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The King’s Speech (2010) Review

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The King's Speech

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains offensive language
Cast:
Colin Firth as King George VI
Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth
Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII
Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill
Derek Jacobi as Cosmo Gordon Lang
Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle Logue
Michael Gambon as King George V
Director: Tom Hooper

King George VI (Colin Firth) tries to overcome his stammering problem with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and makes himself worthy enough to lead his country through World War II.

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Despite being an Oscar winning film, The King’s Speech has been given quite the bad rap, ironically it’s because of that. It earned many of the Oscars, including Best Picture, over so many other movies like The Social Network, Inception and Black Swan. Many weren’t happy that this was the movie that won over those films. While I understand many of these reactions, The King’s Speech on its own is pretty good.

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To keep it simple and straightforward, I’ll treat this movie outside of the fact that it won Best Picture, or mention The Social Network, Inception or Black Swan for the duration of this review, which is something that reviews of this movie nowadays can’t stop doing. The King’s Speech is a historical biopic, and the summary of the movie looked pretty boring at first, but thankfully it has a pretty good script. Now part the story is more than likely fictionalised and isn’t completely true, but that’s pretty typical of movies like this, and I don’t think that the inaccuracies would be particularly egregious. This movie is more focussed on George’s speech impediment and him trying to work through it with his speech therapist, rather than the royal family and his role in it, and that is actually to its own benefit. It does have its particularly ‘Oscar moments’, mainly towards the last act, but didn’t take away too much from the rest of the movie. The story plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to, but it had enough going on and enough energy to keep me reasonably interested for the duration of the runtime.

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The acting in this movie is amongst the best part of the movie, if not the main reason to see it. Colin Firth is really great as King George VI, and it’s not just a baity or showy performance like it could’ve been. Firth’s stutter could’ve easily been a gimmick or have been a caricature of people with stammers, but he and the film pulls it off perfectly, and he makes it feel genuine. As good as the rest of the cast and movie is, it wouldn’t work nearly as well without Colin Firth’s outstanding performance at the centre of it. Geoffrey Rush is also good as the speech therapist that George sees to help with his stutter. Firth and Rush are great together on screen, and their interactions are ultimately the driving force of the movie. Other supporting actors like Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce also play their roles as well.

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Tom Hooper directed this reasonably well, and on a technical level is pretty solid. It’s well shot, the score by Alexandre Desplat is pretty good, and the production and costume designs reflect the time period and location appropriately. However it’s very clear that this wasn’t going to be the highlight of the movie, and so I didn’t pay it that much attention.

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I wouldn’t say that The King’s Speech is great, but it is a pretty good movie for what it is. It is definitely better than how it sounds at first, but not enough to make it that memorable. However it’s a solid enough movie, with some great acting, particularly a career best performance from Colin Firth. I do think that it is worth watching, just make sure to not going into it seeing it as a Best Picture winner or anything like that.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Supernatural themes & violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare for a final battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Harry has grown into a steely lad on a mission to rid the world of evil. The friends must search for the Horcruxes that keep the dastardly wizard immortal. Harry and Voldemort meet at Hogwarts Castle for an epic showdown where the forces of darkness may finally meet their match.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Harry Potter series. With it being the 8th film in the series and with a huge fanbase behind it (both from the book and the movie), there was a lot of hype behind it, thankfully it really delivered. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fantastic and emotionally satisfying ending to the series.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 had a somewhat easy task, outside of the Gringotts Bank scene, most of the movie is one big final battle. But it still had the task of bringing everything together to deliver a fantastic conclusion, and I think it was effective in how they did that. It took just about all of the main plot points and characters and concluded them in a conclusive and satisfying way. As all Harry Potter films are like, things are different from the books. Some things like the final fight between Harry and Voldemort, I didn’t mind even though I know it was criticised from being different from the book. The book didn’t have much of a fight and was mostly a long conversation, so this version works better for a movie (though I agree that it would’ve been nice if there was more dialogue between the two). However the way it ends for Voldemort was a little underwhelming and cliché, and there should’ve been more of a transition between that scene and the next scene. There are some changes that I don’t think were great, like what happened with the Elder Wand at the end of the film. However there wasn’t really anything too much that ruined the experience. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the shortest of the Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it was the right length. It is long enough but it also gets to the point and main points of the story.

