Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows -Part 1- Sets up nicely for the Big Finale

This weekend, Teen Wizard will conquer the global box office with latest film the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the first half of the big finale of this mega-blockbuster series.

It has been almost a decade since the first Harry Potter movie  aired. The first two Harry Potter movies released in India 5 months after its global release. It was April 2002 when we left our few months old son at home and saw the first Harry Potter film in the theaters. Today, our elder son (almost 9) accompanies us to the Harry Potter franchise’s latest edition, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.  In between we have had 7 mega succesful books read multiple times and 6 movies. We still cannot get enough of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter series of films, at least the last few parts, have becomes darker, grittier and more serious than say the first couple of films. As the kids in movies have grown and the story has taken serious turn, the films have become darker too. The Harry Potter books are full of such amazing details and plots and characters that it is impossible to showcase everything in 3 hour film medium. The directors have made great effort to put in as much as they could in those 3 hours but not everyone has succeeded.

I for one didn’t much like the idea of makers splitting up the 7th book into 2 different movies to be released 8 months apart. But I guess they had their own reasons to split up the book and money being one of the crucial factor amongst that. It is like reading a book half way and then waiting for 8 months to read the later half of the book and even pay extra for that !! I feel, they could have made a 4 hour epic and round it off all together.

Coming to the current film, the director David Yates who also directed the 5th and 6th part previously, continues with same tone. This part is the continuation of the story from the 6th installation when Harry’s guiding force Dumbledore dies and Harry is left with a task of finding out the remaining Horcruxes and capture the deathly hallows to defeat and destroy the evil lord once and for all. This film is different from others in a way that the familiar setting of Hogwarts are missing and 3 leads Harry, Hermione and Ron travel to all sorts of places in the quest for the horcruxes and the deathly hallows. The film is full of chases and comprises of long actions scenes and different settings. The film of course has amazing special effects, some real awe-inspiring scenes and is exciting to say the least. The snake sequences are quite scary and so are the chases thrilling. It has its emotional moments too with the dance between Harry and Hermione and Ron’s jealous dreams and wild imaginations. The animation to explain back story of the 3 brothers is beautiful. But attention to detailing is somewhat missing in this part. The film slows down a bit in some parts but that was expected as the book itself slows down in certain chapters. The film ends bit abruptly but of course it has set it up very nicely for the last part to deliver.

Apart from the 3 leads most other characters and minor plots get side-tracked including Dumbledore’s back story, Grindelwald’s back story and many other small incidents.Most characters make appearances in few scenes. It is mainly Harry, Hermione and Ron who shoulder the burden of this part. This film covers almost 2/3rd of the seventh book and thus leaving just 1/3rd and possibly some new things for the last movie.

The very minor problem I see with the film is that unless you have read the book it would be almost impossible to follow whats happening in the larger sense of the story and plot. It is indeed confusing for those who are not familiar with the plot. Plus the darker tone, the dialogue heavy scenes and slow pace later and unexplained ending would be slight deterrent for people who intend to watch this as just another Harry Potter film. We had to explain a few things to our son though, he hasn’t yet read the books but is familiar with the plot lines thanks to video games.  The movie is clearly not for Non-Potter fans and non-readers of the books are advised to stay away. But of course for those who have read the books it is a joyous ride only with a slight disappointment of waiting for the grand finale in next July. I personally enjoyed the whole movie and didn’t even feel bored in the not so exciting parts in the middle.

As characters Harry, Ron and Hermione played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson respectively have grown from tiny kids in the first movie to full fledged teenagers now. As actors the 3 have grown to become big stars in their own right. Danielle was born to be Harry Potter and Rupert Grint finally gets to do some serious acting apart from being funny all the time and Emma Watson is a superstar in the making, if only she continues to act in films. The interaction and understanding between the 3 leads is superbly captured. In other characters Helena Bonham Carter as evil Bellatrix Lestrange is haunting and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort is evil enough but doesn’t have much to do in this part. Several other characters make small appearances in the film.

In conclusion, this film was a great ride for me and I intend to watch it once again to enjoy it more. and as I said before unless you have read the books and familiar with the plot, you might not appreciate the film fully. However I am highly biased when it comes to Harry Potter films.

My Ratings :  9/10 –  Must watch to watch the setup for the grand finale to follow. Unmissable for Potter fans, be prepared for the big one next July. Non-Potter fans might be disappointed.

P.S. Did anyone else noticed the sub-titles ?

Everybody’s Fine – Not So

I came across ‘Everybody’s Fine’ starring Robert De Niro along with Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. Considering the mighty starcast I assumed the film would be good watch.

The movie is a family drama with Robert De Niro playing Frank Goode, a recently widowed father to 4 childeren who live across various parts of USA. On cancellation of their reunion plan he decides to visit them each and finds out more about their lives then he ever knew. De Niro plays his part very well and looks more intense then actually needed for the role. The role did not have enough challenge for an actor of his calibre yet he played it with enough seriousness. The other stars who all plays De Niro’s childeren do not have large enough and well defined roles. The movie is mostly about De Niro travelling across length and breadth of USA and learning truth about all of his children. He realizes that what he had dreamt for each of his children is not what the children have achieved and yet his guidance played a crucial role in them choosing their life’s path.

