100 Happy Days 2: Day 1 – 10

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Hi guys! Alright, I did this 100 Happy Days challenge over a year ago, and I quite enjoyed it, and thought it was quite a positive experience. Things have been a little bit hectic lately, and I thought it would be a good time to do this again, as it worked really well last time, and I do need to look on the bright side again. So without further ado, welcome to Round Two of the 100 Happy Days challenge!

Day 1:

day-1

My husband bought me a box set of The Mentalist for Christmas, and I got all over it the moment I got the opportunity to. The show is a load of fun, and really great.

Day 2:

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I recently scored some great books. I have read Manson’s The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell before, but now I own it, and I was beyond stoked – it’s a really good read. I wasted no time getting to it, and again, it did not disappoint.

Day 3:

day-3

I topped up my snack drawer at work again, and even though I don’t consume as much junk anymore as I used to, it is nice to know that there is something yummy in my drawer whenever I want it!

Day 4:

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Ah, time to relax. Coffee, apple crumble, starting a new knitting project while finishing up Alias? I don’t think that’s too bad.

Day 5:

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Ah man! A student brought us the best peppermint crisp tart ever when he wrote his final exams to thank us. I think it’s a damn fine thank you!

Day 6:

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There are truly few things I love as much in my life as reading the Harry Potter books. I am all over this series again, and it remains as phenomenal as always.

Day 7:

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My husband recently went on holiday to the United States of America, and brought me an adorable little turtle home. I call it the Love Turtle. It’s so beautiful and super cute.

Day 8:

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So my favourite sea salt spray was discontinued ages ago, and I have been struggling to find a replacement. The Lee Stafford one that I tried last time was terrible – my hair went crunchy and sticky, so not what I was looking for. Bought the Fudge Urban one recently and so far, so good, perfect beach hair with no effort. Loving it!

Day 9:

day-9

So The Mentalist is over, and I am dead sad about that. I have moved on to a rerun of The Vampire Diaries – don’t even judge me monkeys. Picked the box set up recently for a damn good price, so I am pretty stoked about that!

Day 10:

day-10

Yes, I love purple. A lot. It’s a standing joke when I order something that people are “sure it is purple”. Well, lots of times they are right. My new little purple lighter makes me happier than I can say.

The Potter Perceptions: The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)

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harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2

And here we are. Can you believe it? The end of The Potter Perceptions. I was getting so cosy with the idea that this was going to be a permanent thing (though goodness knows I just wanted these movies to get it over with already), but alas, Eric and I are finally at the end. This actually happened. As much as I had to get my things together to watch this, and I wasn’t a serious fan of the movies or anything, I had so much fun running this project, hearing what Eric had to say with no knowledge of Potter or his world, getting to pick apart the flaws and praise that which was good, designing fresh and shiny new banners all the time, getting to pimp things out… I reckon we had fun. But here we are, at the end. Thanks to everyone that joined in on this, had fun with us, read it and shared their opinions, it was truly appreciated! Eric, I thank you ever so kindly for getting so involved with this, it was a total blast to work with you, and I truly enjoyed the effort you put into this whole thing!

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First I would like to come out and say that I’m kind of sad that this is over because I’ve had a lot of fun working with Zoë on this… Zoë this has been good fun and thanks for all of your time and for putting up with me and all of that!! Hopefully we can do something like this again. And NO – I WILL NOT WATCH THOSE DAMNED TWILIGHT MOVIES!!!!! On the other hand, I’m not sad that this is over because I’m done with all of these movies and breaking up with them over email. I mean, for real?? I just spent nineteen hours watching these things and THIS is how it ended??? GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVE MEEEEEEEEEEEE HARRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY POOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTERRRRR. GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HARRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY POTTERRRRRRRRRRRR…. WHAT?? Multiplying cups??? Riding around on dragons???? I’m assuming people know about this but *spoilers* Harry’s dead!!! Oh shit there’s another hour to go!! What will we do??? Oh wait – he’s not dead after all!! Thank god the most evil presence in the world ever forever and ever and ever amen couldn’t figure that out. And – nice ending – “What if I am selected to Slytherin, Poppy?? What ever will I do???” “You will be a wonderful wizard, my son. Cheerio!” SMOOCH. Whatever.

So – they go off for one movie to find this all powerful sword – risking their lives – and then they get it and just give it up to the goblin to get into a safe? Did I miss something? Also – I never read these books so did I miss where someone actually used the Resurrection Stone? I thought he dropped it on the ground before he got killed? How did he just pop back up to life and go running around all over the place?? Wouldn’t he be sore or something from BEING DEAD??? After all of this time, bumbling and stupid Neville saves the day? Speaking of Neville – when the dark army is trying to get past the force field (or whatever) it’s just HIM out on that bridge keeping an eye on things?? I don’t think that’s very sound strategy from the Hogwarts Administration and Defense League.

I also thought it was pretty contrived how the Elder Wand never worked for Voledemort. Why? “I disarmed Draco so it actually belonged to me” (or something) says Pooter in the way of poor explanation. And then he destroys it? Wouldn’t you just give it to someone at Hogwarts to put in a safe or something? What if some hobo living under that bridge finds it and tapes it together?? I don’t know about this. I do think this move was well made with some fancy special effects and shit but…. I’m done with it. Bye bye, Harry Pooter, Byeeeeeee byeeee. Thanks again Zoë!! Happy 2014 to you!!

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The good:

  • Opening scene. I thought it was a good way to set the tone and pace, what with Snape watching the students in his newly taken over school.
  • Harry’s chat with Griphook. This was really good, and really got down to the issues at hand.
  • Helena Bonham Carter. I can praise this woman continuously. She is just perfect for these types of roles. She can take that strange and dark and just give it life like nothing else!
  • Gringotts security enchantments. I liked the way that the tunnels fled, the alarms went off, and their Polyjuice Potion was useless after the waterfall, just well done.
  • Multiplication in vaults. That was really good and accurate, though I wished the stuff had burned, too, like it should have.
  • Flight of the dragon. It’s escape and wreckage was just awesome to behold, and looked really good.
  • Voldemort’s discovery of the Horcrux hunt. How he reacted to finding out what Harry has been up to and the subsequent freak out he had and the brutal massacre that ensued. I know this sounds disgusting, but for me where all those bodies were strewn, the blood and the carnage was the first time they really and truly captured how dangerous and vicious Voldemort really is.
  • The Room of Requirement. The way it was decked out with the Hogwarts rebellion was just so cool, and it looked every inch the part I expected it to.
  • Alan Rickman having more screen time. Finally. This only took seven movies too long. He just commands your attention, and he is one of my favourite casting choices in all history.
  • McGonagall and Snape duelling. This was simply just too great to watch. McGonagall’s anger was right there, bubbling at the surface, and Snape’s resentment and guilt, too.
  • Voldemort’s ultimatum. The way he spoke to the school and its occupants was so well done.
  • McGonagall, Seamus Finnigan and Neville Longbottom discussing blowing up the bridge. This really had me giggling for a while.
  • The arming of Hogwarts was just phenomenal. The way everyone prepared, got the castle ready, cast their spells and all was just exactly what it should have been.
  • War preparations. How all the Hogwarts occupants were standing at the ready to take on the Dark Lord and his evil followers, prepared to even give their lives for the cause.
  • Searching the Room of Requirement for the Lost Diadem of Raveclaw. I think that this scene was solidly put together, and done really well, though I was not happy that the diadem was not destroyed by the Fiendfyre that was cast.
  • Voldemort’s robes. They just look amazing.
  • Hogwarts being a battlefield. That feeling was truly captured, and it was great.
  • The score and cinematography. It looked simply stunning and the music just set the mood and it was incredible!
  • Snape’s death. This scene was harrowing and heartbreaking. I loved Snape man!
  • The Weasleys mourning Fred’s death was devastating. It really was sad and painful. Then to see Tonks and Lupin alongside one another, hands reaching even in death also hurt a lot.
  • Snape’s memories. While not completely accurate or all of them in there, it was a damn shame to see how the man came to be, and it was so sad!
  • Snape’s anguish over Lily’s death. That was just almost too heartfelt.
  • The “always” scene. It just gave me goosebumps.
  • Getting the snitch open. Took long enough, but it was really nice how they displayed how it opened, how Harry had come to his deadly conclusion, and how his family was there with him to see it through.
  • Voldemort suspecting that Harry wouldn’t come, then his joy at his appearance. This was good, it shows how Harry and Voldemort understand each other too well.
  • Harry’s in between death scene at King’s Cross. I finally felt that there was a little more explanation going on, which was nice for a change.
  • Voldemort also being down when Harry came back. It shows that Voldemort had hurt himself, that he had killed the Horcrux of himself that resided within Harry.
  • Neville’s showdown with Voldemort. I enjoyed this scene.
  • Ciarán Hinds as Aberforth Dumbledore. He was great, and how he joined the fray of battle was pretty damn awesome!
  • Molly and Bellatrix duelling. This was fun. Fast, but fun.
  • Nagini dying. I liked the way the smoke that billowed from it had skulls and stuff in it, I thought the effects were pretty decent.

