Numbers 6 – Vampires, Magic, and more Aliens

Husband:

6) Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
harry_potter_half_blood_prince_dumbledore_potter

I’m sitting with a group of SharePoint experts, all of us brought to the Stanford SLAC campus to look over a SharePoint project that they were undertaking. The sun is hot (odd, for the time of year) and we’re sitting outside eating lunch. Everyone is enjoying themselves, and then…

Someone brings up Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Lines are quickly drawn – it becomes startlingly clear that some of the group hated the film (“They BUTCHERED the book!&rdquoWinking and the other half loved it (“Come on, the wands raised to remove the dark mark at the end? That was awesome!Winking. There are also a few unfortunate souls who either hadn’t seen the film yet, or (*shudder*) did not like Harry Potter at all. A 25 minute argument ensued. It was brutal. It was a bit bloody. Geek credentials were questioned – repeatedly.

It would have lasted longer, but we all had planes to catch.

If you haven’t already inferred from its position on this list, I loved Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I think they took a book that’s pretty much exposition and set-up for the final entry in the series and made it into a fantastic film that stands on its own. Harry Potter is, in many ways, a story about love, death, and growing up, and I think that the film showcases that brilliantly. Yes, a lot was cut, but I don’t think that really hurts it – it works as a genuinely great film. And, I think that the “big” change at the end actually works better for a film than the book’s ending would have. It’s exciting, beautiful, and utterly fantastic.

And man, The Deathly Hallows can *not* get here soon enough.

Wife:
Top Ten

10) My Life in Ruins
9) Fanboys
8) What’s Your Raashee?
7) The Brothers Bloom

6) Outlander
Outlanderposter

My husband told me about this movie before it came out and I thought it sounded like the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of. “Outlander” stars Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Jack Huston, Ron Perlman, and John Hurt. A humanoid alien crash lands on Earth during the time of the Vikings (or Viking-like peoples) and is chased by a chameleon-like dragon (also an alien). He must convince the local tribe that this isn’t an angry god or an immortal dragon, but a monster that must be defeated. Sounds lame, right?

Not so much. For a little film that didn’t expect to make a big splash, they pulled off this story quite well. The effects, while not something astounding, are pretty impressive. They manage to make all the characters vivid and took care to make every visual aspect believable – even making every costume by hand. The story is a little slow, but it builds so steadily that you don’t really mind only getting a few glimpses of the Moorwen (dragon) in the first 40 minutes. You shouldn’t expect something on par with Avatar when it comes to visually striking or epic story, but this movie is a fun watch with just enough love story to keep the girls interested and enough action and blood/guts to satisfy the guys.

The bottom ten

10) Watchmen
9) Taken
8) Year One
7) The Pink Panther 2

6) Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Underworld_Rise_of_the_Lycans_poster

Now, I’m a fan of the other two Underworld movies, so I’m not just hating on the entire series. “Rise of the Lycans” stars Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra, and Kevin Grevioux. This third installment is a prequel to the first two – detailing the beginning of the war between the Lycans and the Vampires. We are brought back to the last time it was Viktor’s turn to rule, back when werewolves were only men who had been turned to giant wolves and could not regain their human form. Viktor is offering protection to the local nobles from the werewolves if in return they pay him a tithe. He has larger plans to enslave the entire werewolf race to serve the vampires. Viktor has imprisoned a young werewolf named Lucien who has the ability to regain his human form – and is therefore the first real Lycan. But when Lucien and Viktor’s daughter Sonja fall in love, all hell breaks loose.

I think the reason I disliked this film in the Underworld trilogy so intensely was this movie took itself way too seriously. It’s always a danger when making a period piece that you begin to get a little too pretentious. Sure, the story could have been downright awesome, and there’s no doubt that there were talented actors engaged in the film, but they tried to be so intense that it felt campy. I disliked Sonja and from the very get-go, didn’t really care what happened to her (if you’ve watched the first two Underworld movies, you know). And it’s always tough to make a prequel interesting when you know precisely how it’s going to end because too much information has been given away in the “present-day” films.

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