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The Big Screen Bulletin 07.27.09: Harry Potter and the Half-Assed Adaptation
Posted by Chad Webb on 07.27.2009

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The Birthday Bash

Kate Beckinsale turns 36 - Looking very sexy while she smuggles raisins, Kate had many pics to choose from, but this one seemed like a nice selection. She has Whiteout and Everybody's Fine with Robert de Niro on her schedule from now until 2010.

Sandra Bullock turns 45 - Despite the occasional lousiness of her resume, Bullock is very sexy. On her slate is All About Steve and The Blind Side, along with 5 more projects that are in negotiations. The Proposal is in theaters now.

Kevin Spacey turns 50 - Ok, I searched and searched, but could not find an interesting picture of Spacey, except for him in this hat. I have a hat exactly like this actually. I don't wear it anymore. He can be heard in Moon and seen in Shrink right now, but he has The Men Who Stare at Goats, Casino Jack, and Father of Invention on the horizon.

Helen Mirren turns 64 - Dame Helen is waiting for you right now. Show her some love. Anyway, she has 5 projects on the way soon: The Tempest, Love Ranch, The Last Station, The Debt, and Guardians of Ga'Hoole.

Hilary Swank turns 35 - I love it when female celebs wear dresses like these! After a number of duds and disappointments, Hilary has Amelia releasing this fall, which looks outstanding, followed by Betty Anne Waters, The Resident, and a bunch of "in development" projects.

The News Bulletin

Potter Feels the G-Force

1. G-Force- $32.1 million ($32.1 million)
2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - $30 million ($221.8 million)
3. The Ugly Truth - $27 million ($27 million)
4. Orphan - $12.7 million ($12.7 million)
5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - $8.2 million ($171.2 million)
6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - $8 million ($379 million)
7. The Hangover - $6.46 million ($247 million)
8. The Proposal- $6.42 million ($140 million)
9. Public Enemies- $4.1 million ($88 million)
10. Bruno- $2.7 million ($56.5 million)

Well, I certainly predicted wrong this week. I never thought G-Force had enough energy to top Harry Potter 6. The film is making boatloads, but that has to be a disappointment on some level. We went further with a top on the podcast, but I didn't do well there either. I never expected Orphan to crack the top 5, but it did. I also threw out a very big money prediction for HP6, but mostly because I didn't care about predicting its intake during the second week. Bruno has dropped very fast, and is almost off the top 10 entirely, while heavy veterans occupy slots 5-9 as immovable holdover. Next week we have Funny People, which should get the #1 slot even though it is rated R, and Aliens in the Attic, which if G-Force is any indication, should do well for the family audiences.

2009 San Diego Comic-Con Updates

Since the main news updates this past weekend involved the San Diego Comic-Con, I figured I would toss out some random news from the event, starting with most recent first:

--Director Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard) and writer Chris Morgan (Wanted) appeared at Epic Games' Gears of War panel to discussing the upcoming feature film based on the popular videogame franchise. It was clear by the end of the hour-long panel that production on the Gears of War feature film was in the earliest stages. In fact, there's been no casting and there were no production stills or conceptual art to offer. Still, Wiseman and Morgan spoke about their philosophy regarding the movie and the director dispelled a recent Internet rumor regarding casting of the lead role. Despite what some may want to suggest, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is not being considered for Gears of War.

--It seems that Sam Rockwell, who plays Tony Stark's nemesis Justin Hammer, may be more than just an evil businessman in the film. During our interview with Rockwell, the actor alluded to the fact that his character might don his own suit of armor in Iron Man 2…

--Filmmaker, fanboy and funnyman Kevin Smith made his annual pilgrimage to San Diego Comic-Con where he spoke at length today about his new film, the cop comedy A Couple of Dicks. Smith has been shooting the movie in New York with stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Willis and Morgan star in Dicks as a maverick cop and his partner, respectively, who are on the case of a valuable stolen baseball card. During the course of their investigation, they run afoul of a gangster and a Latina woman with ties to millions in laundered drug money. Seann William Scott plays a thief known as the S#@t Bandit (guess what he leaves at the scene of the crime!), while Adam Brody plays a detective who chafes at working with Willis and Morgan. Smith said that the title may not hold, much to the chagrin of himself and his fans. Smith explained that the studio contacted the major TV networks to see if they'd run commercials for a movie called A Couple of Dicks. After the studio explained that "dicks" meant "cops," only two networks agreed to run commercials for it in primetime and one network said they only would do so after 9pm. Smith noted that such a move would deny his film the chance to promote his film to its key demographic of sports watchers.

--Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp made an appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con to chat-up their latest sci-fi action/drama District 9. With regard to whether the pair would return to Halo if the film ever re-emerged, Jackson sated, "I'm as excited about Halo now as I was then. It's a terrific game and a terrific universe." Blomkamp, however, seems more reluctant. "If you put that much effort into something that collapses, there's a little bit of wounding. And going through the process of District 9, it was such an awesome, creative experience that right now I'm more interested in my own original ideas. But the universe of Halo was then, and is now, so creatively calling me that on a creative level, I'd love to do it. So it's a matter of the politics working themselves out…But I'm just glad that I got District 9 out of it."