All the cast did a great job and served their purpose well. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are all great again, and all get to do major things in the movie. Like in Part 1, a lot of the supporting characters are pushed to the back and there’s so many of them but they all do great. Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and more all do fantastic in their roles here. We also get to see the full character of Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. He’s not in a ton of scenes but he is fantastic in them and deliver on some of the best scenes of the movie. Ralph Fiennes is once again great as Voldemort, still throwing himself into a rather pure evil role, but playing it so convincingly and with so much menace that it kind of works. He’s a little over the top at some points, particularly in one scene in the third act before the final confrontation, but I can’t see Voldemort being portrayed any better than how Fiennes did it.

The direction by David Yates is once again great. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has the most action in the series, we see a lot of wizard battles and destruction and it’s all handled really well. The visual effects are outstanding and still 7 years later look pretty good. The action scenes are entertaining and you can feel the weight behind everything that happens. Alexandre Desplat did a great score for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and I’m glad to see him do the score for Deathly Hallows Part 2 as well, elevating so much of the movie over what it already is.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 delivers on what it is supposed to. It’s entertaining, emotionally satisfying and brings the series to a close in the best way possible. It’s biggest flaws are the ending of one of the scenes in the third act and some of the differences between the book and the movie, and the latter is an issue with every single movie in the series, which only speaks to how fantastic of a movie it is.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Griphook
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
John Hurt as Garrick Ollivander
Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Director: David Yates

Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.

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I’m aware that Deathly Hallows Part 1 gets a bit of a bad rap but I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s a part 1 of a story, and is really seen as just setup for the second half. However this might be one of the best films in the long running series. Director David Yates once again does a great job, he takes advantage of having the story in two parts, utilising it well, adding some character development to the main characters. It does drag a bit especially in the second act but most of it really works.

The movie is quite dark, definitely the darkest of the movie series (though it doesn’t have as many depressing moments like in Half-Blood Prince) and you really feel the stakes throughout. There are little spots of brightness, just enough so that the movie isn’t overwhelmingly dark but not too much that you forget what’s at stake in the wizarding world. Splitting the books up into two really was a wise decision, it’s not the longest book in the series but it is a very big story and a whole lot happens, and so the more screentime given to the story, the better. It also allows David Yates and everyone else working on the movie to take their time with telling the story, you couldn’t do the entire Deathly Hallows book in one 4 hour long movie, and if one was to do that it wouldn’t be as good as what they have done here. Splitting the movie into two parts also gives more time to these characters and we get to know them a lot more and see them go through a lot of change. Deathly Hallows Part 1 really does feel like a Part 1 of a story and a setup for a big climax, however it’s not like other YA movies that have their last book split into two parts, it doesn’t feel like it’s padding out time. Yes, the second act does drag a little bit, especially when they are in the forest and not really doing anything, but it doesn’t drag too much, and as I said these moments are often used for character moments. The third act is done really well, very dark and tense and ending it on a pretty good note that sets it up for the last instalment in the franchise. Again, book changes are apparent, most of them don’t bother me. The movie does a good job at simplifying some of the things that happen and cutting out some of the unnecessary bits. With that said, Deathly Hallows Part 1 does have the singularly most obnoxious book to movie change, it’s to do with how Wormtail (Timothy Spall) is dealt with at the end, if you’ve read the books you know exactly what I’m talking about. Had they changed it to how the book did it, it would’ve taken up a minute at most and would’ve been a very dark and impactful scene. However they instead used that moment as a joke. It’s not movie-breaking but it’s nonetheless really irksome. Also a tad glaring is a bit involving a mirror, in the books its established in Order of the Phoenix, but here in the movie it just comes out of nowhere with no explanation for what it is and how it got there.

