Enter World 7-2: Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 Review

It’s not that often in a person’s lifetime that they’re able to witness the full run of a movie line that spans more than three films and (for the most part) bring a satisfying conclusion to everything. Sure, it was one full movie more than was expected, but regardless Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was able to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the franchise, weighed down only by the details that should have been covered in previous films.

Since this is an adaptation of a book series, I’m not gonna bother keeping things on the hush hush since honestly, people have had four years to get caught up with their readings. You’ve been warned!

As expected, the movie picks up exactly where Part 1 left off, with the trio having just escaped another near-death situation and have fled to the convenient beach house of one of Ron’s many brothers. Again, not exactly sure where to head next for his Horcrux hunt, Harry decides to hit up his best option at the moment—a Goblin—eventually leading them to the Gringotts Bank (and the only scene that appears to have been made for 3D audiences). Following this scene, the rest of the movie primarily takes place not in random forests (thankfully, for those that got tired of the constant shrubbery an hour into the last movie), but in the wizarding school of Hogwarts itself, all the pieces finally ready for the final fight.

With fellow students and professors being reunited with the main trio, it’s made clear that this is the battle to end all battles, with the dark lord himself making an “in your head” announcement a la DBZ’s Babidi to prepare for the worst. Nostalgic strings are pulled as secondary characters are given their own 15 seconds of fame, each one prepping for the battle in their own special way—McGonagal enchanting the stone figures for the first line of defense; Mrs. Weasley making protective enchantments around the school; Seamus planting wizarding equivalents of explosives (and all this time, I thought his non-canon interest in explosives wouldn’t pay off)… you know everything’s gonna end, but not without some serious shit going down first.

The following fight is… epicly satisfactory. In general, it seems like the movies have taken the route of treating wands similar to guns, which is fun up until a point. And the whole Harry grabbing Voldemort and jumping off the building… I mean how ‘80s action movie can you get? This is supposed to be the battle to end all things. Sure, there were some epic things like giants and death eaters swooshing around, but at the end of the day, I just think the concept of staging a war in which both sides possess magic was just too daunting. I remember listening in the commentary for The Incredibles how fight scenes were multi-person efforts, everyone bouncing ideas of “wouldn’t suchandsuch be cool” and building off from there. And with the number of liberties previous movies have already taken (Death Eaters flying in that smoke-y way; dementors able to grab people) I’d have considered the final fight the place to see some epic sequences that were notably absent from the book. Maybe having house elves apparate into Death Eaters’ brains to kill them instantly was a bit out of budget for the movie, but just something more to stylize their action.

The only other nitpick I had with Part 2 was the inevitable problem that all movie franchises have: it had to build off of previous movies from the franchise… good and bad. I already mentioned in my part 1 review my discontent with Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, but seeing this final movie just further proves my point. At its core, OotP was nothing more than one massive hint-dropper disguised as a story, leaving little bits about the Horcruxes, the two-way mirror, and some kind of explanation as to what the Order of the Phoenix even was, and yet they couldn’t even get that stuff down when the movie adaptation came around.

HBP had a similar problem with the heavily cut flashback scenes going into the depths of villains (and supposed villains) past, as well as making out Voldemort and his Death Eaters to come off as more like magical hooligans. With the epic fight scene in HP6 to whet fans’ appetites for what would come in HP7.2 being watered down to the wizarding equivalent of a drive-by on Dumbledore, I honestly was left with significantly lowered expectations before HP7.1 changed my mind. Regardless, the small-time thug mentality of the Death Eaters was still apparent in 7.2, with scenes like gangs of Death Eaters laughing at Voldie’s egging on of our heroes (and let’s not forget the awkward Draco/Voldemort hug that was to 7.2 as the Harry/Hermione dance scene was to 7.1… I dunno, British people, I guess). Seeing the bombardment of aspects in Deathly Hallows Part 2 back-referencing the older movies, only made it clearer just how sloppy HP5 and HP6 stand. Still… I will say that Chamber of Secrets did a bang-up job at covering what it was supposed to, me feeling very in the know when they suddenly talked about the Chamber in this latest installment.

But I’m pretty sure even CoS at its best couldn’t top the epicness that was the back-referencing of Sorcerer’s Stone. While I’m not 100% certain, the flashbacks in DH Part 2 look like they could have been extra footage filmed back during Sorcerer’s Stone. In the case that such is true, serious kudos. With chocolate drizzle and M&M bits inside, even.

