My views on Paddington Bear

Good day fellow blog readers, three months since I published my last post (Top 11 Elton John Songs). Sorry it’s been like three months. I’d just had so many things on my mind, but don’t worry, I haven’t disappeared completely. I’m back with my response to a certain news-story that’s been such a high profile one since like the middle of last week.

I’m here to talk about the death of an author named Michael Bond who apparently created Paddington Bear. It’s been reported on every radio station I flicked through, reported on Facebook and even via Wikipedia. I understand how sad it is when someone dies and I offer my sympathies to those who was fans of the author’s creation, but I have to be honest, even when I was growing up, I never liked Paddington Bear that much.

I think my mom grew up with that bear and I heard some of the radio presenters expressing their nostalgia. But nostalgia is something I lack within this creation. I remember seeing pictures and one episode of the TV show, I just didn’t find Paddington that interesting or appealing. So what, he’s a bear who lives in London, hence being named after one of the towns and is dressed as a ploughman? And all the other characters are humans? And he has a taste for marmalade sarnies? I don’t get it. What’s Paddington’s purpose in life? What does he do for a living? What does he wish for? Is he homeless? And speaking of which, that TV adaptation – all the characters, props and settings are hand-drawn and colourless, except Paddington, who’s a stop-mo, er, model in colour? Why not make him the same as the other elements or make all the other characters stop-motion models? It was at least one episode I saw in my life and even as a kid, I found it forgettable and it’s something I would’ve tended to skip.

It seems that Paddington has ironically led an impact among many people. There have been two movies based on Paddington, one just recently coming out. Due to my long lack of interest within it, I dodged the first one and have no intention to see the next. Even the web series-based company voted the TV show as one of The Top 10 British Animated Shows. Er fair enough. But it hasn’t changed my views. Nor did I place it on my personal Top 25 List of UK Kid’s TV Shows, because in my opinion, if pigs could fly, Paddington Bear would compete with more exciting shows i.e. Thunderbirds, Wallace & Gromit, Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons, The Animals Of Farthing Wood, Byker Grove and so forth.

I saw more interesting fictional bears compared to Paddington. These include Baloo from The Jungle Book, Fozzie from the Muppets, oh and Yogi Bear and his kid brother BoBo. Also does Sooty count? I even saw a group of Martian mice who ride motorcycles, turtles who gouge on pizza and have martial arts skills, a dog who works for the law enforcement in Mississippi, an earthworm who wears a spacesuit, a blue hedgehog with an ability to run at the speed of light, some to name. Them creations made my childhood!

Mike, if you’re looking down from heaven, I meant no offence.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 2)

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And so, we come to the final of the Harry Potter films; Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the thrilling concluding continuation of The Deathly Hallows Part 1. I still have yet to read the book, but I’ve seen the film for the first time earlier this year. I know, I know, but I don’t need to talk about my admiration with the franchise as it progressed through the years, do I now. It’s all in the previous reviews. Okay, so here we go with the thrilling conclusion of it all (until the Cursed Child of course).

Spoilers in red.

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We pick up from where we left off from Part 1, where Voldemort has just robbed Dumbledore’s grave of his wand. After the credits, we get Snape staring solemnly at Hogwarts students marching through the outside corridor, supposedly knowing the school is about to be attacked. Meanwhile, Harry pays his last respects to Dobby (who was killed in the previous film by Bellatrix). He, Ron and Hermione continue their quest to destroy the remaining Horcruxes. This leads to the trio finally arriving at the school and the final battle begins between the school’s staff/students and Voldemort’s army.

Predictably, I dodged the Deathly Hallows Part 2. A, because I had not seen Part 1 yet, B, I saw the trailer and felt that the shot with Harry and Voldemort falling off a tall building would give away too much of the ending, and C, yes my falling interaction with the franchise. However, I got round to seeing this one earlier this year along with Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Part 1 and let me tell you, it was worth it. From all the boredom I got from Deathly Hallows Part 1 i.e. the pointless love triangle, the rushed intro and not enough action, Part 2 was a massive improvement. It turns out I just needed to wait for one more film. It does seem dumb to split a film in two, considering that they could’ve cut the romantic stuff and any other scenes that dragged. But the Deathly Hallows Part 2 makes up for it.

There are loads of high points this film brings up, but I’ll try and keep it as short as possible. Let’s start with Snape, because he’s my favourite character and he has such an important role in Deathly Hallows Part 2. When we first see him, he’s staring in space and watching the students. The look on his face tells me that he’s aware of an attack about to happen and supposedly hoping that Harry will survive. Soon, we see him rounding up the students and faculty in the main hall, warning them that anybody aiding Harry will be punished, this going for both students and the teachers. Very dictator-like. Of course, that’s until Professor McGonagal challenges him to a duel and he flees. Then he’s debating with Voldemort on who the elder wand responds to. Voldemort then kills Snape and Nagini (Voldemort’s pet snake, that is) gladly helps. I must admit, when Harry and his friends find Snape and he asks them to take his tears before he dies, I was feeling emotional. And especially when Snape says that Harry has his mother’s eyes. It’s one of them scenes that demonstrates Snape’s secret love for Harry.

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This brings me neatly onto my favourite scene of the Deathly Hallows Part 2; when Harry observes Snape’s memories. We learn from this part that despite Snape’s distaste for Harry’s dad, James, he did fancy Harry’s mom, Lily. But they happened to be placed in different school-houses; Snape in Slytherin, but James and Lily in Gryffindor. It’s no wonder that later in the flashback, Snape’s seen in shock when he finds their corpses in the house where they was murdered by Voldemort and hugging Lily’s body and sobbing. And here’s another thing that seems odd; Dumbledore had wanted anybody who killed him to be Snape. I also like how Snape states that he’s grown to ‘care for the boy’. Turns out Snape wasn’t such a bad guy after all. And you can see why in The Philosopher’s Stone, he was trying to save Harry from Quirrell and in the Prisoner of Askaban, he attempted to protect Harry and his pals from a werewolf.

What else do I like? I’ve always been into war movies and from the start of the battle to Harry and Voldemort’s final showdown really feels like one; lots of massive destruction, so many killings… Speaking of which, I often find myself smiling when Bellatrix attempts to strike Ginny and Molly’s like ‘Not my daughter you b***h!’ and then destroys Bellatrix. And what about when Harry and co save Malfoy and a guy named Zabini from a burning room? Theme of loyalty there, even though Malfoy had made Harry’s life a living hell. What really cracks me up is when Harry and Ron are broomstick-flying to save them and Ron’s like ‘If we die for them Harry, I’m gonna kill you!’. Huh, get it? Too much to say.

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If there are some nitpicks I have with the Deathly Hallows Part 2, one of them is Hagrid’s first appearance in the movie. Harry finds that some of Voldemort’s fellow Death Eaters have caught Hagrid and he’s literally tied up between them. I kind of wanted to see how he got abducted. Maybe that’s what the previous film was missing. Plus it was a bit of a long while before the main trio finally got to Hogwarts, because that is where the real action is. Also, I have to point out the Dursleys’ absences, well, except for Petunia Dursley who appears briefly during the flashback scene. And some of the dialogue is a little corny.

On to the rip…, sort-of rip-offs; remember in Order Of The Phoenix when Harry had sensed where Voldemort’s minions was and what they was planning and I compared it to Captain Scarlet’s sixth sense? Well, there’s bits of that in this one. Okay, they’re more of similarities than rip-offs. Somehow, Snape reminds me of Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise, i.e. the fact that he kills Dumbledore in Half Blood Prince (just like Darth killing Obi Wan Kenobi), then in this film he kinda rebels against Voldemort and dies, proving his love for Harry, a little like Darth fighting back against the Emperor and sharing his final moment with Luke Skywalker, but obviously different. Apart from that, not much else to point out.

And finally, let’s talk about the ending, yeah, massive spoiler! I know. This is the part a lot of the people have complained about. Personally I don’t mind the ending. I think it’s quite heart-warming and I love the old school score that goes with it. Plus I have nothing against the main characters starting their own families. Some fans are against it, because of how light-hearted it is. Others moan about the fact that Hermione is married to Ron instead of Harry, while Harry is married to someone else. And I can’t believe J.K Rowling apologised for letting it happen. I mean, it’s her creation. She can do whatever the hell she wants with it. Sure, the ending’s cheesy and for some reason, I had a feeling Harry would live anyway, but it’s a nice closing to the Harry Potter series. I can’t think of another way to conclude it.

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My final verdict; forget the fact that the film’s currently in IMDB’s Top 250 Movies list for a moment. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is definitely one to check out. Despite its corny dialogue, I like it way better than Part 1. Much less boring, much less b***hing, it’s such a thrilling conclusion! Like I say, I still have yet to read the book, but the film certainly gave me a magical impression!

So that’s all eight Harry Potter films I’ve seen and reviewed. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I had fun writing them.

Overall rating: 8/10

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

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The Harry Potter franchise nears its end with the first in a two part story known as Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows. This is Part 1. How does it fare? Let’s take a look.

Spoilers are highlighted in red.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 commences as a continuation from the Half-Blood Prince. With the help of The Order Of The Phoenix and the Weasley family, Harry, Ron and Hermione set off to retrieve and destroy Voldemort’s remaining five ‘Horcruxes’. During the quest, they come across three objects known as the Deathly Hallows including the Elder Wand, The Resurrection Stone and The Invisibility Cloak, they destroy a few more Horcruxes and teenage-romance bickering occurs within the threesome.

Unfortunately, I’ve only seen the film and I have yet to read the book. I already explained reviews ago about my downhill engagement with the franchise, though I did first watch this film earlier this year following my viewing of the Half-Blood Prince, six years after its initial release. It’s also the third Harry Potter film David Yates directed (the first being The Order Of The Phoenix). I found the Half-Blood Prince to be an improvement to The Order Of The Phoenix, but how’s about The Deathly Hallows Part 1 in comparison to The Half-Blood Prince? Eh,… nah.

Before I progress any further with the review, I question the need to split the story into parts. Look, I know there are such great films that was split into parts, i.e. Kill Bill, and the original book is the longest one in the series, but why not just make the Deathly Hallows into one film? I’m aware that both over two hours long, but come on, Gone With The Wind was four hours long and still enjoyable and so was Lawrence Of Arabia and the Ten Commandments. Oh well.

We’ll start with the good stuff. Firstly, I really admire the last few shots of the film; Voldemort breaks into and raids Dumbledore’s tomb. Then, end of Deathly Hallows Part 1. Tell me that ain’t awesome for a film’s ending! I also like the bit where Dumbledore’s will is discussed. This takes place sometime before the threesome embark on their quest. Each one of them receives a possession from Dumbledore. Harry has the old golden snitch and remembers how he caught it in his mouth during a Quidditch match (see The Philosopher’s Stone). Oh and the bit where Harry and Ginny are snogging and one of the Weasley twins catches them and is like “Morrrrr-ning” is quite amusing. I also forgot to mention Dobby’s appearance, and his final one. Yes folks, ya may remember him from The Chamber Of Secrets where Harry saved Dobby from Lucius Malfoy, thus earning Dobby his freedom. He comes to save Harry and co, but is yelled at by Bellatrix for ‘defying his masters’. This is where Dobby stands up to the Malfoys (“Dobby has no masters, Dobby is a free elf”) and Bellatrix kills him with one throw of her wand while he’s attempting to escape with his friends. Poor Dobby.

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Alas, none of them highlights are enough to save a film from boredom. Unfortunately, during the middle, we have to sit through an over-dragging love triangle between Harry, Ron and Hermione. While we progress through the series, we know that Ron and Hermione are in a relationship with each other and Harry fancies Ginny, but there’s an affair, Ron acts like a moron about it and storms off, so much bickering. It drags and drags and has very little to do with the synopsis, a lame excuse to extend the film’s length and we know they’re going to realise what idiots they was and get back together again. I’ve seen it all before, let’s just say it’s boring! In fact, this is Ron’s weakest performance and most of his dialogue is constant bitching. You can just about replace it with this “neyh neyh neyh neyh neyh neyh!”

I also question the opening scene. We see the main threesome getting ready for their quest. I saw the deleted scenes and I’m surprised they wasn’t included in the final cut. One deleted scene indicates Harry and his aunt Petunia talking about the time when James and Lily were murdered by Voldemort and Petunia’s like; “that night at Godric’s Hollow, you didn’t just lose a mother, I lost a sister”. This indicates that Petunia does have a secret belief in the enchanted world. In another deleted scene, the Dursleys are about to leave Privet Drive; Harry and Dudley make peace with each other, handshake and final goodbyes. Those scenes are powerfully great! I never read the book, but apparently, the book included them. Why did the film have to shorten the opening scene to the Dursleys leaving without much word. I also debate what Hermione does before she leaves. I know by wiping her parents’ memories of her, she’s trying to save their lives from the Dementors, but I still feel disturbed by it.

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We briefly hear that following Dumbledore’s demise, Snape has taken over as the school principal. We hardly see any of how he copes with his new job, which would’ve been really interesting. But the only time we see him is when he’s attending a meeting with Voldemort, the Malfoys and some of the death eaters at the Malfoy Manor, and that’s it. Maybe I’d just have to wait till Part 2.

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And let’s briefly point out the rip-offs; Hermione acts a bit like Mary Poppins. Okay she doesn’t use an umbrella, but have you noticed how small her bag is and how large the items she carries around are? Speaking of Dumbledore and Snape, since Snape killed Dumbledore in the previous film and took position as principal, it seems a bit like in The Lion King where Scar kills Mufasa and inherits the role of the king of Pride Rock. Also, Harry, Ron and Hermione’s wasteful love-triangle plot is soooo Twilight!

If I had a favourite scene, I’d have to give the point to the scene where Harry teams up with his mates and some of the Order Of The Phoenix, followed by a brief flying battle where they fight off some of Voldemort’s minions. There’s a brief moment where Hedwig gets killed, but Harry doesn’t get a chance to mourn her. Couldn’t there be a scene afterwards where Harry gives his pet owl a quick send-off? Also, Moody is reported to have been killed as well. I kinda wanted to see how he died.

Overall, the film is one of the most boring of the franchise. It lacks much of the fun and the love-triangle bit gets entirely in the way. Of course, this is only Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows. There I am thinking; will Part 2 be an improvement? Join me in the next review as I review the final Harry Potter film of all.

Overall Rating: 3/10

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

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So following my then-disappointment with the movie version of Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban, my enjoyment within the franchise waned. Therefore I became uninterested in reading the novel version of the next story, Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince. Four years later, the movie came out and I also dodged it. Is it as bad as I thought it would be? Let’s take a look.
As usual, spoilers will be highlighted in red.

Harry’s starting his sixth year at Hogwarts and Dumbledore tells him that Voldemort’s using several items known as ‘Horcruxes’, which are meant to keep the guy as powerful as possible, and they therefore must be destroyed. Meanwhile, and speaking of Voldemort, he makes a dark unbreakable vow with Snape and Malfoy.

It’s seven years since the movie adaptation of the Half-Blood Prince was released and I’ve only just watched it earlier this year. I’ve been going on and on about my loss of interest with the Harry Potter franchise, so I won’t go too much into it. When Alan Rickman died, I remembered how great he was as Snape, which inspired me to cut the franchise some slack. So I checked out the Half-Blood Prince and the last two movies. I liked the Half-Blood Prince better than The Order Of The Phoenix. For one thing, there were fewer flaws.

