Based on how mild the weather has been here in KCMO, it never really felt like summer at any point. It was more like one long extended spring.
Anyway, school starts tomorrow and mentally I am quite unprepared (and none of my books have shown up yet).
Luckily, we get to go look at some houses after I get out of studio. I'm determined for us to find something within 24 hours!
Happy Birthday to my lovely wife of 25 years (old)! : )
Before we begin, note that I'm operating under the assumption that the last post was a fluke and that people still actually read this blog. Of course, if no one is reading it then it doesn't do any good to leave notes...
That said, I've managed to see a movie twice in one day for the first time since Revenge of Sith, meaning that HBP is in rare company. While its not quite the same as seeing a new Star Wars movie, I'm pleased that HBP continues the string of more or less consistently high-quality movie adaptations of the admittedly very long and complex HP books. Luckily, they made better choices in this one than they did in Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix as far what to leave in from the book and what to leave out.
Now, since its 1am and lists are easier than a fully written out review, you get the bullet points of what was good and what was bad, starting with the latter.
What was bang out of order
- Like both GoF and OotP, HBP is weighed down by a few scenes in which actors/actresses seem to either forget their lines and look awkwardly at each other, or else are embarrassed at the lines they've been given and decide to not say anything. This happened a few different times, including a scene with Harry and Dumbledore, a scene in the Burrow, and a few with Harry, Ron and Hermione.
- As a dramatic actor, I'd rate Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) just above Orlando Bloom and just below Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. If anything, he seems to have regressed from the first movie to this one.
- They got the Unbreakable Vow scene mostly wrong.
- I can understand why they left out the scene with Dumbledore visiting Privet Drive, but I'm still disappointed at not getting to see glasses of mead bouncing off the Dursleys heads.
- For a movie series that has had incredible success at actor continuity between films (Richard Harris notwithstanding) it is a bit off-putting that they chose an actor to play teenaged Tom Riddle in this one who looks so much different than the teenaged Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets. Mind you, this actor is a lot creepier looking and plays the part better than the sneering Abercrombie and Fitch model who was in CoS.
- There really isn't any chemistry between Harry and Ginny in the movie, and am I just imagining things or is she about an inch taller than he is?
- Fred and George continue to come across as caricatures, and have about 1/10th the personality of the F & G in the book. I'm not blaming the actors, the script doesn't give them anything to work with.
- For some reason it really bugged me that the burned out Ollivander's shop had no kind of wizard's police tape around it. It is a crime scene, after all, how is it that three teenagers can just wander in through the door??
- The potions book should have been addressed during the sectumsempra scene, not after it.
- Lots of reviews I've read have complained about all the "Twilight"-style teen romance. Its honestly pretty harmless and most of it is actually quite amusing, but surely they could have cut out a few minutes of "Won Won" and "Lav Lav" and given us the scene where Voldemort asks Dumbledore for a job, or at least have expounded more on which objects he would have found desirable for horcruxes and why.
- Conversely, most reviews have praised the opening sequence with the Death Eaters destroying the bridge in London, but I found it ineffective for some reason. It does have great special effects, and I know the idea is that the DE are symbolically giving the Muggle world a big psychological wedgie, but it was just kind of an underwhelming scene. Maybe they should've just had Fudge talking to the Muggle minister instead, like in the book.
- Similarly, the burning of the Burrow elicited little response from me, possibly because it elicited little response from the characters. I saw it for what I suspect it was: a way to interject a little bit of action into the middle of the movie.
- No lines from Fenrir? He's just supposed to stand there and look really hairy, huh?
- As for the other werewolf in the story, Lupin came across as quite grouchy. At least the one in the book laughed a little, sheesh.
The completely brilliant stuff
- Like Umbridge in the previous film, Slughorn doesn't look anything like he's described in the book. Like Imelda Staunton, though, Jim Broadbent completely immerses himself in the part and portrays the essence of the character perfectly, even though movie Slughorn continually looks as if he's holding in a giant fart.
- Shockingly, I actually prefer this version of the climax to the one in the book. I had never thought about it before, but having Harry be immobilized under his Invisibility Cloak twice in one book is actually rather redundant, and in this case the writers chose to go with the one that worked best (on the train) and altered the one that didn't (astronomy tower). Also, the relatively low-key escape of the Death Eaters from Hogwarts is in better harmony with the quiet, expository nature of the story. The "battle", as it were, at the end of the book always kind of felt like it was shoehorned in there simply because fans would be expecting any HP book to end with an action-packed showdown. With the ending in the movie focusing mainly on Harry, Dumbledore, Malfoy and Snape, it really sticks with the four key characters in the story and keeps the narrative tidy and easy to follow. Well done Steve Kloves, you've out-written J.K. Rowling.
