Movie Valley
July 2009 Movie Reviews
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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed By: David Yates
Run Time: 2 hrs 33 mins

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is book number six. Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information.

Again, it's been a few weeks from the time I watched the movie until the time I even jotted down some notes (and then even more weeks have passed before I even began writing the review). I don't remember much. But then again, there wasn't much to remember. Nothing really happens in this movie. I think the book was a bit lacking, too, but not nearly as much as the movie.

We did see this one on a big screen, not iMax branded (the theater we went to lost its iMax rights), but just as big as an iMax. You can watch this one on a regular screen movie screen. It adds nothing to the movie to see it larger. Nothing still happens, even in larger form.

I must say that I'm a little irked that Emma Watson (who plays Hermione) is allowed to be a pretty Hermione but Bonnie Wright (who plays Ginny) is a frumpy Ginny. Hermione is supposed to be a bit on the ugly side - buck teeth, frizzy hair. Is there any mention of Ginny's looks in the book other than she's the youngest Weasley and she has red hair? The actresses that play each are pretty in real life so why did Ginny/Bonnie get shafted?

I spent every moment the movie was playing wracking my brain, trying to remember who the half blood prince was. It's been a few years since I read the book (meant to refresh my memory by re-reading the book before the movie but it's not one of those books you can knock out in a weekend so you really have to be prepared in advance).

Has Harry learned nothing about reading books that someone else has scribbled in?

I read that the actor who plays the young Tom Riddle is the nephew of Ray Fiennes (who plays Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle when he's older). I find that interesting. I also read a review that calls that actor (his performance, not the guy in real life) one of the creepiest kids of all time. Yes, that about fits his performance. Very chilling. Very creepy. Too bad he wasn't in it much.

The actor who plays Draco Malfoy is a few years older than the others and boy is it starting to show! Wow. And I just didn't feel the angst he was going through while struggling to do his task (nor did the snippets of his task look too difficult).

There is a lot of teen romance angst throughout this movie. They're all dating... and those that aren't dating are secretly in love with those who are dating (and quite upset about it). Do kids really conduct their romantic life (cue Ron, Lavender, and Hermione in the hospital scene) in front of adults? That scene was probably in the book just as it was filmed but seeing it really made it seem wrong.

It's hard to review the movie in comparison to the book because it's been awhile since I read it. Was the movie true to the book? No clue. The movie, to me, was like a whole new, independent movie. Most things were brand new, surprising to me, in fact. I had even completely forgotten the ending!!! I kept thinking, "That's not right. That's not how it happens" and kept waiting for it to resolve itself. It didn't. I guess that really did happen. I just didn't remember it going down like that.

I went to this movie with Dawn, Joel, and Jeff. I think they liked it better than I. It was so-so for me. Jeff didn't like the iMax-ish experience because he says people really don't need to see someone's pores that close up. I'm excited for movie seven (and eight, as I hear they're splitting up book seven into two parts).

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Starring the voices of: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Seann William Scott
Directed By: Carlos Saldanha, Michael Thurmeier
Run Time: 1 hr 27 mins

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is about change. Change is in the air for the Ice Age gang. Manny and Ellie are expecting a bouncing baby mammoth, and Diego is suffering from a feline identity crisis. Just when they think life couldn't get any more complicated, Sid discovers that deep below familiar layers of snow and ice lies a hidden tropical world populated by -- you guessed it -- dinosaurs.

It's been six weeks from the time I watched the movie until the time I began writing the review. Thank goodness for my iPod with my notes! The movie isn't fresh in my mind but I do remember that I liked it, that it was very cute, and it was funny. Here's the review from my notes:

Very cute. About friendship, staying true to your friends, and sticking with them even though at time they drive you nuts. Very funny moments. Did not like the name of the baby mammoth. I understand the tie-in but it wasn't as cute as they had intended it to be.

Question: Why didn't Manny let the other kids play in the park he built? It seemed like a combo between a nursery (with the mobile) and park, but he actually called it a park. If it was a nursery, I understand not wanting other people in there, but since he called it a park, why wouldn't he let other kids play in it? It seemed unfriendly and a bit selfish (although I do understand not letting Sid play in there).

Loved the acorn song at the end. It took me awhile to realize that they had indeed changed the lyrics to the song to fit the movie. I now have it on my iPod - both versions (the original and the movie version). It cracks me up.

Why are they always mean to Sid? He seems like his heart is in the right place. He's a good guy. He just does stupid things and is a bit accident prone. But he's a good hearted guy. It bothers me that Diego and Manny don't see that. And I was really bothered when Manny wouldn't say that Sid was part of their family and that Manny didn't see that it hurt Sid that they didn't include him on the mobile Manny made for the baby. But then Manny was upset when Diego wanted to leave. I did like it that they all wanted to save Sid, that it was just in them to do it.

I liked the message that no one is as scary and mean as they might seem, that deep down inside everyone has a sweet nature (cue the mama dinosaur). Even Buck the weasel liked the white dinosaur.

Very cute movie. Not too scary. Funny. Sweet. I just wish they were all nicer to Sid!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox
Directed By: Michael Bay
Run Time: 2 hrs 20 mins

Transformers 2 is about good robots battling bad robots while Sam (played by LaBeouf) gets caught in the middle.

I was bored from the moment the opening credits hit the screen. I wasn't there but two minutes when I thought to myself, "I should just leave." I actually wanted to walk out of the theater before the movie really got going! And there was a moment, several moments, where I contemplated leaving to go to the bathroom. I NEVER do that. I don't want to miss anything! But I actually thought to myself, "It's not like I'm going to miss anything" or at least not be able to fill in the blanks if I did miss something. This movie is almost two and a half hours long. There was a part in the movie after Sam is finally sitting in a class at college where I said to myself (my inner conversations were more thought provoking and entertaining than the movie), "We're only about a frickin' hour into this!" Sam JUST got to college and an hour of my life had gone by.