The acting once again was great. The dynamic between Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) was great and they give some of the best performances of their characters in the series. Since the movie is just them focussing on hunting down the Horcruxes we get to see them very prominently throughout the movie; we see them come together and get into conflicts as they struggle to complete this seemingly impossible task. A lot of the side characters are pushed to the background (because of how many they are and the fact that most of the movie is just focussed on the main 3) but they all do great, whether that be Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange or Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. One casting decision which wasn’t that great was Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood. Ifans is a good actor but he feels a little too over the top, even if he’s only in a couple scenes. Also while it’s a decent casting decision, Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour (the new Minister of Magic) is really only in a couple scenes here (having about the same screentime as in the book). He was introduced in the Half-Blood Prince book and they should have done the same as with the movie (this is more of a criticism with Half Blood Prince than Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Direction by David Yates really works once again for the Harry Potter movies. The cinematography is a little brighter than in Half-Blood Prince so you can actually easily see anything, however is dark enough that it fits with the tone of the story. The production design, CGI and other technical aspects are greatly handled as well. There is a storytelling scene close to the third act that is done really well with the visual style and animation. One scene that had some issues with its direction was a chase scene in the forest scene, it was really shaky and it was hard to see what was going on. I know I brought it up in other Harry Potter reviews but it is absolutely jarring how different the time period is, because some of the locations are rather modern looking at times. Not a huge problem but definitely something that stands out. The score for the movie is done by Alexandre Desplat this time and it was truly fantastic, adding a lot to the movie.

I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, it’s a lot better than I remember it being. It is quite bleak at times, and drags in some moments but ultimately it does achieve what it sets out to do, and makes for one of the best movies in the Harry Potter series. The story being in two parts may not be something that a lot of people like, but I think that overall ended up improving the films.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) Review

Time: 153 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

As Death Eaters wreak havoc in both Muggle and Wizard worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven for students. Though Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects there are new dangers lurking within the castle walls, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is more intent than ever on preparing the young wizard for the final battle with Voldemort. Meanwhile, teenage hormones run rampant through Hogwarts, presenting a different sort of danger. Love may be in the air, but tragedy looms, and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

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After The Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros was dead set on director David Yates doing the rest of the Harry Potter series. Having seen the next movies, I’d say that this was a very good call. The Half Blood Prince is a well balanced, dark and effective movie, and for sure one of the best movies in the series.

Half Blood Prince has a rather dark story and so had a dark tone, this is established in the first scene of the movie. It’s evident throughout. With that said, the movie is not devoid of lighter and humorous moments. A big part of this movie is the characters growing up, with teenage romance all about and more. While on paper it sounds like it could turn out really poorly (especially with it being based on a YA novel), it all feels really natural here. Goblet of Fire delved slightly into that but it came across as being a little annoying, Half Blood Prince handled it much better and it was actually fun to watch. There are some things cut from the movie, but that’s come to be expected with the movie series. What matters is whether the movie still works on its own as a story. Although I will admit that I would’ve liked to have seen more glimpses at Tom Riddle’s past and backstory, as we only see 2/3 moments of that in flashbacks. It would’ve been interesting to see and learn more about Riddle, however it’s wasn’t necessary for the story. Half Blood Prince does have however feature a sequence that wasn’t in the movie, that being the Death Eater’s attack on The Burrow. While it isn’t necessary and the story could’ve worked without it, it did remind us once again about the danger that’s very apparent in the Wizarding World, the movie is better with it. This is a pretty long movie, at about 2 hours and a half long but all around it’s actually really well paced and never really drags.

Acting is all around in this movie is good. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are played well once again. I feel like Harry doesn’t really get much to do here compared to some of the previous movies, though he does have some great acting moments, especially in the third act. The romance between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is very out of place and just comes out of nowhere. It’s like we missed a storyline with them in between movies, and we are only seeing it for the first time, and it just comes across as being really awkward. I almost feel like Grint and Watson got more chance to shine, a lot of the aforementioned coming of age elements are especially present with them and they have great chemistry. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy gets to do more here than in any of the other Harry Potter movies, with him receiving a task to kill Dumbledore. We see more sides to him and he’s shown to be more than just one of the more dislikeable characters in the Harry Potter series, and he’s shown to be much more complex. Michael Gambon gives his best performance as Albus Dumbledore, he seems close to the end of his lifespan and he’s particularly focussed on for this story. Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, the new potions teacher who is integral to the story, was played well and was perfectly cast.