And then (again, of course) there’s that dreaded Epilogue scene. I’m sorry, but Rowling chose then of all times to play the role of a fangirl to her own series and hand out happy endings like they were free lotion samples at a mall kiosk, so in the movie’s defense, it didn’t have much to work with. Just give the guys some slight fat-suits and the girls Hillary Clinton ‘dos and they’re instantly 19 years older? Yeah, sure, I guess. Still, I think that one opportunity was missed in the sequence. Probably unknown to most people that haven’t read the books, there’s actually a solid timeline in the series—years given and everything. Each book covers one school year, with the first starting in 1991 and the last ending in 1998, with a flash-forward to 2017. I think it would have been fascinating to show at least some muggle-tech to give viewers some idea of the era the muggle world is currently in… though I guess the kids with their Bieber-bowls was enough. :shivers:

So there you have it—the end of a movie franchise. Even taking into consideration all my gripes, I will admit that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was a worthy final note to go out on, with inevitable nitpicks here and there.

Episodic Reviews: Mystery Inc. Season 1 Finale

I have literally just marathoned my way through the first season of Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated and I must say that I never thought I’d use the phrase “shit just got real” to describe a Scooby Doo series but seriously… shit just got real.

In general, I feel like it’s very much an American show thing to have episodic stories that are each sprinkled with hints of an overarching plot that spans the entire season, which I think is what got a lot of people to get into the series, if only out of curiosity. The only problem with such an approach is that you could either go one of three ways: good episodic stories, and good overall plot (Teen Titans, season 1 and 4); meh episodic stories, and a good overall plot (Teen Titans, season 2); good episodic stories, and a meh overall plot (Teen Titans, season 3); or just meh all around (Teen Titans, season 5). Mystery Inc… I’m still not really sure what to consider.

The first half of the series seemed to focus on tweaking each of the characters, giving each member of Mystery Inc something of a backstory, which no Scooby Doo fan has ever really gotten much of. Just the general idea of the series acknowledging the existence of adult figures and a school to go to threw me for a loop, but I think most will agree that the decision to make Shaggy and Velma an item was what really weirded people out. Velma is such a generic bookworm in the other reincarnations of the series, so to have her end up being some kind of over-eager and rather bossy when it comes to relationships was such a drastic change that whenever Shaggy would be forced to choose between her and Scooby—the only character the series hasn’t messed with completely—the choice is obvious. It was just an awkward start for a series in any case.

Dressed antagonist after dressed antagonist would hit the screen, and for the most part I’ve been indifferent to them, with the only redeeming factor I’ve seen in some is their obvious tributes to some of WB’s big (and in some cases small-time and incredibly obscure) movie titles. But what really made me pick the series back up and finish the first season was the ongoing mystery involving the original Mystery Inc. The thought of there being an entirely different cast of characters existing prior to the ones we’ve all become so familiar with serves as quite the twist for a series that until then has relied on anything but a hard-hitting plot. The introduction of the weird puzzle pieces, while also interesting, reminds me too much of the season opener from the final season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. And it doesn’t help that the two series can have quite a number of similarities between them once you start to overanalyze. Makes me wonder if such a story hasn’t been repeated some other time.

Mystery Inc not only references WB titles, but also references Hanna Barbera titles on a regular basis as well. Sure, people have heard of Johny Quest and maybe you were lucky enough to catch reruns of the original Scooby Doo series, but when you start to crossover with series like The Funky Phantom and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, you start to wonder just what the target audience for the show is. Don’t get me wrong; the reference are awesome and reek of something I’d find in an online parody, but it just takes me by surprise, is all.

And what is the deal with Scrappy Doo bashing? I thought it was funny to poke fun at him in the first live action movie, but looking him up, apparently he’s somewhat infamous within the Scooby Doo fanbase. I guess it beats not having a Wiki entry at all. Sorry Flim Flam, but I guess you were just too ethnically ambiguous?

