ll see if it was worth the wait. Damn, I miss my Scream mask and black robe. Scaring the shit out of the girls on Halloween in 1997 is one of my fondest high school memories. [IMDbTRAILER]

Mr. Scream rides the bus?

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (June 3) – By the way, there’s a new X-Men movie coming out this year. That’s how bad Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand was and how much it decimated my passion for the franchise. It was so bad that I couldn’t muster enough interest in this to put it in the top 10. And X-Men is easily my favorite comic series. It LOOKS like they’ll be getting the series back on track here, rewinding the story back to a point where Professor X and Magneto were friends. Together, they discover their powers and fight off some great threat (which is unnamed to this point), and presumably at the end of the film they’ll part ways, setting up the legendary rivalry. I really like this premise. And let’s face it, after The Last Stand, there’s nowhere to go but up. They brought in Matthew Vaughn to direct, who is hot off of Kick-Ass. We’ve also got two fine actors in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, playing Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr respectively. Like I said, X-Men is my favorite comic series, and Magneto is my favorite comic book villain, so I have high hopes here. However, those hopes are still somewhat jaded after the bitter taste of excrement that remains in my mouth after The Last Stand. Have I mentioned how bad X-Men: The Last Stand was? [IMDb – No trailer yet]

Other Notes:

-Why isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides anywhere on this list? Because it didn’t need to be made, and that’s painfully clear when you watch that trailer, which I won’t even link to.

-I still get confused trying to tell Green Hornet and Green Lantern apart. This much I know; the one with Ryan Reynolds in a green CGI suit looks incredibly dumb. And really, how many fucking comic book movies is this guy gonna be in? He’s been in so many different comic storylines (Blade: Trinity, Wolverine, now this) that it feels like the universe is about to implode. The Seth Rogen green superhero movie looks okay, though there are way too many homophobic jokes in that trailer, are there not? How many times does the Asian dude say some variation of, “I’ll go with you, but I’m not touching you.” Just awkward. Though I’m very interested to see what Michel Gondry does with a big-budget effects movie like this, I’m not expecting it to be very good.

-I didn’t see it, but I keep hearing last year’s Valentine’s Day was one of the worst romantic comedies ever made. Why do I mention this? You know why. Yes, they made a sequel. It’s title? New Year’s Eve. That deafening sound you just heard was every moviegoer in the country simultaneously sighing in disgust.

-Fox is going bonkers with origins stories this year. In addition to X-Men: First Class, we’ll be getting Rise of the Apes, which, you guessed it, will set up the Planet of the Apes mythology. As if there was a great demand for that. I’m intrigued that they got James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis to star. Might be good, might be crapola.

Adam Sandler‘s comedies continue to suck ass of late, but I have to admit, Just Go with It looks sort of funny, and it has a premise I can’t remember seeing before. This will mark the screen debut of supermodel Brooklyn Decker, who I’ve been in love with for several years. Regardless of whether or not it’s funny, just watching the trailer I can already see the ending coming from a mile away. Think he ends up with Jennifer Aniston? Spoiler alert!

-Even though I did not like Pineapple Express, the followup pairing of director David Gordon Green with actors James Franco & Danny McBride, Your Highness, does look hilarious. Natalie Portman, who’s about to get an Oscar nomination for Black Swan, will be hot in 2011 as well, with this, No Strings Attached, Thor, and the very promising The Other Woman. Attagirl.

There you have it. Those are the movies I’ll be keeping my eye on this year. Of course, several foreign films, documentaries, and indie films will end up in the mix (as they always do), but it’s tough to predict what those will be at the beginning of the year. Last I checked, I don’t have any tickets to this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Enjoy your 2011 at the movies! And remember, we’re only one year away from the epic 2012, where we’ll get The Dark Knight Rises, a Zack Snyder-directed Superman, the third Daniel Craig Bond movie, The Hobbit: Part I, The Avengers, The Spider-Man reboot, the Star Trek sequel, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

P.S. Do me a favor, be a smart moviegoer, and see as few 3D movies this year as you can. I will be seeing NONE. In case you didn’t know, everything that comes out 3D is also available to see in regular 2D as well. You don’t HAVE to see everything in 3D just because they advertise the shit out of it being in 3D. Unless it’s Avatar or a CG-animated movie, it probably ain’t worth it. Tell Hollywood you’re tired of paying an extra $3-5 for crappy post-converted 3D and you’re on to their greedy tricks. Do it so that our best filmmakers don’t feel they need to jump on board the bandwagon. When fucking Martin Scorsese
is shooting a 3D movie, you know things have gone too far.


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