Friday, December 3, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

I love Harry Potter and have been hooked on the series since I read the first book in November of 2001.  I was a little late starting the books, but I was quickly hooked on them and read them all several times since.  I have all of the movies on DVD and I even picked up the Ultimate Editions of the first four movies on Blu-ray.  While I have felt the movies have had issues, I still go see them.  I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:  Part 1 on opening day.

This is not the movie to start with.  This movies - like the books - really build on what has been established earlier in the series.  The movies should be watched in order.  I also think that people should read the books since they are much better.

I’ve had issues with some of the previous Harry Potter movies because of things that have been left out.  I really had problems with the last two movies because of explanations being left out that really are needed for things to be set up properly.  There are still a few things left out of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:  Part 1, but I do think the adaptation is pretty good.  This movie does seem to be aimed more at fans of the books.  Things that were left out of previous movies are mentioned or even shown.  I could see people who haven’t read the books being confused about a few things.

The plot has Harry, Ron, and Hermione going off to try to track down the horcruxes while Voldemort and his followers take over the magical world.  This is one of the longer movies, but that was necessary to deal with everything properly.  A lot happens in the book, and it would have been a huge mess if it had been cut down into one movie.  I do think the pace moves along fairly quick, though it slows down every so often when certain things happen.  There is a decent amount of action, mostly provided by magical fights.  It does seem like some of the little magical things that have been done in the previous movies are missing, and that is disappointing for me.  I like those things.

The characters of Harry, Ron, and Hermione have really grown and developed over the course of the series.  They face very different things in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.  They are older now and facing more danger.  Their friendship is strained in ways it never has been before.  I really like these characters and am very happy with how things have been handled for them.  I love that the cast has stayed the same for all the movies.  They just wouldn’t have worked as well if the parts had been recast.  Rupert Grint gets a bit more to do in this one which is nice. 

I am wondering how a few things will be handled in the last movie, but overall, I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.  Fans of the movies and books should give it a chance.

I did get a review posted on Epinions after seeing the movie in the theater.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1


I became interested in seeing Unstoppable after seeing the trailers for the movie.  The movie looked interesting and I do usually like Denzil Washington.

Unstoppable is actually inspired by true events that happened in Ohio in 2001.  I did read some about the real incident after seeing the movie and it seems like several things have been changed for the movie.  I’m sure that was done to make things more exciting.  The setting was also changed to Pennsylvania.

At a rail yard, a worker is moving a train.  He jumps off to change a switch and then is unable to reboard the train.  It is assumed at that point that the train is just coasting.  It turns out that some lever slipped, allowing the train to build up speed.  Connie Hooper is in charge at the rail yard and she starts trying to find a way to deal with the train.  Conductor Will Colson and engineer Frank Barnes are working together for the first time that day.  Will hasn’t been out of training that long and he does make a few mistakes.  They barely miss a collision with the runaway train.  When other ideas to stop the train fail, Frank and Will put their own plan into motion.

I really enjoyed Unstoppable and found it to be a very entertaining movie.  The pace moves pretty fast after a slower start, though that is expected since the movie only covers a matter of hours.  The runaway train provides a decent amount of action for the movie and there are some suspenseful scenes as well. The way that things work out is somewhat predictable, but that doesn’t keep the movie from being entertaining.  During some scenes, usually ones involving some kind of action, jerky camera work turns up.  I hate that and don’t think it adds anything to a movie other than making it harder to tell what is going on. 

There are several characters in Unstoppable and the movie does jump back and forth between them throughout the movie.  There really isn’t much character development, but that doesn’t bother me since the movie is entertaining.  Will and Frank probably are developed a bit more than the others.  They have a few issues at first, but they end up working well together.  Denzil Washington and Chris Pine do well with their parts.  Connie is trying everything she can think of to deal with the situation.  Rosario Dawson is fine in the part.  Other workers for the railroad turn up every so often, though none of them are really that developed.

