Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 – Movie Review

When it comes to the Twilight series, both the books and the movies have been, umm, less than stellar. The pages that I read way before the first movie was even released told a redundant story that has affected the genre it discussed negatively and the movies took it upon themselves to worsen it even further. The story is so concise that I managed to tell the few thousand pages to a friend in one paragraph. If that’s not a concise summary, I don’t know what is. When it comes to the final Twilight book, any reader of the series can attest that there’s almost nothing that happens in it – or at least in its second half – so the decision to split it into two movies was purely for commercial reasons, which is very obvious.

One thing to say about Breaking Dawn Part 2 though is that, while it is still a weak movie as far as movies go, it’s well above the average for a franchise that has become synonymous with cheap quick money… and it’s also much better than its corresponding half of the last book installment in the Twilight Saga. Much better actually, which goes to show exactly how good the book was.

Bella, now a vampire, is adapting to the changes that her condition imposes. But she has uncanny self-control, enabling her to run away from human blood even on her first hunting trip. The daughter she almost died giving birth to has grown immensely in the two days during which Bella underwent her transformation. And her daughter keeps growing before her… until a vampire sees her and reports her to the Volturi, the council governing all vampires, as an immortal child: children turned vampires, which are also illegal and cause an automatic death sentence on their maker. So the Cullen clan starts preparing for a final showdown against the Volturi, asking for the help of anyone who could listen.

The script of Breaking Dawn Part 2 is mechanic. The acting is robotic. The direction is fill in by numbers. The actors give these looks that try to penetrate into your soul way too many times, eventually ending up becoming just awkward. Kristen Stewart is better as Bella in this movie than she has been in the previous ones. She actually smiles… more than once. Rejoice, maybe? Robert Pattinson still looks and sounds constipated in every single scene he acts. Taylor Lautner is still here only to get the girls in the theatre to scream at the sight of his abs. He shows them once, for the record. But you’re not here for their acting, which is more often than not borderline comical.

The score by Carter Burwell, on the other hand, is pleasant to listen to. The departures the movie takes from the book are also quite shocking. That’s probably the only reason why I left the movie feeling that it wasn’t all too bad. So for readers of the books, prepare to be positively surprised as well as shocked towards the end.

For everyone else, here’s how it breaks down into: if you’ve been able to tolerate the previous movies then you’ll find this one much better. If you couldn’t stand the previous movies but watched them begrudgingly, then this one will still be better. If you have absolutely no idea what Twilight is and wish it to remain this way then lucky you should steer clear.

As the movie opens worldwide tomorrow, almost everyone will draw a sigh of relief as this part of cinematic history comes to a close. And what a [insert any derogatory adjective you want] chapter it has been. However, for such an underwhelming and depressingly horrible movie series, Breaking Dawn part 2 ends it with a bang – or as good as a bang that could be for the standards that Twilight has set for itself. The series’ die-hard fans (or twihards as they call themselves) will be happy with it.

5.5/10 – just for the absolute shocker finale. 

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Top 13 Movies of 2011

Note: This list is tentative and will be constantly updated to be hopefully finalized by March at the latest due to the unavailability of many movies that are garnering critical acclaim and award traction, be it on DVD or in local theaters.

After checking my first “Top of 2011” list which dealt with music, it is time for the second one about another thing that I’m interested in and which I’ve discussed many times throughout this past year: movies.

So without further ado, let us begin.

13 – X-Men: First Class

This reboot of the franchise of which I am a fan was a very needed approach in order to keep these X-Men relevant. Showing how Dr. Xavier became as such and Magneto became, well, Magneto, the movie was really a breath of fresh air for action movies that became more reliant on screen explosions and aerobics than on a decent story to which those special effects come as a complement. (My review of X-Men: First Class)

12 – Stray Bullet

This Lebanese movie may be too short and not a very accurate reflection on the war it is supposedly set in but the acting performances in this are so gut-wrenchingly real, it can’t but be on my list. (My review of Rsasa Tayshe/Stray Bullet)

11 – The Ides of March

This political drama is my favorite of its genre this year. I may not agree with the accolades it’s getting everywhere over more deserving movies but it’s still a great movie in its own merits. It’s riveting, engaging, highly reflective and real. It can happen anytime in any political campaign. The performances are top notch as well. (My review of The Ides of March).