Confusing. Boring. A lot happens but yet nothing happens. It's hard to explain, much like the movie. It has a simple plot and yet it doesn't. Things happen quickly but at the same time very slowly. I'm not sure how Michael Bay did it.

I think this movie demonstrates how one man's ego can fuel an entire movie. Plot obviously didn't so something had to. When you go to a Michael Bay movie, you expect little plot and lots of things blowing up with a heavy soundtrack and buxom girls that don't have much reason to be in the movie other than to appease the heterosexual adolescent males in the audience (which is, presumably, all of the audience). This movie goes beyond that expectation (but not in a good way). Heavy, heavy soundtrack. Lots of things battling and explosions galore. Girls running in shirts that made you wonder why they even bothered to put a shirt on. Absolutely no plot. Good robots and bad robots battle it out... for two and a half hours. When they're not battling, I kept wondering why the non-battle scenes were even relevant to the plot and when they were fighting I kept wondering who was what and why they were fighting... and when it would all be over.

There's a lot of robot fighting but it isn't exciting. In the original movie, you cared about the robots. I remembered crying - and feeling dumb for crying - when they captured Bumblebee the Autobot. In this one, there's no emotional connection to the robots. Plus, you couldn't (at least I couldn't) tell the difference between the good robots and the bad robots when they were all fighting. Which one am I rooting for? Who's winning? Should I be happy or sad that that guy just got blown up?

It made me giggle to hear grown men say "Autobots" seriously and with a straight face. I actually giggled any time someone said "Autobots." I'm actually giggling right now. Autobots. Who in a military uniform says "Autobots" in a serious conversation?

Hated the circular camera work. It was pointless and it made me dizzy. Once around, fine. Twice around, wheee! Fifteen times around, are you kidding me? It almost seemed to say, "Look what I can do. Look at the cool technology I have in my movie."

Sam's dogs. The Chihuahua Mojo was cute in the first movie. It's one of those things that they beat to death in the second installment because people liked it in the first. Mojo was cute in the first, but it was tired and annoying and a bit offensive in the second. I did, however, like that Michael Bay put his dog in the sequel. He often puts his dogs (which are Mastiffs) in his movies. Sadly, I think the one that's in the first died so this one is its replacement. But Mastiffs are cute, in a "I could eat you in one gulp but I just don't wanna" kind of way.

Michaela. She lost all edge she had from the first. Megan Fox cannot act (or if she can, she certainly didn't show it in this movie). What she did show was for fourteen year old boys and I was annoyed at how blatant it was. We get that she's beautiful but did it have to be forced down our throats? Because girls who look like that don't work in a bike shop AND dress like that AND manage not to get one grease smudge anywhere on their body when their shift is over. I know she's a car genius. I applaud that but only one element works - she can look pretty but she needs to dress in coveralls like everyone else in the shop and get dirty while working.

As long as I'm on the subject of not getting things right - the brownie scene. Really? So someone is going to blatantly sell pot brownies out in the open on moving day with parents around? That college wasn't Hampshire (my hippy college) and even at Hampshire they wouldn't do that. And no one reacts to pot that way. And why were there so many girls walking around Sam's dorm floor heading to the shower? Presumably they were still in the process of moving in. And although many college girls look and dress like that, they don't all. Nary a fatty or a nerd to be seen. And what was up with the Astronomy class? Was it a mandatory class? Because I don't think the pretty girls and the frat boys are lining up to take Astronomy unless they're being forced (and yes, I get that the professor was the draw, but really? Really?).

Can someone tell me why Bumblebee drove off with Sam's parents, was gone the length of time it took Sam to travel on foot a mile - and just made it to where Sam finally reached?

Was anyone else offended and utterly annoyed by the robots with "look at me, I'm trying to be cute and quirky" voices (notably the "twins" and the remote control car)?

And for my final rant, can someone tell me why the plane they found at the Air and Space Museum was a grisly ol' sea captain in robot form? His plane wasn't from the 1800s so why did he look, act, and talk like a sea captain? And if the Decepticons are identifiable by their evil robot insignia, why didn't they check first to make sure the robot was a good Autobot robot before they gave him life?

Sequels are inherently inferior, partly because they feel compelled to pull elements from the original into the second version. I've sounded off on little Mojo already, but there was also Sam's parents and Agent Simmons (John Turturro). Agent Simmons is one of the elements I did not like about the first one - the cranky uptight guy who doesn't believe there are monsters running around and who only stands in the protagonist's way. Both Sam's parents and Agent Simmons were brought back for the sequel but were bigger, zany, and more obtrusive. Fortunately, Agent Simmons is not the cranky guy in this version. Unfortunately, he's been reduced to plucky sidekick. This time there's a new cranky guy who only stands in the protagonist's way. Look for him in Transformers 3, still wandering the desert. I can see it already and if it happens, Michael Bay owes me money, lots of money.

Sigh. Bad movie. Bad, bad movie. Jeff did ask me why I chose to see this movie when I knew it was going to be bad. Part of me was curious. Part of me knows Michael Bay movies aren't thought provoking Oscar winning flicks. Part of me was nostalgic for the first movie. That one was good. Why couldn't the second one be good, too? That's a question I'm going to be asking myself a lot, followed by "Why, why, why dear lord did I waste my time watching that stinker?" There are no redeeming qualities to this movie. No, wait. Shia was wonderful. I loved his rapid eye movement as the symbols flowed through his head. Other than that, this movie was a waste. A stinker. It sucked dookie. Boring. Dumb. Just plain bad. Bad, bad, bad.