Monday, November 29, 2010

Movie review: "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows", part one

Last Saturday I went to movies with my girlfriend to watch "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows", first half of seventh book's movie adaptation. We both like Harry Potter books, but we are not really fans. I liked the fourth ("The Goblet of Fire") and the fifth ("The Order of Phoenix") book. Movies I liked all, except the last one ("The Half-Blood Prince"), but I did like the book. But the seventh book ("The Deathly Hallows"), I didn't like it at all. I read it only once (rest of books I read twice or more) and I don't plan to reread it. Not that I hate it, I just think it is weak and I am indifferent toward it. I don't think that previous books are fantasy masterpieces, but they were fun and interesting, which cannot be said of the last one.

On the other hand, I am happy to say that the movie is great. It lasts little less than two and a half hours. And of that, just a bit (some 15 minutes or so) is boring. I am talking about the part in woods. As I said, I read book only once and long ago, but I remember that being quite boring and much longer. In movie, they focused on interesting stuff and boring parts are elegantly (but not completely) avoided and reduced.

I have read few reviews where authors complain how movie would be confusing for people unfamiliar with the books. I don't see the problem with it: this movie is made for fans. You don't have to know the names of every character, curse and place, but a bit of familiarity with plot and characters is expected. This is the reason why I will not go in details on characters and plot; I will only try to relay my impression of the movie.

Movie does great in transferring the atmosphere to the audience. From the beginning it is filled with action, tension and depression. Things are not going well for our heroes and the times are dark; you can feel the stress and emotions of characters. On the other hand, there are lots of funny scenes and they are done very well. You don't feel stupid for laughing and humor is clever. Action scenes are intense and exciting but not too showy.

Good part of the movie is dedicated to emotional stress and the problem of accepting one's role. Harry is having problem with accepting his duty and the fact that people will get hurt in fight. I can't help myself and not to draw parallels to Rand's problems in "The Gathering Storm".

Regarding bad sides of the movie, I can't name one. Or better to say, flaws originate in the book, and they couldn't be totally avoided with greatly changing the conception of the movie. I think that stuff did a great job in focusing on brighter (in quality, not in context) parts of the book. Most flaws are connected to sudden and unbelievable plot elements.

I think that everyone who likes Harry Potter books or movie adaptations will like the first part of "The Deathly Hallows". So this is definitely a recommendation. I am looking forward to the last part, which is announced for July of next year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Movie review: "30 Days of Night"

This weekend I have watched "30 Days of Night", a 2007 survival-horror about vampires. It is somewhat older movie. It got mine attention after hearing few guys in gym talking about its sequel, "30 Days of Night: Dark Days". I was interest in the original and most of them told it was a good movie. Unfortunately, I heard them talking about the ending, but that didn't stop me. Before watching it, I checked it on IMDB as usually. I found out it was directed by Sam Raimi. For some reason, I thought he is director of zombie horror movies so I expected something like that. I was mistaken in first fact (about zombie movies and Sam Raimi), but the movie was like I expected.

The movie takes place in a little town in Alaska, where every year there is a period of thirty days without the sun. While the town is preparing for the long night, strange things start to happen. Someone kills all the dogs, burn satellite phones and then a peculiar stranger is arrested for causing unrest. But, when the night starts to fall, even stranger things start to happen... The town gets infested by a gang of vampires that kill the most of people during the first few hours. Small group of people hides in an attic and thus being their fight for survival...

Main characters of the movie are local sheriff Eben and his (ex?)wife Stella. There are also few more prominent characters (Eben's younger brother Jake, his partner Billy, town grump Beau...) but Eben is clearly the center character. Characters are not exactly deep and complex persons, which is to be expected from a survival horror, but they are quite nice surprise. Plot was also good; if I didn't know the end beforehand, I would be surprised.