10 – Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s back to basics is definitely one of the better movies of the year. This Parisian comedy will make you dream. It will take you beyond the confines of whatever room you’re watching the movie in and take you aboard its own fantastical world in a trip back in time. Marion Cotillard is more than brilliant in this. The plot is very original and the movie is very enjoyable. (My review of Midnight in Paris).

9 – One Day

Many didn’t like this movie. I found it enthralling and enchanting. Telling the story of a couple revisiting each other on the day they met every year over the course of 23 years. The premise is intriguing and while I’m sure it flows more smoothly in the book upon which this is based, the movie doesn’t botch it. In fact, the transitions are very smart at times. (My review of One Day).

8 – A Separation

This Iranian movie is simply stunning. It’s a cross examination of Iranian society through the lives of  a couple getting a divorce. The emotions in this run high, they never relent. The hurt in the characters is examined and not feared. Taboos are approached and at the end of the day, it leaves you with a stereotype-breaking view of Iranian society. (My review of A Separation).


7 – War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s WWI epic is, well, an epic movie as well. Based on the children’s book of the same name, War Horse is emotional and phenomenal. It’s stunning to look at and boasts one of the most pleasurable scores I have heard this year in a movie. It is a sentimental movie that transcends age lines and turns into a story for the ages. A must watch. (My review of War Horse)

6 – Moneyball

Brad Pitt shines as Billy Beane, manager of a struggling baseball team, as he tries to get his team to survive a grueling league with a dismal budget. So he enlists Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand to help him change the whole baseball game and turn it head on heels. Moneyball might be the best sports movie made. (My review of Moneyball)

5 – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher’s take on this Swedish noir novel preserves the book’s essence and turns it into a stellar movie, fueled by a top notch performance by Rooney Mara who embodies the novel’s heroin Lisbeth Salander in spellbinding manner. I loved the book and the movie. (My review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)

4 – The Artist

The Artist is a black and white movie which relies on the symphony playing throughout its run for its only auditory input. And it just works. It asks nothing of you as a viewer but to simply watch, not even listen. It relies on the strength of the performances by its cast to communicate the emotions it tries to convey. (My review of The Artist).

 3 – The Help


Based on the book of the same titleThe Help is easily one of the best movies this year as well. It is the tale of the quest of three Southern women in a 1960s racially segregated America for racial equality. The movie may be a work of fiction but it feels so real when you watch it, you can’t but be amazed. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” – that’s a sentence for the ages. (My review of The Help).

2 – Where Do We Go Now? (W Halla2 La Wein?)


The Lebanese movie that could. Nadine Labaki’s latest movie is without a doubt one of the best movies this year. After being robbed of a Golden Globes nomination (Angelina Jolie, I’m looking at you), we find solace in this movie winning at the Toronto International Film Festival. Telling the tale of women who go beyond their means to get the men of their religiously-divided hometown to ease the tension, the movie tugs at your heartstring, activates your tear ducts and makes you laugh uncontrollably – all at the same time, sometimes. (My review of Where Do We Go Now?)

1 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Because there’s no other movie that deserves to be here. Because there’s no other franchise that has had such a thrillingly brilliant finale. Because no other movie has ever gotten me this close to tears and because every single award show is hell-bent on shunning this from the awards it most definitely deserves. Yes, this may be predictable to many but there’s just something about the final installment in the story of Harry Potter that transcends it being just a movie and turns into a cinematic experience that we, as the Harry Potter generation, are very lucky to have experienced. (My review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2).

– – – – – — – – – – — – – – – –

Notable mentions:

Puss in Boots, previous #13 on the list’s initial version. 

Soul Surfer (check my review) previous #12 on the list’s initial version.

Source Code (check my review) previous #11 on the list’s initial version.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Golden Globes For Your Consideration Poster & Video

Warner Bros just shared this poster with me, which they’ve been circulating as part of the award season campaign for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

After being slightly bummed out by Deathly Hallows not receiving almost any award love from Critics so far, this makes me feel slightly better that Warner Bros are not simply letting it slide. Perhaps they’re keeping the big guns for the award shows that matter.

Without further ado, here’s the poster:

There’s also this short but very well-done and emotional video. Ask me, I got goosebumps watching it.

 

Harry Potter Makes Box Office History: Shatters Opening Weekend Record

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 soared into the penthouse of the record books with its final installments as the movie grossed over $168 million in its opening weekend in North America alone, beating The Dark Knight’s gross of $158.4 million 3 years prior.

Part 2’s opening weekend also decimated the franchise’s previous best opening weekend with Part 1’s $125 million, set back in November 2010, and in doing so it accounted for two-thirds of all tickets sold over this past weekend.

Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opened up to both critical and audience acclaim (You can read my review here). It currently holds a 97% consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a score of 87 on metacritic, indicating overwhelmingly positive reviews.
It also broke both the Friday opening record and the midnight screening record, grossing $92.5 million, $43 million out of which were on its midnight screening, as previously posted.

Deathly Hallows: Part 2 would have also grossed over $307 million in international territories in a matter of days, beating previous record set by Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, at $260 million, bringing its total sum since its release to over $475 million, putting it on course to being the first Harry Potter movie to cross the $1 billion threshold.

Analysts are saying the excellent word of mouth the movie is getting, as well as the 3D premium, coupled with it being the final Harry Potter movie are all converging to make it shatter these records. I’m sure Warner Brothers couldn’t be happier.

 

Harry Potter Shattering Box Office Records!

Rejoice Harry Potter fans! The huge blitz for the movie is paying off. In truckloads that is. Not only is the movie absolutely epic (my review) but the response is great as well!

Let’s start domestically in the U.S. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has decimated the midnight box office record, bringing in over $43.5 million from its midnight screenings alone, from 3800 screens. The previous record was held by the Twilight Eclipse movie, which brought in $30 million from 4000 screens. Just to show the magnitude of such an opening, if Harry grossed that much all of Friday, it would still make it the 13th biggest Friday box office opening sum in history.

The movie is headed for a huge U.S. Opening weekend as well with initial forecasts set for it to open with more than $145 million. Most people expect it to go higher and even break The Dark Knight’s record, set in 2008, by grossing more than $158.4 million in its opening weekend, Friday through Sunday.

The Friday total for Harry Potter was $92.1 million in the U.S. alone, dwarfing the previous record set by New Moon at $72 million. Friday’s sum alone puts Harry Potter as the 2nd best opening of 2011, behind Transformers. Though analysts are expecting it to go over $170 million now, to become the highest opening weekend in history.

On the international front, the movie grossed more than $43.6 million from 26 territories. To put it into perspective, that’s 82% better than Part 1 and 46% better than Half-Blood Prince, both of which had huge international opening weekends.

And look at this… the movie set opening day records in every single country it was released in! It grossed more than $7 million in Australia on its first day, beating the previous record set by Return Of The King back in 2003. What was the previous record? Just over $2 million.

The other grosses were as follows: Italy ($4.6 million), Sweden ($2.1 million), Norway ($1.8 million), the Netherlands ($1.7 million), Denmark ($1.6 million), Belgium ($1.4 million) and Finland ($749,000). It also claimed the Wednesday opening record in France ($7.1 million), the preview record in Germany ($5.3 million), and the Warner Bros. opening day record in Russia ($4.1 million).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is set to break the record set by Half-Blood Prince for biggest opening international weekend as well. And when it’s all said and done, this movie is expected to add more than $1 billion in revenue to the world’s most lucrative movie franchise ever.

