I open at the close.

Harry Potter confronts his fate

It was a chilly Saturday morning in early November. There had been a book fair at the elementary school I attended the previous day, and I was eagerly waiting to tear into the new book I had bought there. Something I’d never heard of before, but intrigued me all the same, with its front cover containing art featuring a boy on a broomstick, and its back cover a cryptic summary. It was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Before the day was out, I had read that entire book cover to cover. No, not just read; I had devoured it. I probably barely even came up for air. But that day had passed more quickly than almost any other day of my life. I was completely, totally, utterly entranced as, for the first time, I said hello to Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, and Severus Snape, just to name a few. As I first read about the intricacies of the wizarding world and my imagination was transported to Hogwarts. I remember closing that book breathless, but with a huge smile on my face, proudly declaring to my mother that it was the best thing I’d ever read in my life.

It was unlike any other book I’d ever seen before. And that’s saying something, because as a child, I was a rather voracious reader. (My nickname in late elementary and middle school wasn’t “Hermione” for nothing.)

I had passed the point of no return.

Soon afterward, I got wind of the fact that there were two more books in the series already, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, and got them into my hands before you could even say “Quidditch.” They were devoured just as quickly, and just as eagerly, as the first. I was a girl possessed; all I wanted was more, more, MORE. More of that fascinating world, so that I could continue to dwell in it and never have to leave. More adventures of the characters that I was quickly growing to love. More.

Thus sparked arguably one of the greatest narrative obsessions of my life.

I was at every midnight book release, in costume, almost literally shaking with excitement as each new volume would be placed into my hands. I spent countless hours debating theories about what would happen next with others, both with my friends at the lunch table and with other fans on the Internet. I combed through every existing volume for proof for my arguments, learning more about critical thinking and literary analysis than many of my English classes ever taught me. I went to every film on opening weekend, even if I couldn’t always make it at midnight due to other life commitments. When I felt alone, scared, or uncertain about moving into the next stage of life, I could find solace in the experiences of my favorite characters, that while I may not hold a magic wand or attend a school of witchcraft and wizardry, we all share the same struggles as we grow.

Harry Potter was more than a story to me. Harry Potter practically defined an entire period of my life.

And at approximately 4:10 PM on Sunday, July 17, 2011, when the screen at my local IMAX theater faded to black, it was time to say goodbye.

I know I can’t review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in an objective or unbiased manner, even after giving myself a considerable amount of time to collect my thoughts, so I’m not even going to attempt to. I’m a bona fide member of the Potter generation, and I have too much invested in this series. So many memories tied to my experiences as a fan of this series. So many of my struggles, my insecurities, the trials and tribulations of growing up, intertwined firmly with these characters, characters I identified with and cared for so deeply that by this point, they’ve become like old friends.

For the fans like me, for the ones that stuck with Harry for so many years, this film was a fitting tribute, as loving of a dedication as that written by the author herself in her final volume. I couldn’t have asked for more to conclude the series I have loved for so long. It subdued in the right places, explosive in the right places, and powerful all around, true to the spirit of the source material at each turn. This film series has definitely experienced its fair share of adaptation missteps, but, in the end, it went out with a bang, giving the close to my childhood the dignity it deserves.

Was it perfect? Well, no, nothing ever is. But damn if it wasn’t close.

And so, I think, there’s only one thing left to say. To Jo Rowling, whose words first introduced this wonderful world and cast of characters, and let them ignite our imaginations. To Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and so many others, who stuck with their characters for an entire decade, giving them a screen presence and development that has been a joy to watch. To the numerous directors, cinematographers, editors, special effects gurus, stunt workers, costume designers, makeup artists, and a boatload of crewpeople, who must have had a hell of a job on their hands to bring these films to the screen.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

It’s been a fantastic fourteen years.

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Written and directed by: James Cameron
Rated: PG-13

If James Cameron knows anything, it’s how to make a movie an event. Twelve years ago, Cameron’s last film Titanic became a phenomenon, winning eleven Academy Awards and going on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. Needless to say, expectations were high for Cameron’s return to the big screen after a long hiatus, the self-proclaimed cinematic game-changer called Avatar.

Hype for Avatar grew on the Internet community over the course of 2009, and the film gained advance fanboys and fangirls on sites like IMDb. Others scoffed, wondering how a movie that featured computer-generated blue aliens and followed a plot that more-than-vaguely resembled Dances With Wolves and FernGully could possibly be as awesome as people were saying it would be. I myself fell into the latter camp.