Overall, Unstoppable is a well done, entertaining movie. It has a decent amount of action and I think it deserves to be seen.  Fans of Denzil Washington should definitely check it out.

I did get a review posted on Epinions.


Kiss the Girls

I have seen Kiss the Girls several times since it first came out to rent.  I had it on VHS and I now have it on DVD.  I have also read the book by James Patterson that the movie is based on.  I really enjoy the movie and think it is worth watching.

Police detective and psychologist Alex Cross travels to Durham, North Carolina after he niece goes missing.  It turns out that several young women have vanished in the area and the local cops are basically clueless.  Soon after Alex arrives, Kate, a young doctor, is taken from her home by a man who calls himself Casanova.  Kate is able to escape and she ends up working with Alex to find the other women and stop Casanova. 

I did read the book before seeing the movie originally.  It has been a long time since I last read the book, but from what I remember, the movie stays fairly close to the book.  The book is actually the second to feature the character of Alex.  The first book, Along Came a Spider, has also been turned into a movie, but it was done after this one.  I have lost track of how many Alex Cross books there are.  I gave up reading them several years ago.

I do think that Kiss the Girls has a decent mystery.  There is some suspense to several scenes.  The subject, dealing with women being abducted and held against their will, is a bit upsetting.  The book goes into way more details about what is done to the women.  Some of the things are just hinted at in the movie.  Violence does turn up in some scenes, like when Kate is attacked and taken.  Some of what happens may be disturbing to some viewers. 

The characters in Kiss the Girls are interesting, though several of them aren’t that developed.  Alex is likable and Morgan Freeman does well with the part, though I did picture Alex younger when I read the book.  Kate is a very strong, determined woman and I did think that Ashley Judd did well with the part.  If I remember right, this was one of her first big parts.  Casanova is just seen in shadows and wearing a mask for much of the movie.  He is heard speaking, and he has a creepy voice.

The DVD that I have of Kiss the Girls doesn’t have any extras.  I don’t know if there is another version with extras.  I also don’t know if the movie has been released on Blu-ray.

Kiss the Girls has a few issues, but it works well overall as a decent suspense thriller.  Fans of Morgan Freeman should check it out.

I did get a review posted on Epinions.

Kiss the Girls

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

I continue to pick up the new In Death books by J.D. Robb when they come out.  The series is now up to 31 books.  The series is set in the future in New York City and follows homicide detective Eve Dallas on her various investigations.  Things tied to her personal life, like her marriage to Roarke, also turn up.  I just finished Indulgence in Death, the newest book.

Eve and Roarke are celebrating their second anniversary with a trip to Ireland when the book begins.  Unfortunately, Eve can’t avoid death even on vacation since a dead body is found.  She doesn’t investigate, but she does offer some help since the local cops aren’t very experienced with murder investigations.  Once back home, Eve quickly gets a new murder case that is a bit odd.  The first murder is followed by others that are also at least somewhat bizarre. 

Indulgence in Death follows the murder investigations.  It doesn’t take Eve long to tied the murders together since there are similarities.  The mystery is interesting, though some of the previous books in the series have had stronger mysteries.  Some violence pops up every so often, but the book isn’t as violent as many of the previous books have been.  The plot is interesting and very entertaining.  People who have enjoyed the previous books in the series will more than likely enjoy this one as well.

Since this is the thirty first book in a series, the characters are very well developed by this point.  The main story does stand alone very well, but there are a few references back to events from earlier books.  One case in particular is mentioned several times, mostly because a book about it has just been released.  I do think it is best to read these books in order so that everything will make the most sense. 

J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts, so people who like books by Nora Roberts may also like the In Death series.  The mystery tends to be stronger in the In Death books and they are more violent at times. 
Indulgence in Death is another very entertaining book in the In Death series.  Fans of the series should definitely pick it up.

I did get a review posted on Epinions.

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb