Flashback: Harry Potter

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“We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter’s the one

and Voldy’s gone mouldy, so let’s have some fun!”

Over the past month, I decided to re-live my childhood (and teenage years for that matter) and I read the Harry Potter series from start to finish.  Which, believe it or not, I’ve never actually done.  Because why actually read a series in order, right?  And while Harry Potter is, of course, essentially a fantasy book for children, damnit, I had a blast re-reading them and finding out all of the little secrets you only truly pick up when you start at the beginning.

Oh yeah, I’m cool.

For those who have essentially been living under a rock, or worse, live in a fully functional society and just failed to pay any attention to the highest-selling book of all time, Harry Potter is, in a word, a boss.  He’s a teenage wizard who is expected to defeat the greatest dark lord of all time, who is almost, quite literally, unkillable.

Unfortunate.

Anyway.  As previously mentioned, most people have read the books, and the people who haven’t have probably stumbled onto the wrong blog.  Hey!  Welcome to Set In Motion!  So, instead, I’m going to list my favourite three things about Harry and his wizarding world, and please, if you do or do not agree, let me know below!

Family ties:

While one of the main themes of Harry Potter is that love will basically save the day, power of the heart, love thy neighbour and so forth,  I particularly liked the recurrent theme of the importance of family.  For example, although it wasn’t a major aspect of the last novel, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, I loved how J K Rowling depicted the Malfoys.  Lucius, Draco and Narcissa are not nice people; they support Voldemort, they despise muggle-borns and they look down on people who don’t have money, but at the end of the day, what they care about, above all else, is that they’re safe.  Narcissa doesn’t care that Voldemort is almost at the peak of his power, she is more concerned with whether or not her son is still alive.  For such a fantastical world, I thought Rowling really hit home with this one bit of reality.

The other, of course, is the relationships that Dumbledore has with his family, and Harry himself.  When I first read Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, I was about eight and I couldn’t really comprehend wanting anything more than candy.  Reading the book as a 21 year old, however, it really struck me how terribly sad it was for Harry, an 11 year old boy, to want nothing more than to be back with his family, to feel connected and a part of something.  And when you finally find out, seven books later, that Dumbledore essentially saw the same thing?  Heartbreaking.  It does, of course, make you ponder what it is you would want above all else, doesn’t it?

Strong female characters:

While I wouldn’t consider myself to be an outspoken feminist who hates men, it does sometimes irk me that novel after novel, film after film, is released with strong, MALE leads.  While Harry Potter does, of course, have strong male leads (Dumbledore, Harry, Voldemort), the leading females are just as strong.  Professor McGonagall, strong, fierce and powerful; Hermione, the smartest character in the book; even Bellatrix Lestrange; she’s absolutely batshit crazy, but she is also incredibly smart and powerful.

However, it isn’t until the seventh book, that Mrs Weasley shows her strengths.  Throughout the series she is considered, while highly likeable and able, to be a generic housewife who appears to be good at having lots of children.  And then…she shows her true colours.  While this may say a lot about my preferences of people, I absolutely LOVED it, when she took down Bellatrix Lestrange because she threatened her daughter.  Amazing stuff.

My favourite female character though?  Luna Lovegood.  She’s eccentric, unusual, unpopular.  But she also, as we discover, been through some pretty horrific stuff, and has come out smiling on the other side.  I think there’s a lot we can take from Luna, even  if her fashion choices (radishes anyone?) aren’t one of them.

The connections:

“I wonder how the Bloody Baron got covered in blood?”  Check.

“Why did Voldemort want to kill me?”  Answered.

Every. Single. Question. You ever had about Severus Snape.  Why he disliked James.  Why his memory of calling Lily a mudblood is considered his worst.  Everything.  Even, of course, why he is always so unhappy.

While there are aspects that never get cleared up, overall, it’s pretty awesome to start from the beginning, and have questions that are answered so much further down the track.

What are your thoughts on Harry Potter?  Over-rated?  Under-rated?  Let me know!

Harr Potter

The Harry Potter Series-(image taken from http://www.afreckledlife.com)

The Best Films of 2011 (In My Opinion)

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As it is the end of another year,  I decided to recount my favourite films of the year (that I saw at the cinema), and bring back memories of the shockers that I was also forced to endure.  While I’m not the biggest movie-goer, and make no claims to pretend to be a cinephile, there were some films that really stuck out as being amazing.  Drum roll please!