Let’s start with the good stuff. Firstly, Snape remains as cool as ever, but he has a much darker role. Voldemort assigns Malfoy the unbreakable vow; to kill Dumbledore. Snape agrees to help out if Malfoy fails. During the finale, we get Malfoy attempting to kill Dumbledore, but being too much of a wuss to do so, so Snape kills Dumbledore instead. When Harry confronts him, Snape reveals himself to be the half-blood prince. Though I have to wonder, does this mean that Snape has turned to the dark side?

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What else do I like? The scene where Dumbledore recounts his first interaction with Tom ‘Voldemort’ Riddle; Riddle as a kid. Yes, part of his backstory. It’s revealed that Riddle wondered if there was a way to divide his soul into several different pieces, hence the Horcruxes. This is pretty much my favourite scene in the movie. Dumbledore demonstrates that Riddle eventually did so and so far, two of them have been destroyed, one of them including the diary (as demonstrated in The Chamber Of Secrets).

I’m also fond of Dumbledore’s funeral scene. It’s exactly how I pictured it; his grave surrounded by the students and faculty and each one of them raising their wands, each one shining like a torch. Sure it looks enchantingly cheesy, but then if you think about it, armies have their own style of funeral services, including firing guns towards the sky (you may have seen that in that Season 1 episode of The A-Team), so there ain’t no reason why enchanted worlds can have a service of their own.

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Speaking of death and sadness, I should also briefly mention the bit where Hagrid is about to lose Aragog, his old pet spider (who you also may remember from The Chamber Of Secrets). It’s probably the saddest moment I’ve seen in the film. Many of us can all relate to it. Some of us have lost our pets, due to fatal incidents/accidents or illnesses. Others, due to expired life-spans. This is exactly what Aragog experiences.

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Now where does The Half-Blood Prince fall flat? Firstly, the plot which involves Ron falling in love with a student named Lavender Brown, which upsets Hermione. I’m sorry, the romance ain’t particularly that interesting to watch and nor is Lavander. I have no problem with Ron and Hermione being in a relationship, but this is sooo forgettable and sooo Twilight. As for the romance between Hermione and Ron, meh.

Also, this is the film where Snape finally gets to teach Defence Against The Dark Arts and Dumbledore’s old friend, Horace Slughorn, takes over as the Potions Master. I have no problem seeing one of Horace’s lectures, but I can’t believe the film didn’t include one scene with Snape holding any of his DATDA lectures. It would’ve been real interesting to see the guy who longed to teach such a subject to finally get his chance! And speaking of miss-outs, where are the Dursleys and how did Harry end up at a cafe in the first place during the opening?

As for the rip-offs; not so many that I spotted, though the cinematography during the finale looks rather similar to the finale in Die Hard. We also come across the cliche where we come across the Chosen One. That cliche’s been done since Star Wars, we’ve seen it whilst playing Little Big Adventure, we’ve seen it in Lord Of The Rings, and the Matrix, enough named.

My final verdict; Half-Blood Prince is a decent film. I like it better than the last two Harry Potter films, it took a much darker turn. Though I don’t think it’s as strong as the first three. I still have yet to read the book and see how it and the film compare.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Next review: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix

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Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix was the last book in the series that I read. I didn’t read the next ones, because they came out after my initial disappointment with the film version of Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban and as a result, my interest in the franchise was lowering. This also meant that I avoided The Order Of The Phoenix when the film version was released. However, I soon caught a viewing of it on ITV and it didn’t give me a good impression first time round. But then I saw it a couple more times and… let’s look at the story.

It begins with Harry and his cousin Dudley getting ambushed by dementors, after Dudley’s been taunting Harry, which leads to Harry having no choice, but to use magic as an act of defence. As a result, Harry gets expelled from Hogwarts,… okay, but luckily, his friends and ex-teachers do their best to seek justice throughout. Although Harry does get his position back, the trust lacks and worse to come, an authoritarian bureaucrat takes over as Defence Against The Dark Arts Teacher and seizes control of the school.

When I first saw the movie, I just caught sight of it on ITV and I had no interest in watching the movie in the first place due to my disappointment with the previous movie. The first scene I caught sight of was during the aftermath of Harry’s near…-expelling experience when he was involved in an argument with his fellow Gryffindor housemates, especially Seamus, which I didn’t find much interesting. Maybe if it was the scenes that involved Snape, I probably would’ve stayed glued to the screen, or clearly, I should’ve thought about watching the film from the beginning. However, I saw the film again and it was a little better than I remembered it. It has in fact improved compared to The Goblet Of Fire. There are still flaws though.

Let’s look at the good stuff. Firstly, you’ll notice that the Dursleys have returned to the series. They’re always a pleasure to watch. This was one of the things the previous film missed. I bet that if my mom was seeing the part where Harry and Dudley are running for their lives, she’d be thinking “Dudley’s way too fat to keep up with Harry”. Then when Harry receives news on his suspension from Hogwarts school (which I’ll discuss later), look at Vernon’s grinning expression when he says “justice!” That really cracks me up. Another great thing about the film is how we find out Snape’s motives for badmouthing Harry’s dad (again to be discussed later). Yeah I know, but Snape is truly my favourite character in the series.