The bad:

  • Shell Cottage. The fact that Bill and Fleur called it a safe house and said that is what it was used for instead of it being their home, which it was.
  • Harry’s knowledge of the cup of Hufflepuff being a Horcrux. What irritates me about this is that in The Half-Blood Prince some memories of Voldemort were explored right, but not the incredibly important ones. For example, it is not showed that Voldemort encountered the cup and the locket at Hepzibah Smith, a witch who had these incredibly rare treasures, or that Voldemort highly respected the Hogwarts elders, and would have been obsessed in making their possessions his Horcruxes.
  • Voldermort’s history sketchy. It was never really explained that he is of Salazar Slytherin’s bloodline, and that he believed the ring and the locket, both Horcruxes, belonged to the Gaunts, which was his magical side of the family, and that he killed them as well as Tom Riddle Sr for having left his mother.
  • Voldemort attempting to get a teaching position at Hogwarts. This was not shown, and it was important to understand some of the Horcrux placing, or his fascination with corrupting minds, the Dark Arts, taking over and that Dumbledore had no respect for him seeing as he knew that Voldemort was too much for the Dark arts and what not.
  • Voldemort going to retrieve the Elder Wand. This came up in the last movie, which was all good and well, but the thing is that Harry was supposed to have known as it was happening and have made the calm decision to continue on with his mission at Shell Cottage.
  • The two way mirrors. The fact that Harry is only now figuring out how they work grates on my nerves.
  • Dumbledore’s history was completely written out. The fact that we do not hear of the bloody history of the Dumbledore’s or how Dumbledore himself had dabbled in the Dark Arts and how his sister was killed and why he and Aberforth have such a strained relationship was really such a let-down.
  • How bad Hogwarts got. I really wished they had put more in about how insanely bad things got there, how there was blood status and what not.
  • Ravenclaw common room. I really wish that the whole freakout in Hogwarts would have started here, with Harry looking for the diadem in the Ravenclaw common room, knowing then what it is that he was looking for.
  • Wish the story of the Grey Lady and the Bloody Baron had been in there, it would have been great.
  • No Weasley family reunion. The fact that Percy did not pop out and patch things up with everyone was highly annoying, because it was important. I didn’t even know Percy was in the building until it was too late, and was like what the hell, he actually appeared!
  • Apparating in Hogwarts. FUCK MY LIFE. I simply cannot get on board with this, it irritates me no end!
  • Fred’s death. I am sorry; this was one of the most painful scenes in the book and was simply not even included in this. It was just glanced over.
  • Nagini being a Horcrux discovered now only. That was old news man!
  • Neville’s grandmother not being present. I really missed that.
  • Dumbledore telling Snape sometimes the Sorting Hat chooses people’s houses too early. I wish that that scene had been included, it would have really given even more credence to Snape’s goodness, and it was such a beautiful and touching scene, too!
  • Voldemort’s eyes. It is something I have wished for a while… I wish that they had been red.
  • Harry and Voldemort’s final duel. This annoyed me. It was supposed to be Harry slipping away quietly, meeting in the Great Hall, having a massively public showdown, the most solid explanation to justify why/how so many things had happened over the past few years was just glanced over. They had a more private fight and an incredibly long one.
  • Voldemort’s death was almost too private. He was supposed to fall before an audience.
  • Harry breaking the Deathstick. What the hell?! He was supposed to fix his wand that Hermione broke, then he was to remain in possession of the Elder Wand until he died and the allegiance to a wizard with it.

Wow, what a way to close down the series! I must say of all the movies, this one is my favourite. It looked great, had a fantastic score, was paced reasonably well, the acting was just superb and Alan Rickman got more screen time, making me very happy. I must say this was going strong though it lost the plot towards the end a bit, the story got altered a bit too much for my liking. This adaption was mostly loyal, though I can see how it would confuse the hell out of people who hadn’t read the books – I could make the leaps and jumps and bounds in logic with the characters because I had a backing. Oh well, here we are and this run is finally over. I am actually going to miss this little project… thanks Eric for undertaking to see this through with me!

The Potter Perceptions: Order of the Phoenix (2007)

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harry potter and the order of the phoeniz

Eric and I rolled in for part five of this whole long thing, any he was lucky that he only had to do it once. I was so angry to find I had accidentally lost all my notes that I had made on this (and yes, I made notes. I undertook to be as precise as possible), and only realised the loss of them long after I had moved on. I had to go back to this… ;( Why, cruel world?! So yes, my list will be a lot meatier now that I have had to do this twice, and I also got a lot more detailed about things.

PHOENIX

After the last one was SO disappointing I wasn’t really pumped for this so I hesitantly fired this one up.  This started off kind of good andI was all “heeeeeeyyyyyy – Harry’s aunt is showing a little leg….” and then yummy Osha from Game of Thrones showed up and I was all “I’m listening…….” and then there’s a bunch of stuff about Pooter being on trial and his headmaster comes in and saves his ass like always and then the lady from RAT is running the show and expelling everyone and kicking teachers out and that was all kind of lame.

And then there was the big secret room training montage that I thought was all right and Pooter finally overcame his innate and primal fear of girls and kissed one on the mouth. Then there’s a cool fight somewhere underground following a ridiculous looking set of sequences in a museum or vault or something that would surely have all of these teenagers put in prison for destroying everything. Oh – there’s also the fakest looking giant and fakest looking centaurs I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know how the next three will grab me but, after “Prisoner” I think this is the only other good one so far. Even for it’s faults, this one seemed more mature than 3 of the other four. What else?? I liked the little blond haired girl and that scene where they’re running through that field. I also liked that he didn’t turn into a fucking fish and go swimming wearing his eyeglasses. Off to the next one!