I will be posting the final numbers the moment they’re available.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 – Review

It all ends. It all ended. And so did my heart.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 also known as the movie that tore my heart and soul into oblivion. Never, ever have I been inside a movie theatre and brought this close to tears. The hell with it, I CRIED. And it happened so many times. If you thought goosebumps was the criteria for a good scene, then mix those goosebumps with emotional upheaval, coupled with your hands almost shaking and this is Deathly Hallows part 2 in its entirety.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are still on the pursuit to collect and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. They believe the next one is hidden away in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault in Gringotts, the wizarding bank. But going into the bank is near impossible – unless you know a goblin who worked there, which they do. And so a deal is stricken. At Gringotts, they are discovered to be impostors. Hearts will race as they try to escape with the horcrux and as Harry soon finds out the next one is hidden inside Hogwarts and it’s something that belongs to another founder of the school.
And it is to Hogwarts that he goes. But Hogwarts has changed. Snape is the new headmaster. The Carrow brothers are forcing students to practice the cruciatus curse (torture) on first year students.
But there are many things that Harry doesn’t know, the ultimate secret being one that revolves around his every being. Things are never as it seems. People will show their true colors and they will come out as triumphant even after years and years of hatred.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is such a beautiful movie that you cannot move your eye off the screen. Checking the time? Dream on, my friend. Dream on. The moment the movie starts, picking up exactly where Part 1 left off, you are mesmerized. It starts abruptly and takes you right into the story. And it doesn’t let you go. It grabs at you with all the force in the world and drags you everywhere the movie goes and you hopelessly go with it like a rag doll.

Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have done the impossible here. They are possibly the only set of actors that you have seen grow up on the big screen and as the actors grew up on a personal level, they added their maturity to their characters. It’s very fascinating to watch them interact. And in Part 2, they bring out the big guns. Their acting is relentless, captivating and charming as it should be now that they have mastered the characters they’re playing. You cannot imagine other actors portraying Harry and Ron or another actress to portray Hermione. It simply doesn’t make sense. And this trio simply proves this beyond doubt.

Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith as Snape and Professor McGonagall respectively gave their all in this movie. You cannot help but be on the edge of your seat whenever any of these two actors are doing their thing. Rickman has a part of the movie entirely dedicated to his character’s personal story. It is also one of my favorite parts of the book. The Prince’s Tale is transferred so magnificently on screen that it WILL bring you to tears. Many times at that, in the space of about five minutes. If you don’t feel absolutely overwhelmed at one point in that sequent of memories, then you are not human. There, I said it.
Professor McGonagall takes a stand – several, actually – in Deathly Hallows as well. She stands up for Harry and when she does, the whole theatre will explode in applause. Maggie Smith fortifying Hogwarts and then cracking a joke to lighten up the mood… Just the way I like it. You cannot but share the pain in Smith’s eyes as she sees her beloved school crumbling around her, as she sees all the work that they’ve done go to waste… absolutely stunning.

So Hogwarts is now fortified. They have one hour before Voldemort’s powers attack. And what better actor to portray this generation’s most bad-ass villain than Ralph Fiennes. People, just give him the Oscar for best supporting actor already. There will be no one more worthy. Him or Alan Rickman.
Ralph Fiennes gives his character an extra dimension in this movie now that he has the room to spread his wings so to speak, seeing as he’s one of the movie’s main pillars. Lord Voldemort is all evil. But in this movie, another side of him shows up: anguish and misery. And yet, there’s this subtlety to the nuances of the portrayal that make up the overall result to be very epic, indeed.

