Tag Archives: fantasy

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

Revisit the original Harry Potter film, and  realize just how long this film franchise has been with us. Harry, Ron and Hermione were so young back then that it’s difficult to see them as the same actors today. Sure, Emma Watson has always had an I’m-so-out-of-breath delivery of her lines, but we have watched these actors grow and mature with each film. The second half of Deathly Hallows brings the final book and the film franchise to a satisfying end, and for the most part deserves the accolade’s it’s been gathering from critics and fans. Much like the Lord of the Rings films, though, I can’t help but think we are celebrating the franchise as a whole rather than looking at this film on its own terms. Much of what I love most about the series is absent in this film- The pure magic of life at Hogwarts, the classes and relationships shared by a tight group of friends and houses. By necessity, that all has ended, replaced instead by mistrust and war. The magic is still there, but has become an increasingly-grey, twisted thing. The final book was a fantastic read, and for the most part, the film captures its essence. In dealing with inevitable deaths, though, something is lost in the translation. They are filmed and presented in such a cold, quick  manner that emotion barely has time to surface before moving on to the next shock. What we are left with is a deep sense of cold instead of loss. As the film closes, one pivotal character is absent in the final shot. How this character isn’t featured in that shot, or more in the film itself, makes no sense to me. Perhaps I’ll have to wait for a director’s cut in order to up my grade that last little bit. Not perfect, but epic nonetheless. Grade: A-

Movie Review: Darkon (2006)

Darkon (2006)
Stars: Skip Lipman, Kenyon Wells, a horde of dedicated LARPers
Director/s: Luke Meyer, Andrew Neel

The parks and fields in and around Baltimore, Maryland, become fictional lands and battlefields for dedicated groups of role-playing men and women, donning homemade fantasy weapons and armor, and fighting one another on weekends for domination of the map. This documentary’s focus is on two leaders of imaginary nations, one of which is attempting to rebel against the other. For the first twenty minutes of this film, I was chuckling at the expense of these characters. Then I took a minute to review my love of video games, and realized I’m not much different than them- at least they get some exercise during their gaming! I do think they need a reality check when it comes to sabotaging real-world friendships for the sake of a game, but that’s up to them, not me. The film makes many comparisons between real-world politics and countries and these fantasy counterparts, but to me this falls flat. Nearly all the participants come across as disillusioned with the worth of daily life, and seeking meaning and belonging  in a group of the like-minded. As such, they don’t seem good or evil, but simply in search of acceptance and worth. Grade: B

One Great Fight: Dumbledore vs. Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix

Battle: Dumbledore faces off against Voldemort
Film: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Watching this film again for the podcast reminded me how much I love this battle. It isn’t particularly long, but certainly memorable. Cool, plasma-like flows from wands, storms of fire, walls of water, and showers of glass. It’s a memorable end to a wonderful film.

Pure Cheese: The Beastmaster (1982)

Film: The Beastmaster
Stars: Marc Singer, Tanya Roberts, Rip Torn, John Amos

A blast from my childhood, The Beastmaster is a glorious hunk of fantasy film cheese, topped with ferrets. It’s the story of baby-oiled Dar and Kiri (and Dar’s animal companions), and their quest for revenge on a nasty priest. I was borderline obsessed with Tanya Roberts back then, and thanks to the days of PG-rated nudity, I wasn’t disappointed. Thank you, Beastmaster!