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While I wrote my review on The Goblet Of Fire, I forgot to mention Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius Black’s cousin and Draco Malfoy’s aunt. She was another thing the book included, but the film neglected. She makes her very first appearance in the film version of The Order Of The Phoenix and boy, does she kick butt. Bellatrix is a truly loyal hench-woman to Voldemort. She’s aggressive, she’s fiesty, she stops at nothing, she’s a lot you want in a death eater.

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I suppose I should also mention Professor Dolores Umbridge. All the previous four Defence Against The Dark Arts teachers was blokes; Quirrell, Lockhart, Lupin, Moody, so it was quite good to have a woman take over as teacher of the subject. Umbridge is who you’d describe as the Margaret Thatcher of Defence Against The Dark Arts. Being that Maggie was the first woman to rule as UK Prime Minister, but was also a member of the dodgy conservative party, it’s easy to compare her to Umbridge. If you think about it, Umbridge is the first and only woman to teach DATDA, as far as we all know (there may have been some women before/after her, but that would’ve been way before the main setting of The Philosopher’s Stone and/or after the main setting of the Deathly Hallows). She also is an untrustworthy teacher. My main nitpick with Umbridge is her ridiculously high-pitched voice. It’s enough to hurt the viewers’ ears and the way she giggles, it reminds me of each time I listen to Elaine Page on one of the BBC Radio stations (eek). Why couldn’t Imelda Staunton have used her normal voice or at least used a similar voice to the one she used when she voiced Bunty in Chicken Run. Her squeaks are as unrealistic as Christian Bale’s growls when he played Batman. No offence Christian. Other than that, fine character. I was also in favour of the bit where Umbridge attempted to fire Professor Trelawney, because man, I can’t stand that woman!

Now where does it go wrong? Although I like this film better than The Goblet Of Fire, I do feel certain plot elements fall flat. Firstly, though I was in favour of seeing the Dusleys again, I didn’t like the bit where Harry gets expelled. It had very little to do with the whole film and it’s like; “is the film over already? It’s only been like five to ten minutes.” Also in regards to the scene, Petunia originally stated that she knows of the Dementors and surprises her husband, son and even her nephew by admitting so when she listened in a conversation between her sister and “that awful boy”. The next moment, she notices an angry letter to Harry and recognises it as a howler, therefore rethinking her plan to banish Harry from the house. This is not included in the film which would’ve been a pity, because I kinda wanted to see at least one of Harry’s muggle-relatives demonstrating a bit of an understanding to the magical world and it would’ve created a bit more conflict to the story. With that said though, the film adaptation to The Order Of The Phoenix doesn’t neglect as much of the highlights from the book as the film adaptation to The Goblet Of Fire does. I was quite glad they got rid of the bit where Hermione has a conversation about centaurs; “I’ve never liked horses” to which I think it’s Ron that says “it’s a centaur” and Hermione defensively replies “it still has four legs”; big talk from a democratic intellectual!

Another nit-pick I have with the movie is that when Moody, Lupin and Tonks of the Order Of The Phoenix meet Harry, they’re clearly in the Muggle-world and they’re riding on broomsticks. Wouldn’t they have been caught out by the muggles in a busy city? And ain’t one of the policies ‘don’t do magic in front of muggles’? I know they’re trying to help Harry with justice, but I think they should’ve used flu powder or some other teleportation device/magic trick. I’m just thinking of continuity.

Then we have Dumbledore, who is kind of as bad as he was in the previous film. He’s supposed to be a mentor to Harry, much like Gandalf from Lord Of The Rings and/or Merlin from The Sword In The Stone, not because of his large beard. He, like Harry, is aware of Voldemort’s return and struggles to receive belief from the public, but the rather disturbing thing about him is that he’s constantly distancing himself from Harry. He does eventually explain to him why after Sirius’ tragic killing by Bellatrix, the reason being that Dumbledore hoped Harry would be less vulnerable to Voldemort using their connection. This movie could’ve been more careful.

Rip-offs; well that’s easy. First we see in The Prisoner Of Azkaban that Harry has developed a “you won’t like me when I’m angry” persona, just like The Incredible Hulk. Now in this one, he has some sixth sense which specializes in mind reading for the Death Eaters. Does that ring a bell to fans of Captain Scarlet?

Best scene; Snape attempts to teach Harry to block Voldemort from his mind. This is where we discover why Snape loathed James Potter so much. He knows that Harry has now developed a Captain Scarlet-style persona, but Harry is struggling to block Voldemort from his mind, which leads to Snape to insult Harry’s dad; “You’re just like your farther, lazy, arrogant,…!”. Harry warns him “Don’t say a word against my father”. We understand why Harry would want to defend his father, because despite the fact that James Potter died too soon for Harry to know him well enough, he is his family and Harry doesn’t reckon he’s that bad. Though we do emphathise with Snape too considering that his past with James haunts him so much that he’s quite afraid to give too much detail. We do see why as soon as Harry casts a spell which reads Snape’s flashbacks; he was bullied by James and Sirius when they was students at Hogwarts. It’s no wonder Snape hated James so much, though I have a feeling that James was just having a bit of fun and didn’t intend to cause any nastiness, but Snape didn’t take it too positively. On the other hand, we can empathise with the former bullied victim and the trauma one goes through, because of his/her experiences being bullied.

Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix does make a larger and more improved difference to The Goblet Of Fire, though to be fair, it’s still one of the weaker films. It’s not as strong as the first three films. There’s one more worse film than The Order Of The Phoenix, but we’ll get to that one later.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Next review: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire

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It’s very rare that I remember novels as much as film adaptations, particularly because most of the novels I have ever read are full of text, with the exception of Roald Dahl’s material which includes pictures as well. I remember them so well. Who doesn’t? On this rare occasion, Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire is one of them stories, which I preferred the novel version of; the movie version disappointed me. Why? Let’s find out!

Spoilers are highlighted in red.

A so-called Tri-wizard tournament takes place, meaning that three enchanted schools, including Hogwarts, enter a world sports competition between each other. One senior year student from each school is selected to compete. But on the night of the selection, the Goblet of Fire (a device which randomly selects the students) spews out one extra competitor; Harry Potter, who is in his fourth year and too young to compete. This of course causes some controversy among Hogwarts, but because the magic can’t be reversed, Harry bravely goes for the difficult activities. Soon, we learn that the tournament has turned into a trap.

I had watched the first three Harry Potter films at the cinema. However, I did not see Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire until Easter day the following year, when one of my cousins-once-removed introduced us to the film via DVD, while we were visiting relatives. The reason was because I didn’t enjoy The Prisoner Of Azkaban, when it first came out. Moments before we saw The Goblet Of Fire, I thought maybe it would be an improvement to the previous film. I remembered the awesome bits the book had, despite the picture absence. But after one viewing, my heart sank. The film version missed out all the great bits from the book. I was so disappointed.

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Before I start moaning about the film, let’s explore the good stuff. Firstly, I most certainly give credit to the character of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, the ex-auror and newly appointed Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher. His introduction to the class is incredible. He addresses himself, even by his first name. That’s very different for a teacher, not only in fiction, but in general. I remember when I was at school, most teachers addressed themselves by their titles during their introductions to the classes, well except one time during a maths lesson when we had a substitute teacher who stated “my name is Matthew”. That’s so rare for a school teacher. Another thing great about Moody’s introduction is his reason for coming to the school; “I’m here, because Dumbledore asked me to, end of story, goodbye, the end!” Who in the world could possibly not crack a smile to that? And he even addressed Dumbledore only by surname in front of the kids. Another great thing about Moody is his rebellious attitude; “The Ministry says you are too young to see what these curses do. I say different! You need to know what you’re up against”, I’d say he’d make a great John Keating, and I love the way he punishes Malfoy for taunting Harry, then gets told off by McGonagall and after she leaves, notice how he sticks his tongue out in her direction. Despite his plain moody personality, Moody does have a sympathetic side towards the kids. However, he does have a dark side. It is soon revealed that Moody is an impostor, and is actually Barty Crouch Jr. wearing a disguise, who has locked the real Moody up. Did I mention how incredible Moody’s appearance is, especially his robotic eye?

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To tell you the truth, I would’ve liked to see more of Igor Karkaroff, the principal of one of the competing schools and apparent death eater. The confrontations he has with Snape are really interesting and it demonstrates one of the things Snape does best; conflict with the other staff, even pouring the Veritaserum potion in Moody’s mouth seems to be his pleasure. The only trouble is, there are very few of those confrontations and none of them connect to any other parts of a rather long film, apart from his moving tattoo which relates to the polyjuice potion and Barty Crouch Jr.. With that said, there’s an amusing scene where Harry catches Snape and Karkaroff arguing in the parking lot, while the school disco is taking place; Snape and Karkaroff catch two students supposedly having sex in a caravan and Snape announces “ten points from Hufflepuff, Fawcett, and the same from Ravenclaw, Stebbins”, which demonstrates how sense-smart Snape is. Such a shame that scene had to be deleted. Plus I thought Karkaroff was more developed and had a larger part in the novel.

Speaking of the novel, Moody’s scenes and Snape and Karkaroff’s fights ain’t enough to save a bad film. Here’s what I don’t like about the film; it misses out a lot of the great bits included in the novel. During the first few chapters, Harry is writing a conversational letter to his godfather Sirius Black. He even writes about how badly his cousin, Dudley’s, diet is going and that following a confrontation with Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia in regards to pocket money, Dudley angrily threw his Play Station out of the window. This bit cracks me up. The film should’ve included a scene with Harry writing the letter out loud and clips to go with the words, including Dudley throwing his games console out of the window. As for the Dursleys, they’re in the book, but they ain’t even in the film! After we see Frank getting killed by one of Voldemort’s henchmen, it cuts straight to Harry spending time with the Weasleys and Hermione and being harassed and mothered by Hermione. The novel showed how Harry got their in the first place, via the fireplace. Plus there was a struggle at first, due to the fact that the Dursleys’ fireplace was electric. That was great! Later on, we see Peeves playing his obnoxious pranks on the students and getting a telling off from Professor McGonagall. Again, not included. In fact, I’ve never seen Peeves in any of the movies. He originally was supposed to be in the first movie and portrayed by Rik Mayall, of The Young Ones/Bottom/The New Statesman fame, some of the most awesome things I ever saw on the screen. But they had to delete them scenes. Tut, tut. Oh and did I mention Hermione forming a democratic society for the house elves? Again, what the film tragically missed out. And where in the name of bladdy ‘ell was Colin Creevey, the one who gets killed off in the book?

Apart from the overlooked pros of the novel, the film faces plenty more problems. Certain plot-lines and character portrayals for one thing. Dumbledore, for instance, is pretty much at his worst. He is supposed to be the Merlin The Magician of the series, but in this film, he’s way too gruff and aggressive. At one point, when he interrogates Harry after Harry’s name was selected through the Goblet, did you see the way he points his wand at Harry and hear how full of rage he sounds when he speaks? So not like Dumbledore, especially not when he was portrayed by Richard Harris in the first two films. Geez, Mike Newell, if you wanted to toughen him up, at least research Merlin from The Sword In The Stone! An another thing, Dumbledore sets up them tasks for Harry to take on, even half-drowning some of the students and relying on Harry to rescue them. I know the series is meant to be dark considering how much of the recurring theme, i.e. death, is involved, but this is really disturbing!

And Ron Weasley ain’t exactly at his best either. Well, he acts fine during the Quidditch world cup, but following the news that Harry has become a fourth competitor for the Triwizard tournament, he acts like a complete jerk. For instance, in one scene, Harry tells Ron “You’re being stupid”, which is well put, and Ron’s like “Yeah, that’s me. Ron Weasley, Harry Potter’s stupid friend!”. You can just about replace the dialogue with how the Nostalgia Critic described Robin’s dialogue in Batman & Robin; “Nyeh eh nyeh!” In fact, that is like the same with many of the other arguments the three main protagonists have, throughout.

There’s one more thing I ought to mention; The Goblet Of Fire signalled the first-ish appearance of Lord Voldemort, Harry’s arch-nemesis. I say ‘ish’, because technically, he was in The Philosopher’s Stone, but through flashback and faceless, then inside Professor Quirrell’s body, then we saw him as a ‘memory’ in The Chamber Of Secrets. The Goblet Of Fire deserves some credit for introducing Voldemort in full character, but I have a few flaws with the character. Firstly, when we saw him in The Philosopher’s Stone, this is how he looked;

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Blimey, look at that! And I reckon that scar symbolises his attempted murder of Harry. He most certainly looks plain sinister and evil, sort of like Mr Burns from The Simpsons. That look is plenty to give kids nightmares. Plus his voice was so snake-like. How do we compare this to Voldemort’s appearance in The Goblet Of Fire?

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Erm…, okay…? He has the aggressive fighting ability which is a great sign. But this is a guy who can communicate with snakes and the appearance he had in the first film was more snaky. Here, he looks more like a skeleton with skin or some character out of a live-action film version of a Dr. Seuss story. I do give credit that Ralph Fiennes went with the Dustin Hoffman style of acting, that one would hardly recognise the actor much as the character, of course you can almost tell that this is the same guy who played Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List by looking at his mouth. But Voldemort looks and sounds more like a character who was portrayed by Mike Myers. Don’t believe me? Ever seen Cat In The Hat? I only saw a bit of it. But then, his nose looks way too peculiar, like he’s had some sort of operation on it. And do I need to repeat the comparison between his and the Dr.Seuss characters’ characteristics; hence the residents of Who-Ville and their noses?

Rip-offs; well there’s not many really. The finale in the maze does remind me a bit of Labyrinth and The Shining both put together. The band scene is quite creative, though it reminds me of the band played by the B-52s in that Flintstones movie. Of course there ain’t no stone age setting in this film. As for the World Cup scene, there’s a shot of stars in the sky forming an Irish mascot. I’m sure I saw something like that elsewhere, but I can’t think where. Apart from that, nothing much to point out.

So for all my b**ching and moaning, this film feels like the worst film, sort of like the Superman IV of the Harry Potter movies. Let me make clear that I only saw the first three Superman mainstream films, so I can’t say what the fourth one’s like, but some of my friends have seen it and they hated it. Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire doesn’t do much for me. It’s too disturbing, it’s boring, and the biggest crime is that it overlooks the great things the novel had. It makes me feel that I need to pick up the novel again.

Favourite scene; Moody’s introduction. I’ve mentioned a lot about that scene earlier on; how he introduces himself, his reasons for teaching and his rebellious persona on the other teachers. His quotes are quite inspirational; “You need to know what you’re up against. You need to be prepared…”. I also love how he manages to catch Seamus out even with his back turned; “You need to find another place to put your chewing gum besides the underside of your desk, Mr. Finnegan!”. He can also be quite violent; when Seamus whispers; “No way, the old codger can see out of the back of his head!”, Moody throws a piece of chalk at him and shouts; “And hear across classrooms”. Tell me this scene ain’t badass.

Overall rating: 2/10

Next review: Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix

Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban

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Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone was a great start to the HP series. The Chamber Of Secrets was awesome! So what could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, I get it, The Prisoner Of Azkaban. This was the film that signalled a few changes to the series. And yet, even though I like this film better now than I remember it, I remember on my first viewing that my spark was running flat.

Spoilers will be highlighted in red.