- The scene with Harry drinking the liquid luck is exceeded in hilarity only by Ron drinking the love potion. As hard as I was on Radcliffe earlier, he actually plays it pretty well.
- Perhaps what makes him look even worse through the rest of the movie is the improvement Rupert Grint (Ron) and Emma Watson (Hermione) have made in their acting, going from smirking and completely wooden, respectively, to having actual nuances in their expressions and reactions.
- Not that I expect them to copy every line from the book, but I couldn't help but notice that the scenes that used the most "canon" dialogue tended to be the best; examples are the potions class where Harry wins Felix Felicis or Harry and Dumbledore's journey to the cave. In other words, I'm saying Rowling is still a better writer than Kloves overall.
- Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix) is having way too much fun with this.
- Maggie Smith (McGonagall) is probably the only person in this cast on whom a witch's hat wouldn't come across as looking like a Halloween costume, but good gracious, she looks old enough to snuff it at any moment. She makes Judi Dench look young and hip.
- Alan Rickman. What else can I say? How about its gotten to the point where I get mad when the book Snape breaks character from Rickman's Snape?
- The past three movies Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) seems as if he's been mailing it in. Not this time, this time he really brings the character to life. Naturally, this is the movie in which his character dies.
- After two movies in which the score has largely been hidden, its nice to have music that adds something to the movie. That's particularly necessary in a film like this, which is for the most part action-free.
- They pretty much nailed both memories of Tom Riddle, though it would have been even more effective had they given some suggestion that Riddle had already killed his father by the time he had his conversation with Slughorn.
- The ending was very Fellowship of the Rings-ish. I almost expected Harry to say "I'm going to fight Voldemort alone!" and Hermione responding "Of course you are, and Ron and I are coming with you!"
Finally, here's a quick rundown of where the movies rank so far, in my opinion (book ranking in parenthesis)
6. Sorcerer's Stone (7)
5. Goblet of Fire (1)
4. Chamber of Secrets (6)
3. Order of the Phoenix (4)
2. Half-Blood Prince (2)
1. Prisoner of Azkaban (5)
to find out.
While you're there, check out the rest of the automotive web site that Robert and I put together. And then join our facebook page! : )
So I've been spending my off-day looking at aerial photography of various places. Washington D.C., New York City, Dubai, Mt. Everest, Paris. It may surprise you that a sane person would spend his day off doing such things, but call it a hobby of mine. Anyhow, after looking at the aerials of Paris in particular, I'm now really wanting to go check out "The City of Love". This is not because its romantic or because I want to see landmarks like the Louvre or Notre Dame; no, I want to see Paris' freeway network. By scrolling through the aerials on googlemaps, I have been following the Boulevard Peripherique (roughly translated: "The loop road"?) through the city, and I've noticed that its path often takes its motorists through tunnels. These tunnels go under various things such as a rail yard, a soccer field, office buildings, several parks, a lake
, various large roundabouts and Single-Point Urban Interchanges ("SPUI"s) and an entire sports complex, (the road also goes over what looks like a huge convention center). Now, its pretty easy to find freeways in America that tunnel under things - in fact there's a famous road in New York City that goes underneath four residential high-rises - but I can pretty much guarantee that there is no stretch of road in America that goes underneath all of that stuff, especially not one that runs roughly 4-6 miles outside the center of a city as Boulevard Peripherique does. From an urban planner's perspective, that's some pretty ingenious use of space. By having all that stuff go over the freeway, you don't have to bisect what might otherwise be a useful plot of ground or disturb the fabric of existing neighborhoods, but you can still move hundreds of thousands of vehicles a day along useful routes between trip generators (the transportation planner's term for "places people like to go"). So there, I can admit it: There's something America can learn from the French. Your food still stinks, though... except for croissants.
Hmm, I think that was my first ever "urban planning nerd" post. In terms of posting about things most of my readers couldn't care less about, I suppose it was a nice break from talk about the Spurs, right? : )
This is the name of my new employer, an outfit specializing in valet service at Kansas City International Airport. I must confess I had never heard or conceived of an airport valet service, but they've turned out to be quite a nice little operation so far. Basically, you make a reservation or drive up, we write up a ticket, you get on the shuttle with your luggage, we park your car, you call us when your flight gets in, we pick you up, have your car pulled up for you, you pay, and we're done. Today will be my fifth day, and so far I've gotten to valet, greet/write tickets, and work behind the front desk/cash register, all of which I hope makes me a valued and indispensable member of the team and yada yada. All in all, this would seem to be serviceable employment while I'm in school.
So, new pleo. 3.0 I believe they call it. So far it seems a bit more streamlined, and I like that all of my old posts are back, even if they only serve to remind me of what a clueless dork I used to be (as opposed to a clued-in dork). Gonna have to get used to everything being on the right hand side though, kinda like getting used to driving in a foreign country or something.