THE BEST FIVE

Drive:

Drive follows the seemingly boring life of Driver (Ryan Gosling), who by day works as a stunt driver and mechanic, but by night works as a getaway driver for criminals.  His life appears boring, simple and unfulfilled until he meets his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son, Benicio.  When a break-in goes wrong, Gosling and Mulligan become targets by the mob, putting at risk all those that Driver has in his life.

What worked:

Pretty much everything.  Usually I can appreciate terrible chick flicks, as long as they have a cute boy starring in it, but this film exceeded my expectations simply because of the way it was put together.  The directing, by Nicolas Winding Refn, was superb, as it  managed to both encapsulate the filming of loneliness that Driver felt at the beginning of the film, as well as work in the crescendo of violence and action that eventually led to the big finale.  The acting was flawless, with Gosling as Driver in particular, to the point that potential Oscar nomination talk has been whispered.  Finally, I enjoyed the 80s vibe to the film, from the tacky racing jacket that Driver wears, to the bright pink writing for the credits, and the quirky, yet catchy, soundtrack.

What Didn’t:

Almost nothing.  The only problem that I had with this film was the scene where Gosling pokes his head around the corner, grinning like a madman, splatted head to toe in blood.  Automatically I had a Jack Nicholson in The Shining flashback, which ruined the entire moment for me.  Which is saying something, since Christina Hendricks had just had her head graphically blown off.

Contagion:

An unknown disease starts spreading across the world at a rapid pace, with terrifying symptoms that quickly escalate into painful deaths.  The film follows different groups and their responses to the epidemic, including the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and their control of both the media’s impact and the spreading of the disease; the World Health Organisation, CDC scientists trying to find a cure, conspirators, and those directly affected by the disease.

What worked:

Considering this is a film directed by Steven Soderberg, with heavyweight actors Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law starring (although there are at least another six or seven easily recognisable actors also included), this film was always going to be a technical success.  Luckily for them, it was also a fantastic storyline.  While the idea of a mutant disease spreading the world and killing everyone seems implausible, Soderberg tells the story in such a way, and with such detail, that it soon dawns on the viewer that actually, yes, this is possible.  Which was a terrifying thought, particularly since I had to catch public transport home afterwards and all I could keep thinking about were all the germs I was touching and how they could potentially kill me.  Also, brownie points for the ending, which managed to both complete the story and leave the viewer going “Dun Dun DUN!” (Or something similar).

What Didn’t:

The only part of the storyline that I didn’t particularly enjoy or think was necessary was the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character cheated on her husband, Matt Damon, spreading the disease to another city in America.  I felt like it was only in there to further our dislike for her character and become de-sensitised to the fact that she had died, but honestly, it’s Gwyneth Paltrow, I couldn’t really see anyone caring that much.

Source Code

Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up to find himself on a commuter train travelling to Chicago, only to realise that he is actually in the body of a stranger, who soon dies when the train suddenly explodes.  As the storyline unfolds, we learn that Stevens is actually in the Source Code, which means that he has the ability to live the last eight minutes of a person’s life before they die.  He has been sent in by the Army to find and capture the person behind the bombing, before they have the chance to set of a larger, nuclear bomb throughout the city.

What worked:

What was so great about this film was how it kept the viewer entertained when they could have become so easily irritated by the repetitiveness of re-living the same eight minutes on a train.  Gyllenhaal played the character to perfection, and the story arch got more enthralling as the movie played out.  Not only did we want to see his succeed, but the eventual ending left the viewer (or at least, left me) both satisfied and utterly perplexed, asking myself; what REALLY happened?

What didn’t work:

The only thing that I can think about is the ending; it was great, but six months on I STILL don’t completely understand it.  Anyone care to tell me?

Friends With Benefits

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, as Dylan and Jamie respectively, become close friends after Timberlake moves to New York, and eventually they decide to start sleeping with each other.  Except they have promised each other that there will be no romantic feelings involved.

What Worked:

OK, OK so it WAS a predictable chick flick.  But so what?  The writing was funny, the chemistry (both in and out of bed) between Timberlake and Kunis was addictive and the whole film just appeared to be effortless.  YES, we all knew they were going to end up happily ever after, but the journey there had it’s unexpected moments, filled with witty lines, and hilarious co-stars Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson thrown into the mix.  And quite honestly, who would have wanted to see Kunis end up with that dick-douche who slept with her and then ditched her?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

What Didn’t:

The constant reminder that Justin Timberlake is a singer.  When he was singing in bed with her, when he rapped, and when he started dancing in his bathrobe (sorry, not sexy).  All unnecessary, and I became less attracted to him when I was forcibly reminded that he actually once belonged to a boy band.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two

Surely we all know the storyline to this one don’t we?  Harry, Hermione and Ron take on Gringotts and eventually Hogwarts to fight the evil Lord Voldemort and save the wizarding world from inescapable doom.

What worked:

OK, so MAYBE this one is in the top five for nostalgic reasons, but can you really blame me?  I was so excited for this film that I dragged along my tour group to see it with me in Peru.  And were any of us disappointed?  Of course not.  While there were aspects that weren’t included (Dumbledore’s past for example), the film kept true to the books and I think, overall, to the fans.  The acting was mostly good, the special effects amazing (to be funded by Warner Bros…) and the ending as epic as anyone expected.

What didn’t:

I didn’t particularly like the constant declarations that love is the most powerful magic of all.  Pah!  But then again, J K Rowling did continually write about this in the series so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Also, the ending.  Why was it necessary?  And instead of getting similar looking actors, they just tried to age Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Harry by giving them unfortunate hair-dos and an extra 30 pounds.  Just awkward.

THE WORST FIVE

Limitless

Needless to say, Limitless had its limits.  I will admit that I went into this film disliking Bradley Cooper, but I also think it’s important to point out that when I walked out 2 hours later my feelings had only intensified.  This film was bad on a number of levels, from the bad writing and directing, to the overuse of nauseating special effects, and Cooper’s smarmy, smug acting.  Most importantly though, this film made the terrible error of trying to please everyone by being both a thought-provoking film, and an action flick, which of course means that it failed miserably at both.

Something Borrowed

For a chick flick this film just seemed to go on and on.  I will give the film the kudos of having a surprising ending, but that was about all that was good.  The characters were unlikeable, particularly Kate Hudson, and while she was meant to be awful, her character was so ghastly that one wondered why Ginnifer Goodwin’s character even put up with her.  Also, I disliked that the best friend moved to England, declared his love to her, and then was rejected.  Why was this necessary at all?  To remind cute best friends that it is best not to fall for your friend because you will eventually be turned down?  No thank you.

Real Steel

The very worst bit about this film?  Hugh Jackman was involved in it.  And before this film I had held him in such high esteems (OK, so I still do).  I was disappointed with this film, because, like Limitless, it pretended to be something it wasn’t.  I wanted to watch 90 minutes of mind-numbing action of robots beating the shit out of other robots, yet instead I was stuck with this sappy story between the re-building of a relationship between estranged father and son.  If I wanted to see a heart-warming, yet vomit inducing film, I would have seen the latest adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

Abduction

OK, so I walked into this film knowing it was going to be bad.  The only reason I had even gone to see it was because we were having a “I want to go to the movies” kind of mood, yet there was nothing showing.  Oh, big mistake on our behalf.  Long, tedious and ridiculously predictable.  Taylor Lautner’s acting was even worse than in Twilight and the script was so bad to the point that it was laughable.  And this is coming from someone who enjoyed watching Charmed.

Bad Teacher

To be honest, I didn’t see this film at the cinemas, and thank goodness for that because it is by far the most atrocious film I have seen in years.  It had the potential to be funny, with Jason Segal, Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz teaming up together, yet it failed miserably on all counts.  It was long, boring, badly directed.  The characters were incredibly awful, and Timberlake’s character ridiculous to the point that he seemed unrealistic.  Worst was the lack of continuity between scenes, to the point that my friend and I kept looking at each other in confusion because we didn’t know what the hell was going on.

SPECIAL MENTION

I saw The Lion King in 3D at the cinemas, and despite the fact that I was not 5 years old, and I succeeded in not weeping, the film was as amazing as the first time I saw it.

What did you think?  What were the best and worst films of 2011?  What are you excited to see in 2012?  Please let me know!


Just. Wow.

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Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows is going to be EPIC.  Yep.  I said it.  You heard it here first (probably you heard it from someone else first but that’s OK, we can ignore them).  How do I know its going to be epic?  Well.  Firstly the second half of the final book is amazing and secondly, well.  Check out the clip below and dare to disagree with me.