Michael Gambon has one scene in the movie as Albus Dumbledore and to say that his part sticks to the book would be an understatement. They uttered my favorite line. I was on cloud nine. “Of course it’s happening inside your head… but why should it mean it’s not real?” It’s also my twitter bio! And this is truly the world that this movie and the books have created. It is imaginary but it feels so real that you just don’t care that it’s all in your head. Shattering the lines between reality and imaginary is not just for eccentric, high or mentally disturbed people. For two hours, this movie will get you to strut those boundaries as well.

Steve Kloves is the movie’s screenwriter. And what can one say about Steve Kloves and give him enough credit. He captured the movie’s essence perfectly. He presented J.K. Rowling’s work in such a brilliant way that even the slight deviations from the book (and they are very few) do not even matter anymore. He portrays the gravity of the situation to the letter: the deaths, the destruction, the revelations, the build-up…. His version of the story is so well done that it would be incredible not to see an Oscar nod (and a win!) for him in the Screenplay category. He added his touch while keeping Rowling’s magic. Some of the lines from the book are transferred to the movie as they are and for someone who has read the book over and over again, I was ecstatic to hear them on screen. “Look… at…me.” Enough said.

Director David Yates has helmed the last four Potter movies and while I had my doubts about him at first (Order of the Phoenix was not exactly great), he more than surpassed my wildest expectations in this. The pace he sets for the movie never dies down. It keeps on building up and up like a beautiful orchestral crescendo. He guides his actors and actresses with confidence. He’s working with a marvelous script based on a terrific book. And he has the green light to give it all out. What do you expect from a very talented director with those options? Something not less than magical.

And throughout the movie, you listen to this satisfyingly rich and haunting score by French composer Alexandre Desplat, who also composed the score for the first part. As the score opens with the epic “Lily’s Theme,” you are captivated by the music on top of the visuals. The score doesn’t let down as well. It fuses itself into the movie perfectly and grows as the characters advance with the plot. It incorporates elements from all previous Harry Potter scores, giving homage to all previous composers. And what better way to end this than to salute those who worked on the series before you?

On top of all that, the movie is such a nice sight to see that it’s ridiculous at times how perfect the cinematography, the make-up and all other technical aspects are. They are so well-done that they are simply the cherry on top of this marvelous cake. Summer blockbusters usually rely on these elements as their forte. Not with this movie. While any other movie would dream to have this quality on it, Deathly Hallows Part 2 has these coming with the territory of being the movie that it is.

Critics and fans alike are raving about this. I had posted earlier about the early reviews the movie was getting and they set my expectations so high that I was afraid the movie would not meet them. It not only met them, it shattered them and rendered them useless dust. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is magical, magnificent, elegant, pure, heart-breaking, eye-popping, insanely brilliant, enchantingly captivating and sensationally grandiose. It is one of the best – if not THE best – cinematic experience you could hope for. It’s a perfect movie, if there ever was such a thing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 provides you with a sense of catharsis as it ends. It lets your senses go. It lowers your inhibitions more than alcohol. You cannot help but see your hands automatically clap at some points in the movie. You shout in desperation without even controlling your voice and you root for your characters like they’re really in front of you. Tears flow down your face without any power of you to stop them. There isn’t any better way to end the epic series that was Harry Potter. If only it weren’t ending…

I was going to start putting a grade to movies that I review, based on requests. So let me attempt this now:

13/10

Early Reviews For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

The Harry Potter series is concluded with the last installment in its movie adaptation set to be released in less than a week’s time and with it a great chapter in the lives of many comes to a conclusion. And if you haven’t done so already, check out 13 Reasons to Love Harry Potter.

For those of us who can’t handle any sort of wait when it comes to Harry Potter, we resort to reading movie reviews before we actually get to see the movie. So I’ve decided to make a spoiler-free compilation of what top critics have said about the new movie so far, soon after its premiere a few hours ago in London.

