7.16.2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Cole and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yesterday. I have been so psyched for this movie, essentially since the book came out in 2005. This is, bar none, my favorite book of the series, so I was excited to see cinematic life breathed into it.



As with all movie adaptations of novels, I was aware that not everything from the book could be crammed into the 2 hour, 20 minute running time, and I think, overall, it was an excellent adaptation. The producers took creative liberties with the plot, which differed a fair amount from that in the book, but the result was still spectacular. However, as with past Harry Potter movies, I feel like they missed the mark on several important details that will be hard to resolve in the final movies.




***SPOILER ALERT!!!***


First, let's talk about some things I liked about the movie.


1. I LOVED the increased role Ginny had. I was worried how they would develop the relationship between Harry and Ginny in this movie, since she's been relegated to a much smaller role in movies past. She almost felt like part of the trio, and she got just as much screen time as either Hermione or Ron. I love Ginny, so I was thrilled to see so much of her.


2. Jim Broadbent played an almost spot-on, name-dropping, favorite-collecting Horace Slughorn. he was fabulously eccentric, and his transformation from squishy armchair to plump human was extremely captivating.


3. Harry's Felix Felicis scene was wonderful. It was light-hearted and jovial, almost as though he had just spent hours inhaling happy gas at the dentist. One word to describe what was great about this scene? "Pincers."


4. Ron Weasley. I heart Ron Weasley. Particularly in the scene where he's eaten Harry's chocolates that have been doused in a love potion by Romilda Vane. Also in any scene with Lavender Brown. Hilarious.


5. On a related note, QUIDDITCH!!! I can't believe how much I missed quidditch in the last two movies. There was only one match shown, and it was focused mainly on Ron (who thought he was under the influence of Felix Felicis). They also showed quidditch tryouts and the Confundus Charm cast by Hermione to throw Cormac McLaggen off his game. Amazing.


6. I loved the teenage relationships and angst. While they were incredibly overdone, almost maudlin, in the last two movies, they were refreshingly realistic in this movie. Hermione's heart-breaking tears after seeing Ron and Lavender kissing were so honest that it made me recall any and all of my past heartbreaks. Every part of the romantic ties between the characters rang true for me.


7. If I had to pick a "Best Actor" award for the movie, it would go to Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. He was exquisite at displaying Malfoy's fierce determination and chilling fear while attempting to complete the deadly task assigned to him by Lord Voldemort. He fleshed out the character, once only seen as Harry's archnemesis and foil, and gave the audience a reason to finally relate to him and feel for him. Bravo, Mr. Felton.


8. During this movie, I FINALLY got on board with Dumbledore. I took such issue with him in the last three movies because he always seemed so harsh and unfeeling. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore finally became the warm, caring, almost batty headmaster that he is in the books. I finally felt like he actually cared about Harry as a person rather than just as a tool to fight Lord Voldemort. The cave scene and his final tower scene were absolutely wonderful, and Dumbledore was dignified even in his final moments.


9. Fred and George's shop. It was just like I imagined it: colorful, cacophonous, and outrageous...even though one of the twins appears noticeably plumper than the other. Strange.


Now to my gripes and concerns.


1. Very little of the Order of the Phoenix. You only really see them at the Weasleys' house for Christmas, and then it's only Tonks and Lupin (who apparently are already together in the movie. Weird.). This means no battle between the Death Eaters and the Order in the castle after Snape kills Dumbledore. That whole scene was pretty uneventful without the battle.


2. Very little use of the invisibility cloak. We only see it once—during Harry’s “espionage” in the Slytherin compartment on the Hogwarts Express (which was rather well done, actually).


3. Snape. I usually love Alan Rickman, but at the end of the movie, I was less than pleased that he showed no passion or anger when Harry called him a coward like he did in the book. He didn't even fly into a rage when Harry mutilated Malfoy, his supposed favorite student, in the bathroom. This installation of the series was supposed to show the audience just how many layers Snape has, but it didn't seem like he had more than one dimension: flat, monotone, sardonic, sneering. I also would have liked to see what his Defense Against the Dark Arts classes were like.


4. Very little elaboration on the significance of the "Half-Blood Prince". Yes, Snape told Harry it was he when he was running away from Hogwarts at the end, but it seemed anti-climactic. It was supposed to be a revelation to Harry about how he views people. Throughout the whole story, Harry has admired and emulated the Half-Blood Prince, so it should be a complete blow to Harry when he found out his idol turned out to be the one person he loathed above all.


5. Dumbledore seemed sincerely surprised when Harry acquires Slughorn’s unadulterated memory and they find out Lord Voldemort sought to create horcruxes. In the book, Dumbledore already had a shrewd idea about what Lord Voldemort had been up to, and Slughorn’s memory served only to confirm what he already knew. In the movie, it was like a complete shock to him. This was strange, because he already was in possession of Tom Riddle’s diary (which Harry de-commissioned back in Chamber of Secrets) and Marvolo Gaunt’s ring (which Dumbledore had already tried to destroy, as evidenced by his blackened hand). I find it hard to believe that Dumbledore would not have even some idea as to what these objects were, seeing as how he is (was?) one of the greatest wizards of the time. It undermines his authority and his wisdom.


6. Oh, and they never really explained how Dumbledore’s hand got all dead-like…and if they did, it wasn’t clear enough for me to see it.


7. If we were learning about the story only from the movie, all we know at this point is that Lord Voldemort created horcruxes (at least 3, since both the diary and ring have been destroyed and they acquired the locket from the cave) and that they could be any object. Dumbledore and Harry did not discuss how many horcruxes Voldemort most likely made. They did not discuss the fact that Voldemort would have made them using objects that were valuable to him or carried specific importance. They did not discuss how to destroy a horcrux. Harry basically has nothing to go on at this point in the story. I’m not sure how the producers are going to pull off the last two movies. Harry will have to “happen” to come across the remaining horcruxes and then devise a plan to destroy them all by himself.


8. In addition, the movies lack important tying-together elements, like the trio’s discovery of R.A.B’s locket (and the true horcrux) during the cleaning of Sirius Black’s house, and Harry’s use of the diadem (also a horcrux) to help mark the location of his potions book in the Room of Requirement. In the books, these seemingly minor details prove to be extremely important. Without these details in the movies, Harry will, again, have to come across them by accident.


9. Harry was not invisible or immobilized during Dumbledore’s death. He was simply on a lower level of the tower, thereby enabling him to see everything that was going on but not be seen. In my mind, this made Harry seem weak. At least in the book, we know he would have attempted to help Dumbledore if he weren’t frozen. In the movie, Harry was physically able to help, but he did nothing. He looks like a coward. I hated that.


Okay, so the list of gripes made it sound like I hated the movie. I really didn’t. Most of the gripes I had were really very minor. The only thing that even moderately irked me were numbers 7 and 8, and I’m just interested to see how those issues will be handled in the next installment. I guess it’s good that there will be two movies, since there is so much to wrap up.


And why was this movie a whole hour shorter than all of the rest? It just figures that the movie of my favorite book would be the shortest of all.

7.12.2009

Topic of Discussion: Modesty in Wear

So here I am again blogging in place of Jessica, but hopefully this will bring out a Jessica-ish post.
While at church today, I was sitting in Sunday school by myself while Jessica attended nursery with our insubordinate son. While waiting for the lesson to start a cluster of the ladies in our ward sat down near me. Now I understand ones desire to “look good” for one self or others, but there needs to be a line. Anyway, they sat down one in front of me, and two beside me. The one in front of me was wearing a nice dress that went down to mid thigh! One of the ladies next to me spent the whole time trying to cover up her LDS under garments, and the other one spent the whole time re-rolling her LDS under garment sleeves as for them to stop showing. I see it more and more in wards and branches, the clothing is not adjusted to cover the under garment, the under garment is adjusted to not show under the clothing.

“Modesty in dress is a quality of mind and heart, born of respect for oneself, one’s fellowmen, and the Creator of us all. Modesty reflects an attitude of humility, decency, and propriety.”
– Elder L. Tom Perry

This brings me to the real topic, swimwear modesty. Jessica has followed a very informative blog that focuses on LDS women, and they had this topic for a discussion. Some of the discussions were as follows; why can’t I dress in a bikini on the beach? I’m not breaking any commandments. Or, I have worked hard for this body, why shouldn’t I show it off? Now Jessica and I of course are not anywhere close to having bodies stunning enough for this to be an issue. As Jessica puts it, she wishes she could find a swimsuit that covers from mid arm to mid calf. I am purchasing a wetsuit for her for Christmas. But, as for most other people, the ones that have elegant bodies and feel good about it, they have their own reasons for why they dress the way they do while attending the beach or pool.

I can tell you the classic answers on why it is wrong, like men look at you in lust, and you must respect your body, your body is a temple. Now as clich├ęd and “For the Strength of Youth” it sounds it is true. It comes down to that, if you have ever listened to a Prophet or an Apostle speak it is not: “You must dress modestly in all things, as long as your garments don’t show or you feel good in what you are wearing.” No, it is:

“In the past year or so we have noticed a dramatic change in the way some of our members are dressing. Styles in clothing change; fads come and go; but if the dress styles are immodest, it is important that we avoid them. When you dress modestly, you show respect for your Heavenly Father and for yourself. At this time, when dress fashions are styled after the skimpy clothing some of the current movie and music idols are wearing, it may be difficult to find modest apparel in clothing stores. However, it is possible, and it is important. The Apostle Paul declared: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” You know the truth; live it. - President Thomas S. Monson

So that is what I say, you know the truth live it! There should not be any rational good reason why you should allow yourself to drop the standards you live every day. There is no reason for any member of the church teen or adult should be dressing inappropriate in any wear of life. You know what is right and what you should be doing, so why disobey? If we stretch our obedience on one of the “lesser commandments” like modesty, word of wisdom and tithing etc... We lose the spirit which is the only thing that is there to remind us of our responsibilities as members of the Church.

Stepping down and hope to get some comments, then hopefully Jessica will have a more intelligent follow up post.

7.06.2009

Random Thoughts From Cole

So I had conversations with someone tonight, and let's say it was good to talk to them, since I hadn't talked to them in awhile. But, on the other hand it brings up so many things that reminds you why you don't talk very often.

How do you love a person so much, but can't figure out a way to coexist with them? No I am not talking about you Jessica, or our monkey of a son Kyle. You have that love that can't ever go away, but than you think how much you want it to go away and hope that you had never associated with it. Why do we keep trying even though it always ends up the same? How do you let go and not care? I know I will feel better if I do. But yet, I can't! Where do you draw the line and how do you move on from it?

Okay, there you go. I am done on that subject!

Here is some lyrics from a 90's song "Wear Sunscreen" that I heard again recently, and it is corny but true.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing everyday that scares you Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

Just simple things to think about! If only we could live our lives that way, with no worries and not stress about petty things, or money, or caring what other people think or do. How productive would I be if I didn't have all that on my mind? Or would I?

I know that no matter what happens, and how ever long I have to put up with it, I will always have the center to fall back on. That SURE thing in this crazy world, it is kind of like my "sunscreen" if I wear it, I won't be burned by the craziness of everything else!

Thoughts from Cole. Thank you for listening, writing them out helps me to not go crazy! Onemore thing, I just had to add this website for anyone thinks they have had a bad day like me. It can't be as bad as these. www.fmylife.com
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