Tag Archives: Michael Gambon

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

After ten years and seven films, it’s a near impossible task to wrap up the Harry Potter franchise. As someone who’s never read the books, I sat down for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 expecting to say goodbye to the gang in their graves or living happily ever after. Ultimately, the piece does find an appropriate spot on that spectrum, making for a great series conclusion. Then again, that’s great as compared to something that I hoped would be excellent – just short of excellent that is.

Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are back and in the midst of their Horcrux hunt. With Griphook (Warwick Davis) the goblin’s reluctant assistance, the trio infiltrates Bellatrix Lestrange’s (Helena Bonham Carter) vault at Gringotts where they suspect yet another Horcrux containing a piece of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul hides. From there, it’s on to track down and destroy the remaining items, both of which are suspected to be at Hogwarts.

The trio arrives back at school to find Snape (Alan Rickman) has assumed the late Albus Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) position. Once Harry arrives, Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Neville (Matthew Lewis), Ginny (Bonnie Wright) and all of his old Hogwarts pals abandon their efforts to simply submit to their new headmaster’s oppressive regime and join Harry to fight back. Soon thereafter, Voldemort arrives, massive army in tow, and the Battle of Hogwarts begins.

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Review: The King’s Speech

When considering the basics of The King’s Speech, there’s really nothing particularly alluring about it. It’s a period piece about a Duke with a stutter. Yes, that’s basically true, but there’s more to this film than can ever be conveyed in even the most detailed synopsis. The combination of spectacular performances and masterful direction turns this story into an all-consuming emotional experience.

Based on a true story, Colin Firth stars as Albert, the Duke of York. As the son of King George the V (Michael Gambon), Bertie (the nickname used by his family) is required to speak publicly quite frequently. The problem is, Bertie has a speech impediment; he stammers. He’s seen a number of speech therapists, but nobody’s been able to fix the issue or get a handle on the Duke’s poor attitude. The only one able to quell is frustration is his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), who refuses to let him succumb to his stammer.

She finds an Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), whose treatment involves rather unusual methods and decides to put the Duke in his care. The men bump heads right from the start with their first meeting coming to an abrupt end when Bertie blows up and storms out of the room. However, Bertie slowly begins to open up to Lionel and just in time too, for his older brother’s (Guy Pearce) antics will have the Duke in the royal spotlight much more and far sooner than he ever expected.

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Review: The Book of Eli

Religion in film is always a testy subject. Even if a movie isn’t directly about faith, organizations manage to find minute details to point fingers at. The Book of Eli isn’t one of those movies. Denzel Washington’s name may be plastered all of the posters, but the Bible is at the film’s core. It’s a hypothetical story that makes no harmful allegations, yet its religious connotations will make it impossible for some to accept. On the other hand, for those willing to completely dismiss reality, it’s an enjoyable and action-packed dose of illogicality.

The Book of Eli is about just that, Eli’s book. Okay, it’s a little more complex. Thirty years post-apocalyptic occurrence, Eli (Denzel Washington) stumbles across a bible. Why is this so significant? Because after the apocalypse the men and women remaining turned their back on religion and destroyed every copy. Well, every copy except one and that one belongs to Eli, a seemingly indestructible wanderer wielding a massive machete.

The first twenty minutes of the film are fantastic. The Hughes brothers’ attention to detail is astounding. Everything from the contents of Eli’s pack to the beads of sweat glistening on his forehead makes him endlessly fascinating. But there’s just so far sequences of close-ups and dreary landscape shots can carry you and the brother know it. The first action sequence combines extraordinary choreography with mesmerizing cinematography to show that Eli is capable of far more than moping about the desert.

Eli is all serenity and pacifism when he arrives in the rickety town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman) obsessed with finding a particular book. Naturally, it doesn’t take long for someone to push Eli’s button forcing him to brandish his weapon and give the townsfolk a serious beat down. Carnegie catches a glimpse of Eli’s talent and tries to enlist him in his team of goons. While hanging out with Solara (Mila Kunis), the daughter of Carnegie’s wife (Jennifer Beals), Eli mutters some verse of the bible, which she innocently repeats in front of the boss man. Oops! That book Carnegie is so desperate to get his hands on? The Bible. And now he knows Eli has the sole copy.

Yes, the plot sounds ridiculous and what I’m about to say is going to sound cliché, but IT’S A MOVIE. Eli walks around with a semi-busted iPod, the country is packing major artillery and everyone has a trendy pair of sunglasses, yet the Bible is nowhere to be found? If you get past the impossibility of the scenario, it’s endlessly entertaining. There’s few people left who know of life pre-destruction and the old-timers left share zero information about the concept of creed. Carnegie thinks that if he can get hold of a Bible, he can spread the word of God but not for the betterment of humanity, so that he can expand his empire.

Oldman is the ideal villain. He’s creepy and ruthless leaving you uneasily awaiting his every move. Carnegie’s every hope and dream relies on getting a copy of the bible and you feel his burning passion for domination. Oldman’s ability to bring Carnegie to life so vividly leaves Washington in a haze. You’re content with Eli muttering and milling about at first, but once more vibrant characters are introduced, like Carnegie, he’s kind of boring. Luckily Solara befriends the brooding hero bringing out more the buried elements of his personality. Kunis is also responsible for infusing the film with some much-needed heart. The battle between Eli and Carnegie keeps your heart races, but it’s Kunis’ story that makes it endearing. Solara’s portion of the film is really a coming of age story. You want her to survive and thrive, which ultimately makes you deeply concerned for Eli’s safety.

Solara’s story gives The Book of Eli some heart, but in the end it’s just a nonsensical action movie. The finale will be extremely difficult, if not impossible for some to digest, but for those who can push practicality aside, it’s a rewarding culmination. Having to put your brain on cruise control to appreciate a movie is never a good sign, but in The Book of Eli’s case, letting yourself go for two hours is well worth it.

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