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The good:

  • Harry’s Patronus. Finally takes on the form of a stag… mostly.
  • George Harris. He is very well cast as Kingsley Shacklebolt.
  • Grimmauld Place. Really looks like it belonged to Dark wizards.
  • House elf heads. They were mounted on the wall.
  • Kreacher. I must say, I expected more ear fluff and all, but overall he is pretty nasty and grumpy and not nice.
  • Extendable Ears. They were good though the effects were really bad.
  • David Thewlis and Gary Oldman. They are outstanding as schoolfriends Remus Lupin and Sirius Black.
  • Arthur Weasley’s Muggle obsession. It is entertaining to see him so excited about Muggle inventions.
  • Ministry of Magic. It looks great, getting in was right, I just really miss the identification badges they were supposed to get.
  • Inter-office Ministry memos were done well.
  • Harry’s hearing. The hearing and court itself was alright.
  • Thestrals. Looked quite good, despite the CGI.
  • Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood. What a damn fine casting choice. As good as Snape, if you ask me.
  • Umbridge’s introduction. It was good. Everyone was incredibly unimpressed.
  • Umbridge and the pink. They got that right. The disgusting mewling kittens in her office, the office pink, even pink sugar. Always wearing pink. So nasty.
  • Umbridge’s voice. So good because it grates on you, sort of like her character.
  • Harry’s vile mood. They mostly get it right in here and how everyone seems to be treading lightly around him to avoid his snapping.
  • First Defence Against the Dark Arts class. This was brilliant. It was so loyal to the book and accurate. Harry’s argument over Cedric’s death, his total defiance to the new Ministry rules, how they hate him and all, just excellent.
  • Harry’s detention. The detention with Umbridge was good. I will not tell lies cut into Harry’s flesh and carried the story of all that was wrong with Umbridge.
  • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is good.
  • McGonagall and Umbridge fighting. This was classic. Maggie Smith really is an excellent McGonagall.
  • Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall. She was the perfect actress, though I wish more of her sass was captured.
  • Educational Decrees. There were a lot of them and this movie shows how many there were that just continue to be put up.
  • Snape being questioned by Umbridge. “Obviously”. This was an incredibly amusing scene.
  • Sybil Trelawney sacking. This was actually quite well done, what with Dumbledore keeping her on the school grounds and McGonagall supporting a teacher she is not fond of.
  • Dumbledore avoiding Harry. At least they did not forget that this was a real thing.
  • Hogs Head meeting. The Hogs Head was well done, and the turnout of people interested in actually learning defensive magic.
  • Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom. I really liked this casting. He was awkward and sweet enough.
  • Room of Requirement. I thought that they did a really good job with this.
  • Neville working hard. He really worked at bettering himself with Dumbeldore’s Army, he improved a lot.
  • The DA. It was fun to watch them work together; it really felt as though they were up to underhanded things and what not.
  • Inquisitorial Squad. This was excellent.
  • Emotional capacity as a teaspoon. This was a good little conversation, and actually shed light on a few things.
  • Arthur’s attack. Looked good, even though it was in the wrong place, cause Nagini was already in the Hall of Prophecy.
  • Alan Rickman. I know I keep coming back to this, but he is so thrilling.
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. She was adequately mad for the job.
  • The Occlumency lessons were cool.
  • Breaking into Snape’s mind. It was cool but there were a lot of flaws with it, and the biggest flaw was that the memory was rushed and it was in Snape’s mind and not the Pensieve.
  • Umbridge interrogating Harry was excellent.
  • Hermione faking the weapon story was alright.
  • Centaur attack on Umbridge was fine, even though Harry and Hermione were not in danger afterwards.
  • The Hall of Prophecy. It actually looked really nice.
  • The Death Eaters. The still look good and I like the way they move and stuff.
  • Jason Issacs as Lucius Malfoy.
  • The arrival of the Order in white. The arrival may not have been accurate but looked nice.
  • Voldemort and Dumbledore duelling. This I actually liked, it was pretty awesome.
  • Ralph Fiennes. Still an amazing Voldemort.
  • Ministry finally catching on. Shows how shocked they all were.

The bad:

  • Harry whipping his wand out in front of Muggles. Since when has this become the regular practice?!
  • The Dementors. They look absolutely ludicrous now.
  • Dementors’ Kiss. I still hate the way it looks… pfffff.
  • The CGI. What the hell, still really awful in here.
  • Mrs Figg. She just appears and is not freaking out. Her story and role is never really explained, the whole scene feels off.
  • Ministry letters. Since when do they read themselves?!
  • Harry’s hearing. He is now being punished for using magic, but all the other movies there was no issue? I am confused. Another place these movies set a rule and then contradicted themselves.
  • Harry’s rescue. Flying through London on their brooms for everyone to see? What the hell? What happened to secrecy?
  • Grimmauld Place reveal. The place itself is well done, but the magic cast upon it to preserve secrecy is not explained, and Moody just taps and they can enter? Why? How?
  • Mrs Black not screaming and screeching everywhere.
  • Fountain of Magical Brethren in Ministry of Magic being split up was not cool.
  • Harry’s hearing venue and time change. It just didn’t come to be right, and was not explained or anything.
  • Kingsley Shacklebolt hunting Sirius. It would be great to have heard how he was in charge of the Sirius Black manhunt, feeding the Ministry misinformation while working for the Order.
  • The chair in the hearing. It didn’t have chains and things on it, so it was not nearly as menacing.
  • Dolores Umbridge. The film simply doesn’t capture how truly dark and twisted and evil she is.
  • Ron and Hermione not shown to be prefects.
  • Public common room fight. Seamus Finnigan chirping Harry in the common room, and the Weasley twins were silent. As if!
  • No Quidditch. Not that I am bothered about not seeing it, but it was not worked in at all that this was something the students did.
  • Fred, George and Harry are not kicked off the Quidditch team and don’t have their brooms locked in Umbridge’s office.
  • Raw meat in bag. Does Luna really (as cooked as she is) just walk around with raw meat in her bag? I highly doubt it.
  • Weasley Family Feud. Nowhere does it explain that Harry was even shunned by Percy Weasley, and that the family has split up over Percy having no faith that Voldemort has returned.
  • Neville finding the Room of Requirement. That should have been Dobby. It was necessary to keep his loyalty to Harry alive, so that his character meant a bit more later on.
  • Cho and Harry. This isn’t really explained and doesn’t make sense how this even came to be.
  • Filch watching DA meetings. Since when does he know so quickly?
  • No DA Galleons. I really liked this, and it was pretty important. I mean one of the Educational Decrees was banning groups of students gathering together, and now they are all just chatting about the next meeting? I think not.
  • Harry and Cho kiss. What an awkward scene.
  • No St Mungos. I actually really wanted to see this. It would also have shed more light on Neville’s tragic story.
  • Occlumency. That started abruptly.
  • Relationship between Harry and Sirius. I really wish they developed it more, it would have meant so much more.
  • Grimmauld Place origins. I think it is ridiculous that they only introduced so late on that Grimmauld Place belonged to the Black family.
  • Thestral explanation. Luna explaining, not Hagrid in Care of Magical Creatures.
  • Harry’s Department of Mysteries dreams. They weren’t explained or detailedenough to make sense of the Sirius trick later.
  • Umbridge not investigating Hagrid. Her hate for half-breeds was never shown at all, or why Hagrid suspecting he would get sacked.
  • Hagrid’s absence. What the hell? You can’t even pretend they covered this.
  • Simplicity of mastering the Patronus Charm. It wouldn’t be considered advanced magic or particulary awesome if everyone could get it so quickly.
  • Cho ratting out the DA. Evidently another something we all missed as readers.
  • Harry and Cho. There was no relationship at all to fall apart.
  • No Rita Skeeter. Who told the world Harry’s story? Where was The Quibbler?
  • School not revolting after Dumbledore leaving. There was no “umbridgitis” or hell to pay or teachers joining in on the discord.
  • Harry, Fred and George not being banned from Quidditch. It was important.
  • Flight of the Weasleys. It wasn’t done right, it wasn’t amusing or fun or epic. Plus no Peeves to do their bidding? No swamp left behind?
  • Harry, Hermione AND Ron going to Grawp? Not only that, he looked ridiculous!
  • Dumbledore’s flight. It was so inaccurate, short-lived and lame overall.
  • Veritaserum. Harry was not almost fed it to discover the whereabouts of Dumbledore.
  • Centaurs. They just look silly. Also, their anger at being used by Hermione not shown.
  • No rescue mission badges at Ministry. Yes, small thing but still!
  • Hall of Prophecy entry. It was way too damn easy.
  • Prophecies. They tell the prophecy inside the balls instesd of rising up and saying it again.
  • The complete prophecy was not read. It is not explained that Neville could have had Harry’s life or that Voldemort chose Harry and marked him his equal.
  • Silent prophecies. When wrecked they didn’t really wreak havoc due to silence.
  • The Veiled Arch. It wasn’t so great, and no real veil to confuse.
  • Harry relinquising the prophecy. In which lifetime?
  • Sirius didn’t die battling Bellatrix. This was a defining moment for goodness sake and they couldn’t even gey that right?!
  • No mirror. Sirius and Harry didn’t havr the mirrors that could change everything.
  • Weak explanation. Besides the fact this movie must have been a menace to follow for those that hadn’t read the book, the conclusion and explanation was so inadequate.
  • Harry’s anger and pain. It wasn’t even touched on remotely.