Harry returns to Hogwarts school for his third year. Before he goes back, Arthur Weasley warns him that a so-called murderer, named Sirius Black has escaped from a dungeon. But Harry soon learns the truth about Sirius.

I suppose you’re wondering what I had against the film in the first place. Well there was a huge change to the series. Chris Columbus quit directing and switched to the producing side, the director’s chair was given to Alfonso Cuaron, who apparently never read any of the books (eek!). The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber Of Secrets were more colourful and were referred to as family films. The Prisoner Of Azkaban, on the other hand, I felt, was just grittier (in colour that is) for the sake of being gritty, which has now become rather cliched; it’s like they just wanted to make an excuse for a Fight Club flavour. Plus, this film got a little more ‘teeny’ and I have to admit, I ain’t really into teen movies. One obvious fact is that Harry, Ron and Hermione are thirteen in this movie, which means they’re now teenagers. I remember not being a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and through my first viewing, I had a feeling it would remind me of that show.

There was certain scenes I didn’t like in the film. Firstly, I wasn’t too fond of the choir scene. When I saw the scene, I was thinking “since when did Hogwarts have student choirs chanting for the introduction to the new semesters?” and “wouldn’t they have needed a bit of rehearsal?”. I have nothing against the lyrics to the song they sing whatsoever, I’m always in favour for Shakespeare. I also didn’t like the ending much. I was in favour of seeing Harry find his broom repaired and feel so thankful for that that he decides to joyride, but is that it for the ending? I expected to see a lot more from it, like to see a bit of Sirius for example, and Dumbledore doesn’t exactly make much of an impact. Speaking of Dumbledore, I was aware of Richard Harris’ passing which meant that they needed a new actor, and they chose Michael Gambon, who I don’t think was a great replacement. He does have a Merlin-style appearance, but he sounds a lot younger and looks a bit too much shorter than Richard. I personally think Warner Brothers should’ve picked Nigel Planer. (sighs) Yes he was Neil in The Young Ones, which is a comedy. But he did play Dumbledore once. (sighs again) Yes, it was in Harry Potter & The Secret Chamberpot Of Azerbaijan, the French & Saunders version, but I’m pretty sure he could’ve pulled off a more sensible role of Dumbledore as well. He did have an appropriate voice and he did look exactly like Richard’s portrayal. Oh well. And for the love of god, please don’t get me started on Professor Sybil Trelawney, that psychotic… person!

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And yes, let’s point out the rip-offs; Firstly, during the scene where Harry literally blows up his rude and obnoxious Aunt Marge. After she insults him, Harry turns to her and rages, just screwing his face up and clenching his fists, then Marge inflates. It’s like Harry has developed a similar persona to The Incredible Hulk (get it? “Don’t make me angry, you won’t like me when I’m angry”?) And speaking of inflation, this ain’t the first time any fictional character has been inflated. Remember Violet Bureauguarde from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory? And of course J.K. Rowling didn’t exactly invent the species of the werewolf. There’s a scene where Remus Lupin turns into a wolf as soon as the moon comes out, just like on An American Werewolf In London.

With that said, Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban is much better than I remember it. Snape remains as awesome as ever, with his resentment towards Harry and his suspicious attitude towards Lupin. I especially love how he dismisses Hermione’s full knowledge on animaguses and werewolves as her proceeding to be a know-it-all. Lupin’s a pretty nice character. In fact, I admire his back-story which involves his friendship with James Potter (Harry’s long dead dad) and his Defence Against The Dark Arts lessons are amazing; when he teaches them the ridikulus spell is a lot of fun. Malfoy’s at his nastiest; during Hagrid’s lecturer and following Harry’s interaction with Buckbeak the hippogriff (a species of griffin), Malfoy scowls and provokes Buckbeak causing himself to get seriously scratched in the arm and then snitching on him to his dad, leading to Buckbeak to get sentenced to death, and yet, I can really feel for Hagrid when he emotionally tells his friends the news. The provoking scene has reminded me of the recent news today where a suicidal American provoked two zoo lions causing them to get shot. The fact that Buckbeak is given a sentence can leave a nasty taste in your mouth and make you feel that you really want to strangle Malfoy, because he’s to blame for the whole thing. Buckbeak is a pretty unique creation too. And I have to say, I admire Sirius Black’s backstory and the fact that it turns out Ron’s pet rat was Peter Pettigrew all along and that he was the actual murderer who helped Voldemort commit the murder of Harry’s parents. At first, I didn’t understand it, but I clearly wasn’t ready to see the film yet. The first scene with the Dursleys makes me laugh. Pam Ferris was exactly the right choice for Marge. I also remember sniggering when Harry lied to her “Oh yeah, I’ve been beaten loads of times.”

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If I had to pick a favourite scene; I’d go for the scene where Lupin and Sirius fight each other as an animagus and werewolf. It’s a truly dark scene, considering that Lupin has turned into a werewolf and because of that, he can’t control himself in that form. The growls are so great. It makes you wonder whether the same guy who worked on the dinosaur growling sounds for Jurassic Park also worked on the canine ones in this movie. I also love the way Snape attempts to protect the three young protagonists from the two monsters before he can punish Harry for knocking Snape out, which I have to say is an extremely important scene which relates to Harry & Snape’s love/hate relationship.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Next review: Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire