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July 2011

With heavy heart I give you my last Harry Potter review

And to my dismay I can’t grasp why this is also my first. I searched my blog’s archive and I was surprised to find out that I have not written a single review about any of the movies or books. All my HP related entries were mainly promotions for the movies. In this case I will pour out everything into this one post. As some of you may have, I came to know Harry Potter through the first film, Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. I was in high school back then and I can still remember how the fascination for this cute, wide-eyed, bespectacled, wizard boy with a lightning scar on his forehead exploded; I’m telling you most of my classmates’ notebooks were covered with cut-out pictures of him and even had posters on their bedroom walls. That time I wasn’t particularly interested, eventually I got more curious when Chamber of Secrets premiered but still I regarded it as children stuff. I knew then there were books from which they were based upon but it wasn’t until Prisoner of Azakaban in 2004 (one of the best both in movie and novel aspects) where I really started following and got the urge to read the novels. But being a late-bloomer when it comes to reading (in everything more like it) and by that I mean it wasn’t until 2008 where I picked up my first novel (Twilight) and since then regularly visited bookshops and carried with me a book almost everywhere I go. Going back, this was when Sirius Black came into the picture and the theme got evidently dark. I especially enjoyed the “time-turner” portion of the story. I wished then that Hogwarts was real and somehow a Hagrid-like character would barge in one day at our house to tell me that I was a wizard and that I didn’t belong in the muggle world (hehe). Then Goblet of Fire came and I was a huge fan already. I was eagerly anticipating its release and if I remember it right I even watched on the first screening. I loved the idea that there were other magic schools and the Tri-wizard tournament was the highlight of that year. 2007 brought along Order of the Phoenix and I was obsessed; I knew all the characters, memorized the spells/magical objects, cheered on Quidditch – to think I still haven’t read the books. This was when the rebellion went in full swing and things started heating up. Suddenly it wasn’t so much about school since You-Know-Who was back.

And then it was time, I finally got the novels. It’s a bit weird since I bought first the last 4 books. The reason was I couldn’t find a hardbound copy of the first one – yes it had to be in hard cover and besides I don’t think my pocket can handle buying all at once 😀 . So I decided since I wanted to finish up to the last book before the last of the movie installments come out. That was when I realized how the books are so much more intricate and amazing and magical – yes that’s the word, magical. It truly is. You might say, “Well that’s because they’re wizards moron”. But it’s not so much because they have wands and can conjure spells or that they use owls to send out mails and fly on brooms but more of how the world was created and thought of; how it all came together and laid out. I am astonished on how the idea of this boy came to Rowling while riding a train to London. By the time Half-blood Prince was in cinemas I gobbled up the entire set including the first 3. Dumbledore died in this chapter of the series and his past was uncovered. Indeed, a chaotic time in the wizarding world. It was my first time to watch with the story in mind so normally I had moments where I said, “hey, that’s not how it happened” or “that wasn’t in the book”. Overall it was still a good interpretation. Generally, the books are usually superior but over the years the Harry Potter movies were some of the best adaptations from a literary work. The tweaks in the story here and there are necessary to properly translate it into a visual piece, smooth out the narration and of course, fit it into roughly more than 2 hours of screening time.

The epic finale was divided into two parts and it is a warranted decision for the producers because there is no way it could fit into one; so much would’ve been compromised. Although the Deathly Hallows novel was introduced in 2007, you still have something to look forward to that’s why I couldn’t believe it was truly the end when both installments came out. Reading it, I cried as the conclusion drew closer and page by page all questions are answered. I started sobbing practically when Harry, upon seeing Snape’s memories through the pensieve, discovered he needed to die to destroy Voldemort. I was stunned, I couldn’t accept it. I even loathed how Dumbledore and Snape were portrayed differently afterwards like the roles switched. Albus was not altogether innocent and Severus was, in a way, a brave hero. But I’ve learned to accept it, that’s how emotionally attached I am. The darkest moment was the battle at Hogwarts especially when some of our beloved characters died. The film was just as engrossing. I’m in full praise to David Yates because I can only imagine how difficult it must’ve been to stay true to the novel and please the fans. I can say that it was a masterpiece both visually and in storytelling. In the end, the good prevailed. It always does. I think the epilogue was also like cherry on top of ice cream. I appreciated that Rowling didn’t leave the story of our threesome open-ended. If I can just say though, there’s still a part in me that wishes that it should’ve been Hermione and Harry together but I love Ron so it’s fine. Lastly, I want to thank J.K. Rowling because although Harry Potter was not exactly a part of my childhood it sure brought out the kid in me again and it felt good. It was a wonderful sort of journey going through all the books and movies throughout the years. Let me end this post with the last words in the novel that I thought was just beautiful: “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” (sniff sniff) 🙂

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Beyoncé’s 4 shows growth in her music

I have to admit I wasn’t too excited when Run The World (Girls) came out, that time the title wasn’t even decided yet. Even the blogs I frequent to feels the same way more so having listened to the whole record, pretty much concluded that the album doesn’t contain any worthy singles. I, on the other hand, searched for the lyrics and really let it soak on me and by the time Beyoncé performed on the Billboard Music Awards I was already singing along and feeling like I could run the world. That performance was astounding; there couldn’t have been a more perfect time for her to receive the Millennium Award. She just showed everyone that she deserved that praise. Finally, just mere 2 weeks ago I got a copy of 4 from a record bar. Yes as in the actual CD, she’s one of those artists whose songs I won’t be satisfied by just downloading the mp3’s. Besides it’s a collection of mine.

