Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

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The other day was the blogathon thing, and we still got some Month of Spooks stuff left to do… but we can also not forget my series of “Harry Potter” reviews leading up to “Fantastic Beasts” in November. And now we are finally continuing it after,,, two and a half weeks, good grief. Anyhow, let’s stop with this intro and get into the review itself!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”!

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) begins his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a rather rocky way. First off, he got warnings from a house-elf named Dobby (Toby Jones) about bad things that will happen at Hogwarts. Secondly, his journey from Little Whinging to Hogwarts was kind of troublesome and filled with mishaps. But the trouble is not over yet, as people start getting petrified for some reason. And this of course creates a mystery where Harry, Ron (Rupter Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) to try to figure out who/what might have done this. With that said, I really liked how the plot unfolded… a lot. What I think the plot of this movie benefited from was how it doesn’t have to set the world up, since that was done (pretty fucking well) in the last movie. So now we can just get right into the main plot of this movie, which of course gives the plot of this movie a much better pace. Which is of course a bit ironic seeing as this movie is longer than the last. But yeah, it was an interesting plot which created a compelling mystery which of course led to the plot going to some darker places when it comes to this world and it’s main character. It was pretty great.

The characters in the movie are about as great as in the first one, but as the plot unfolds we do get a little bit more development from them as they learn more things. Daniel Radcliffe once again knocked it out of the park, getting some more moments to shine here in comparison to the first one. And the development of the character itself is actually really good, as we learn more about who he really is, at the same rate he does. Rupter Grint and Emma Watson also did great in this movie in their roles. And the chemistry between these three central actors is so great and so believable. The other actors in the movie do pretty great as well. Tom Felton as Malfoy once again was great, with his character being even more despicable than in the first movie. Richard Harris (R.I.P) was also really great as Dumbledore, Maggie Smith once again was great as professor McGonagall, Alan Rickman (R.I.P) was still amazing as Snape, and it goes on like that for pretty much every returning actor/character. But we also got a few new interesting faces in this one, so let’s go through them. First off we have the previously mentioned Dobby the house-elf, a magical little dude voiced by the great Toby Jones. At first he is actually a bit annoying, but after a while you grow to actually kind of like him, especially near the end when you find out some more stuff about him and his “family”. Next is Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, a very famous wizard who you immediately can tell is more bark than bite. Basically he is the magical equivalent of the classic saying “Girls want to be with him and guys want to be him”. Think to have that dude as the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher… yeah. But you can tell that Branagh had fun with the role, and I think he did a good jobas the character. And finally we have Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, AKA Draco’s dad. And this dude just oozes of self-important asshole, as soon as he enters the scene you immediately tell that this guy is bad news. And Jason Isaacs is pretty damn great in the role. In other words, this cast is great!

Once again the music was composed by the one and only John Williams and its still great. Some of the themes in there are of course the same as in the first movie, but that’s nothing to complain about because those tracks are pretty great. But there are also a bunch of new tracks composed for this movie as well, and they are pretty great too, perfectly capturing the magical and whimsical but still dark world that Harry and his friends live in. Yeah, the music’s fucking great.

Like the first movie, this was directed by Chris Columbus (still not re-discovering America). And he did a great job again. Sure, a lot of bits remind me of the first movie a lot, but it’s not too much of a complaint. But he is a very talented director who did a great job, giving us some great directing and some great angles. He also managed to make this movie even more suspenseful and even scarier than the first. I mean, the final act is really tense and actually a bit scary. And the visual effects in this movie are even better than in the first, especially the Quidditch match which looks so much better than the first movie, which of course makes it more engaging and more fun.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is a a definite improvement over the first movie. With a really interesting plot, better pacing, great characters/acting, great music, fantastic visual effects, and better suspense/tension. Time for my final score. *Magically summons score*. My final score for “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is a 9,67/10. So of course it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is now completed.