Best and worst points of the movie were the vampires. Best, because they clearly have some complex back-story. They have their own language, hierarchy, plans, history... And interesting is that this back-story is very cleverly only implied (well, except the language, which is evident), but with no explanation. So the viewer is left to wonder what else can there be. Of course, I checked the Wikipedia (when I am already mentioning it, donate to Wikipedia!) and found out there is a comic book miniseries that movie is based on.

And the worst part was that these vampires were totally disgusting. I am not fan of Twilight-like vampires, but these ones are totally opposite of them: shark-like teeth and dirty long fangs. Also, when they are feeding, it looks like a piranha-attack! Also, movie is full of most explicit violence. I presume that zombie-fans are quite used to this, but I am not one, so this is a minus from my side.

All in all, "30 Days of Night" was quite nice (well, nice maybe isn't the word) movie for a Saturday evening. Probably intended was fans of zombie-movies, it is still a good watch for regular viewer. Just be sure not to show it to kids.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Not lucky!

Heh, I don't know to laugh or cry. I just got called that my order of "Towers of Midnight" just arrived. That is a month or more sooner that I had expected it! And I already started with "Crossroads of Twilight"...

I could leave CoT and switch to ToM, but it's been a two or more years since I have read these books, and I have read TGS only once, so I feel I need to refresh my memory. So, alas, my copy of ToM will have to wait on my shelf for few weeks.

At least I won't have to wait for it...

TV show review: "Heroes" Season Two

This season of "Heroes" is much shorter, only eleven episodes, so I finished it quite faster. After this, I am putting it on temporary stop for couple of months. Two days ago, after finishing "Heroes", I started my WoT reread, beginning with "Crossroads of Twilight". Since I was cheap and ordered "Towers of Midnight" trough my local book-store to save some money for delivery, I have no idea when will I receive it. I hope it will be sometime during next month. On the other hand, I am not overly concerned because I have (too) much obligations, so my reading-rate will probably be one book in two weeks. If I receive it before I finish all three books (CoT, KoD and TGS), everything is OK then. If I have to wait for it (God forbid!!!),  I will fill the waiting time with third season of "Heroes". Not connected to this: I ordered myself a new book, "Daggerspell", first book in "Deverry cycle" by Katherine Kerr. But its turn will probably come sometime around Christmas vacation.

Now, to "Heroes". This will not be a long review and I will presume that you have watched at least the first season. In few words, this show is going down in quality. Of eleven episodes, first six or seven actually don't mean anything. Plot is getting really wild: Hiro is in 17th century meeting Kensei Takezo, Peter has lost memory and is in some pub in Ireland, Nathan has become a drunk and he grew a beard... Mat and Mohinder have adopted Molly, Nikki lefts Micah at her grandma's house, while Bennet's are trying to hide in California, with changed surname. Only interesting plot was Sylar's, who is alive, but without his powers, so he has to use only his wit to get back in the game.

As I said, things start to get interesting around seventh episode. But that is only if you don't think too deep about the things you are watching. Most prominent theme in this season is how previous generation screwed things and now heroes have to correct it. This is not exactly inconsistent, but it is not quite believable also. You would think that people would notice some strange stuff about their parents in 30 years.

What bothered me the most was the stupidity of main characters, particularly Hiro and Peter. Hiro can stop time at will, but nevertheless he gets captured, beaten and he is in constant fear of medieval Japanese army. And Peter... He can stop time, heal, move object with his mind and read people thought. Nevertheless he is being fooled, led and manipulated all the time. For God's sake, use these powers! Mat is also nearing to this category. His upgraded ability is much underestimated.

Characters are not nearly as good and interesting as in first season. Whatever was their main characteristic in first season, now it just got doubled. Noah is twice as overprotective, Nikki is twice as crazy and Sylar is twice as bad. There is several new character, but not one has the depth necessary for some larger connection to them.

All in all, it's getting too soapy. I nevertheless plan to watch next season, when I have some spare time (probably during Christmas vacation). I saw few glimpses of third season (by younger brother has more free time so he is ahead of me). Though, I can't really recommend this show to anybody.