David Yates does yet another great job with his direction of the movie. This movie has some great cinematography. One criticism about it however is that its so dark looking (borderline black and white at times) and washed out, that at certain moments its hard to see what’s going on and I can definitely see it. It’s really the only Harry Potter movie that I have problems with regarding the colour and the lighting. I know the movie is supposed to be quite dark but even the next films in the series don’t have a colour pallet as dark as this. Most of the time it’s fine, at times it can be a little distracting. It does well however at giving an off-putting feeling, and in that it does it very well. And the cinematography is among the best in the entire series to be fair. The visual effects are done really well, as to be expected they get better with every film. There is a segment in the third act in particular which was done very well. The score by Nicholas Hooper is once again great and adds a lot to the movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince surprised me, it was actually pretty great and one of the best in the series. While there are some additional things I would’ve liked to have seen in the movie and some of the colour pallet is a little too washed out and distracting, almost everything in this movie works greatly. I’m so glad that Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates, it really paid off.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and fantasy horror.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.

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After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the next film in the series would have yet another different director, that being David Yates, who would of course go on to direct all the future Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Order of the Phoenix does suffer by having a lot of cuts to the story and not having enough of the story from the book, but the movie is nonetheless very solid and rather underrated (at least to me). It’s has some truly great moments, and it does successfully pull off adapting the longest book into one of the shortest movies.

Tonally, this film does feel brighter than the past two movies but it does signify that some things are in the process of changing in the world. Now I hadn’t read Order in the Phoenix for a long time but it’s well known that it’s the longest book in the series, and so there’s no doubt a ton of things that were cut, and you can really feel it watching the movie. It does have one of the problems that Goblet of Fire has, that being that some story points, character depth and development is seemingly not in the movie, and it would’ve really improved this film. There are also some parts which are only shown briefly which it would’ve been nice to go into a little more. The biggest example is that Harry training Dumbledore’s Army is like shown in 2 montages, they are effective in the movie and get the point across, but nonetheless it would’ve been nice to explore it a little more. With that said, the movie does have some effective scenes, an example being the scenes between Harry and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), which are among the best scenes of the film. Compared to most of the Harry Potter movies, it’s not as long, so another 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) might’ve added to the story a bit. Order of the Phoenix would’ve always had this problem as a movie though, with it being the longest story in the book series, really the only way to encapsulate the stories from the books is to make it a tv series, so credit to the directors is due for trying their best. Thankfully though, unlike Goblet of Fire, the movie doesn’t extend or add a bunch of pointless things to the movie (or at the very least I didn’t notice it). The opening moments of Order of the Phoenix is a little clunky, with it being quite possibly having the worst opening scenes of the movies. The Dursleys are more the top than usual, the dementors had a jarring downgrade in design, it introduces characters that don’t get any development whatsoever, and is just really rushed. After the first 15-20 minutes, things improve from there though. The movie is just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, making it the second shortest of the Harry Potter movies and while I did wish it was a little longer so that we could’ve gotten more of the plot and characters, it never felt overlong and the pace was always consistent (even if it did at times rush through some things).

Acting is quite good all around. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are great and all get to do stuff in the movie. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry is particularly great, delivering his strongest performance in the series up to this point, Harry goes through some character development so Radcliffe gets a lot to do here. The returning cast are great as well. Gary Oldman is once again fantastic as Sirius Black, he and Radcliffe share some great scenes together. Though some characters like Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) are a little underutilised, they are still good in their roles. Michael Gambon with Order of the Phoenix starts to really fully settle into the role of Dumbledore, still different from Richard Harris’s but works nonetheless. Ralph Fiennes as usual is great as Voldemort, he’s not in the movie a lot (mostly just in the third act) but he’s a constant screen presence from start to finish, even when he’s not on screen. There are some good additions to the movie, I liked the casting choices, but some got to do more than others. Out of all the scene stealers in this movie, the most prominent one is Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, the character was even more hated than Voldemort and Staunton absolutely kills this role, bringing this loathed character to the big screen. She’s essentially the main villain for most of the movie, she is such a big screen presence and invokes such a response from audiences. Pretty much everything about her character in this movie they nailed. Also a new great addition was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who throws herself completely into her insane role. You mostly just see her in the third act, but she makes a great impression.