--James Cameron only had two questions for Comic-Con before he unleashed our first look at Avatar: "Have you ever wanted to take a trip to another planet?" (Yes, so say we all.) "And are you ready to go to Pandora?" With that, 25 minutes of Avatar in 3D played, and it surpassed all expectations and anything the guy who gave us Terminator 2 has ever done. What Cameron has done with CGI and performance capture, and making it look photo-real in 3D, is akin to what Miyazaki has done with animation. Fox honcho Tom Rothman introduced Cameron to the Hall H crowd, and Cameron cut to the chase, saying, "you're here to see cool stuff" and cool stuff is exactly what we saw.
-From IGN

On a side note, Bruce Campbell was asked what his role might be in Raimi's World of Warcraft film. He said he imagined his old friend will tell him, "You play some schmuck. Some idiot guy. Some garbage man." Keep your chin up Bruce. So sorry to Rock fans. I guess he will not be in Gears of War, and who cares? As for Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2, I cannot wait. The more work Rockwell gets, the better. Kevin Smith has more trouble with titles than most filmmakers should. The current tile is marvelous, but he has to know it won't pass the hurdles. I am looking forward to this new film, but if the ending is anything like Zack and Miri Make a Porno, I'll be upset. Moving on to Peter Jackson, who made a lot of comments, many about The Hobbit and why it was split in two parts. The gist of it was that they wanted to keep more of the story. I wonder if the Harry Potter crew cares about that? If Halo does happen, I doubt it would involve Jackson and Blomkamp. I can bet the studio will want to rush it when the time comes, and will pass it to someone else. Maybe not, but that's what I think. The word on Avatar is extremely positive, and I am pumped. For more updates on Comic-Con, just go to any movie related site. It owned the movie news this weekend.

Warner Brothers Has No Strategy for DC Adaptations

In theory, last summer's $1 billion haul for Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" should have supercharged the studio's plans to spin off DC Comics' stable of superheroes into successful film franchises. But Warner Bros. still doesn't have an overall strategy, even as it has firmed plans for the "Green Lantern" feature set for July 17, 2011. It recently put the glowing ring on Ryan Reynolds to star in the actioner that will be directed by Martin Campbell, two-time Bond franchise rebooter.

The studio has access to well-known characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Flash -- properties that have the potential to mint a lot of coin for the coffers of Warner Bros.' various divisions should a pic score with audiences. The DC move would seem like a no-brainer. But it's easier said than done. Studio executives admit to being delayed by the writers' strike and then by the takeover of New Line. And WB toppers Alan Horn and Jeff Robinov would like the studio and DC to closely develop superhero pics together, rather than hand off projects to individual producers. They're also aiming for each division at the studio to time the release of everything --from licensed merchandise like T-shirts and action figures to exclusive DVDs, videogames and digital content -- to when a pic gets released in order to build up the tentpole's franchise potential.

Meanwhile, the Home Entertainment and Interactive divisions aren't waiting for the big features to roll out; they're moving ahead with DC-based projects of their own. However, the studio has yet to tap an executive to shepherd DC Comics' adaptations the way Marvel has a dedicated team to run its own film division. DC currently consults on projects the studio is developing. Warner Bros. has spent years trying to come up with a strategy, the way Marvel has done with its own comicbook properties. And outside of "Green Lantern," Warner Bros. has yet to officially announce plans on which superhero it will greenlight next. Ask the studio about the next Batman installment and it says it's all up to how director Christopher Nolan wants to proceed. Marvel, on the other hand, has skedded its next pics -- "Iron Man 2," "Thor," "Captain America" and "The Avengers" -- through 2012.

For now, DC's far lesser-known properties are moving forward, with supernatural Western "Jonah Hex" out next year and actioner "The Losers" headed into production, while projects for better-known characters like Aquaman, the Flash, Green Arrow and Shazam are still being developed. Another reboot of Superman is also in the works, but needs to start production by 2011 in order to bow before the character rights revert to the heirs of Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, in 2013, who will demand steep licensing fees. While a date has not yet been set, the studio does want a new Batman pic for summer 2012. Spy thriller "Red," with Bruce Willis attached, isn't even being made at Warners, but Summit Entertainment.

More obscure characters can still strike a chord with audiences. Marvel proved that when it successfully launched "Iron Man" as one of Hollywood's top new film franchises. The character wasn't that well known among the masses, but the pic banked $585 million at the box office, with a sequel due out next summer. The pokey development of DC's superhero business has spurred Warner Bros.' other divisions to come up with their own ways to capitalize on the characters. This week, Warner Home Entertainment hyped its own "Green Lantern" pic "First Flight" at Comic-Con in San Diego. The animated direct-to-DVD film is the latest in a line of more adult-skewing PG-13 films the division has produced with Warner Bros. Animation that are based on DC's characters and have performed well at retail.

Last year, it released "Wonder Woman," and "Batman: Gotham Knight," "Justice League: The New Frontier" and "Superman: Doomsday" before that. "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" is next. "Doomsday" remains one of its top earners, with more than $9.4 million; the toons are made for around $3.5 million apiece. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Interactive is developing a "Green Lantern" videogame, and is off and running with plans to produce games based on DC characters that appeal to various age groups and turn into their own franchises. For Batman, that ranges from the cutesy "Lego Batman" to the far edgier "Batman: Arkham Asylum" that's forthcoming. It's easy to compare DC with Marvel, given their comicbook businesses. But making movies has been a little easier for Marvel.

