12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE FLASH – THE PRESENT

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MAIN CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
Tom Cavanagh (Van Helsing)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tom Felton (Harry Potter)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)

I’ll definitely say this for “The Present” – it takes a pretty eventful episode to make Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Trickster seem like a footnote. Apparently it’s becoming an annual tradition to celebrate Christmas with another Trickster appearance. This episode certainly shook up the formula by introducing the Earth-3 version of the villain. Hamill really went all-out despite his limited screen time, modeling this Trickster directly after Conrad Veidt’s character Gwynplaine from 1928’s The Man Who Laughs. This was the closest we’ll probably ever get to seeing Hamill playing the Joker in live-action. It was neat seeing him pay homage to Joker’s main inspiration, and neater still to see both Hamill and John Wesley Shipp reviving their rivalry from the 1990 Flash series.

It was frustrating to see so little of the Trickster this week. Hamill is too much fun in the role to On the other hand, how much could the writers feasibly focus on a character who’s clearly out of his pay grade battling two Flashes at once? And if Hamill got the short end of the stick, the same couldn’t be said for Shipp. This might have been the most Shipp-heavy episode of the entire series, regardless of which character he was playing. But that extra focus was certainly justified. Shipp is every bit as perfect for the role of Jay Garrick  as he was Henry Allen in the first two seasons. He was that natural charm and gravitas that befits the elder statesman of the speedster family.

Most importantly, Shipp succeeds in playing Jay as a much different character from Henry. He has the same fundamental decency, perhaps, but there’s a certain aloofness to Jay all the same. There’s a clear awkwardness between Jay and Barry. Barry is turning to Jay for advice almost in spite of himself, seeking fatherly support from a man who isn’t Henry, no matter how much he resembles him. And Jay, for his part, doesn’t seem quite comfortable in this mentor role yet. If there’s one thing this season has accomplished, it’s giving Flash fans the classic Jay Garrick Season 2 denied them.

“The Present” offered quite a bit of progress on the Savitar/Alchemy front, with multiple speedster battles and more insight into what makes both villains tick. The writers were able to retain Julian’s appeal with the reveal that he’s never been in control of his actions as Alchemy. He’s been little more than a pawn preparing the way for the self-proclaimed god of motion to enter this world. And now that Savitar has been exorcised, as it were, Julian seems poised to resume his old role as half friend/half antagonist to Barry. No doubt he’ll still have a major part to play once the Savitar conflict ramps up again, but for now I’m looking forward to seeing his prickly relationship with Barry become the main focus again.
Things are picking up on the Savitar front. The scene where Savitar possessed Julian and spoke to Team Flash was easily the highlight of the entire episode, as well as a reminder that less is often more when it comes to big, monstrous villains. The scene offered much more insight into Savitar’s background and reasons for targeting Barry. He’s not a god, despite his claims, but someone from Barry’s future who feels personally wronged by the Scarlet Speedster. Given his intimate knowledge of everyone in the room, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that one of them will become Savitar.
Savitar’s cryptic tease about future tragedies awaiting Team Flash was a nice touch. With the Flashpoint conflict receding into the background now, it seems the driving force of the second half of Season 3 will be the question of whether the future is inevitable or if fate can be rewritten. Is Iris fated to be murdered by Savitar? Is Caitlin doomed to become Killer Frost? Actually catching a glimpse of what looks to be a pivotal scene in one of the final episodes of the season certainly lends an extra touch of impending doom to the series. Cisco had a solid subplot of his won this week, with Savitar preying on his grief over Dante’s death and using it to nearly usher in his second coming. Carlos Valdes is so often the designated comic relief on this show, so it’s been a refreshing change of pace seeing him explore Cisco’s mourning process and his rift with Barry over the past couple months.