4, she said, is a very special number because aside from being her 4th solo record it’s the date of her birthday (as well as some of her close friends/family), her wedding date and that eventually it was the title chosen by fans so she stuck with it. The only trouble is you don’t get the slightest idea what the record will be like. After the 1st listen, I knew that the album is unlike anything she released before. It’s ballad-driven, intimate and subtle in terms of production. Run The World kind of misrepresents the record in a way cause it’s the lone up-tempo track (it’s actually the last). Ya, there are the drum and horns-inspired End of Time and Countdown but they’re hardly what you call dance. The album is co-written and produced by B mostly with The-Dream. After countless sound trips, my favorites are of course the love songs: her love is intoxicating. Best Thing I Never Had, the official 2nd single, is like Irreplaceable 2.0 and is co-written by Babyface. B looks beautiful in the video by the way. Love on Top is the one I really enjoy singing to err trying to sing, it makes you feel good. 1+1 is the song she premiered on American Idol and I’m amazed how she and Jay-Z are so much deeper in love than ever. I Care and Start Over characterizes the staple sad songs and really shows B’s vulnerability. Also with the very sentimental I Was Here written by Diane Warren and co-produced by Ryan Tedder (Halo). The deluxe edition includes other mid-tempo tracks: Lay Up Under Me, Schoolin’ Life (like this one) and 3 remixed version of Run The World. She slows it down again with Dance With You.

In my humble opinion, this album depicts Beyoncé’s maturity as an artist. She’s in the stage wherein she can afford to not care about commercial success and just showcase her vocal talent and song-writing skills. The irony is that the album still debuted at no.1 on Billboard so it’s safe to say she once again succeeded in getting her message across. I do miss her butt-shakin’ and finger-pointing dance moves but this risqué release definitely makes me appreciate her more.

Dark of the Moon: A dull explosion of CGI

At long last I have ample time to write a post! Between the month-end and quarter-end tasks I had in work (don’t ask), there was just no way I could fit in drafting an entry for my blog; weekends weren’t even enough for rest. I have 3 reviews in mind to write so I’ll just get on it and start with this one. Two weeks ago, on a regular Saturday afternoon I was able to watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon with the family (read: sister and niece, my parents don’t watch these things). It comes off from the idea that man’s first landing on the moon is a cover-up for an investigation of an ark that crash-landed there. While it is confirmed that this is Michael Bay’s last time directing the franchise, I’m not sure if there should be a fourth.

I won’t say it’s horrible but one thing’s for sure it’s unremarkable. It’s bad when you have to course through the whole thing in your head just to come up with your favorite part(s). The visual effects were right on as usual maybe even unparalleled for the time being but it didn’t excite me. My fave scene (I decided) was when Shia, Rosie and Tyrese were being chased by Shockwave in that massive building. Cool stuff right there. But it dragged on for the most parts and at some point I uttered to myself, “just get it over with!” It’s like they held back on the action and gave a generous amount of time for the build-up of the story but it wasn’t nearly as effective or convincing as they liked it to be. Quite frankly I enjoyed Revenge of the Fallen better despite the tirade of criticisms because I took it as it is: mindless action and CGI overload. I even like how that movie shifted from action to comedy in a snap. I didn’t expect it but the hilarity was a bonus. Now the movie lost that too like it was trying so hard to be taken seriously. Then again, alien robots taking over the earth is not exactly comedic.

My other problem is you don’t sympathize with the characters anymore; not the humans and certainly not the robots. Aren’t you tired of Megatron already? I don’t know why it became tedious all of a sudden, maybe familiarity. Some of the new cast were passable; sadly I’m not pertaining to Rosie Huntington more like Frances Mcdormand. Patrick Dempsey plays some evil bastard kinda like how I see his character in Grey’s Anatomy (hehe). Ken Jeong was not allowed to go ape-shit in his short stint but at least John Turturo was still there. Anyways, Rosie was – how do I put this? To quote somewhere: has as much charm as a dead slug. The men liked her there’s no doubt about that but why did you have to go Megan Fox? It seems so to abandon a sinking ship. Tyrese got more screen time but why is Josh Duhamel always on the side lines? Shia seems to have outgrown his character; his save-the-world-i-wanna-prove-myself act just doesn’t work anymore. The verdict? This movie lacks the entertainment value of its predecessors and can easily be forgotten.

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