Alright. For the greater good I watched these twice now within a few weeks. I know the list is longer, but I got really detailed with this one. Meh. Oh well. Guess what? Only three left! This really has been a mission, though I have been having a blast at the same time with the whole concept and putting it together!

The Potter Perceptions: The Goblet of Fire (2005)

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harry potter and the goblet of fire

I was dreading this one… I really was. After The Prisoner of Azkaban so captivated Eric, I was sure that he would just remain in his excited little bubble for what was to come next. But I didn’t have faith that his bubble could protect him from this rubbish. So now to see if this movie was purely ruined because the book was better, or because the movie just sucks. I honestly feel that Axis of Awesome has it right in Rage of Thrones – Hollywood cannot live up to the power of imagination! 😛

GOBLET

After being particularly impressed with Azkaban, I was kind of excited to see this go in a more mature direction – and hopefully like this one too. After I fired this up that feeling of excitement started to diminish quickly when I noticed that Pooter and Weasley were sporting women’s hairdos and they were able to access another realm by touching an old, dirty boot. They touch the boot and spin around like a human pinwheel, enter another realm of magic and wizardry and fall 600 feet, but it’s all good – they’re tough kids, I suppose.

Then these two red headed kids do some singing and dancing and Harry’s having bad dreams and the flying soccer ball match gets attacked by terrorists and then they take a boat to Hogwarts instead of the train and suddenly they’re hosting the 400th annual Wizard Triumvirate (or something) and that pasty schmuck from Twilight is in it and Harry turns into a fish and swims underwater with his eyeglasses on and the CGI is TERRIBLE and BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.

The last twenty or so minutes of this were pretty decent – mainly because Ralph Fiennes shows up but they don’t make up for the last 12 and a half hours it took for me to watch it. I mean really, Harry is this guy who isn’t scared of giant spiders and serpents and dragons and ghosts but he’s too scared to ask a chick out to the formal cotillion? And that sequence when they come out of the clouds after touching the boot – REALLY? What is this THE SOUND OF MUSIC?? Dangle dangle dangle walk on air…. I also can’t stress how poor the CGI is in this – you would think that with the type of money this series made and the funds they pumped into it, they could make a decent looking mermaid.

Oh well… I guess we press on…

4.1

The good:

  • Alan Rickman. I know I hammer on him being an amazing Severus Snape, but he never fails to disappoint.
  • Roger Lloyd-Pack as Barty Crouch, he had that role down! Stiff, unyielding, no humour, great.
  • The minuscule dragon replicas. They really looked great.
  • Rita Skeeter. She just looks revolting, her makeup, hair and nails just screamed who she was.
  • The Unforgiveable Curses. They were not too bad.
  • The Goblet of Fire. It looked really good and it was so cool how the flames shot out properly and changed colour, and the way that it looked when giving the name slips was awesome.
  • Fred and George Weasley. Again a bag of laughs, especially trying to get over the age line.
  • Draco Malfoy. He really made a great ferret!
  • Viktor Krum. Stanislav Ianeski did a good job.
  • Triwizard delegations arrival methods. The Beauxbatons carriage and Durmstrang ship were very well done.
  • Moody’s office. Had all the Dark detectors and the massive trunk and a Dark air to it.
  • The prefects’ bathroom. It is very well done, and looks good.
  • Neville Longbottom. Matthew Lewis was just great for the role.
  • The gillyweed effects. They were done right but the CGI sucked for it.
  • Ralph Fiennes. Now that was a great casting choice for Voldemort.
  • Voldemort’s rebirth. It looked fantastic, and the way his robes fluttered almost like smoke was simply stunning.
  • Wormtail. Still very well cast.
  • Death Eaters. Their apparating looked good, as well as their attire.
  • Priori Incantatum. Showed correctly.

The bad:

  • Barty Crouch Junior. He was revealed right in the beginning of the film as opposed to an end shocker.
  • The Quidditch World Cup. It sucked. That is all.
  • The Triwizard Delegations. They just arrive, just like that. No explanation until way after as to who these people were and what they were there for.
  • Triwizard delegation introductions. Stupid dancing and prancing and sighing. I mean truly now?!
  • Ludo Bagman. Where was he?
  • The CGI. That is all that I am going to say on the matter.
  • Where discoveries were made. Such as Sirius telling Harry things that he was supposed to learn in the Pensieve, which we don’t even really get into in this film.
  • Madam Maxime. How much bigger than Hagrid could she possibly be?!
  • Bill and Charlie Weasley. Pity they got overlooked!
  • No Winky. She was pretty important for plot twist reveals and character building.
  • No Percy Weasley. No Percy and his Ministry of Magic and Crouch obsession.
  • The first task. What the hell was the meaning of an escaped dragon that knocked itself out? How preposterous!
  • Mad-Eye Moody. Argh. This just upsets me every time. Brendan Gleeson was not flawed, just the entire way Moody was presented as well as his appearance. Not what it should be, though the portrayal it self was fine.
  • Albus Dumbledore. I love the dude and all that right, but neither of these actors managed to capture his essence. This Dumbledore was pretty vicious and violent and screaming and manhandling Harry all the time.
  • The movie’s portrayal of Krum. Not that the actor did a bad job, it is just the people that did the script make him look like a totally horrible person and into Dark stuff and all.
  • Harry and Cho were not really explained well.
  • Fleur Delacour. I really expected more.
  • Who the hell baths with glasses? Except Harry Potter, of course?
  • Excluding Dobby. Neville was not the one that helped Harry with the gillyweed.
  • The CGI and the second task. SUCKED.
  • Barty’s death. That was it? Just like that? No transfiguring his corpse to a bone and burying it, no rush to beg Harry to listen?
  • The whole way through the maze is faulty, seeing as no obstacles were faced.
  • No Dementor’s Kiss for Barty.
  • The Order of the Phoenix not called together.