The movie was a typical American family drama to be viewed during a Christmas or thanksgiving. The movie was not bad and not very good either. One can watch any movie starring De Niro and not be disappointed. This one is just par .

My Ratings : 6/10 –  Watch it for De Niro in a role not meant for him.

Bridge to Terabithia – Do Cross It

Once you watch a movie like ‘Inception’ you get a ‘Movie-Viewers-Block’ , just like how a writer would get a ‘writer’s block’ after writing something good and he wouldn’t know what to write next. Similarly when you watch Inception you don’t know what to watch next, that would match the incredible experience.

I asked my 8 year old son, who was down with fever since a day, what does he wishes to watch and he asked for any children’s movie to cheer him up and then I thought of “Bridge to Terabithia”.

Bridge to Terabithia is a childeren’s movie based on a book by the same name. It stars relatively unknown young stars Josh Hutcherson & AnnaSophia Robb, the movie tells the story of Jesse Aarons and Leslie Burke, ten-year-old, 5th grader neighbors who create a fantasy world called Terabithia and spend their free time together in an abandoned tree house across a small creek behind their houses. By keeping their minds open and imaginations run wild they create a unique world full of trolls, giants and warriors. When one of the kid accidentally dies, the other kid initially goes into a shell but then rediscovers himself and keeps his friend alive by imagining the world of Terabithia and building a bridge across the creek leading to the world. Zooey Deschanel plays the young music teacher who tries to mentor the kid and promote the artist within him.

The movie is a perfect tale of friendship, love, loss, and imagination through eyes of the 10 year olds. Everyone wishes for a friendship like that. It is a simple tale which strikes you in the heart with a beautiful background score and natural acting by the young kids especially the two leading actors, who are perfectly cast. The movie had decent special effects and overall had great looking visuals, especially of the fantasy kingdom of Terabithia. Although the movie isn’t a fantasy film in true sense and much more real and sensitive than it feels. I think its a perfect family feature film especially if you have children of that age watching along with you.

My Ratings: 8/10 – Do cross this bridge

It was a great evening spent and my 8 year old loved it too. All of us were humming the song’ Why Can’t We Be Friends’ from the film and BTW – His fever is gone !!!

Badmaash Company is nice- Review

A person’s film review is usually based on what you see in a film and what your expectations of the film were prior to watching it. Expectations are built mainly from the television promos, music, caste and the production house behind the film and mainly reviews by other filmgoers, critics, journalists, trade analysts and friends and family.

Thus when majority of the above give favorable reviews to a film there are more chances of you liking it as well ,atleast the layman in me would ‘try’ to like it and vice versa. Sometimes when the reviews are not so positive you expect to’not like’ the movie or get bored by it, however thats when a decently made film takes you by surprise.

I had close to zero expectations from Badmaash Company and expected to get bored especially in the 2nd half, as per most of the reviews but I did not feel bored. The first half I though was breezy enough and 2nd half although a bit repetitive didn’t feel bored much. The settings of Mumbai of the early 90s was quite well done. The story is quite ‘hatke’ from the regular stories you expect and the actors fitted the part , all the 4 including Shahid Kapoor, Veer Das, Meiyang Chang and Anushka Sharma were quite well suitable for the roles they enacted. Perhaps Anushka Sharma was the producer’s choice rather than the directors, but she looked good enough to be there, although needs serious improvement in her speech. The film has a simple story about those 4 guys who use their little tricks and con jobs to earn lots of money and then the money goes to their heads and ultimately they realize their folly and then all is well that ends well. Several sub-plots in between muddle the story a bit  but overall the message was quite clear and a bit obvious.

Anushka Sharma acts as a bindass north Indian girl and looks modern enough for the part, Pawan Malhotra is decent and the Jameel Khan as the ‘smuggler’ boss is very apt. Anupam Kher’s and Kiran Joneja’s plot acts as a bit speed breaker and is too cliched. Veer Das and Chang were apt for the kind of roles they were selected, Chang has a face and personality which can make him the modern day ‘Danny’ but he has to be careful with the roles he select. Shahid Kapoor is natural, hams a bit and sometimes is too eager to do something but overall is quite restrained and carried the film nicely on his shoulders.

Technically the film is quite glossy and ‘good looking’  thanks mainly to the yashraj banner. The cost of production is lavish and appealing.The film falters a bit in its direction and editing part a bit, perhaps due to the fact that the director Parmeet Sethi is new and is also the story and script writer and a bit overenthusiastic at times. But with right experience he would improve and hopefully his next film would be a much better polished product. The music isn’t the blockbuster kind but most of the songs fit the situation and has a youthful appeal. The entire film is targeted towards the youth and going by the decent box office performance the youth have liked it as well.

My Ratings 7/10. Watch it, you wont feel bored.