My one real gripe with this season is how it handled its final episode. Again, I feel like this is more of an American show thing than anything else—rushing the finale. Well, I guess I wouldn’t really call this finale “rushed,” but it was rather dense in terms of plot. And its overall feel was just so much darker than I’d expect a Scooby Doo episode to get into. Hell, even the Saw homage episode wasn’t as plot-heavy as the finale was. Even as a whole, it felt like I was watching an entirely different show altogether whenever Mr. E or Pericles would enter the scene, which was something of a fault. I’d say that it might have been better if they go for making the entire series either one tone or another, but really, at the end of the day you’re still watching a Great Dane with improper English skills solve mysteries—it wasn’t meant to be taken completely seriously.

TLDR version: Sooby Doo: Mystery Inc. was a mixed bag at best, but hit hard with the drama when the finale called for it. Really hoping it gets picked up for a second season. Cliffhangers due to cancellation are the worst (cough… Spectacular Spider-Man).

Collect the 7 Dragon Balls! er… “Horcruxes”: Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 Review

I’m sure some random internet fact-checker will get me on this, but as far as I’m aware of, the Harry Potter franchise is one of the longest-running movie franchises in existence, spanning for eight movies, the penultimate (yeah, $5 words are fun to use in their right context) of which came out last Friday.

The series started of simply enough, doing an excellent job of weaving a world full of witchcraft and wizardry in a nice, palatable form for the masses. While I won’t say author J.K. Rowling’s completely re-written the Halloween stereotypes of sorcery like certain other authors that apparently have no clue what werewolves and vampires are really like, there was a large enough of a reboot for modern audiences to enjoy without the feel of watching something that could only be watched in the month of October. Yes, there were goblins, and broomsticks and the like, but it was done all surrounding a school called Hogwarts. Ridiculous? Maybe, but in a pop culture where blue hedgehogs and turtle martial artists exist, it’s nothing far from the norm.

The first four movies themselves were excellent, keeping a good balance between what basically winds down to a mystery story while still seamlessly explaining the magical world that is the Potter universe. And with the fourth movie ending on the resurrection of our heard-but-never-seen villain, I must admit that I was psyched for the adaptations of the rest of the movies.

Sadly, I wouldn’t be able to experience the sheer movie-watching glee of another Potter movie for some time, since the fifth and sixth installments ended up being a total bust. Sure, there are super-fans out there that will say otherwise, but I just have to get it off my chest: I seriously hated Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. In general, the two movies themselves suffer from the same ailments, which makes sense, considering one immediately follows the other with literally no time passing between the two movies. Without going into too much detail (I’m already 337 words in and have yet to get to the real movie review at hand) I will say that long gone is all the wonder that made the first four movies, with all the characters for some reason being much too cool to follow the dress code while on campus. But it’s not just the wardrobe changes—it felt like the entire crew of the movies have gotten so accustomed to the world that they didn’t put in any extra effort to things, merely going through the oh so familiar motions that they thought could be simply yoinked from the previous movies. On top of that, attention to what should be te main focus of each story was horribly done. Think about it: After seeing the fifth and sixth movies, would you dare say that one was about the Order of the Phoenix and the other about finding who the Half-Blood Prince was? Story-telling in general seemed incredibly muddled with no clear direction, instead focusing on the major deaths in each movie which also turned out to be sloppily done. Conclusion: I was incredibly colored insecure for the final installment in the series, especially after finding out it would be split into two parts.

Going in to see Deathly Hallows: Part 1 just yesterday afternoon, I was incredibly skeptical about things. With the previous two movies being so forgettable, I wasn’t sure what to make of the latest installment. As the WB logo appeared on screen, I tried my hardest to remove my “snooty blogger reviewer” cap in favor of one more suitable for the occasion (perhaps the same cap I wore during the Transformers movie?). As each scene came and went, though, I could find nothing wrong to pitpick at and as a whole, I feel like this is what the other two movies should have been—a much darker mystery in connection to the movie title (the deathly hallows) all of which just happened to take place in the wizarding world rather than the human world, which the past two movies awkwardly inserted. Although it was the first part of the final arc, the movie still moves at a somewhat fast pace, starting things off with a chase scene resulting in not one, but two deaths, both of which were done so much better than either major death in the past two movies. The death scenes were done in a rather blunt fashion, unceremoniously killing off characters as if to say: “sh*t just got real”—something that should have been expressed in the last two movies already but wasn’t.

