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Mar 112015
 

Many of us remember Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Now here’s a new film version that focuses on a different angle, which is the story of Maleficent. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was the main villain of Sleeping Beauty, but she wasn’t always evil.

Maleficent was once a good powerful fairy that lived in the Moors, which is a magical forest realm that neighbors a human kingdom. She even had wings like an eagle, which would allow her to fly anywhere. As for Maleficent’s horns on her head, they’re actually a part of her. Until I saw that, I always thought she wore a helmet.

After the greedy King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) fails to conquer the Moors, he decides to pass on the crown to whoever manages to kill Maleficent. Of course everyone wants that reward. Unfortunately, that includes Stefan (Sharlto Copley) who used to be good friends with her.

Apparently, Stefan chose the crown over friendship, but instead of killing Maleficent, he cuts her wings off. It was that betrayal which drove Maleficent to evil. Now it’s clear why she goes to the castle and curses Stefan’s newborn child, like in the animated version.

From this point, the movie does follow the story line to the animated version, but with different twists from the other characters. For starters, Maleficent’s raven companion has a name, Diavel (Sam Riley), and can turn into a human among other things under Maleficent’s control.

The three pixies, which were originally named Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether, are named Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville). They are very comical while trying to put up with one another. Flora and Meriwether’s conflict over a dress being pink or blue was one of my favorite highlights on the animated version, but these three are more like female versions of the 3 Stooges, especially while in human form.

Then there’s Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). She’s a sweet girl with a big smile. Even though Maleficent dislikes her and nicknames her Beasty, she tends to check up on Aurora very frequently and eventually likes her. It must be Aurora’s adorable beauty and kind nature that makes her so likable.

This was a great version of the Sleeping Beauty story from a different angle. It makes me wonder how the new Cinderella movie will turn out.

Feb 292012
 

Well, this is it. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in for the ultimate battle of his life in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is gone and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is on a deadly search to kill Harry with the help of his death eater followers. Once again, Harry gets visitors at his muggle home to bring him to the magical world, but this time it’s different.

The gang’s all here, Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Professor Lupin (David Thewis), and several others, all led by Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson). First, half of the group takes polyjuice potion to look like Harry, then they all take off in an exciting aerial escape with death eaters attacking from everywhere.

Soon they make it to the Weasley household safe and sound, most of them anyway. One thing’s for sure. Harry never has to go back to the muggle world, or be mistreated by his aunt and uncle ever again. However, Harry has bigger fish to fry. The horcruxes of Voldemort must be found and destroyed, wherever they are.

Later, the death eaters arrive and attack. Harry, Ron, and Hermione barely escape with their lives and are now on the run looking for a safe refuge as well as the next horcrux. Unfortunately, Hogwarts is not one of those places, even if it is their final year.

Luckily, Hermione has a tiny bag that carries a ton of provisions. That also includes a tent that’s bigger inside than outside. Great, now everybody’s gonna want one.

Quite a few references from the previous Harry Potter films are featured like the memory charms, the house that opens up, and Griphook (Warwick Davis) the goblin bank teller. But what I was really grateful for was the return of Dobby the house elf. Now that he’s been free for awhile, Dobby has become more helpful than ever.

It was real nice that I got to meet Tom Felton at MegaCon 2012, who is best known as Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter franchise.

Okay, let’s review. There are six horcruxes total and two have already been found and destroyed, the diary and the ring. The third was a locket, but the one Harry and Dumbledore found in the previous movie is a fake. Harry, Ron, and Hermione find out that Miss Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) has the real one. Remember her? They infiltrate the Ministry and succeed at escaping with the locket. On a personal note, this scene did run pretty long.

Now here’s another dilemma. They have the locket, but don’t know how to destroy it. Until they do, the locket must be protected. Now it has become more like a Lord of the Rings quest. The wearer of the locket carries a heavy burden of madness. It affects Ron the most, which leaves him to believe that Hermione likes Harry over him, so he takes off. After weeks of traveling, Ron returns just when Harry finds the sword of Gryffindor, which is the key to destroy the horcruxes. Even after Ron does destroy the locket, Hermione isn’t glad to see him. How long do you think she’ll stay mad at Ron?

Meanwhile, Voldemort is in search for something to kill Harry with, but it’s not revealed until the Deathly Hollows story is told. It’s about three brothers who each receive a gift from Death himself. They are the Elder wand which is the most powerful wand ever made, the Resurrection stone that brings loved ones back from the dead, the Invisibility cloak made from a piece of Death’s robe. As it turns out, the three items are real. Since Voldemort’s wand cannot kill Harry, he seeks the Elder wand, but will it work like in the story?

This was quite an adventurous film. Even though it’s only the first half, it didn’t get very far with the horcruxes. There are three left with no clue on where or what they are. Check my blog for part 2 for the grand finale.

Nov 072011
 

Guess who is back for year five at Hogwarts, that’s right. It’s Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned, Harry is now under attack more frequently, even in the muggle world.

After rescuing his cousin Dudley (Harry Melling) from two dementors, Harry is threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts because wizards under 17 aren’t allowed to use magic outside of school. Harry is only 15.

Of course, Dudley blames Harry for what happened. Now Harry’s Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) and Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw) believe justice is finally served. Luckily, Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) and his aurors arrive to rescue Harry and bring him to the Ministry of Magic for his hearing.

When the hearing begins, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) arrives to defend Harry. However, there’s more to this hearing than the underage magic charges. Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) , head of the ministry, and his followers refuse to believe that Voldemort is really back. At least Harry doesn’t get expelled, thank goodness. It goes to show how evil dementors are, but is there more to that as well?

After getting to Hogwarts with Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Neville (Matthew Lewis), Harry meets a new friend, Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch). I like Luna. She’s a little daft, but funny and likable.

The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher this year is Professor Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), the madam secretary who works for Fudge. She is a total dictator holding all of the students back when it comes to using magic. Harry isn’t afraid to stand up to Umbridge. Unfortunately, it causes her to punish Harry by making him use a quill that tortures anyone who uses it.

That’s only the beginning. Umbridge puts up all kinds of proclamations at Hogwarts. She’s practically taken over the school and even Dumbledore can’t stop her. The only ones who actually take her side are Mr. Flitch (David Bradley), Draco (Tom Felton), and a few other Slytherin students. This definitely explains why there’s no Quidditch this year either.

As much as the ministry tries to hide the truth about Voldemort, the students decide to have Harry teach them the knowledge needed to fight evil in a secret room. At first Harry is unsure about it, even with his hands on experiences, but everyone shows courage and is willing to learn.

The training goes very well and Harry is doing great as a teacher. However, Harry is still on edge with the nightmares he’s been having. That’s why Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) provides Harry with lessons on how to prevent Voldemort from invading his mind. At times it seems as if Snape is going overboard, but we do get to see some of his past, which partially explains his bitterness toward Harry’s father.

Once Umbridge finally gets taken care of, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna, Neville, and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) head to the ministry and find a large room filled with crystal balls of prophecies. When the group of aurors arrive on the scene, they’re all in for a rough battle against Voldemort and his death eaters.

Among them is a new villainess, the dangerously wicked Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). She’s a wild and crazy witch, who is responsible for what happened to Neville’s parents. Neville has a grudge, but doesn’t let it get in the way of the cause, thanks to Harry.

This sequel was exciting. Despite the tragedies that occur, some good comes from it. Hogwarts returns to normal and Fudge finally comes to his senses once the physical proof was there for him to see. It sure took him long enough.