Reuters write that the final movie is a statistical anomaly in the Harry Potter series since it brings its A-game from start to finish. They say if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you will come out of the movie with a sense of catharsis and a slightly damp handkerchief. They wrote that the movie’s running time of about 130 minutes was too condensed to fit everything that it felt sort of rushed and that this was the only flaw in the movie. The actors and actresses brought their game on and screenwriter Steve Kloves wrote a screenplay that doesn’t dwell on explaining to newcomers as much as it delivers to veterans.

Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter’s review can be summarized by: “An outstanding capper to the most lucrative film franchise of all time.” He commended the series for giving viewers an astonishing, gripping and exhilarating ending. He spoke about Steve Kloves’ very well-done screenplay as well as the eye-popping visual effects that don’t even need 3D to grab you. The performances of all the actors are actresses was described to be top-notch, saying that the movies have always been spot on with the casting department, hiring the best of the best British actors and actresses. Even the trio Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson get to spread their wings in this one and shine.

Variety’s Justin Chang writes in his review that the end surges ahead with urgency, spell-binding spectacles and overwhelming emotions. At 131 minutes, this is the shortest movie of the series. Why the rush, he asks, since such an ending deserved a longer running time for more catharsis. He expects this installment to garner in more revenue than the series’ most lucrative first movie. He complemented director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves for their work in making this movie better than the first part, making for a more exciting cinematic experience. He says the movie builds up to a great moment which he thinks fails since it doesn’t really capture the magic in Rowling’s universe. But he says that everything is taken to an immaculate standard in the movie, making for a highly satisfying conclusion.

Peter Shaw from The Guardian writes that the Potter saga could have hardly ended on a better note. Saying that previous movies had begun to sag, this final piece brings back the magic to the Potter legend. He says it’s even superior to T.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return Of The King. The spectacle is grand, marvelous and dramatically satisfying, justifying the two-movie split. He says he was on the verge of tears in many moments of the movie to show the immense amount of emotions that this finale held. He said the movie reminded him of the thrill he had watching the first movie 10 years ago.

Grant Rollings from The Sun described the movie as too much to bear. In the good sense that is. When their preview ended, people were wailing in the theatre for the end of such an era. He says that our favorite boy wizard gets the send off he deserves and in glorious 3D to top off the magic. He describes the movie as epic, dizzying and thrilling, even before the movie reaches its long-awaited climax. He says the movie makes brought everything out for this final film but said Daniel Radcliffe could have brought his game up. He concludes his review with “a terrific movie and a great British success story.”

The Dailymail’s Baz Bamigboye found the final installment in the Harry Potter franchise to be more than satisfying. He found it to be thrilling. He watched the movie with child-like wonder, taken away by how much the actors and actresses (especially the trio) grew up over the course of the eight movies. He counted over 1132 names in the ending credit. He says they’re probably out of a job now. But “what a way to go.”

The Telegraph commended director David Yates on making the movie a terrifying spectacle where the central trio does not disappoint and nor do any of the other actors and actresses of the movie. They even believe that screenwriter Steve Kloves fine tunes some of what they described deficiencies of the final book, to grasp the epic feeling instilled in the movie. They say this is “monumental cinema awash with gorgeous tones, and carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it. This is not an end. How could it be?”

And since I’ve said over and over again that this movie is looking to be a serious Oscar contender, Emmanuel Levy shared my view in his review, in which he gave the movie a grade of A-. He wrote: the finale does justice to the whole series. And even though Academy Award members are known for their short memory, this movie should be in serious consideration for a multitude of academy awards such as best screenplay for Steve Kloves, best director for David Yates, best supporting actor for Ralph Fiennes in his chills-inducing performance of Lord Voldemort and best picture, as well as a nomination in every technical category.

I’ll be watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in an early Lebanese screening on July 13th and I will review it immediately afterwards. When will you catch this brilliance on screen? It will not disappoint you. After all, how many movies with a unanimous critical approval fail to match their hype? This will not happen with Harry Potter.

And for good measure, watch the trio along with J.K. Rowling saying goodbye to the series at the London Movie Premiere.