This movie was pretty damn confusing. I know what was supposed to be going on because I read the books, but nobody watching me really got it, and kept asking questions, and didn’t get it all at the end. There was a lot that was not correctly explained in here or included, and a lot fell flat. I intensely disliked this one, but I know that is sounding like a common tune with me, but I need credit for at least trying!  (See, my pro’s lists are getting bigger? Right? Anyone? Hello?)

The Potter Perceptions: The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban

This was the one film that I was truly not looking forward to checking out, but that Eric got pretty damned excited over after having seen Gravity and had his mind blown. We were at total odds with this one, and that is exactly what these posts were supposed to be about. Eric is gradually warming, and I am progressively cooling, though no matter what I feel about the movies, I am having a total blast with this whole theme!

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I was actually excited to see this one since it’s directed by Alfonso Cuaron (who did Gravity if you’re not aware) so when it got here I popped it in and… this started off pretty dumb with that family he lives with yelling at him and the aunt coming over and him blowing her up like a balloon. Then she flies off in to the atmosphere and I was all REALLY?? So he runs away from home and gets on a magical bus with a shrunken, wise cracking head of some Jamaican and they speed off through the streets. So I was really thinking “Well, we all get better with age and practice” and prepared myself for another two and a half hours of mediocrity.

But then this thing started to get good when they introduced those black ghost prison guard things and I was starting to believe in the acting and the story. I think, after three of these, these characters aren’t little kids any longer so – despite being a fantasy – the stories are more believable with teenagers, rather than seeing a bunch of little kids flying around on broomsticks.

Anyway, this movie was very dark and the special effects and settings were fantastic and Cuaron was establishing his loooooooooong shots and I was really kind of liking it. And then they added the time travel aspect and I started to LOVE it. I LOVE good time travel movies, especially when people are looking at what they were doing in the past, like in TIMECRIMES (highly recommended by the way). It shows me that the director really planned this out well. Any asshole can make a movie and then go add in some time travel and then just “super impose” the same character in the same scene later – but this and TIMECRIMES is how good time travel works. I loved it!

I’m not saying I loved the entire movie, since there’s the usual melodrama and some guy looks like a rat and it seems Pooter is always about to die and luckily someone saves his life but this was pretty enjoyable and I REALLY enjoyed the time travel bits. Cuaron is a total stud! I also liked it when Hermione punched that shitty blond kid in the face!

3

The good:

  • Harry’s hair. Finally, they are getting it to stick up a bit more, though the messiness is inconsistent throughout.
  • The Dementors. They were pretty creepy for what they were, though I thought what was under the hood was such a damn let down, and not as bad as you would hope.
  • Hagrid’s hairy brown suit. It was excellent; exactly what I always pictured it to be.
  • Gary Oldman. I know he was underused in this movie series, but Gary Oldman was great for Sirius, and did the character justice.
  • Peter Pettigrew. Timothy Spall did a good job, and looked every bit the rat he portrayed.
  • David Thewlis. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him as Remus Lupin, skulking around Hogwarts, offering advice, the whole thing. He had the demeanour of a werewolf trying to fit into society down, and his odd behaviour makes sense when that cat is let out of the bag.
  • The directing. It looked good and felt good, even though the script was a bloody awful affair (and the CGI went a bit  ballistic at times), the way that it was shot was not bad.

The bad:

  • The Knight Bus sucked. I mean talking heads and just… I think that is what it was. The exterior was perfectly acceptable.
  • Tom at the Leaky Cauldron. A stupid, retarded cripple? Since when?
  • Marge and the rage Harry felt towards her was not adequately explained.
  • Harry doing magic. At night? When I last checked, it was illegal.
  • Questionable movie effects. Damn, these were just incredibly dodgy. Nothing magical about them.
  • Headless Hunt. What the hell are they even doing here?
  • Harry actually getting a turn at the Boggart and it being a Dementor. Harry was not allowed near the Boggart seeing as Lupin feared that it would become a full-fledged Lord Voldemort and terrorize the students.
  • The Dementors. Their effects were not sufficiently explained, and the way they sucked at people and stuff was just… no.
  • The Firebolt. Only arriving at the end? Really now?
  • Floating candy. What the hell?! What is the point of being invisible when you will walk the candy around town in mid-air?
  • Ron and Hermione’s relationship. Being hinted at so early and quickly? Pffffft.
  • Sirius Black. No adequate explanation for why he is so terrifying or that he and James were inseparable at school.
  • Harry seeing Pettigrew on Maruader’s Map. Harry was never supposed to know about Pettigrew prior to the Shrieking Shack.
  • Screwing with the past. Harry and Hermione messed with way too much when they went into the past – Harry was the only one that was supposed to change one thing, and that was the Dementor attack.
  • Lupin as a werewolf. Pffffft. The effects were dreadful as well as his appearance and how he morphed. His actions were also ridiculous, and that it was not shown that Sirius was big enough as Padfoot to keep up with Lupin’s werewolf form, instead they dwarfed him.
  • Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. No explanation that it was the group of friends consisting of Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black and James Potter, or that they were the creators of the map.
  • The screenwriters. They should have been shot.

So there, I have now wrapped up three. You know, I maintain that this is where it all went wrong. I mean the movies were by no stretch impressive, but this is sort of where they just decided “fuck it” and discarded the source material. I am a huge fan of The Prisoner of Azkaban (the book), so to watch it be desecrated like this was unacceptable (yep, gonna have me another little nerd rage). I was pretty sad with this one seeing as this was really an incredibly enjoyable story, but I just feel that the film did not do it the justice it could have, and I put that purely onto the screenwriters, and the incredibly awkward place everyone’s acting was in.

The Potter Perceptions: The Chamber of Secrets (2002)

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harry potter and the chamber of secrets

The second installment approached and took Eric and I a while to get to, but eventually we were all there and it was done. Then our little project started to gain some momentum, and we jumped at getting so much more together than we initially anticipated. However, Eric was still not completely sold on the entire Potter expedition, and neither was I, even though I suggested it. Oh well, we were in it for the long haul now!

chamber

Here we are again and I just sat through the four and a half hours of this thing and I guess I liked it ok – I liked it better than the first but that’s not really saying much since, basically, I only didn’t HATE the first one. The first third – or two hours – was really filled with a lot of melodrama that was irritating me to the point of harming myself and then it kind of picked up a little when everyone started getting petrified but then – then WHAT THE FUCK????

FUCKING SPIDERS!!! ZILLIONS OF THEM!!! EVERYWHERE!!!! GIANT ONES!!! ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!!! I almost fainted…..

So there’s thirty minutes of this movie that I didn’t watch… after all of that unfortunate business, I thought the last act (well – the part down in the chamber of secrets – because there’s another 45 minutes after that of this one character getting some fucking socks) was pretty strong, well, except for the bird crying. That was kind of lame.  Overall I would say this was decent enough – minus the spiders and the guy throwing up leeches. And the bird crying. And the whole socks bit. For some reason I am actually kind of excited about the next one – it’s directed by the guy who did Gravity!!

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The good:

  • Alan Rickman still entertains me no end as Severus Snape. He really has that character down, and never ceases to be mean and menacing.
  • Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart. He really got into that role, and was deadly vain and irritating, though they really could have done more with it all.
  • Dobby. He looked really good, and the high pitched voice was brilliant, too. Just to see him brought to screen was pretty awesome, though the effects themselves were a bit questionable.
  • The Ford Anglia. Colour spot on, its attitude towards Harry and Ron was just perfect.
  • The Burrow. It is pretty well done.
  • Chamber of Secrets door. No matter that the effects were dubious, the concept of a circling snake making others retract was interesting.
  • Godric Gryffindor’s sword. It was pretty hardcore, though a little flimsy looking if we are going to be dead honest.