I resisted the hype for a while, but winter vacation boredom finally led me to the theater to see what the fuss was about, almost two weeks after Avatar‘s official release. A movie heavy on the visuals should probably be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate its beauty, and, well, I’m a sucker for pretty things. For instance, I enjoyed the 1995 romance A Walk In the Clouds starring Keanu Reeves because it had some of the most gorgeous cinematography I had ever seen in my life. (Don’t believe me? Go find screencaps.)

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On a visual level, Cameron’s sci-fi epic did not disappoint. This movie really was a true feast for the eyes. The world of Pandora was so beautifully designed, so intricately thought-out, that you felt like you were really there for more than two hours. I only even saw this movie in old-fashioned 2D (no matter how much I love movies, I am a poor college student and thus am reluctant to shell out for 3D), and I still got that feeling. I especially loved the floating mountains and the scenes that took place at night, where the native bioelectricity would light up certain parts of the forest. The native inhabitants, the Na’vi, also had a gorgeous design to them, and, really, seeing pictures on a computer screen does not do them justice.

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Cameron’s other major strength is in his direction of action sequences. The final battle between the Na’vi and the greedy humans is a wonder to behold on the big screen. Though it runs a little long, your attention never really wavers as the climax plays out. I would venture to say that Cameron has truly created one of the best action sequences of 2009.

The weaknesses of the film are exposed in the screenplay. The story, at best, is totally predictable. You know exactly where the protagonist, Jake, is headed throughout, and the ending of the film is really no mystery either. This didn’t really hamper my enjoyment of the movie as much as it will probably prevent it from having the same kind of legacy as other so-called “game changers”. Cameron’s dialogue can also be described as corny and cliche, and it did take me out of the movie a couple of times. At times, the man could really benefit from hiring someone else to write his screenplays.

All in all, I did enjoy the movie, and it really was an experience to behold at the theater. I do think, however, that all the Oscar talk is pushing it. A technical masterpiece, maybe, but this film is not Best Picture worthy in my eyes. It’s no Star Wars. But it is a lot of fun.


Introduction

I thought I would start this blog with an introductory post, to give any potential readers more information about myself and what I want to accomplish here.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved movies.  I grew up with the classics of Disney lore, such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, and utterly immersed myself in the wonderful worlds they created.  One of my most vivid memories from childhood, in fact, was me refusing to go anywhere without wearing my Jasmine outfit.  As I grew older, my childish enthusiasm for the movies never faded.  No matter what I had going on in my life at the moment, I was always obsessed with some movie.  I’ve cycled through many over the years, but on a base level, the thrill of the cinematic experience remained the same.  My DVD collection (which represents all sorts of genres, from science fiction to romantic comedy) is one of my most prized possessions, and I can think of no better way to spend a Friday night than with a movie.

I began to take more of a serious interest in film when I saw The Matrix for the first time in 2003.  Here was a movie that completely blew me away, both in terms of story and in actual filmmaking, and I gained a clear favorite for life.  Not only was Neo’s journey something that had a real impact on me, but I also just HAD to know how that now-famous “bullet-time” sequence was made.  Thus a new obsession with making-of documentaries and special features on DVDs was born.  (Oh, and for the record, just to throw it out there, I love the Matrix sequels, practically as much as I love the first movie.  Personally, I think they’re brilliant, and have never understood why people hated them so much.  But that’s another rant for another time.)

Even though my love for movies has always been strong, my passion got reawakened in a way I never thought possible when I took a course in Screenwriting at my university during the Fall 2009 semester.  When I got into the nuts and bolts of what makes a good story tick, I realized that not only did I love watching movies, but I also wanted to make them.  In the course of working on my own projects, which will most definitely be classified as “in progress” for the foreseeable future, I began to look at movies more critically.  Rather than ruining it, this has only enriched the cinematic experience that I have loved for so long.

And so that leads us inexorably… here (to borrow a phrase from The Matrix Reloaded‘s Architect).  This blog will serve as a sounding board for my unprofessional opinions when I watch movies, and I watch a lot of movies.  As there are more than 17 million of these currently floating around the Internet, my opinion really doesn’t matter a hill of beans in the grand cosmic scheme of things.  I’m just a movie fan who desperately needs an outlet, so as not to annoy those around her.  So, welcome!