What followed were the camping scenes, something I was almost confident would get boring right away. Thankfully, these scenes were also played off well for the most part, perfectly portraying the protagonists’ feelings of helplessness as they’re trying to piece together clues to find out just exactly what they’re supposed to do next. If anything, I’m sure people fresh from watching would complain about the awkward dance scene (you’ll know it when you see it) coupled with Nick Cave’s “O Children,” to which I say that as awkward as it was, it sure as hell beat the awkward teen-themed jokes surrounding the previous films that tried to break the tension.

With there being little to no multi-part movies to compare it with (the last two Matrix movies, Kill Bill, and maybe Back to the Future) I wasn’t sure just how the movie would end. “To Be concluded” end cards seemed much too passé, and straight-up cliffhanger endings seemed awkward, too, leaving me curious. Thankfully, the movie did a good job of keeping enough things in the air while still touching ground on other plot points, leaving viewers left with some kind of sense of closure rather than being used and abused until the vicious cycle begins again come July when the second part rolls around. Consensus: Deathly Hallows: Part 1 alone makes up for the disappoint-fest that was the last two films and it’s good to know the series shows signs of going off on a high note.


On another note, I was wondering if anyone’s had any kind of experience growing up in the middle of a movie franchise and watching one of the latter movies in the series without any prior knowledge of its previous installments. From personal (well, to some degree) experience, my sister’s taught some kids that were completely hyped about Spider-Man 3, being completely oblivious to the past two movie (sadly). Thinking back, I couldn’t think of that many movies out around my own childhood that I could have been stuck in the middle of. Sure, there were the ‘80s/’90s Batman films but even then, I was smart enough to know that there existed (better) movies prior to Batman and Robin. I dunno, maybe I’m just weird like that.

The closest me an’ my sister could get to a movie example was The Neverending Story movies, but even then that seemed like something of a stretch. So, I raise my glass to you, Harry Potter movies—you’re the only movie franchise in the past 20 or so years I could think of where some kid born between movies would have had to do some backtrack marathoning.

On a third note, I’m sad about Emma Watson’s post-production short hair. That is all.

Episodic Reviews: Mystery Inc. 6

Yeah, just ‘cuz I watch TV, doesn’t mean I’ll hit up every episode in a post. If you want devotion like that, go to blogsuki. He’s a zillion times cooler with his own site domain, anyway :D.

Six episodes in and I’m really getting tired of some of the liberties taken with characters. While I’m glad that the stereotype bookworm character has pretty much been faded out in most shows these days (or are at least combined with some other, more interesting, character trait) I really don’t like the direction they’ve gone with Velma’s character. Yes, while the characters were far from complex when first introduced, adding new layers of character with them was a hit or miss type of deal. Adding the detail about the clueless Fred being interested in traps was an interesting touch, and I was even accepting of Daphne’s notch down back to the damsel in distress whenever one was needed for the series, but Velma… bleh. No one likes a cock blocker… especially one who tries to mess with the comedy stylings of Shag and Scoob.

… so apparently I wasn’t the first to immediately think “Gwen Stacy,” according to YouTube posts. Still, seeing her clone kinda makes me hope that the new Spidey series at least does as well as Spectacular did in terms of story-telling. Personally, I’m still holding out on it being a continuation of Spectacular, since I hate series getting cancelled with a cliffhanger ending. Though I guess it wasn’t as bad as Wolverine and the X-Men in which “cliffhanger” doesn’t even come close to fully explaining my thoughts about it. Maybe “hangnail,” since it’s more annoying than anything else. Yeah, that’s clever.

One thing I will give serious props to this series for doing is putting the gang in school. Long gone are the undertones of truancy and much welcome are the themes of off-beatedness. Though, the school setting may or may not fuel the fire of Shag and Scoob’s :er-hem: possession of certain substances. Still: school good, truancy bad.

… am also a fan of references to the original series. The Creeper wasn’t my favorite Scooby baddie, but it’s nice to see at least some kind of in-depth continuation to his story. Here’s to hoping Charlie the Funland robot gets some screentime next!

… and as one mystery comes to a close, another continues. Scratch off Fred being related to one of the lost kids. Daphne, maybe, but I’m pretty sure guys had a tendency of keeping their last names even back in the day. Speaking of which, we never really get any clues as to what day and age the crew’s actually in. Sure, we get cell phones, but I find it hard to believe a whole town being stuck in the seventies fashion-wise. Meh, that’s a mystery to be solved for another day, I guess.