And with all the doom and gloom this week, it was nice to see the writers take some time at the end of the episode to celebrate the holiday season and wrap up 2016 on a more upbeat note. The West family Christmas party was a fun, sentimental way to cap off the episode. We got to see HR get drunk on Grandma Esther’s eggnog, Julian get into the holiday spirit and Caitlin ensure everyone got to enjoy a white Christmas. Plus, Barry gave Iris a very romantic Christmas present. A great Mid-Season finale that keeps us waiting and wondering whats to come in 2017.

 

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REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Dinnerladies)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Ciarán Hinds (Munich)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Bonnie Wright (The Sea)
Jim Broadbent (Superman 4)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)

After burying Dobby, Harry Potter asks the goblin Griphook to help him, Ron, and Hermione break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts bank, suspecting a Horcrux may be there. Griphook agrees, in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Wandmaker Ollivander tells Harry that two wands taken from Malfoy Manor belonged to Bellatrix and to Draco Malfoy, but Malfoy’s has changed its allegiance to Harry.In Bellatrix’s vault, Harry discovers the Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff’s cup. He retrieves it, but Griphook snatches the sword and abandons the trio, leaving them cornered by security. The three release the dragon guardian and flee on its back. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort killing goblins, including Griphook, and learns Voldemort is aware of the theft. Harry also realises there is a Horcrux at Hogwarts somehow connected to Rowena Ravenclaw. The trio apparate into Hogsmeade, where Aberforth Dumbledore reluctantly instructs the portrait of his deceased younger sister, Ariana, to fetch Neville Longbottom, who leads the trio through a secret passageway into Hogwarts.Severus Snape hears of Harry’s return and warns staff and students of punishment for aiding Harry. Harry confronts Snape, who flees after Minerva McGonagall challenges him to a duel. McGonagall gathers the Hogwarts community for battle. At Luna Lovegood’s insistence, Harry speaks to Helena Ravenclaw’s ghost, who reveals that Voldemort performed “dark magic” on her mother’s diadem, which is in the Room of Requirement. In the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione destroy the Horcrux cup with a Basilisk fang. In the Room of Requirement, Draco, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle attack Harry after he finds the diadem, but Ron and Hermione intervene. Goyle casts a Fiendfyre curse and, unable to control it, is swallowed up by the flames while Harry and his friends save Malfoy and Zabini. Harry stabs the diadem with the Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the Room of Requirement, where it is destroyed. As Voldemort’s army attacks, Harry, seeing into Voldemort’s mind, realises that Voldemort’s snake Nagini is the final Horcrux. After entering the boathouse, the trio witness Voldemort incorrectly telling Snape that the Elder Wand cannot serve Voldemort until Snape dies since he killed its last owner (Dumbledore); he then orders Nagini to kill Snape, which Nagini does. Before dying, Snape tells Harry to take his memories to the Pensieve. In the chaos at Hogwarts, Fred, Lupin, and Tonks have been killed.Harry learns from Snape’s memories that Snape loved Harry’s late mother, Lily, but despised his father, James, who had bullied him. Following her death, Snape worked secretly with Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort because of his love for Lily. Harry also learns Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him, and that the Patronus doe he saw in the woods that led him to the sword had been conjured by Snape. Harry discovers that he himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort originally failed to kill him and that Harry must die to destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul within him. Harry then surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse upon Harry, who finds himself in limbo, where Dumbledore’s spirit meets him and explains that the part of Voldemort within Harry was killed by Voldemort’s own curse. Harry then returns to his body, determined to defeat Voldemort once and for all.Voldemort announces Harry’s apparent death to everyone at Hogwarts and demands they all surrender. As Neville gives a defiant response and draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, Harry reveals he is still alive. While Harry confronts Voldemort in a duel throughout the castle, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall, and Neville decapitates Nagini, leaving Voldemort mortal. Harry and Voldemort’s fight ends with Voldemort’s own Killing Curse rebounding, killing and obliterating him. After the battle, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione that the Elder Wand had recognised him as its true master because he had disarmed Draco, who earlier had disarmed its previous owner, Dumbledore, but instead of claiming the Elder Wand, Harry breaks and discards it. Nineteen years later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco proudly watch their own children leave for Hogwarts at King’s Cross station.What an amazing achievement to faithfully bring Rowling’s epic saga to the big screen with the same cast and largely the same crew, maintaining the brilliant quality right to the end.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 1

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Fracture)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Frances de la Tour (Hugo)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Rade Serbedzija (Stigmata)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Toby Regbo (Reign)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Camelot)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)

The Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, addresses the wizarding media, stating that the Ministry will remain strong even as Lord Voldemort gains strength. Harry, Ron and Hermione prepare for a journey to find and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes, with Harry watching the Dursleys depart and Hermione wiping her parents’ memories of her.

Severus Snape arrives at Malfoy Manor to inform Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters of Harry’s impending departure from No. 4 Privet Drive. Voldemort commandeers Lucius Malfoy’s wand, as Voldemort’s own wand cannot be used to kill Harry, because the wands are “twins.”

Meanwhile, the Order of the Phoenix gather at Privet Drive and escort Harry to safety, using Polyjuice Potion to create six decoy Harrys out of everyone else. During their flight to the Weasley family home at the Burrow, all are ambushed by Death Eaters. They kill Mad-Eye Moody and Harry’s owl, Hedwig, injure George Weasley, and knock out Hagrid. This forces Harry to take over and drive his flying motorbike while fighting Voldemort. In the process, destroying some power lines that causes a blackout to the city. After arriving at the Burrow, Harry has a vision of the wand-maker Ollivander being tormented by Voldemort, who claims that Ollivander had lied to him. Ollivander claimed that the only way Voldemort could kill Harry was by using another person’s wand.

Scrimgeour arrives at the Burrow with Albus Dumbledore’s Will and distributes three items to Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Ron receives Dumbledore’s Deluminator, Hermione a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Harry the first Golden Snitch that he ever caught in a Quidditch match. Scrimgeour reveals that Harry was also bequeathed the Sword of Godric Gryffindor. The minister states, though, that the sword was not Dumbledore’s to pass on and, in any case, is missing.

Next, the Death Eaters assassinate Scrimgeour and replace him with their puppet Pius Thicknesse. Thicknesse, under the influence of the Imperius curse, begins persecuting Muggle-born witches and wizards. Then the Minister disrupts the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, by sending a patronus charm to tell everyone what they did and attack them. Harry, Hermione, and Ron Disapparate to London and find sanctuary at No. 12 Grimmauld Place. There they discover that the “R.A.B.” from the false Horcrux locket is Regulus Arcturus Black, the younger brother of Sirius Black. Kreacher, the Black’s house-elf, tells them that Mundungus Fletcher stole the real locket. Kreacher and Dobby apprehend Fletcher, who reveals that the locket is in the possession of Dolores Umbridge. Under the disguise of Polyjuice Potion, the trio infiltrate the Ministry. In the courtroom, Umbridge is interrogating a Muggle-born witch and threatens her, which enrages Harry, who says to her “You’re lying, Dolores. And one mustn’t tell lies.” He then stuns her and Hermione successfully retrieves the locket. The trio escape from the Dementors by fleeing into the wilderness after accidentally revealing the location of No. 12 Grimmauld Place to Yaxley, a Death Eater.

Unable to destroy the Horcrux, they take turns wearing it to dilute its malignant power. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort interrogating Gregorovitch, a renowned wand-maker, who claims that a teenage boy had once stolen the legendary Elder Wand from his shop. While Ron wears the locket, he is overcome by his negative feelings and after arguing with Harry, he leaves, upsetting Hermione. Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric’s Hollow, where they visit Harry’s parents’ graves and the house where they were killed. Next Harry and Hermoine visit Bathilda Bagshot, who they believe has the Sword of Gryffindor, which they deduce can destroy Horcruxes. They are surprised by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, who has been possessing her corpse. Hermione accidentally breaks Harry’s wand as they escape into the Forest of Dean. Hermione is able to identify the mysterious thief seen in Harry’s vision as Gellert Grindelwald.