Director David Yates takes over as the next Harry Potter director, and he was a good pick. So much so that he was given pretty much the rest of the Harry Potter movies and the entirety of the Fantastic Beasts series to direct. The movie does have a good look to it, the production design, the visuals and the whole look of the world is really good. You do get to see quite a lot more magic in this story and it was done really well. This is the first Harry Potter movie where we really get to see Wizard Duels in all of their glory, and it was shown very well. The third act particularly has a ton of magic and battles (Dumbledore vs Voldemort was especially a highlight) and it’s really great to see. One minor thing that stands out is the look of the Dementors early in the movie, who look like skeletons with a bit of cloth and aren’t as effective as the Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban and look rather goofy instead. Granted they are on screen for less than a minute. The score by Nicholas Hooper is also pretty good.

Order of the Phoenix starts off quite clunky but it really does improve over time and is overall a solid Harry Potter movie. It’s biggest issue is that it is missing some things from the book that would’ve improved the plot had they been included them. With that said, it’s also got a lot of great things, with wizard duels, not feeling overlong and having some really great scenes. I also feel like with Order of the Phoenix, the series got the right setup, tone and portrayal of the world right, which is probably why Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates to direct all the Harry Potter/Wizarding World movies.

Ocean’s 8 (2018) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean
Cate Blanchett as Lou Miller
Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger
Mindy Kaling as Amita
Sarah Paulson as Tammy
Awkwafina as Constance
Rihanna as Nine Ball
Helena Bonham Carter as Rose Weil
Richard Armitage as Claude Becker
James Corden as John Frazier
Director: Gary Ross

Five years, eight months, 12 days and counting — that’s how long Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has been devising the biggest heist of her life. She knows what it’s going to take — a team of the best people in the field, starting with her partner-in-crime Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett). Together, they recruit a crew of specialists, including jeweler Amita (Mindy Kaling), street con Constance (Awkwafina), suburban mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), and fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). Their target — a necklace that’s worth more than $150 million.

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I was a little sceptical about Ocean’s Eight. It had a lot of potential, with it being a spinoff of the famous Ocean’s series directed by Steven Soderbergh and having a huge and talented cast including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway. At the same time the advertising for the movie made it look just okay and I was unfortunately not as excited for the movie as I feel I should be considering all the talent involved. Nonetheless I was curious enough to check it out and I’m glad I did. Ocean’s Eight was actually quite a bit of fun with the cast and was yet another reasonably well done heist movie. It does have some faults but its easy to overlook most of them.

I watched the Ocean’s trilogy many years ago and I don’t have the best memory of it but I do remember liking it. Ocean’s Eight does similar things that other heist movies have done (like the original Ocean’s trilogy), it has a similar structure, and it has some similar sequences like the team recruiting montages and the twist montages where it reveals everything that happened. It doesn’t really do anything new but it does everything rather well. The first two acts do have moments where it drags and you aren’t as entertained or interested but it does pick up again within a few scenes later. Generally however, it is entertaining, and I was consistently entertained in the 3rd act.

As previously mentioned, Ocean’s Eight has a great cast, with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Anne Hathaway and more and they play their roles well. Some give better performances than others, and they aren’t giving some of the best performances of their careers but they are good here. They have great chemistry and play off each other really well. The two standouts for me though were Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, they really were highlights of the film. The weakest performance of the movie was James Corden, he doesn’t have a massive amount of screentime and he’s not bad, not even annoying or anything. But he is very distracting and feels miscast in the role, he plays it like he’s James Corden and not a character.

Gary Ross directs this movie well enough but you do feel the lack of Steven Soderbergh. It does have some stylistic moments and it’s fine and all but it’s missing something. I’m not saying that Steven Soderbergh himself needed to be directing this movie, and Ross’s direction isn’t bad but I think Ocean’s Eight would’ve benefited from better direction.

Ocean’s Eight was a lot of fun. Even if you haven’t watched the original Ocean’s trilogy, that won’t negatively affect your experience of the movie. The cast was great and it was entertaining watching them come together to pull off a heist. It does have some issues but it’s not enough to take away from the overall experience. I do hope that we get at least a couple more movies with these characters, it definitely has potential.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) Review

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in Disney's ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, an all-new adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll's beloved stories.

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Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some scenes may scare very young children
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth of Crims
Sacha Baron Cohen as Time
Rhys Ifans as Zanik Hightopp
Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Alan Rickman as Absolem, the Butterfly (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire, the Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard, the Bloodhound (voice)
Director: James Bobin


Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Underland and finds the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in an illness. The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) told Alice that in order to help the Hatter, she must travel to the past, only to find out that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), a walking clock-like man, have a plan to take over Underland.

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I didn’t have any expectations going into Alice Through the Looking Glass. I really disliked the first film, it’s been 6 years since the original and it seems that the only reason this film exists is because it made lots of money. And the sequel was pretty much what I expected it to be. The story is messy, the acting (for the most part) is over the top and sometimes bad, and the visuals are fake looking (even more so than the original). It’s a frustrating because the film had some potential.

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This movie is all over the place. There’s so many elements crammed into this movie and they aren’t fully formed or developed. This movie has so much going on, the Red Queen and White Queen’s backstory, the Mad Hatter’s backstory, Alice in the real world, and so many more and I didn’t care about any of these plotlines. It’s almost as if it was a tv series with all the plots of the episodes plots stuffed and cut down to fit one movie. I will say that this movie had more potential than the first film as it dealt with time, and there are some ideas in the film which seemed okay, at least to me. But as I said, the ideas aren’t fully realised or developed well enough. I also never really cared about what was going on or was concerned about how things would end, I just straight up didn’t care about anything that was going on in the movie.

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In the first movie, I didn’t like Mia Wasikowska’s performance, I thought that it was bland, boring and flat (though it really wasn’t her fault). I actually liked her in this movie however, she doesn’t have a lot of great material to work with but she was quite good here and was a likable protagonist. I also really liked Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. However if you think that Time is the main antagonist of the movie, that’s unfortunately not the case, it’s the Red Queen again, which… kinda sucks because she’s extremely over the top and doesn’t work at all. Everyone else is pretty much their characters from the first film, but worse. Johnny Depp is doing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter is doing Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway… really didn’t give a good performance here either. Particularly those three were annoying in their roles.

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The first movie had an overload of CGI and green screen, leading to some sequences feeling quite fake, however it was still a good looking movie overall. Somehow this movie manages to add even more CGI and green screen, nothing feels natural, everything feels artificial and fake. The designs for a lot of the locations and the characters (like in the first film) were creative and sometimes great, but they aren’t portrated on screen that well.

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Alice through the Looking Glass is what I expected this movie to be. It’s about as bad as the original, there are some elements which are better and there are some elements which are worse. I did like Mia Wasikowska and Sacha Baron Cohen in their roles, and there are some ideas and potential in the story. But at the same time the script is crammed with so many unformed ideas, the acting is mostly over the top and occasionally bad (particularly from Depp, Bonham Carter and Hathaway) and the CGI and green screen was horrible. I have no idea what you’ll think of this movie, but I’ll say if you didn’t like the first film, I think it’s highly unlikely that you’ll like the sequel.

Alice in Wonderland (2010) Review

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Alice in Wonderland

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Frightening fantasy scenes and violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as The White Queen
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen
Crispin Glover as Stayne – Knave of Hearts
Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Alan Rickman as Blue Caterpillar (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard (voice)
Director: Tim Burton

A young girl when she first visited magical Wonderland, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now a teenager with no memory of the place — except in her dreams. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected when, at a garden party for her fiancé and herself, she spots a certain white rabbit and tumbles down a hole after him. Reunited with her friends the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat and others, Alice learns it is her destiny to end the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.