Episodic Reviews: Mystery Inc. 1

Of all cartoon franchises out there, Scooby-Doo has got to be one of the more interesting, spawning quite the plethora of shows since 1969 and yet still maintaining a certain charm that keeps old and new viewers alike so enthralled. And while I’ve merely glazed over the show’s more recent incarnations, I figured I’d give Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated a try.

Seriously, who else but an anime character/an American character that got its mannerisms inspired by an anime character would pose like that?

Of course, the first thing you’ll notice right off the bat is the new art style for the series. It seems as if WB’s learned their lesson after the backlash they received from Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, keeping close to the original character designs, but deviating just far enough to be considered being new and edgy… or at least as “new and edgy” as you can, being the eleventh incarnation of a series that’s now 40 years old.

… and introducing who seems to be the overall foil of the series. While a cop acting as a foil to the crew isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it at the least makes sense. The fact that his voice is none other than Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove otherwise known as Mr. Barkin from Kim Possible doesn’t exactly hurt him, either… at least in the voice acting department; when your latest live action role this year was in a direct-to-DVD sequel, I don’t really know what to say.

Yay for a non-cheesy intro! The animation on the Mystery Machine’s very chic, as far as computer-aided animation goes. Still sticks out like a sore thumb like a to-be opened drawer in a Tom & Jerry cartoon, but I like it. Also, kudos to the Durarara character intros during the opening.

Woah, Crystal Cove? Quite the ways away from Coolsville, isn’t it? Ever since A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Coolsville has acted as a common thread of sorts, linking all the iterations of the series… live action movies included! Still, I feel like this isn’t exactly a bad move and may even be brought up later in the series as a plot point of sorts.

Serious brownie points for showing all the old-school baddies from the original series. Good to know there’s at least some sort of reference to the older works besides the characters.

Very interesting move actually giving the parents something of a role in this version. This decision alone really sets the series separate from the older series, which has been constantly mocked for being a show about some meddling kids going on crazy parent-less adventures with their English speaking Great Dane.

Don’t really know exactly how to respond to this, though. What I liked about the gang is that they only shipped one of the two possible couples. Now, it’s just… ugh. I’ve always hated that in American shows, any kind of platonic relationship is near impossible. The mere fact that they had to tweak Velma’s personality (and give her hair ribbons) to fit the situation is just rubbing me the wrong way. Though, I will say that her controlling personality with Shaggy plays off interestingly with Daphne’s more timid personality with Fred.

The first clue of the series and it ends up being a blatant declaration to some kind of overarching plot for the season? It’s something new to the series, I guess, and it does finally bring the series to the 21st century in terms of storytelling in cartoons. With other series like Generator Rex and the new Ben 10 mixing in flavor of the week villains with an overarching villain, it’s a logical step for the Scooby series to take.

“He appears to be in some sort of dehydrated stasis. I don’t quite know what that means,but I’m guessing it’s temporary.”

Best. Explanation. Ever.

So, because he’s a professor, viewers are to take in every word of his techno-babble and accept that the monster didn’t kill the innocent construction workers? Hey, as long as the writing pokes fun at its own dialogue, I’ll accept it.

With the gang hanging out in malt shops and the like in the old series, it’s good to see that they keep the same kind of camaraderie up with things like trips to the neither ice cream nor frozen yogurt frozen goods shop. As nasty as it is that the shop’s owner doesn’t even know what Fruitmeir’s actually is, I’m still kinda curious as to how it would taste, myself. I’m betting on some kind of mix between a smoothie and ice, based on the sounds made while Shaggy and Scooby were eating their fill.

The remainder of the episode plays out in standard Scooby-Doo fashion, with various hints at a definite person behind the monster suit, only to have the gang realize a different person last second. It’s all the same ol’ stuff we’ve seen before, but it’s that same ol’ familiar charm that will keep this series going for at least another season or two.

Add to that the Charlie’s Angels style phone call at the end of the episode, and I think we’ve got a respectable incarnation of an old series. Though, it’s completely obvious as to who this “Mr. E” is as well as at least a brief sketch as to his motive for wanting the gang to stay out of their meddling this time around.

External Sources:
– Mystery Inc Episode 1 streaming on CN’s video page (cartoonnetwork.com)

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