75: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black – February 3, 2012
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds
Written by: Jane Goldman
Directed by: James Watkins

The plot: “A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.” – IMDB

My thoughts: For whatever reason, I saw this at midnight on its opening day. I have considerably long days so I found myself a bit tired at the beginning of the movie. It takes a solid 20 minutes for things to really get freaky and initially, my thoughts were that it would be full of cheap scares and unfortunately turn out to be more like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Luckily, it was effectively creepy.

I give most of the creepy credit to the art department because the toys and dolls in that movie were HORRIFYING. At one point, a shot hovered over a doll with blonde hair and jagged, shark teeth and the entire theater nervously laughed. And there was a clown doll and one too many monkeys to sit comfortably with me. My friends and I all determined that the very early 1900s would not have been an idyllic time to grow up or live in. Everything seemed distinctly…evil.

The plot was a bit tired, but keep in mind, it’s based on a book from the 1980s so I would venture to guess that the whole “vengeful/unfinished ghost story” wasn’t quite as overused as it is now. I thought the film did a really good job with a plot that’s been seen countless times. And it was great that they made it so dark. Kids were seen being set on fire and spitting out blood. I think that’s at least a little disturbing.

Beyond plot and the creep-factor, there were some absolutely gorgeous landscape shots. The initial shot of the train, with rolling green fields, perfect skies, and a line of smoke coming of the train was incredible and I was awestruck at the shot of the road leading to the island. The film was really beautiful visually which is a nice change of pace for a horror/thriller movie which doesn’t always pay attention to that stuff.

And finally, the acting. Daniel Radcliffe has certainly come a long way since the first Harry Potter movies. Despite being pocket-sized, he has an intense presence on screen. Everyone was wonderful in the film and it was nice to see such a distinctly English film (Daniel Radcliffe is probably the only notable actor to mainstream American audiences) get a warm reception in America – or at least in the theater I was in. It was pretty full and people seemed to generally like it.

Stars: 4/5 (mostly due to the somewhat lackluster plot)

AND NOW, FOR A FEW SPOILERS:

For anyone who saw the film, God damn that ending! I really thought that DanRad was going to save his (totally adorable) son and the ghost would be done since someone finally saved a child! But I guess her whole “Never forgive! Never forgive!” wasn’t an exaggeration. Jennet (was that a common name in the 1800s?) meant business and she was going to kill every child she could find.

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19: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (or should I say “Meh-thly Hallows”?)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – July 15, 2011
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Tom Felton, Maggie Smith, every other British thespian ever
Written by: Steve Kloves
Directed by: David Yates

The plot: “Harry, Ron and Hermione search for Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord once and for all.” – IMDB

My thoughts: I was unfortunately not wholly satisfied with the final installment of the Harry Potter series. It wasn’t bad – I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. I found it to be a bit lackluster for being built up as such an emotional and extreme climax; the book certainly was!

I completely understand that the books and movies are all about Harry Potter, but over the course of 7 books and 8 movies, there are so many other characters that fans have come to know and love. For example, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, and Tonks all die (among others) and yet we never see their valiant efforts or their honorable defeats. We get a scene in which we see their bodies and understand that they died in battle. In all honesty, I think that the writers owed fans the chance to see characters we love fight for their cause.

And of course there was Bellatrix LeStrange’s death. Boring. I anticipated a fierce battle between Mrs. Weasley and Bellatrix and instead, we got a few quick wand swishes and poof! Bellatrix floated away in a million little pieces. Maybe we should talk about the writers completely neglecting the story about Albus and Grindelwald – a plot that I personally think explained a lot about the Deathly Hallows and how Albus became the man he was. I mentioned Grindelwald to a few people and they seemed perplexed, not even knowing who Grindelwald was as he made a momentary (quite literally) appearance in the first part.

So was there anything good? Yes. McGonagall absolutely kicked major ass in this movie. Maggie Smith is a phenomenal actress who got the beloved professor just right. Fierce, loyal, and full of heart. Better yet? Alan Rickman as Snape. The character who had perhaps one of the best “mini”-plots in the entire series, Snape went through so many emotions in this movie. I particularly loved Snape’s memories in which we saw what kind of man he really was and that there was so much more to him.

And last but definitely not least (I could go on for a while about what I liked and didn’t like), we’ve got some technical stuff. Not an especially visually stunning movie – the colors were nice (lots of neutrals, very fitting for the dreary tone of the movie), and a few shots were lovely (I especially loved the water scene after the Golden Trio jumps off the dragon’s back into the lake). And finally, the score by Alexandre Desplat was gorgeous. A track called “Courtyard Apocalypse” was my favorite and didn’t last nearly long enough.

In all honesty, I can find plenty of flaws in all of the Harry Potter movies. To me, the books are flawless and considering the fact that it’s just about impossible to get the movies just right, there will always be issues. In general, it was enjoyable. I’m hoping that the DVD release will have a trillion deleted scenes so that fans can feel truly fulfilled.

Stars: 3/5

DanRad!

The Woman In Black – February 10, 2012 (in the UK)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer
Directed by: James Watkins
Written by: Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Stardust, X-Men: First Class)

“Young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) leaves his son in London to settle the legal affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow. He discovers a series of inexplicable accidents and suicides have forced the parents of her village to barricade their children indoors, as if protecting them from an unseen foe. When Arthur stays the night all alone at the Drablow’s foreboding house, he hears the screams of a drowning child and sees decaying children listlessly wandering the marshes. He will soon discover these haunting figures share the same date of death, and the same killer.

The ghost of a scorned woman, who was unable to save her beloved son Nathaniel from drowning, The Woman In Black takes on a horrifying form. Set on vengeance, her veil hides gaping sockets eaten away by scavengers and her curse hides an even darker secret … whenever she is seen, a child dies.

In the face of hostility from the local residents, Arthur dredges up Nathaniel’s skeleton and buries it with his mother, hoping the evil spectre will finally rest in peace. In a cruel twist of fate, the Woman In Black turns her claws towards Arthur’s young son. To avoid a fate worse than death, Arthur must now sacrifice everything he holds dear and save his child.” – Jane Goldman, writer

Right now, there’s only a teaser which reveals pretty much nothing, but I’m excited nonetheless. I love the writing in Stardust and Kick-Ass, so I’m anticipating this being excellent. Also, Dan Radcliffe is a promising actor who is so cute I just want to put him in my pocket. It will be nice to see him in something so not Harry Potter.