If you have arachnophobia then this movie might not be the best for you…

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

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Hello there, my friends! And welcome to this very special review! Why is it special? Because in honor of “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” coming out in November, I have decided to talk about the “Harry Potter” movies here on the blog. I wasn’t sure in what style I would it in however, so I held a little poll on twitter (Follow me @TheMarckoguy) where I asked if people would prefer separate reviews for each movie or if they wanted a ranked list. And after a few days with I think 12 votes, the separate reviews option won. So here we are… talking about the first one in the series. Oh dear, 8 movies before mid-November, while also doing Month of Spooks… Jeez Louise.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”!

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) leads a pretty shit life. He lives with his outright mean aunt (Fiona Shaw) and uncle (Richard Griffiths, R.I.P) and their dickhead son, Dudley (Harry Melling). But one night, Harry gets a visit from Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), a huge man who tells Harry that he’s a wizard, and will get to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he will learn all sorts of awesome magic-releated stuff. And it’s through his experiences at Hogwarts that he learns about who he really is, and what that means for the wizarding world around him. There he also meets his new best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). And from all of this we get an incredibly imaginative and very well realized world and story that I find very interesting and entertaining. Yeah, the plot of this movie is good and sets up this universe very well. The only problem might be that it meanders a bit at times which slows the pacing down. It’s not too bad, like with some movies, but I definitely noticed it. So yeah, great plot, but not the best pacing.

The characters here are so interesting, well-developed, and entertaining. And a lot of this I think comes down to the aboslutely terrific casting. Seriously, they nailed the casting for these characters so damn well. Daniel Radcliffe was perfect as Harry Potter, perfectly nailing the whole oblivious to this huge wizarding world that he was born into. For someone who was so young at the time, his performance was really good. Ruper Grint was really good as Ron, perfectly capturing this not too bright, but still lovable and charming personality. Emma Watson was really good as Hermione, even if she could come off a bit bitchy in her performance. Like she was a know-it-all with a little bit of snark in her voice… anybody who’s seen the movie knows what I’m talking about. Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid was just perfect, any time he was on screen I wanted to give him a hug, that lovable oaf. The rest of the cast was pretty great too, with actors like Richard Harris (R.I.P), Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman (R.I.P), Tom Felton, John Hurt, Ian Hart, John Cleese, and so many more. Yeah, I love ’em all.

The original score for the movie was composed by the one and only John Williams (AKA god with a conductor’s baton). And the music he created for the movie has lived on for so many years, and once someone heears it they know what it’s from. And it just sounds so great. Seriously, when I sat down to watch the movie in preparation for this review, the music gave me goosebumps. It was so awesome. Really, all the music in the movie is nothing short of fantastic.

Based on the book by J.K. Rowling, this movie was brought to life by director Chris Columbus (Not the Italian explorer who rediscovered America), the man who also directed the first two “Home Alone” movies. And he did a fantastic job with the directing this movie. Everything is well shot and overall well done. The sets are also fantastic, combined with some of the practical costumes and makeup that are used throughout. There is also CGI in this movie which for the most part looks pretty good. Some bits don’t hold up as well now, such as the Quidditch game, which has some pretty outdated CGI. Seriously, go back and watch the Quidditch match and tell me with a straight face that it looks fucking flawless. You can’t, it’s impossible. So yeah, that distracted a bit. But otehr than that, the CG holds up pretty well. And seeing some of the speels and stuff being used in the movie is pretty fun. I also love the wizarding world itself, there are so many cool details to it that make it all so unique and interesting.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie was also nominated for 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. 

“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is not a perfect movie. I would also say that it was a struggle to review it when I have such nostalgic feelings about it. But I powered through. The plot is interesting, the characters are great, the acting is great, the music is fantastic, the directing is good, and it’s just really fun. However the pacing at times isn’t that great and there are some effects that don’t really hold up. So now it’s time for my final score. ALOHOMORA! *Unlocks chest, opens it and finds envelope with result*. My final score for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is a 9,11/10. So it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is now completed.

One down, seven to go…

 

Rest in Peace Alan Rickman

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Hi guys, as you’ve probably heard (and read in the title of this post), actor Alan Rickman has unfortunately passed away at the age of 69. Apparently he had battled with cancer for a pretty short time and that is what apparently took his life. After looking back at my blog, I noticed that I’ve never really done a post about the death of a celebrity before. But I guess that comes from the fact that I’ve never properly connected emotionally to any of the ones who died during the lifespan of my blog. And that is exactly the reason why I am doing a piece on Alan Rickman… because there have been some kind of emotional connection between his work and me (if that makes any sense). Since I’ve grown up watching him in movies he has always sort of been part of my life, so it’s weird for me to know that he’s gone. So I just want to talk about some of the roles I know him from.

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Of course I have to start with the character of Severus Snape from the “Harry Potter” movies since they have been a crucial part of my upbringing. From the age of 6 (I think) I have followed the movies (and books) closely and I have always loved them. And throughout the entirety of my life I have always been intrigued by the character of Severus Snape, the potions class teacher who may or may not have been a bad guy. Of course in the final movie we found out the truth about him, but I won’t spoil it for those who may not have seen it. But Rickman was just perfect in the role and I think that may have been one of the reasons why I enjoyed the character so much.

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Another early one for me was the character of Joe in “Help! I’m a fish” which I just found out he was part of because as a kid I watched the Swedish dub of the movie which is kind of funny because it was originally a Danish movie which then was dubbed in the English language by people like Alan Rickman and Terry Jones. But I suppose Rickman would have been great in the role since he is so great at playing villains. The character of Joe was a fish who accidentally got a special brew into him (the brew was created by a weird scientist) and it turned him intelligent. And he was basically the bad guy of the movie and I am sure Alan Rickman was great in the role.

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This one is kind of one of his more low-key and not as villainous roles… even though he does kind of a douchy thing in the movie. I am of course talking about Harry from “Love Actually”, a romance movie that is actually really fucking good. Throughout the movie Harry is kind of seduced by his new secretary to the point of it basically becoming him cheating on his wife Karen (Emma Thompson). It’s a kind of depressing and not too funny part of the movie, but the acting from Rickman and Thompson is great.

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“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” may be a cheesy and pretty stupid movie and Kevin Costner isn’t even attempting to do an English accent, but one of the high points of the movie was Alan Rickman as Sheriff George of Nottingham. Like I said earlier, this guy is fantastic at playing villains and this is no exception to that claim.

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This was a pretty weird role in a really weird movie by a super weird director. “Alice in Wonderland” by Tim Burton is kind of a polarizing movie for me. On one hand I do love a lot of the visuals, but a lot of the Tim Burton-isms show themselves. But somehow, Rickman managed to perfectly nail it as the Blue Caterpillar who really isn’t one of the most interesting characters in my opinion. But with Rickman’s unique voice I actually kind of enjoyed seeing the character in the movie. Rickman really captured the spirit of the character.

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Tim Burton strikes once again, but this time with “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” where Mr. Rickman plays Judge Turpin. And he gets to play opposite a lot of talented folks in this movie such as Johnny Depp (obviously), Helena Bonham Carter (Fucking Duh) and Timothy Spall (Less obvious). But Rickman really holds his own because let’s face it… he could act the shirts off of everyone on set. This is a movie I barely remember overall (mainly because I watched it when I was really tired), but I do remember the great acting in the movie.

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Going out with a bang we have the one and only Hans Gruber from “Die Hard”, one of the best action movies ever. This is when Alan Rickman gained some mainstream popularity, thanks to this great role. If you didn’t know Gruber is the leader of a group of terrorists that take over the Nakatomi plaza and that’s when John McClane (Bruce Willis) kind of have to step in and stop them. And from that there is cool action and one of the greatest villains of all time thanks to the memorable/excellent performance by Mr. Alan Rickman. I actually only watched this movie for the first time around 2014, but I don’t think it matters when you watch it as long as you enjoy it.