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Tim Burton nowadays can be hit or miss with hits with Sweeney Todd and misses with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. When it comes to his take on Alice in Wonderland, people are divided but the movie did make a lot of money so obviously a lot of people liked it. However in my opinion, Alice in Wonderland is a miss and it might be his worst work yet. I haven’t read the book or seen any of the previous interpretations but yet I found this movie a bad adaptation. It tries to be this big grand war movie when it didn’t need to be. It’s so strange how this movie turned out, considering the fact that Tim Burton is a perfect choice to direct an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. But whatever the case, I felt that this movie was a huge let down and a terrible version of the classic story.

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It should be noted that this movie isn’t even an adaptation of the original Alice in Wonderland story because this isn’t the first time Alice has been to Wonderland. Later you find out that this place isn’t even called Wonderland, it’s called Underland. So the movie is more Grown Up Alice Returns to Underland than Alice in Wonderland. This movie also seemed to miss the point of Alice in Wonderland. There is some made up prophecy story forced into this movie and it also tries to make a war movie out of Alice in Wonderland. Because of this there are so many plot holes, like there’s a scene where Alice uses the enlarging cake to grow bigger, couldn’t they just make more of that cake and use it to win the war? Also despite this movie being PG, there are some pretty dark things that happen in the movie, so this film also doesn’t know what age they are working towards.

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Mia Wasikowska plays Alice and she is extremely bland and boring in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s a great actress, I just think it was the direction and writing that let her down. She barely looks interested or distressed by all the events happening all around her. Johnny Depp is playing typical Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is playing typical Helena Bonham Carter. They aren’t bad but they aren’t anything special either, same can be said for the other characters.

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I will say the one good thing about this movie is that at times the style does show Wonderland off quite well. The designs for all the characters are perfect, take the Cheshire cat for instance. Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland were a perfect pair for each other and although the rest of the movie isn’t good, at least everything looks great, even though there is quite a lot of CGI used.

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Alice in Wonderland was so popular that this year we’ll be getting a sequel. Do I think it’s possible for it to be good? Anything is possible but it’s unlikely. This film did have some good designs and some potential with Burton’s involvement, however the writing completely lets the story down by being bigger and more serious than it should. I think this is my least favourite Tim Burton movie so far. I know that Burton isn’t directing the sequel but I’m still not looking forward to it. Then again Alice in Wonderland is not a very tough act to follow, so it might at least be better.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) Review

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Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Benjamin Barker/Sweeney Todd
Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett
Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin
Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford
Jayne Wisener as Johanna Barker
Sacha Baron Cohen as Adolfo Pirelli
Laura Michelle Kelly as Lucy Barker/Beggar Woman
Jamie Campbell Bower as Anthony Hope
Ed Sanders as Tobias Ragg
Director: Tim Burton

After years in exile for a crime he didn’t commit, Benjamin Barker, now Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) returns to London to find his wife dead and his daughter Johanna (Jaine Wisener) in the hands of the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Sweeney relocates his barber business to the top of Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) pie shop. Todd wants revenge and works with Mrs Lovett by killing the unsuspecting public while giving them a shave; the bodies are turned into Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies. With the plan being successful, all Todd needs to do is convince the Judge to sit in his chair.

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Tim Burton can do some good adaptations (Batman) but recently some of his recent adaptations haven’t impressed me (Willy Wonka). However that is not the case with Sweeney Todd. It is the right type of material that’s suited to him; it’s dark and bloody and Burton successfully adapted it for the big screen, respecting and representing the source material perfectly. This is added to the acting and direction which is great and furthers the movie even more.

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If you don‘t know already, this film is adapted from Sweeney Todd, a musical about Sweeney Todd, this is the first time I ever seen any version of Sweeney Todd in any form of media. One thing that is notable is that unlike most musicals in which nearly all of the dialogue is singing, Sweeney Todd has 75% of the dialogue involving singing. Fortunately the dialogue is well written for these characters and doesn’t feel inconsistent when the actors switch to just talking. I think my favourite song in the movie is between ‘Pretty Women’ and ‘Epiphany’. Both of these songs are done perfectly, with the acting, singing and the directing. This film also has a consistent dark comedic tone throughout, especially with the gallons of blood spilt.