Marvel isn't owned by a major conglom, and is set up to make decisions faster, whereas DC is just one of the many divisions under Time Warner. The performance of a pic also can move Marvel's stock price, so it constantly needs to keep investors updated on its development pipeline. Time Warner is so large, with so many media divisions under its belt, that despite the impressive haul of "The Dark Knight," the pic hardly affected the company's stock at all. So WB doesn't need to be in a hurry to have DC's caped crusaders make the leap to the bigscreen. In fact, why rush when taking time to develop Warners' superhero pics can lead to a revived Batman franchise that dominates at the box office, instead of a high-profile stumble like "Catwoman" or the lukewarm reception afforded "Superman Returns?" The only ones clamoring for the films are the fans. And that's just the way Warner Bros. wants it.
-From Variety

This is an intriguing piece, and I think the last paragraph says a lot. Time Warner is not rushing because they are beginning to understand that rushing projects like Superman and Wonder Woman will result in disappointing box office performances due to all the elements not clicking. While the clock is ticking on the Superman reboot, they should gather a plan fast, and it had better be a decent one. Warner has always hanged on by its franchises, and I think they have their heads turned elsewhere, like at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for instance, and the upcoming Hobbit two-parter. The internet community is mainly thinking about comic adaptations, and that is great, but as the article says, Time Warner is not nearly as affected by them as Marvel is. Marvel must have a strategy in place because comic adaptations are their bread and butter. Warner can spread the wealth. I do not think that Batman 3 bothers them at the moment. They realize that waiting for Nolan means good things will come. I believe Superman is the main concern, but it remains to be seen how they will proceed.

Ghost in the Assault Girls

Anime auteur Mamoru Oshii ("Ghost in the Shell ", "The Sky Crawlers") is set to direct "Assault Girls", his first live-action film in eight years reports Variety. Rinko Kikuchi , Meisa Kuroki and Hinako Saeki star as hunters in a desert landscape in a post-apocalyptic world. Their quarry, called "sand whales," are huge, morphing beasts. Oshii's last live-action feature was the 2001 sci-fi epic "Avalon". A December 19th release in Japan has been announced.
-From Dark Horizons

I have not seen Avalon, but I have watched and enjoyed both his Ghost in the Shell efforts. I also need to see his most recent offering, The Sky Crawlers. I will consult Netflix asap. He is a brilliant anime filmmaker, but live-action is definitely different. Still, he has a superb cast lined up, especially with Rinko Kikuchi of Babel fame. I'm anxious to see what he comes up with.

Release Date Changes!!

Last Night
A Miramax romance starring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, and Eva Mendes has been scheduled for March 19th 2010, a week before Sam Worthington's Clash of the Titans .

A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Platinum Dunes remake starring Jackie Earl Haley as Freddy Krueger has been pushed back two weeks from April 16th 2010 to April 30th; a bold move considering that Iron Man 2 , arguably the biggest movie of 2010, comes out the week after on May 7th.

Jonah Hex
The Warner Bros. comic book adaptation starring Megan Fox and apparently Josh Brolin has been moved up from August 6th 2010 to June 18th 2010 to act as counter-programming to Pixar's Toy Story 3.

The Factory
The Dark Castle horror-thriller starring John Cusack has been delayed from October 22nd 2010 to January 28th 2011.

The Janky Promoters
The urban comedy starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps has been delayed from July 31st 2009 to an undetermined date later in the year.

The Roommate
The Screen Gems horror has been scheduled for October 1st 2010.

Tron: Legacy
The sequel to the 1982 techno-classic will come out either in November or December of 2010. The question is what release date would be most advantageous. The holiday season already features three confirmed Digital 3D films: Oobermind, Smurfs, and Disney's own Rapunzel. Not to mention that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , Part I could be released in IMAX screens.

Lots of bold and potentially sinking moves. For starters, A Nightmare on Elm Street, which had a crappy teaser poster by the way, had a fine release date in earlier April. Moving that close to Iron Man 2 will successfully damage its 2nd week totals. Jonah Hex has taken a horrible date because Toy Story 3 will be huge. All ages will pick that over Jonah Hex or almost any comic adaptation, whether they admit it or not. Tron: Legacy should stay away from Harry Potter and closer to something like Rapunzel or Smurfs, despite the amount of CGI flicks. Sam Worthington has many big films coming out. However, thinking of him, Knightley, and Eva Mendes in a romance is just odd chemistry all around. As for the rest, The Janky Promoters, The Factory, and The Roommate, their dates to not seem all that troublesome.

The 20 Second Sermon

And once again geeks that have no life have taken a quote about Batman 3 and twisted it to fit their desires. After Oldman's quote at the panel, he said this "Someone asked me [about the third BATMAN film] and I said, ‘I don't know, next year? Two years away? It could be three years away." Let it rest people. Oldman can confirm nothing. Robert Downey Jr. will join The Hangover scene-stealer Zach Galifianakis in the comedy Due Date for Warner Bros. This addition should make the comedy very good. I see them having terrific chemistry. The director of that pic, Todd Phillips, appears to have another hit in the cards. A sequel to the 2008 surprise horror hit The Strangers is headed into production. I hated the first film, so I could care less about a sequel. David Cronenberg is set to direct an adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel Cosmopolis. DeLillo's story follows a 28 year-old billionaire who crosses Manhattan for a haircut. Sounds bizarre, which means it is perfect for Cronenberg. Javier Bardem has dropped out of the Wall Street sequel Money Never Sleeps, and a replacement has yet to be named. That sucks. He would have been awesome as a slick businessman.

The DVD Release Rundown for July 28th

DVD Headline of the Week

Repulsion - Criterion Collection - Roman Polanski's English language debut is an underrated classic from early in his career. It stars the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve, and is quite creepy and suspenseful. The filmmaking is brilliant, and the film is gripping from beginning to end. Definitely make a point to see this. Buyable

Fast & Furious - Director Justin Lin gives us another grating installment of this franchise, now with returning stars Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, This had bland action, horrible dialogue, nonsensical plot elements, and it sends kids the wrong message about driving. Trashable

Green Lantern: First Flight - I'm a huge fan of these DTV animated comic movies, and with the news of Ryan Reynolds playing the hero in the upcoming live-action effort, we may have to cherish this version.

Dragonball Evolution - I have not seen the anime series, but it did not deserve this putrid live-action adaptation. Everything about this was horrid from the filmmaking to the acting, and especially the confusing CGI. It is amazing to me that studios are approving sludge like this for release. Trashable

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 - Based on a true story and featuring Tommy Lee Jones, this documentary from Kevin Rafferty looks fascinating. It follows one of the most legendary games in the history of sports.

Miss March - This looked so incredibly awful, but if it is in contention for top 10 worst of 2009 lists, I must see it. Plus, any DVD release with a weird "special edition" title like this is usually bad.

Streets of Blood - It appears Val Kilmer has officially gotten stuck in B-movieville. This particular treat also features Michael Biehn, 50 Cent, and Sharon Stone. Yay.

Combat Shock (2-Disc Uncut 25th Anniversary Edition) - Described as one of the greatest cult films of the 1980's. I have not seen it...yet. It follows a Vietnam vet trying to save his family from poverty.

Eagles Over London - From Enzo Castellari (Inglorious Bastards) is this 1970 action film is about military officers pursuing Nazi's through London. Tarantino is on the extras of this DVD as well. I wouldn't mind seeing this.

Bart Got a Room - A comedy abot nerds, high school, and the senior prom. Meh. It stars William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines.

WWE: The Bash 2009 - This has "3 Stages of Hell" match and a mask vs. title match that both intrigue me. I might have to rent this one.

TNA: Destination X 2009 - Sadly TNA's lineup gets progressively less interesting aside from Angle's involvement. This PPV has nothing that catches my fancy.

A bunch of new exploitation films are released this week including Torso, Island of the Fishmen, and The 10th Victim.

The Critic's Quickee

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Spoiler Alert! Now living in my apartment, it is almost a requirement to enjoy Harry Potter. Anyone who has met my fiancée knows how passionate she is about the books and the films. I've read most of the books, loved them, and have watched all the films, and enjoyed them thoroughly. That is until now. This is the first Harry Potter film that I can safely say I hated. Roger Ebert gave it a 3 star review, this from the guy who awarded ***1/2 or higher to each of the rest. I saw the trailer with George Sirois before Star Trek, and I was amped. I went to the midnight showing expecting another fun time at the movies. That is not what I saw. This film is loaded with problems. And just so no one is ready to jump at me, in the middle of the film, I said to myself, "Now, I need to make sure any flaws I cite are not ones dealing with changes or omissions from the book." I have always maintained that movies are based on books and faithfulness is up to the filmmakers. Having said that, both types of complaints are important, and I've done my best to separate them below.

For starters, I think a lot of people will be confused by many elements of this film, and I thought this before hearing any other opinions. I read Leonard Hayhurst's review and saw that he said he understood things, but then I got a call from the fiancée who named all these friends of hers that were confused. Before I talk about more detailed flaws, know that the core of the problems in the franchise now is that they are assuming most of us will have read the books. There is evidence of this laced throughout the film. They do this and have the mindset that we will be able to fill in the gaps of the stuff they couldn't fit in. And that is not how you make a film. I don't care how popular the books are. Take the Quidditch tryout. Harry is now the Captain. Readers of the book will understand this. Others will not. It is never explained. We are supposed to assume this after 2 movies without much Quidditch. How about Fenrir Greyback? Do those of you who are not familiar with the book know who he is? If you do know his name, it is doubtful that you would know what he is. These are lazy mishaps. I also feel many people are thinking of the book and not the movie when they watch this and are therefore prone to be more generous because they liked the book. They have dumbed the series down considerably here. Anyone with an eye should clearly see a difference in the priorities between the last film and this one. This film is filled with teen romance and comic relief. The important aspects of the plot take a back seat to that, and it is irritating and embarrassing.

I had to add my defense of some of the arguments Jeremy Thomas made on the podcast. I'm sure he doesn't care. He stated that he was glad to see the increase of romance because that was very important. While I agree that it is important, it is nowhere near as crucial as Voldemort's past, or the explanation of the Horcruxes, which were either cut down or completely disregarded. He also said the concluding fight scene was better left out because many of the films up until this point had big fight sequences. I disagree mainly because this fight scene added to the chaos of the moment when Harry tailed Snape and confronted him. The two of us also debated the darkness of the movie. He thought the film included a sufficient amount of dark scenes, while I thought they intentionally lightened the tone to suit younger audiences. It is true that many moments are dark, but they are quickly followed by a scene of humor or romance for no reason.

I'll begin with flaws that only viewers of the movies would notice, and I'll transition into book to film translation flaws. The first scenes showcase attacks on the "Muggle" world. The CGI looks great. However, this is never mentioned again. We see the events, and that's it. It is also worth mentioning that the prophecy, and most of the events of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are not mentioned whatsoever. It's as if they never occurred. And apparently Harry prowls the subways for chicks? This was just odd more than anything else. Could they not think of any other way to film Harry's first moments? They seem determined to avoid the Dursleys. The lovable and memorable characters that we have grown with since the first film are more reminders now than they are still part of the universe. Take Hagrid for instance. Always a vital part of Harry's life, he is but a cameo here. The same goes for the other professors. Speaking of Hagrid, clearly he has grown in size in this movie, in a outlandish manner I might add. Look at the scene in his hut with Slughorn. He has doubled in size. The route to Hagrid's, and exterior grounds of Hogwarts have also changed. This may seem like a petty gripe, but it seems like a foolish inconsistency. And I am not exaggerating. Look at Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and tell me the path to Hagrid's hasn't changed.

Let's discuss the pensive moments now. When Harry enters the pensive, we do not see him inside the memory this time. We just see the memory as a flashback. Why did they change this? It makes no sense. Furthermore, Dumbledore did not go with him as in the book. Kudos to the youngsters who portrayed Tom Riddle though. Both were terrific. Let's move on to the room of requirement. This was the biggest aggravation for me. We actually see the cabinet. We already know what it is being used for, and Harry sees it in Diagon Alley as well. The twist is then spoiled. In the book, no one but Draco and the Death Eaters knew about this. Every time we see Draco, he whips off the cloth from the cabinet, and all the suspense of that is ruined. Furthermore, Harry enters the room, and sees the cabinet. The point of the room of requirement is that Harry could NOT see what Draco was doing in there. This is something they messed up from movie to movie for no reason. And when Harry first voices his concerns about Draco, he does so in front of Snape. Of all people to complain to, why would Harry be so stupid as to bitch in front of Snape? Speaking of Draco, although I loved Tom Felton's performance here, the laziness of the film undermined his strengths. Take the bathroom battle for example. Harry and Draco point their wands at each other and stuff shoots out, but they don't say any spells! How can they duel without saying spells? Now, in the book, they did learn about non-verbal spells, but that is never addressed in the film.

I will now slide into book to film flaws. The first is the manner in which Harry asks Slughorn for the memory. In the book, each of the pensive trips was followed by fascinating conversations between Dumbledore and Harry about Voldemort's past. None of this happens in the movie, and Dumbledore fails to explain to Harry exactly what he should be asking Slughorn for. At first, all Harry knows is that he must "talk" to Slughorn. This is stupid. When Harry does get the memory, Dumbledore says "It's worse than I thought." or something similar when they discover what the Horcruxes do. In the book, Dumbledore had assumed it had to do with Horcruxes. That is why his hand was messed up, and that is why he went looking for the ring. In the movie, we see the diary, and the ring that Dumbledore searched for, yet he doesn't know what Horcruxes are later? This makes NO sense. The explanation of the Horcruxes, and what objects they would be are thin and perplexing to all those unfamiliar with the book. Had they limited the romance, this could have been fixed. How about the attack on the Weasleys' house? This wasn't in the book at all, and was totally absurd in the movie. The Death Eaters would not just burn down the house and run away. It was retarded. The liquid luck potion sequence had Harry acting like a drunken fool rather than someone who was lucky. I ask you, what were they thinking? A few other minor gripes include the annoyance of Lavender Brown and the fact that Luna discovered Harry on the train (following Draco's attack) instead of Tonks. How about Tonks referring to Lupin as sweetheart? In the book, Tonks and Lupin do indeed get together, but it takes a lot of build up. Here it is mentioned fleetingly, but those who only watch the films will not understand what is going on between them.

At one point, hiring a known blockbuster filmmaker was in the cards. How much I wish it were true now. David Yates has not evolved at all during these films as a director. It strikes me more as a cutting and pasting job concentrating on what to keep and what to cut from the book rather than getting past that roadblock, and crafting a cohesive film. Aside from the main trio, the other characters have less chemistry this time around. Take Ginny and Harry for instance, Yates closes up on her face numerous times, and makes the scenes seem forced and uncomfortable. Ginny even ties Harry's shoelace in a display of affection. Good grief. I would also make the argument that this film has the worst performances from the leads. Rupert Grint has never had a moment to shine, but Daniel Radcliffe peaked in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Emma Watson did so in The Goblet of Fire. Small traces of their talent can be found, but barely. The fact is, besides the CGI, Yates' direction is unimpressive and mediocre at best.

The ending is incredibly disappointing. The Inferi all looked like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, the Order of the Phoenix never had a battle with the Death Eaters, and Harry was not frozen while Dumbledore was killed. The last one is crucial. Harry was frozen in the book so he could not intervene. Even though Dumbledore instructed him not to, Harry surely would have saved him anyway when he noticed Snape and Draco attempting to kill him. The absence of a battle made the ending anticlimactic and nowhere near as emotional as when Cedric Diggory died. Snape confesses to being the Half-Blood Prince and simply walks away awkwardly. And what about the lighting of the wands? Was I at a Metallica concert? And we had no funeral for Dumbledore. Once again we have the trio staring out into the sky as the final moment.

I have gone on for multiple paragraphs detailing my hatred for this picture. In truth, I did enjoy a few parts. Evanna Lynch was great as Luna, Helen McCrory was good as Narcissa Malfoy, Helena Bonham Carter was outstanding as Bellatrix, and Jim Broadbent was good as Slughorn. The Weasley twins' joke shop was marvelous, and looked exactly as it should have. The Unbreakable Vow moment was also well done. Many have liked this installment, but more than ever before in the series, the complaints have been louder and more frequent. The fact is, never before have fans been so divided. Whether or not you liked it is beside the point. The fact that so many HATE this film should be alarming. We all have our favorites of the series, but only this one stands out as having as many haters as lovers. I am now extremely skeptical about the last films. How will they possible be able to make up lost ground? This was one of the most disappointing films I have seen in years. I was hoping that the last films would garner award nominations. With David Yates at the helm, and the desperation to show romance, that seems laughable. My rating is very generous. Final Rating = 5.0/10.0

Whatever Works - This screenplay was originally intended for Zero Mostel in the 70's, but when he died, Allen put it on the shelf. And when a potential actor's strike was on the way, he dusted it off. Larry David was selected as the lead, and it seems foolish that he and Allen never worked together before because their comedic styles are similar. This comedy falls in the middle of the road as far as Woody Allen's efforts this decade are concerned. It's not as disappointing as Scoop, but not as great as Match Point. This film has sporadically hilarious moments, most of them with David's character Boris Yellnikoff. He breaks the 4th wall on a number of occasions, and normally that is a gamble, but it is effective here since most of the laughs result from what Boris is saying. He is a very pessimistic person, and that is why I instantly liked him. I found myself agreeing with many of his views on life and today's society. Evan Rachel Wood is quite satisfactory as Melodie, his 21 year-old love interest. Ms. Wood is growing on me as this is her 2nd solid role in a row after The Wrestler, and for her that is an achievement. The movie starts to lose focus once Patricia Clarkson, Melodie's mother, enters the picture. It starts to veer away from Boris and Melodie and concentrate on her story, which is overacted and lame. Whenever the movie does not feature David being too honest or insulting people, it suffers. I didn't even care for Randy James, portrayed by Henry Cavill, the man who is more Melodie's age that has the hots for her. Still, the ending possessed that glimmer of hope, and it leaves you with a positive outlook after so much negativity. The extreme age difference between the male and female is hardly new to Allen's canon, but I still enjoyed the way it presented here because David and Wood had chemistry. Larry David delivers Woody Allen's dialogue really well, in a manner that honors the writing, but maintains David's personality too. This is an easy three star film. It's not perfect, but will make you laugh and make you think. Final Rating = 7.5/10.0

What Have I Done?

Monday - I watched a film that has eluded me for some time, The Caine Mutiny starring Van Johnson, Humphrey Bogart, and Fred MacMurray. I am not much for Naval films, but this is certainly one of the best. It ranks up there with the original Mutiny on the Bounty. The performances are uniformly excellent, the direction is fantastic, and the ending is incredibly thought-provoking. It marks one of Bogart's last great performances.

Tuesday - I listened to Rancid's 7th album, Let the Dominoes Fall recently, and I quite enjoyed it. They maintain their punk style, but throw in some softer tracks as well. I have been a fan of them since …And Out Come the Wolves, and greatly anticipate all releases. I still need to pick up B-Sides and C-Sides though. This album has no stand out tracks, but flows well and is an easy ***1/2 effort from a terrific group.

Wednesday - Because we had a friend visiting from Maine, we watched the Fifth season of Entourage on DVD again, since he had not watched it yet. I really can watch that show at any time. It doesn't matter which season either. I can be addicted instantly. This most recent season was magnificent because it actually shows Vince on the set, has his growing as an actor, and also has the rest of the foursome progressing. The problem is the fiancée and I finish it so quickly that we long for more episodes right away.

Thursday - So I know many people that live in New Jersey, and am frequently in the state itself, and I have to wonder what the fascination with diners is. The people that have lived there for years LOVE diners. They are ok, but as I grew up in Pennsylvania, with Sheetz and Wawa, I feel diners are simply a step down in terms of grabbing a quick bite to eat. For those who don't know, Sheetz and Wawa are convenient stores where you can also order food as you get gas and stuff. Diner food all tastes the same to me, and it is never fulfilling. Sorry, but I had to get that off my chest.

The Weekend - This weekend some friends were having a summer party, complete with plenty of beverages, cigars, and even a game of softball on Sunday. It was a fun weekend, but hot as hell. I even got to watch Red Dawn for the first time late on Friday, and realized how horrible the film was. At the same time, I would gladly watch it again. On that note, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, and their vacations.

Based on the Trailer…

Newest Trailers

Saw VI - The poster ad was very cool, but this teaser is not. Actually, it is very disappointing and uncreative unlike the rest of the marketing campaign. I am still of fan of the series, so I hope this sequel delivers. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0

Tron: Legacy - Gimme a hell yeah! I can't wait for this. I loved the original, and after seeing Jeff Bridges act like a bad a$$, I am so there. I hope the CGI is as outstanding as it looks. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Alice in Wonderland - This trailer pushes Depp as the star, but his character is not in the story for very long. Oh well, it looks pretty good, but Burton needs to lay off the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory bright colors. Still, I love the Disney film, and if this is weirder, I'm game. Traiuler Rating = 7.5/10.0

Ninja Assassin - This looks certifiably awesome. The kid at the beginning of this trailer should beat up the kid from The Last Airbender. I am for action films, but when you include throwing stars and chains, I am amped. I can't wait to see this. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

The Book of Eli - An action flick starring Denzel Washington with a machete and Gary Oldman as the villain (I assume). Who says good ideas are dead? This is from the Hughes Brothers, a very underrated directing team. This movie looks very tubular. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

July Releases

Adam - A quirky romantic comedy where one has a disability of some sort. One of these comes out every so often. This looks like it could provide some laughs, but I doubt many will see it. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Funny People - The new dramedy from Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and others. This looks very funny and touching at the same time, and that's what Apatow does best. I hope this can salvage what if left of Sandler's dignity. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

August Releases

G.I. Joe (Super Bowl spot) - Oh my Lord. This looks ten thousand ways of awful. I cannot believe that the cartoon I watched as a child, has been adapted in this way. Holy schnikes. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0

Taking Woodstock - If this wasn't directed by Ang Lee, I would probably not be interested, but it is, so I'll be seeing it for only that reason. I must agree with Mr. Luers and say this looks like Ang Lee's Almost Famous. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra - I'm sorry, but this is not anything remotely similar to the fun show I watched as a kid. I may be older, but I know a travesty in the making when I see one, and this has all the markings. This looks like total and utter horse dung. I don't know how else to phrase it. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0

Julie & Julia - Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, this is based on 2 true stories, one is of Julia Childs. These women are great actresses, and even though Streep's accent seems a bit off, and the story strikes me as disjointed, I have a feeling this will be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Post Grad - The title tells you what the premise is. Alexis Bledel looks for a job. Many better movies have been made about this period in one's life, and this looks sugarcoated. I'll probably pass. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Paper Heart - This looks like a lovely indy film. The concept seems interesting, and it strikes me as very funny. This is the type of stuff Michael Cera should be doing, not Year One. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Bandslam - An American Idol competition, except with bands instead of solo singers. This has Vanessa Hudgens, and a bunch of other newbies. It looks pretty plain, but harmless all the same. I'll say this, I didn't hate the trailer, but it was still weak. I doubt I'd see it unless it got rave reviews. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard - Jeremy Piven leads this comedy that has many of the actors from The Hangover. This is obviously similar to the Ari Gold character, but I'm on board just because Piven can be very funny when he wants to be. The "Pearl Harbor" bit is hilarious btw. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Big Fan - Wow is all I can say. This looks terrific, even if it is about a Giants fan. Seriously though, Patton Oswalt looks great, and the premise appears to be excellent. I can't wait to see this. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Shorts - I have seen at least a dozen trailers involving aliens lately, so when I saw this, I thought it looked terrible, but then I noticed that Robert Rodriguez was directing, and so I watched it again. It has me interested, and it may be fun. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Cold Souls - A famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, and David Straitharn star in this, and looks very funny, exactly the type of movie I'll love and no one else will see. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Time Traveler's Wife - Initially, this strikes you like The Lake House in some way, but hopefully it is nothing like that. Plus, this has better leads in Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. For a romance, this looks pretty darn good. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Ponyo - The next film from Hayao Miyazaki looks amazing. I've been a big fan of his for many years now so I can't wait for this. The animation in this trailer puts most CGI to shame. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

A Perfect Getaway - An island thriller with Steve Zahn. Sorry if I'm not ecstatic. This is from David Twohy, the man behind Pitch Black. I think this looks incredibly stupid, but maybe you won't. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

District 9 - Peter Jackson produces this Neill Blomkamp feature. This guy was originally slated for the Halo film, but this is not far off. The trailer certainly gets your attention, and has a Signs vibe to it, which I like. Color me intrigued for now. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

The Final Destination - What a dumb title. Why not just say "Final Destination 4"? People see these movies to watch the creative ways of dying. That's it. All the installments have been mediocre with a possible exception of the first film. This looks dumb. The well has run dry. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

H2 - The Rob Zombie Halloween sequel looks a lot better than I anticipated with a definite Friday the 13th/Pamela Voorhees vibe going on (as Mr. Luers told me). I really hope this turns out well because Zombie deserves more respect as a filmmaker. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Halloween II (2) - Well, this trailer is certainly different that the first one, and I'm not sure how enthusiastic I am now, but I'm still hoping this sequel will be entertaining. I noticed a lot more Zombie-esque imagery here, not to mention some cool looking kill scenes. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