So those were some of my most memorable roles from Alan Rickman. Are there any I didn’t mention that you would like to mention? Feel free to leave a comment. Like I said, I honestly just did this because Rickman is one of the few celebrities who I’ve kind of grown some kind of attachment to thanks to him kind of being part of my entire life. I mean, it feels like I have lost someone close to me. True story: On the bus home from school today I sat and cried for most of the trip because of this unfortunate event.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman… you will forever be missed and remembered fondly.

 

 

Movie Review: Die Hard (1988)

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Christmas is just around the corner, waiting for the perfect time to jump out and steal your wallet. So I guess it’s time to start reviewing some christmas (or at least winter) related movies. And we are starting off with a bang… a big, loud bang. This is especially a good pick since I have never seen it before (I know, hate me all you want).

Ladies and gentlemen… “Die Hard”

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a New-York cop who goes to the Nakatome Plaza in Los Angeles to see his wife holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and celebrate christmas with her and their kids. But while he is at the Nakatomi Plaza it gets taken over by a German terrorist group led by a man named Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). So it’s John’s job to stop them… without his shoes. Now the premise is simple but great. And the execution is pretty great too. It was entertaining to see McClane get through the different situations the screen writers put him in. The story had some nice twists every now and then. Not as in “mindfuck” twists, but twists that threw me off a little bit… and I liked that.

The character of John McClane is probably the most relatable action hero ever. Yes he got all the badass of the majority of action heroes, but he also feels like a regular dude-cop-man. He gets his ass handed to him a lot but still comes out on top afterwards, that is pretty realistic. He also cracks some great lines through the movie which just improves on him a lot. I also think Bruce Willis gave a good performance in this movie. Nothing Oscar-worthy, but it was good for what it was supposed to be. The supporting cast was pretty damn good too. First off we have his wife who who good… even though she didn’t do too much. Then we have Reginald VelJohnson who talks with John over the Walkie-Talkie through the movie getting info on the Terrorists. Next is the scumbag reporter played amusingly enough by Walter Peck from Ghostbusters. And finally, the big man himself… Hans Gruber, played by Alan Fucking Rickman. He not only gives a great performance but he is honestly one of the best movie villains ever. He is right up there with the T-1000 and The Joker in how great of a villain he is. So the characters are interesting and the acting is good.

The score by Michael Kamen is pretty great. I am not saying it is too original since I heard a lot of things in it that I could recognize in the style from different soundtracks as well. But overall the original material was great. I also liked the few different versions of different christmas songs they used in the movie. But by god, the best track in this movie just might be Beethoven’s 9th symphony (Ode to joy). Not only is it in general a great song, but it was used in a few great ways, not gonna spoil how for you.

John McTiernan did an excellent job with the directing in this movie. Not only were the shots looking really good, but you could also see all the action (Halle-fucking-lujah!). The movie looked great in terms of camera work and action direction. Speaking of the action; It was pretty awesome. It looked great and was well-choreographed and was very fast-paced and visceral. This movie also had some pretty great lines in it, both in regular lines and cool one liners such as the always well-known Yippee Ki-yay Motherfucker. Or one of my personal favorites from the movie, I don’t know why it is but it amused me a lot; Now I have a Machine Gun Ho-Ho-Ho. I just loved that one.

This movie in it’s reception has become quite the classic. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic this movie has a 70/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2/4 stars, which is not a terribly high score. On imdb.com this movie has an 8,3/10 and is ranked #119 on the “Top 250” list.. The movie was also nominated for 4 Oscars in the categories of Best sound, Best Film Editing, Best sound effects editing, Best Visual Effects.

“Die Hard” got great action, a good story, good characters, good music, good camera work and Alan Fucking Rickman. So it’s time for The Final Score. And for “Die Hard” my final score is a 9,52/10 which grants it the *drumroll* “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Die Hard” is now reviewed.

Yippee Ki-yay motherfucker! Er, I mean… It’s the most wonderful time of the year!