The bad:

  • Peeves. Still no Peeves? Is he never coming? No. What a loss, he was actually really interesting and exceptionally entertaining.
  • No Valentine’s Day. Lockhart made it dreadful, but there was so much humour surrounding it, and it was actually key to the story. Ginny’s infatuation with Harry is revealed, as well as Riddle’s diary drinking up all the ink.
  • Flying to Hogwarts (in the Ford Anglia). It was just absurd is all.
  • Progression of the storyline. Nowhere do they start with all the hints that will eventually lead you to Voldemort being the one to rise from the diary, or that Ginny suspected long in advance that there would be a problem. Nowhere does it speak of the rooster attacks really or anything. Also, there were so many things that were just changed around and it was not cool.
  • No warning from the Ministry of Magic. When the pudding shattered at the Dursleys’, it was supposed to be in the kitchen, and an owl was supposed to deliver a warning to Harry about not being able to use magic outside of school in front of Muggles, making things really bad for him with the Dursleys.
  • Quidditch. It still sucks on screen.
  • Mudblood. The film managed to completely lose sight of how incredibly insulting and demeaning the term Mudblood is, it lacked the power it was supposed to convey in the film.
  • Dumbledore leaving Hogwarts. It wasn’t really explained well, the never being gone unless no one there is still loyal to him and what not, then it is randomly quoted later with absolutely zero impact.
  • Most of the fight between Harry and Voldemort in the Chamber of Secrets… Gryffindor’s sword cannot just be yanked out, as it was in the movie, Harry had to have the Sorting Hat on, and it damn near should have knocked him out. Riddle was supposed to mock Harry while he was dying, not be gone already…
  • The basilisk. I just want to say this. WTF?! It looks like a Godzilla head Photoshopped onto a snake’s body. It was nowhere near serpentine enough, and that was dreadful. I just… no. Just absolutely not.

Two down, six to go. It seems like such a mad amount to get through, but I have done it before, I can do it again!

The Potter Perceptions: The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

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harry potter and the philosopher's stone

Recently an idea struck me while thinking of Shitfest and my Potter (book) reviews that were going up, and I had an epiphany. I enlisted the help of the ever-trusty Eric over at the IPC. I have read Potter since I was a kid, he has never read them, but watched a few minutes of the last one (I think, I stand to be corrected). I wanted an unbiased point of view of the films threaded through the opinion of someone who was irrevocably let down by one of the worst film franchises in all of history (I may be persecuted for this). Eric has the view that I never will have, and I a view he currently doesn’t. He watched without reading, I watched after reading. I firmly believe if you read the books after watching, you might still enjoy the movies (it seems to be the case with a lot of people I have met).

But rapidly after I threw this ingenious idea out there, something else struck me… how could I do this to myself? Then I realized, never mind me, I roped Eric into this whole debacle, too, without a thought in the world for his well-being!

In any event, here are our thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s / Sorcerer’s Stone!

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HARRY POOTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE

One day I was minding my own business, eating a bowl of fruit, probably doing some morning beer farting and I looked at my email and our friend Zoë had posted something about one of those Harry Potter books. I don’t remember what I said to her that day but somehow we ended up signing a contract to watch and write about all 314 of these damned movies. To start this thing off, I want to note that I have never read one letter of any of these books and only seen a few frames of the very last movie in the series (the actual very end of the last movie) so I went into the first one with a clean slate and no real bias other than “aren’t these kid’s movies??”

So I got this thing in the mail one day and put it in one afternoon and watched the first five minutes of it and thought “WHAT THE FUCK did I get myself into???” Some dude in a wizard’s cap was waving something around and street lights were turning off and some cat turned into a lady and then some dude rides a motorcycle out of the sky holding a baby…???!!??!?!?! Well, I turned that shit off and put in something else and emailed her that I didn’t really know if this was gonna work out.

A few days later I put it back in and Harry Potter was living in a closet and his uncle or whatever really hated getting mail so they moved into a lighthouse out in the middle of the ocean and then the bicycle guy was there with a freaking cake and I was really hating this movie all the way and turned it off again. A few days later I got pissed ecause this was clogging up my Netflix queue and I was being forced to watch shit on YouTube so I put it back in and muscled through it.

I think this franchise has made 47 billion dollars and everyone in the world has written about it, so there’s nothing new I could add but I just wanted to put this out there. I didn’t hate it. The action scenes – as sparse as they were – were actually pretty good and the special effects were still looking good 12 years later. The sappy shit like the flying broomstick game and the shit with his parents really put me off but in the end, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. I’m not saying I am looking forward to the next one but I’m not dreading it like I was when I pressed play a week ago.

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I got myself into this. Me, and me alone. Oh well. I have been putting off the viewing for weeks, because I know how much I love the Potter film franchise – which is to say, not at all. But hey, before I could even consider putting a pin in the crazy operation, Eric hopped on over and gave me his views on the film as planned. He had endured the two and a half hours, it was my turn now…

Upon watching these films a second time, I tried really hard to like them more than I know I ever have. However, I went into a nerd rage soon after it had started, which promptly led me to dragging my best friend Natasha into my bitch session, which she gladly jumped into. I thought for me the way I am going to look at these films will be a pros and cons list, it is the only way I won’t fly off the handle, so let’s start with that then, shall we? I will go with the positives, first, and then go into the not so good. This way I have to make sure that I look for something nice, too!

The good:

  • Sticking to characters and their descriptions. As much as possible, anyhow. For example, Hermione actually had sort of bushy hair here, Neville really was round faced, Ron had a shock of red hair, the Weasley twins were fantastic, Dumbledore had the long hair and beard and half-moon specs. Argus Filch was disgusting, and pretty much what I thought him to be in the books.
  •  Alan Rickman. I know it belongs with the bit above this, but I think it truly deserves a whole thing to itself: Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape. He was the true embodiment of everything I ever pictured when reading about Snape in the books. Alan Rickman nailed it, got him down to a tee.
  • Robbie Coltrane. He was pretty good, seems to have that slight Hagrid humour down, and was actually roughly the correct size in this film.
  • The Hogwarts Express. Truly, a beautiful scarlet steam train waiting to take all the magical folk out to their magical school on the ever secret Platform 9 ¾.
  • Sticking (mostly/sort of) to the original plot from the books. Most of the correct dialogue was used; most of the correct scenes were used, even if they were changed to accommodate the idea that the director had for the show.
  • Maggie Smith. She was a great Minerva McGonagall, though I really thought there were too many times where a ghost of a grin was visible. She did, however, embody the strictness that is McGonagall.
  • The score. I really think that John Williams did a pretty damn fine job of the score, it is really great for what it is supposed to represent – it was magical and hopeful and downright pretty cool!

The bad:

  • The blue eyes. Dammit, seven entire books and we are constantly told about Harry’s incredibly green eyes, and they waltz in with a blue-eyed actor. Has nobody ever heard of contacts?! Sorry, truly something that annoyed me.
  • Richard Harris really just failed to embody the zany Professor Dumbledore. Not a bad attempt, but as serious as Dumbledore is, he is also pretty nutty, to be honest.
  • Quidditch. Are there no such things as referees anymore? All the books depict the matches and the strict rules. This movie? Knock them off of their brooms, who gives a damn? Nobody is watching anyway, apparently. Plus it sucked overall.
  • Neville Longbottom was not given as much attention as he should have been.
  • The relationship between Draco Malfoy and Potter. They completely missed how vile this kid is, and how the rivalry between him and Harry is not truly adequately explained.
  • Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback. No contact with Ron’s brother, Charlie, who works with dragons in Romania to assist on their plight to get Norbert out of Hogwarts, fast? Please. That was pretty important. Nobody knew about the dragon like they made out here.
  • The Sorting Hat. It seems to let the whole Hall know exactly how he is deliberating the Houses in which to place the student, and they cut the Sorting Hat’s song out altogether.
  • The Hogwarts ghosts. Oki, maybe more the Bloody Baron. Since when is he laughing, joking and all that? No.
  • (Courtesy of Nish) Talentless rugrats. I promise, they did nothing in terms of carrying the story and their acting was completely wooden… granted, they are kids, but that is also no excuse for me, there are a lot of great kids acting!