The Boat that Rocked - I love music, so this is right up my alley. It's about a radio station on a boat, one that helped give rock music to the world. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Five Minutes of Heaven - The new film from Oliver Hirschbiegel, the mastermind behind Downfall. This stars Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday), and is the story of UVF member Alistair Little. It looks brilliant from this preview, and I will definitely be seeing it. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

Inglorious Basterds - Many expressed disappointment with this, but it is a WWII film from Tarantino, so what were you expecting? I think it looks awesome. I can't wait to see it! Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Inglorious Basterds (2) - This movie still looks outstanding, and viciously different from the original. I doubt it will garner that best Picture nom I had in mind at the beginning of 2009, but oh well. And Mike Myers makes an appearance in this trailer! Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

September Releases

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself - This is just a teaser, but you know what you're getting when Madea is the main character of a film. This is what keeps Perry relevant, so logically he continues to make films with her. This is somewhat humorous, but nothing I'm interested in. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

9 - This looks amazing, and the Coheed & Cambria song in the background only makes me want to see it more. This will be a mighty tough year for Pixar to reign supreme in. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Gamer - Call this similar to Death Race or The Condemned and I would still say it looks terrible, and the title makes it worse in my opinion. The cast is better than I would have predicted, and I will give credit for using Marilyn Manson's awesome cover of "Sweet Dreams." Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Surrogates - Here is another film that has the potential to be very good, or very bad. The director is Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), so I hope this is solid. Bruce Willis looks bizarre, but maybe that's a positive, and the plot has echoes of other sci-fi flicks, but you never know, this might surprise us. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

Jennifer's Body - This looks highly entertaining, and with Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried acting in a Diablo Cody horror script, it should be awesome. It should have loads of that lingo all the men love from Juno. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Invention of Lying - This is going to be hilarious from start to finish. I'm a huge Ricky Gervais fan, and I can't wait to see this. The cast is terrific, and the premise is creative. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

Extract - Mike Judge is delivering another comedy set in the workplace, and I can't wait. Ben Affleck has a cool look going on, and Jason Bateman is usually golden in comedies these days, so this should be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Carriers - This trailer wants to disguise the fact that it is another mediocre "infected" movie badly. And it gives way too much information away. I feel like I know how it ends now. Chris Pine was great as Kirk, but here….not so much. I'll pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Astro Boy - A lot of bright colors, fancy CGI, an all-star cast, and not much else. I realize fans of the many TV series' will be excited, but this character just translates as ordinary to the big screen. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Fame - This looks…..just like every other dance flick we've seen in the past decade, only this is a musical. Yay. The Wayans are parodying movies likes this for goodness sakes! This is a skip it, and I'm not talking about the girl toy from the 90's. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0

October, TBD, and Beyond Releases

Planet 51 - This could be a fairly amusing CGI film. The animation looks nice, but this has few voices, and no real clue as to how funny it will be. I am still unsure, but it might be good, and it might not. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Where the Wild Things Are - I know this production had loads of trouble, but this looks outstanding by the trailer. I can't wait to see it. The creatures look good and Spike Jonze usually doesn't disappoint. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

The Box - Ok, my feelings on Richard Kelly and Donnie Darko are well known now, but tell me with a straight face this trailer does not make you laugh a little. They actually use the line "Is someone pushing you buttons?" in reference to the box. This does seem somewhat intriguing, but I would put money on it being horrendous. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0

The Stepfather - I must admit, this does not look as bad as I thought, but it still looks to have some issues. This film keeps the real father and adds a couple kids. I'll certainly see this, but am not sure how good it will be yet. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Sherlock Holmes - Guy Ritchie is sending mixed signals with this one. I am anxious to see it, but this trailer shows an action film, and call me old fashioned, but I kind of prefer the mystery to outweigh the action. However, Rachel McAdams looks damn sexy and Kurrgan is involved, so those are both positive points. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - A generic looking courtroom thriller complete with generic title. Jesse Metcalfe, or John Tucker from John Tucker Must Die is not a good actor, and aside from Michael Douglas outshining everyone as a scumbag attorney, I have no reason to see this. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

An Education - This British drama could go either way. It stars Peter Sarsgaard, and I like to see him getting juicer roles. The rest of the cast seems strong too, including Emma Thompson and Alfred Molina. Depending on how easy this is to see in theaters, I'd give it a shot. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

The Perfect Game - Though I'm not a baseball fan, I always enjoy watching the Little League World Series. The problem with this film, despite a bad title, is that the preview reveals way too much, so hopefully it has more going for it besides the story, which I'm sure is inspirational. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Couples Retreat - This looks to be very funny, and hopefully the comedy is leveled out and not left up to Vaughn's typical shtick. Of course this trailer shows mostly him. Still, for people around the ages of the characters, this will be a definite date night. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Precious - This is about how life can be very hard sometimes. The cast includes Mariah Carey and Mo'Nique, both of whom look to be outstanding, and I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true. See for yourself. This looks to be a winner. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Sorry, but my article was so long this week that some of my trailer ratings and links to other 411mania articles got cut off. Tune in next week to see the rest of what is normally here.


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