When evening falls, Harry sees a Patronus in the form of a doe which leads him to a frozen pond. Gryffindor’s sword lies beneath the pond’s ice. Harry breaks the ice and jumps in to reach the sword. The locket around his neck attempts to strangle him, but Ron arrives to rescue Harry. Despite the soul inside the locket attacking both of them, Ron manages to destroy it with the Sword of Gryffindor. Hermione is angry with Ron at first but then reconciles with him.

The trio then visit Xenophilius Lovegood to learn about a symbol seen several times on their journey. He tells them that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Lovegood betrays them to the Death Eaters in an effort to have his kidnapped daughter returned.

The trio escape into the wilderness once more, but Snatchers appear and chase them. Harry has a vision of Voldemort learning from Grindelwald that the Elder Wand lies with Dumbledore in his grave. They are then captured and taken to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix Lestrange imprisons Harry and Ron in a cellar, in which they discover Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook the goblin. Bellatrix tortures Hermione for information on how they got the sword of Gryffindor. After Dobby apparates in the cellar to save them, and incapacitates Peter Pettigrew, a short battle ensues; Harry duels and disarms Draco Malfoy. Narcissa Malfoy’s wand is taken by Dobby who says “Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf. And Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends.” Dobby is killed by Bellatrix right after he helps Harry and the other captives escape. Meanwhile, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand.You know that this will end in a cliffhanger, and what a cliffhanger it is, whetting your appetite to devour Part 2 , just so to witness how the film franchise of our generation will fittingly conclude.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Jim Broadbent (Brazil)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Katie Leung (One Child)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)

Lord Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the wizarding and Muggle worlds and has chosen Draco Malfoy to carry out a secret mission. Severus Snape makes an Unbreakable Vow with Draco’s mother, Narcissa, to protect Draco and fulfill the assignment if he fails.

16-year-old Harry accompanies Albus Dumbledore to visit former Potions professor Horace Slughorn, who has gone into hiding but agrees to return to teach at Hogwarts. Dumbledore then takes Harry to the Burrow, where Harry reunites with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry believes Voldemort has made Draco a Death Eater, after seeing Draco taking part in a ceremony, but Ron and Hermione are skeptical. At Hogwarts, Harry and Ron are forced to borrow textbooks for Slughorn’s Potions class, and Harry is stuck with a copy that turns out to be filled with helpful notes, instructions, and spells left by the book’s previous owner, the “Half-Blood Prince”. Using the book, Harry excels in the class and impresses Slughorn. Ron becomes Keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and forms a romantic relationship with Lavender Brown, upsetting Hermione. Harry consoles Hermione, revealing that he now has feelings for Ron’s younger sister, Ginny Weasley.

Harry spends the Christmas holidays with the Weasleys. On Christmas Eve, Bellatrix Lestrange and Fenrir Greyback set fire to the Burrow. Back at school, Ron is nearly killed when he drinks poisoned mead, a drink originally intended for Dumbledore. While recovering, Ron murmurs Hermione’s name, causing Lavender to end their relationship. Harry confronts Draco and severely injures him with a Sectumsempra curse taken from the textbook of the Half-Blood Prince. Snape enters and quickly heals Draco’s wound. Fearing the book may be filled with more Dark Magic, Ginny and Harry hide it in the Room of Requirement and share their first kiss.

Dumbledore shows Harry memories of a young Tom Riddle and reveals that Slughorn retains a memory critical to Voldemort’s defeat. Harry eventually succeeds in retrieving the memory, and learns that Voldemort wanted information for creating Horcruxes, objects that contain pieces of his soul. In the memory, Tom asked if dividing his soul into seven pieces was possible. Dumbledore concludes that Voldemort eventually did this, and two of his Horcruxes have already been destroyed: Tom Riddle’s diary and his mother’s ring. After discovering the possible location of another Horcrux, Harry and Dumbledore travel to a seaside cave where Harry is forced to make Dumbledore drink a painful potion that hides the Horcrux, Slytherin’s locket. A weakened Dumbledore defends them from Inferi and apparates back to Hogwarts, where Bellatrix, Greyback and more Death Eaters have entered with Draco’s help through a Vanishing Cabinet.

Dumbledore instructs Harry to hide as Draco arrives, disarms Dumbledore and reveals that he has been chosen by Voldemort to kill the headmaster. However, he is unable to bring himself to do it, and Snape casts the Avada Kedavra curse instead, killing Dumbledore. Harry attempts to curse Snape, but Snape overpowers him and reveals that he is the Half-Blood Prince. Harry returns to the school to find the staff and students mourning Dumbledore. Harry later reveals to Ron and Hermione that the locket Horcrux was a fake. The locket contains a message from “R.A.B.”, stating that he has stolen the real Horcrux with the intent of destroying it. Rather than return for their final year at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione vow to seek out and destroy the remaining Horcruxes.Purist fans will most certainly complain bitterly about numerous sub-plots, events and characters that were cut from the movie and the odd scene that doesn’t exist in the book. But Yates’ truly gutsy adaptation really works and brings a depth and clarity to the main themes of the book that is quite extraordinary. He manages to capture the lingering lightness of that time before the serious business of adulthood sets in, alongside the relentless buildup to the final showdown between The Dark Lord and The Chosen One. And the lack of closure at the end of the movie is no accident, I believe. Just like the book, this movie leaves you aching to see how it all ends.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Ralph Fiennes (In Burges)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Jane Eyre)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)

The Order of the Phoenix, a secret organisation founded by Albus Dumbledore, informs Harry Potter that the Ministry of Magic in denial of Lord Voldemort’s return. While at the Order’s headquarters, Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, mentions that Voldemort is after an object he did not have during his previous attack.Upon arrival at Hogwarts, Harry learns that Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge has appointed a new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor: Dolores Umbridge. She and Harry immediately clash, and she punishes Harry for his “lies” by forcing him to write a message with a magic quill, scarring his hand. When Ron and Hermione notice Harry’s scars, they are outraged but he refuses to go to Dumbledore, who has distanced himself from Harry since the summer. As Umbridge’s control over the school increases, Ron and Hermione aid Harry in forming a secret group to train students in defensive spells in the Room of Requirement, calling themselves “Dumbledore’s Army”. The Slytherin students are recruited by Umbridge to expose the group. Meanwhile, Harry and Cho Chang develop romantic feelings for each other.Harry has a vision involving an attack upon Arthur Weasley, from the point of view of Arthur’s attacker. Concerned that Voldemort will exploit this connection to Harry, Dumbledore instructs Severus Snape to give Harry Occlumency lessons to defend his mind from Voldemort’s influence. The connection between Harry and Voldemort leads Harry to further isolate himself from his friends. Meanwhile, Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius’ deranged cousin, escapes from Azkaban along with nine other Death Eaters. At Hogwarts, Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad expose Dumbledore’s Army. Dumbledore escapes as Fudge orders his arrest. Umbridge becomes the new Headmistress. Harry’s relationship with Cho falls apart, as he believes she betrayed Dumbledore’s Army to Umbridge, unaware that Cho was under the effects of Veritaserum potion. Harry discovers through Snape’s memories why Snape hated Harry’s father James, who often ridiculed him.Harry has another vision, this one of Sirius being tortured by Voldemort. Harry, Ron and Hermione rush to Umbridge’s fireplace to alert the Order via the Floo Network, since hers is the only fireplace not being monitored, but Umbridge stops them before they can do so. As Umbridge tortures Harry, Hermione tricks Umbridge into entering the Forbidden Forest in search of Dumbledore’s “secret weapon”. She and Harry lead her to the hiding place of Hagrid’s giant half-brother, Grawp, only to be confronted by centaurs who kidnap Umbridge after she attacks and insults them. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna Lovegood, Neville and Ginny fly to the Ministry of Magic on Thestrals in an attempt to save Sirius.The six enter the Department of Mysteries where they uncover a bottled prophecy, the object Voldemort was after. However, they are ambushed by Death Eaters including Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix. Lucius reveals that Harry only saw a vision of Sirius being tortured; it was simply a ruse to lure Harry into their grasp. Harry refuses to give Lucius the prophecy, and a fight between Dumbledore’s Army and the Death Eaters ensues. The Death Eaters take everyone (except Harry) as hostages, threatening to kill them unless he surrenders the prophecy.Harry obliges just as Sirius and Remus Lupin arrive with Order members Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad-Eye Moody. As they attack the Death Eaters, the prophecy drop and breaks. Just as Sirius overpowers Lucius, Bellatrix kills Sirius. Voldemort appears, but Dumbledore arrives through the Floo Network moments before Voldemort can kill Harry.A duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore ensues, destroying much of the Atrium, while Bellatrix escapes. After the two prove evenly matched, Voldemort possesses Harry to have Dumbledore sacrifice Harry, but the bond Harry feels for his friends and Sirius makes it impossible for Voldemort to remain in his body. Ministry officials arrive before Voldemort disapparates; Fudge is forced to admit that Voldemort has returned and resigns as Minister in disgrace. Umbridge is removed from Hogwarts and Dumbledore returns as headmaster. Dumbledore explains he distanced himself from Harry throughout the year hoping it would lessen the risk of Voldemort using their connection. Harry comes to terms with the prophecy; “Neither can live while the other survives.”What really made the movie for me was the talent of the actors. As expected, the older cast members deliver some of the best acting England has to offer.  I was especially impressed with how much Daniel, Emma, and Rupert have improved their acting since the last movie. Another great sequel.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Ralph Fiennes (In Burges)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Frances de la Tour (Into The Woods)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Robert Pattinson (Twilight)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)

Harry Potter dreams of Frank Bryce, who is killed after overhearing Lord Voldemort discussing plans with Peter Pettigrew and another man. Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys, but after the game, Death Eaters terrorise the spectators, and the man who appeared in Harry’s dream summons the Dark Mark.

At Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore introduces ex-Auror Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He also announces that the school will host the legendary event known as Triwizard Tournament where three magical schools are going to compete against each other in a very deadly competition by facing three dangerous challenges. The champions are selected by the Goblet of Fire: Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff is chosen to represent Hogwarts, Viktor Krum will represent Durmstrang Institute, and Fleur Delacour will represent Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. The Goblet unexpectedly chooses a fourth champion: Harry Potter. Dumbfounded, Dumbledore is unable to pull the underage Harry out of the tournament, as the Ministry official Barty Crouch Sr. insists that the champions are bound by a contract, and therefore, Harry is invited to compete. This makes Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley jealous of him.

For the tournament’s first task, the champions must each retrieve a golden egg guarded by a dragon. Harry succeeds after he summons his broomstick to retrieve the egg, which contains information about the second challenge. Shortly after, another event known as the Yule Ball dance takes place, during which Harry’s crush Cho Chang attends with Cedric, and Hermione Granger attends with Viktor, which makes Ron jealous of Viktor. During the second task, the champions are instructed to dive underwater to rescue their mates. Harry comes out in 3rd place but is placed second behind Cedric due to his “moral fiber”. Afterwards, Barty Crouch Sr. is found dead by Harry. Harry visits Dumbledore at his office, and while waiting for him, he discovers a Pensieve, which holds Dumbledore’s memories. Inside it, Harry witnesses a trial in which Igor Karkaroff (Durmstrang Institute’s Headmaster) confessed to the Ministry of Magic names of other Death Eaters, after Voldemort’s defeat. He named Severus Snape as one, but Dumbledore defended him; he then named Barty Crouch Jr. Barty Crouch Sr. was left devastated, and his son was taken to Azkaban. After exiting the Pensieve, Harry deduces that the man he has seen in his dreams with Voldemort is Barty Crouch Jr.

In the third and final task, the competitors are placed inside a hedge maze and must reach the Triwizard Cup. Viktor, under the influence of the Imperius Curse, incapacitates Fleur. After Harry saves Cedric when the maze attacks him, the two claim a draw and grab the cup together, which turns out to be a Portkey and transports the two to a graveyard, where Pettigrew and Voldemort are waiting. Pettigrew kills Cedric with the Killing Curse and performs a ritual using a bone of Voldemort’s father, Pettigrew’s flesh and Harry’s blood, which rejuvenates Voldemort, who then summons the Death Eaters. Voldemort releases Harry in order to beat him in a duel to prove he is the better wizard. Harry is unable to defend himself, but tries the Expelliarmus charm at the same moment Voldemort attempts the Killing Curse. Their wands do not work against each other, and Voldemort’s wand is forced to disgorge the last spells it performed. This results in shadow impressions of the people he murdered appearing in the graveyard, including Harry’s parents and Cedric. This provides an ample distraction to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, allowing Harry to escape with Cedric’s body by grabbing the Portkey.

Upon his return, Harry tells Dumbledore that Voldemort has returned and is responsible for Cedric’s death. Moody takes a devastated Harry back to his room to interrogate him about Lord Voldemort, where he inadvertently blows his cover when he asks Harry whether there were “others” in the graveyard, despite Harry never saying that he was transported there. Exposed, Moody reveals that he was the one who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, and that he had been guiding and manipulating Harry throughout the tournament to ensure that he would win, so Voldemort would take Harry’s blood to return. Moody then tries to kill Harry, only for Harry to be saved by Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall. The teachers force Moody to drink Veritaserum, a truth telling potion where it is revealed that he isn’t Moody, and that the real Moody is imprisoned in a magical trunk. The false Moody’s Polyjuice Potion wears off and he is revealed as Barty Crouch Jr., working for Voldemort. Crouch Jr. is sent back to Azkaban, from which he had escaped.

In the morning, Dumbledore reveals to the students that Voldemort killed Cedric, although the Ministry of Magic is against this. Later, Dumbledore visits Harry in his dormitory, and apologizes to him for the dangers he had to go through. Harry reveals that he saw his parents in the graveyard; Dumbledore names this effect as “Priori Incantatem”. Dumbledore acknowledges that even though Harry’s parents appeared through Voldemort’s wand, no spell can awaken the dead. Dumbledore reminds Harry that he is not alone. Soon after, Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons bid farewell to each other.For fans of the books, you should find this adaptation a commendable reflection of Rowling’s tale. Naturally, some parts had to be modified or cut entirely – there’s no way to avoid that without making it a 10 hour movie – but the parts that were cut were either not critical to the story line, or will be easy to account for in the films to come. Unless you’re an obsessive nitpicker about every last detail, you should find this a satisfactory film version of Goblet of Fire.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Richard Griffiths (Superman II)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Fiona Shaw (Jane Eyre)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Dawn French (Coraline)
Julie Christie (Don’t Look Now)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)

Harry Potter, now aged 13, has been spending another dissatisfying summer at Privet Drive. When Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marge, insults Harry’s parents, he becomes angry and accidentally causes her to inflate and float away. Harry flees with his luggage, fed up with his life with the Dursleys. The Knight Bus delivers Harry to the Leaky Cauldron, where he is forgiven by Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge for using magic outside of Hogwarts. After reuniting with his best friends Ron and Hermione, Harry learns that Sirius Black, a convicted supporter of the dark wizard Voldemort, who murdered Harry’s parents, has escaped Azkaban prison, intending to kill Harry.

The trio are returning to Hogwarts for the school year on the Hogwarts Express when dementors suddenly board the train, searching for Sirius. One enters the trio’s compartment, causing Harry to pass out. New Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Lupin repels the dementor with a Patronus Charm. At Hogwarts, headmaster Albus Dumbledore announces that dementors will be guarding the school while Sirius is at large. Hogwarts groundskeeper Hagrid is announced as the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher; his first class goes awry when Draco Malfoy deliberately provokes a hippogriff, Buckbeak, who attacks him. Draco’s father Lucius Malfoy later has Buckbeak sentenced to death.

The Fat Lady’s portrait, which guards the Gryffindor quarters, is found ruined and empty. Terrified and hiding in another painting, the Fat Lady tells Dumbledore that Sirius Black has entered the castle. During a stormy Quidditch match, dementors attack Harry, causing him to fall off his broomstick, which is then destroyed by the Whomping Willow. Lupin privately teaches Harry to defend himself against dementors, using the Patronus Charm. At Hogsmeade, Harry is shocked to learn that not only had Sirius Black been his parents’ best friend and betrayed them to Voldemort, but that Sirius is also his godfather.

After Harry, Ron and Hermione witness Buckbeak’s execution, Ron’s pet rat Scabbers bites him and escapes. When Ron gives chase, a large dog appears and drags both Ron and Scabbers into a hole at the Whomping Willow’s base, which is actually an underground passage to the Shrieking Shack. The trio discovers that the dog is actually Sirius, who is an Animagus. Lupin arrives and embraces Sirius as an old friend. He admits to being a werewolf, and explains that Sirius is innocent. Sirius was falsely accused of betraying James and Lily to Voldemort, and murdering their mutual friend Peter Pettigrew. It is revealed that Scabbers is actually Pettigrew, an Animagus who committed the crime for which Sirius was convicted. After forcing him back into a human, Lupin and Sirius prepare to kill him, but Harry convinces them to turn Pettigrew over to the dementors.

As the group departs, the full moon rises; Lupin transforms into a werewolf, and Sirius transforms into his dog form to fight him off. In the chaos, Pettigrew escapes in his rat form. Sirius and Harry are attacked by dementors and Harry sees a figure in the distance save them by casting a powerful Patronus spell. He believes the mysterious figure is his dead father, and passes out. He awakens to discover that Sirius has been captured and sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss. Acting on Dumbledore’s advice, Harry and Hermione travel back in time with Hermione’s Time Turner, and watch themselves and Ron repeat the night’s events. They save Buckbeak from execution and witness the Dementors overpower Sirius and Harry. The present Harry realises that it was actually him who conjured the Patronus, and does so again. Harry and Hermione then rescue Sirius, who escapes on Buckbeak. Lupin resigns to preempt an uproar from parents over a werewolf teaching their children. Sirius sends Harry a Firebolt broom, the fastest broom in the world, and Harry happily takes it for a ride.Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are back as Harry, Ron and Hermoine, with Hermoine in particular getting to do a lot more. There are less Quidditch matches, and more menace, in keeping with the improved complexity of Rowling’s third novel. Hogwarts is not safe, Draco Malfoy is no longer a menace, but just a pain in the ass. And the new CGI-scripted character Buckbeak the Hippogriff (half eagle, half horse) looks fantastic and has personality. Great performances from Emma Thompson hamming it up as the ditsy professor of foretelling, Prof Trelawny, Michael Gambon as the new Professor Dumbledore (not as magical but good), David Thewliss as Prof Lupin, and Gary Oldman as the Prisoner of Azkhaban.Thrilling, complex, menacing, a great follow-up.