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Johnny Depp is great as Sweeney Todd and embodies his character completely, never slipping out of character once. Also great was Helena Bonham Carter; the chemistry between Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter was great, it wasn’t just how they were in other Burton movies, here it feels genuine and fresh. Also good was the supporting cast. Alan Rickman was deliciously evil and was really good in his role, as is the case with Timothy Spall. Sacha Baron Cohen also steals the few scenes that he’s in. All the actors do a great job, particularly with the singing.

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The production design of this movie is really good; it really shows the town being really dark. Tim Burton has a great sense of colours and uses the right colours for the right moments, most of the time they are dark. One thing should be noted is the blood, when a character is killed there is so much blood I wonder if Quentin Tarantino was involved in those scenes, it was almost darkly comedic; I’m pretty sure it was meant for it to be like this. The score was also really well made, accompanied by the voices of actors who could sing. All of the songs are sung and directed perfectly, with none of them being weak.

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Tim Burton’s take on Sweeney Todd shows once again that he can do adaptations, just as long as he’s given the right source material. His direction along with the acting and singing makes for one of the best movie musicals I’ve seen (even though I haven’t seen many). If you love the musical, chances are you will be satisfied with how it turned out. As a person who doesn’t usually watch musicals I was pleasantly surprised.

Fight Club (1999)

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Fight Club

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Edward Norton as The Narrator
Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden
Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer
Meat Loaf as Robert ‘Bob’ Paulson
Jared Leto as Angel Face
Director: David Fincher

An insomniac office worker (Edward Norton) forms an underground fight club with Tyler Durden, a soap manufacturer. This fight club grows bigger over time, as does its scope. It eventually starts growing bigger than he could ever think it would. This film is based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk.

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Despite the title, Fight Club isn’t just a movie about people fighting. Fight Club isn’t a movie like you’ve ever seen before; it’s a psychological journey and presents social commentary about many things such as consumerist culture. It’s also a movie that somehow can still be relevant today. With outstanding performances and many meanings behind it, Fight Club is definitely one of Fincher’s best films and has continually held up for 15 years.

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It is best watching this movie with as little background information as possible because it’s best experiencing it without knowing much about the plot. Don’t even watch the trailer; just watch it as soon as possible. As for the messages to be taken away by the viewer; there are many different opinions I’ve heard from different people. Whatever the ‘true’ meaning of this movie is however; is completely left up to the viewer and that can lead to interesting discussions with other people who watched it. As for the comparison to the book, in my opinion the movie manages to take the story from the book into many places that it never originally went. The ending of the movie is brilliant and the last shot of the movie is beautiful. Actually, the second to last shot of the movie is good also.

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The characters are really interesting and well played by the actors. Edward Norton plays our unnamed main character and narrator throughout this story as we follow him through these crazy events. Another shining point is Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, this is one of the best performances that have been put on screen. He is entertaining to watch but also has a philosophy which makes this movie unique and mostly defines this movie. This performance is Brad Pitt’s best and no other actor could have given a better job than him portraying this character. He is definitely one of the most memorable parts of this movie. Helena Bonham Singer plays a character called Marla Singer who becomes a key character in the story and she is also played very well.

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One of the best things about David Fincher is his ability to make a movie look incredible. The style of the film is really engrossing and eye catching, especially when there are scenes narrated by Norton. I also really like the intro animation which really gets the audience ready for the movie. I’ve noticed that all of David Fincher’s movies’ intro animations are always good. I also love the soundtrack by The Dust Brothers which fits in so well with the movie. Also, without spoiling anything, the last song in the movie is absolutely perfect for the ending and makes it even better.

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This movie is very memorable; even months after watching it for the first time I was still thinking about it. This film has a lot of re-watchability and has many hidden gems in the movie that viewers might not get the first time watching and there are many meanings to be interpreted. Fight Club is a movie to see as soon as possible, even to just have an opinion on it. This movie is one of, if not David Fincher’s best work that he’s ever done, I’ve so far liked everything that he’s done. Whether your interpretations of it are, Fight Club is a brilliantly acted, visually stunning masterpiece that you will never forget. It is one of my all time favourite movies.