Get Your Harry Potter Geek On

The new (and old) trailers for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie are up at Apple’s site.  The new trailer looks great.  I was watching the HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone this evening on TV and it’s amazing how much the three main characters have changed and grown in the 8 years since that movie was produced.  I’m already looking ahead to see how they will do “Deathly Hallows” on the big screen.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Rating: R
Released: November 26, 2008
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji Henson, Tilda Swinton, Julia Ormond, Elias Koteas
Trailer / Official Site

I was a little underwhelmed with this movie. It was excruciatingly long. I think they could have easily cut an half hour off the movie. The story itself was interesting (based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story of the same name) and I did find the challenges of Button’s situation (getting younger as the years went on) one that you could have a ton of fun with. But through out the movie, I consistently felt that they were trying to make this an updated version of Forrest Gump, and it just never came close.

Update (1/19/09): Appears my observation about Forrest Gump was right on the money after all.

Mr. Thomas in Narnia

We’ve all heard all the noise about the instant classic Chronic of Narnia rap. My kids, being kids, have gone to McDonalds several times over the past few weeks and have picked up some Happy Meals that included Narnia toys. So, one day we set up them up in our empty living room and I took some photos, for a goof. Here is the slideshow of a few more photos.

Fantasy Land

WARNING: Some Harry Potter spoilers below. Proceed at your own risk.

I found “Prince” to be one of my favorites of the Potter series. I think it did a great job of bringing together several plot lines into a very cohesive story. Without giving too much away, the various lessons that Harry had with Dumbledore were very interesting and did a great deal to address several questions regarding the relationship between Harry and Voldemort. I did think the lecturing from Dumbledore was a little long at times, but overall it added immensely to the story. It was also interesting the way Rowling was able to tie in the normal teen angst of “puppy love” into the story and make it work. And the end of “Prince” was amazing, with Dumbledore & Harry’s trip to the cave as they attempted to acquire one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. I am convinced that the initials R.A.B in the note they found in the cave are that of Regilus Black, Sirius’s brother and former death eater. I theorized that as soon as I read it. And I had my theory validated on from The Leaky Cauldron’s PotterCast podcast…we shall see. I am very much looking forward to the last book to see how this wonderful series ends.

And to add to the Harry hysteria, the next movie installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is coming out in November!! The pre-movie buzz I am hearing is that it is an amazing movie and may be the best of the series so far.

It should be a very fantasy driven Christmas movie season with Goblet coming out in November, followed by the movie adaptation of the classic C.S. Lewis book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Looking forward to both movies!!

May the Real Lord Voldemort Please Stand Up

On a recent post on The Movie Blog, it is noted that Ralph Fiennes has been cast as Lord Voldemort! in the Harry Potter movie series. I must agree with The Movie Blog that this is a fine choice for this role. He is diverse enough of an actor and intimidating enough to effectively pull this role off for the Harry Potter series. I am already looking forward to the next movie!

Harry Potter

Last night I went to see an exclusive pre-release screening of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”…a benefit of working at AOL which is owned by Time Warner, which owns Warner Brothers, which distributes the Harry Potter series. The third movie installment of the wildly popular book series was directed by Alfonso Cuaron, a well respected but fairly unknown director.

Well, I must say that “Azkaban” is a wonderful movie and a significant step up compared to the previous two installments (which I very much enjoyed). The pace of the movie was quick and smooth, and Cuaron did an outstanding job of transitioning between scenes and plot lines. He did an effective job of focusing on the key elements of the storyline, rather than trying to have the movie go exactly by the book. I think he was effective in making the not-so-bold assumtion that the majority of the people seeing the movie will have either already read the book (if not the entire series to date) and/or seen the previous two releases and therefore, are well versed in the basics of the story (that Harry lives with his muggle relatives, that he hates living there, that he goes off to school for another year, etc.). Yet, with that said, I do think he could have put a bit more time on the movie to build out some of the storylines a bit more. I got the feeling that the critical scene in this book (you know what it is – rats and warewolves) happened far too early in the movie. All in all, a fine effort and a movie well in keeping with my favorite installment of the series to date.


Well, its that time of year for all you movie buffs out there. The Oscars are today and ahead of the big event, I am going to bust out my picks for this year. This year is different than previous with the ceremony a few weeks earlier than usual. The Academy felt its big night was getting overlooked. February sweeps on network TV were also an influence. I think Lord of the Rings:Return of the King will have a very good night, and it should take home Best Picture and Best Director, if for nothing else than an acknowledgement of the superior work done across the full LOTR trilogy of films, which IMHO is the finest series of movies ever made. In any case, here are my picks for the big categories:

Best Actor: Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean
Best Actress: Charlize Theron, Monster
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins, Mystic River
Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellwegger, Cold Mountain
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King
Best Director: Peter Jackson, LOTR:Return of the King
Best Original Screenplay: Lost In Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: LOTR:Return of the King
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo

Lord of the Rings

Wow, what an ending to a fantastic set of movies! The Director Peter Jackson outdid himself with this set of epics. It made Star Wars look like a second rate “B” film. In fact, looking at both movies you could see how Star Wars was influenced by the Toliken story. I think Entertianment Weekly said it best:

Even more moving is the realization that epics end. Perhaps the greatest tribute we can pay to [Peter] Jackson, his cast, and his creative team is this: Nine hours later, they’ve left us wanting more.

The last installment of the J.R.R. Toliken story, The Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King was just a fantastic ending to the trilogy of movies. Personally, I really preferred LOTR: The Two Towers because it really got to the heart of the trilogy’s story, and the the Battle of Helms Deep was just one of most amazing battle sequences I have ever seen. I actually went to see the re-releases of LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring and LOTR:The Two Towers the week prior to the release of LOTR:The Return of the King. The re-releases had additional footage (the “director’s cut”) so that was an additional bonus. The Tolkien trilogy could not have been adapted for film any better. Jackson was true to the story, the writing, and the overall feel of Tolkien’s style. I think they should produce “The Hobbit” and while there are other Tolkien stories about Middle Earth post LOTR, I don’t think they would be as wildly popular as these movies. I can’t wait for the full set of DVD’s to come to market so I can add them to my collection.

Order of the Phoenix

I finished the fifth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Overall, it was an extremely long book and was a bit tedious…however, the ending is fantastic and the last three/four chapters made up for the rest of the book. It definitely will make for great reading as the series winds down with years 6 and 7!