The movies tended to get progressively worse the further you go into the book series. This movie was long, and for all that time, they managed to keep it predominantly loyal to the book. The story it contained was mostly the same. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was far more accurate than most to follow, though definitely no great film. There were good things, and there were flaws, but I suppose most movies are like that. I know that bringing a book to screen is not always the easiest thing, and that there are changes that need to be made. Also, these movies came when Potter was in a serious hype mode. I know that I am a die-hard fan of the books but I am truly not so of the movies.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling

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7 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #7

Harry Potter is a wizard who has made a very serious and difficult decision: dropping out of school to bring the most vile wizard of the age down – Lord Voldemort needs to be stopped, and Sybil Trelawney’s prediction tells that one of them will have to cease to exist. Harry begins to make preparations for that which he needs to do. His best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger insist that they will accompany Harry on his mission that their deceased headmaster Albus Dumbledore set him on – find the Horcuxes that Voldemort stored sections of his soul in and destroy them. Ex-Auror Mad-Eye Moody perishes in Harry’s escape plan from his aunt and uncle’s home, and many more people are injured. The Horcrux journey is hastened phenomenally after the new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, brings Harry, Ron and Hermione the things that Dumbledore bequeathed them in his will, but is murdered by Voldemort’s Death Eaters soon after and launch an attack on Ron’s family home, The Burrow. Professor Severus Snape, Dumbledore’s vanquisher, has now taken up post of headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are now Death Eaters on staff. Rumours about the type of man that Dumbledore was run rampant, and Harry realizes that he didn’t really know anything about his hero, and is afraid the vile rumours may be true.

Harry, Ron and Hermione make it out of the Death Eater attack by the skin of their teeth and Hermione has been packed and ready to go for days. They go back to Harry’s deceased godfather’s house, which now belongs to him. Within Grimmauld Place, they make their plans to get into the Ministry of Magic to gain access to a locket, the real Horcrux that Regulus Black stole from Voldemort’s hiding place and sent home with the house elf Kreacher, who is now serving Harry. Mundungus Fletcher stole the locket and the horrifyingly terrible Dolores Umbridge got her hands onto it. Harry needs it to weaken Voldemort, but their break in at the Ministry of Magic hardly goes smoothly, and the three make a run for it the moment they have the Horcrux, but lose Grimmauld Place as their hideout, and so they end up trekking cross country, hunting for more Horcruxes. They soon become dispirited when it seems the gifts that Dumbledore left Harry, Ron and Hermione are useless, and they are not getting anywhere in terms of discovering new Horcruxes or how to even get rid of the one that they have, seeing as they have nothing to destroy it with.

Ron eventually deserts Harry and Hermione, and Hermione is particularly crushed by this. The two make way to Godric’s Hollow, where Harry’s family was murdered when he was a child, and where Albus Dumbledore, too, suffered atrocities. However, in Godric’s Hollow they are attacked by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, and barely make it out, seconds before Voldemort himself arrived to kill Harry. Before arriving at Godric’s Hollow, Hermione finds a symbol written into the book that Dumbledore left to her, and in the town they find the same symbol on a tombstone, and Harry recalls seeing it on Xenophelius Lovegood’s necklace earlier in the year. Setting up camp, Ron returns, led by a Patronus doe, and Harry discovers the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which they immediately use to destroy the locket.

Set on ending it all, they visit Xeno Lovegood, who sells them out to Death Eaters, and they make a narrow escape, though they have learned of the Deathly Hallows now – they are there to master death. Hermione’s logical brain will not accept anything of the sort, though Harry wonders if that is what Voldemort is hunting, and why he has kidnapped two wandmakers, to learn more of the Elder Wand. Irrespective as to what is happening, Harry needs to start working faster to protect the wizarding community that is supporting him, and to stop the death toll rising anymore. Everything that can go wrong seems to start going wrong the moment that Harry has discovered what he needs to do and how he will go about doing it, and the trio’s plans constantly need to be readjusted. The Horcruxes need to be extinguished so that Harry can meet Voldemort on the battlefield as an equal.

Will Harry be able to recover and destroy all the Horcruxes before he faces Voldemort? Will Harry be adequately prepared when he faces Voldemort, or will he be captured by other means, and die without fulfilling his destiny? Will Snape continue to torture the students of Hogwarts? Will Harry ever see Ginny, the love of his life, again? Can Harry end the pain, suffering and terror that has wrought the wizarding community, bring it all to an end?

GRADE 9.5It all ends here, and what a damn spectacular ending it was, too. This book is three distinct different parts for me: the decision, the travel, the war. The first third and last third are great, but that whole section in the middle got a bit long at times, but never really boring. It helped a lot in the sense of bringing everyone in to the desolate feeling that Harry, Ron and Hermione must have been feeling. Everything about this book had that feeling of finality to it, a distinctly defiant hope, but at the same time a massive amount of certainty. Voldemort finally taking the Ministry was long awaited and well received, and Dolores Umbridge still remains one of the most evil literary characters of all time – such a foul woman. The death toll was high in The Deathly Hallows, and though I understand the concept of there being casualties of war, this had so many places where I wondered if I could bear another person dying. I really enjoyed how J.K. Rowling wrote about a romance with Harry and Ginny, spilling over from the previous book, but never making the romance an obsession or the central point. Neville Longbottom made me so damn proud in this book, I loved it. Discovering things about the mysterious Dumbledore’s past was very rewarding yet very shocking at the same time. Kreacher provided me unknowable amounts of laughter in this book what with his drastic attitude change. The danger that was imminent was ever present in the book, and I enjoyed the way this book was written. Rowling was writing again, not the confused start she gave The Half-Blood Prince. This story was filled with joy, pain, suffering, heartache, hope and love it was just incredible. Rowling finds a way to reel you in, no matter what. This was the best way to have wrapped up a series, and is well worth going through the entire collection to get to. It was a fantastic journey to make again, and something that I most certainly will embark upon time and time again in the future.

SPOILER: Snape’s death was a horrible thing to experience, and his memories in the pensieve were heart-wrenching and painful. I thought the significance was brushed over a little bit, but at the same time the emotional charge behind Snape is just beautiful. He really grew to be one of my most favourite characters, who also had a death that made me pine. Fred’s death, too, was a damn shame, and was not on. The final war that raged by the end was amazing, and while it had moments that made you smile, it was overall a very dramatic affair, something we had been waiting years to finally encounter.

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – JK Rowling

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6 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #6

Harry Potter, a young wizard, is collected from his Muggle relatives by Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore. Harry has been waiting throughout the summer for news from his world. Harry is still reeling from the shock of having lost his godfather, Sirius Black, mere weeks before. Lord Voldemort, the most feared Dark wizard of the age, has finally moved into the open and the Ministry of Magic can no longer ignore the story. Rufus Scrimgeour replaces Cornelius Fudge as Minister for Magic. Dumbledore takes Harry along with him to visit with Horace Slughorn, whom he wishes to take up a teaching post at Hogwarts. Harry seems to be the one to persuade Slughorn, and Dumbledore explains to Harry that it is because Slughorn is a collector of sort, a collector of great students.