Goblins.  Dragons (well, dragon).  Gringotts.  Bank Heist.  Kick arse special effects.  There are advantages when Warner Bros. is backing your expenses.

Thoughts?

HARRY POTTER!

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I thought that the title of this blog deserved capital letters because in less than two months my Potterheads HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: part 2 will be on our shiny, shiny silver screens.  Excited much?

If you’ve read the book (of course you have) you’ll know that part 2 is where Harry brings it.  Voldemort?  Pfffftt!  He has a kick-arse wand, lots of buds AND a semi-blind dragon.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it Volde-y!  (Although…he would probably have a lot of trouble smoking what with his unfortunate lack of nose and therefore inability to breathe…)

For those who have lived under a rock in the middle of nowhere and HAVE NOT seen the first half, I’d suggest get on it.  Seriously, you have time to read this blog but not watch Harry Potter?!?! (actually…that’s a bit of a compliment…thank you!)  Anyway.  The first half is the depressing half of the book.  Voldemort is in total control, Dumbledore was more of a weirdo than even Harry realised, and the awesome trio JUST managed to escape the grasp of Bellatrix and her fellow deatheaters.  Eek!  But now…they’ve got her wand and they are preparing to break into Gringotts to see if they can find the next Horcrux…

And if you thought that things were prickly between Harry Potter and Volde-y…well you were right…but it just gets worse!

Just to make sure you’re in the Harry Potter groove, check out the video before and let me know how excited you are.

Harry Potter!

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So I realise this post is MONSTROUSLY late and I apologise profusely for it, but I saw Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.  And what is my opinion?  Honestly…undecided.

I think that the movie had its good and it’s bad bits.  Overall, it’s probably the best of them all, with the except of the first one and that’s largely because the first one is 60% excitement over the wizarding world (fun times all round!) And while I understand that the storyline is very depressing, and I have no problem with that in the book, 2 and a half hours of sadness really does get you down.

So overall, I’ve written what I think is the good, the bad and the WTF?!?!

The Bad:

  • Why is this hardly any mention of Albus Dumbledore?  I know that he is dead and therefore isn’t ACTIVELY a big character, but I really think finding out information about his past is important.  It’s interesting, and more importantly, although it makes Harry angry for not being included, it does show him (eventually) that Dumbledore wasn’t perfect and, unlike Harry, he didn’t have friends for help when he needed them most.
  • The wedding, or lack therefore.  I know it’s not a necessary part of the movie, but I just loved the wedding chapter in the book and it encompassed all that was fun about wizards.  In the movie however it showed about 30 seconds and then it was back to depresso land.

The Good:

  • Pretty much everything they did with Hermione.  Firstly, that heartbreaking scene where she erases her parents of any memory of her whatsoever.  So sad.  But very poetic.  Secondly, when we find out what Bellatrix was doing to her arm; craving MUDBLOOD into her flesh.  It made such a good point, and I really hope they back it up in Part 2 with Hermione telling Ron and Harry about her she isn’t ashamed for being a muggle born.
  • The Deathly Hallows scene.  It was a bizarre choice to use a cartoon (of sorts) for the story scene but I loved it.  It was far more interesting than a flashback, which when done badly looks like a horrible scene from a history channel, and it broke up the dark dreariness of the overall movie.
  • Dobby’s speech.  So sad, but so perfect!

The WTF?

  • All that chemistry going on between Hermione and Harry.  For instance, when they are dancing.  Did anyone else get a vibe there?  As my friend pointed out they probably just put that scene in there so the entire movie wasn’t sad, but it was still beside the point, and went against the whole “I think she’s like a sister” thing that Harry says.  And then that Horcrux scene when Harry and Hermione kiss..or that’s what happens IN THE BOOK.  Instead, they decided to vamp it up a bit, and Harry and Hermione were NAKED, and were they about to get it on??!?!?  Left me speechless!!

So overall that’s my opinion.  What’s yours?  Do you agree, or was I just talking nonsense?

harry potter and the deathly hallows

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows-(image taken from http://www.modoration.com)

Harry Potter-the official trailor?

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hahahaha, I recently found this one facebook and laughed by ass off (which didnt bode well as I was in a quiet classroom…).  A couple of guys appeared to have spoofed the trailor with hilarious, yet accurate, captions.

Leave a comment if you found it as funny as I did!

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