Returning to Hogwarts, Harry and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, are horrified to learn that the reviled Severus Snape will no longer be teaching Potions, but finally got the post he has always wanted: Defence Against the Dark Arts. Slughorn takes up Potions. With Snape no longer being the Potions master, Harry will be able to realize his dream of becoming an Auror, a Dark wizard catcher, seeing as his grades are then fine to be accepted into the class. In their first Potions lesson (seeing as he never bought the relevant books for this class), Slughorn instructs him and Ron to go and borrow school books. Harry gets a rather tattered and frayed one, and is irritated to learn that the previous owner scribbled just about everywhere in the book. However, soon Harry realizes that the previous owner was a genius, and it wins him a prize: Felix Felicis, a luck potion that is incredibly strong.

Harry learns that the book belonged to someone who nicknamed themselves the Half-Blood Prince, and Hermione is awfully sceptical about the book – and not only because Harry has replaced her as top Potions student, either. Aside from school being completely different, Harry feels useless, like he is doing nothing to stop Voldemort. Dumbledore soon informs Harry that he will be attending private lessons with him, and Dumbledore starts revealing memories that he has collected of Tom Riddle in his youth, prior to becoming Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore insists it is of the utmost importance to understand how Voldemort marked Harry as his equal, and how Harry’s greatest power over Voldemort is the fact that he can love. Harry also has issues come up when he starts to realize that he likes Ron’s sister Ginny more than he should, and tries his damndest to stay away from those thoughts and dreams. Ron and Hermione are endlessly fighting about things, and the friendship dissolves when Ron starts seeing fellow Gryffindor Lavender Brown.

Harry is alone in being incredibly suspicious of his nemesis, Draco Malfoy. Prior to school starting Draco was threatening Mr Borgin in Knockturn Alley in his shop, and it is a dark place to be, full of people living on the fringe of the Dark arts. At school, his suspicions are not abated, and Malfoy keeps inexplicably disappearing off the Marauder’s Map at random times (once Harry becomes obsessed enough to try and track him). Harry is tasked with extracting a memory from Professor Slughorn, and using the Felicis, he extracts the memory. He and Dumbledore explore Slughorn explaining Horcruxes to Tom Riddle, and Riddle asking terrible questions. Horcruxes are Dark magic. It entails splitting your soul and hiding it in something, and someone has to die to split the soul. Voldemort has created six Horcruxes, and it becomes Harry and Dumbledore’s job to recover them.

Harry and Dumbledore have a lead and chase it down, but everything goes downhill from there. Harry continually questions why Dumbledore trusts Snape, and he will no longer answer. Will Harry and Dumbledore be able to recover the Horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden his soul in? Two are already destroyed and a large grouping of unknown ones remain. What is Malfoy up to that Snape is insistent on helping him with and that has turned Malfoy against his favourite teacher, made him intent on grabbing the glory for himself? What is going on in the school, and what are Voldemort’s plans? When will the Dark Lord strike again?

GRADE 9I had some issues with some sections in the book. The first time I ever read it, I was struck by the fact that it almost felt as though J.K. Rowling was rushing to get through this book, and I have never been able to shake the feeling. There are a lot of disjointed areas to read through, and some sections of downright sloppy, rushed writing. But then there are areas again that are simply superb. The story that she conveyed in this book was tremendous. The roots of Tom Riddle while on the rise to becoming Lord Voldemort, a terrifying and feared Dark wizard is astounding. Dumbledore’s task of finding out more about Voldemort’s past was dangerous as well as a stroke of genius. A lot of the book revolves around Harry’s obsession with Draco Malfoy, who admittedly has a much smaller part than usual. I was saddened to see that very little attention was given to Sirius’s death as well as how Harry was dealing with it. Being at Hogwarts itself was almost brushed aside, but the luscious detail used to describe Dumbledore’s mission to recover recollections to arm Harry against Voldemort takes precedence and gives us an incredible look into Voldemort’s mind, and how he could possibly be the way that he is. I thought that the best written section of the book was most definitely the last quarter, from Harry’s last trip to Dumbledore for their lesson together and the aftermath. This book series is really one of those rare gems – well written and presented, strong and with a wealth of characters that just draw you into their magical world. This really was a fantastic entry into the series, and had a lot of history in it that just makes all you know that much more solid.

SPOILER: J.K. Rowling managed to convey the raw loss of Dumbledore as well as Harry’s detachment from the rest of the world when he realizes that he is about to leave everything in his life behind to set out on the mission that Dumbledore set out for him: recover the Horcruxes and end Voldemort. The last section of the book was so damn tightly written and well executed. The fight between Snape and Harry will always haunt me and taunt me, even the first time around that I read it, while reeling from the loss of Dumbledore, I realized something deeper was going on, that Snape was sticking out his neck for something.

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling

10

5 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  Adult's Cover

Harry Potter #5

Harry Potter, a young wizard, has survived the Triwizard Tournament in which he saw a fellow student named Cedric Diggory die before watching the most feared Dark wizard of recent times return to power: Lord Voldemort. However, soon after that, Harry is back at his Muggle relatives, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley. The wizarding world has refused to acknowledge Voldemort’s return, and are as such living in the dark. While on holiday with not a useful word from anyone, Harry and his cousin Dudley are attacked by what seems to be rogue Dementors, the guards of the wizard prison Azkaban. Forced to use magic, Harry is ultimately expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore, rushes to the Ministry of Magic to have it sorted out, and Harry needs to attend a full-fledged trial to oppose the decision to expel him.

Harry is whisked off to the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a band of witches and wizards that are intent on opposing the Dark Lord, and ensuring his return to power is short lived. Headquarters are set up at Sirius Black’s family home, and his godfather is thrilled to have him around. Harry is soon brought up to speed with what has been happening since Harry sounded the alarm that Voldemort was back to his old self. The Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper, has been discrediting him and making him sound like a crazy lunatic since he told the truth. Dumbledore has been kicked off of numerous wizarding boards, etc. Percy Weasley, the brother of Harry’s best friend Ron, has written the Weasley family off. Harry, of course, does not get expelled from Hogwarts, and Ron is made prefect for Gryffindor House. Before they know it they are out of Headquarters and on the way to school again.

School is no easier, either. The students have taken it upon themselves to discredit Harry at each and every turn. As if things are not bad enough, Dolores Umbridge takes up post as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and was Senior Undersecretary to Corenelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic. It seems that Dumbledore is public enemy number one alongside Harry, and the Ministry is intent on interfering with the goings on at Hogwarts. First off, the students learn that they will not be practicing defensive magic at all. The year is progressively getting worse and worse, and Harry no longer feels too optimistic about Hogwarts as his home anymore. Umbridge makes it her mission to degrade and break Harry when he stands up to her about Ministry interference and the fact that nobody will admit that Cedric Diggory was murdered. Hermione Granger brings up a great idea about Harry teaching some student defensive magic and telling them how it is to be up against Dark wizards and witches. Harry consents, and the idea is wildly popular. The group bands together and calls themselves Dumbledore’s Army.

Umbridge begins investigating teachers and questioning their abilities. The Weasley twins, Fred and George, have firmly taken it upon themselves to make as much trouble as possible. Soon, however, Umbridge gets Dumbledore thrown from the school, and panic floods throughout the student body. Hermione gets in contact with disgraced ex-Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter and has her tell Harry’s story, which finally needs to be heard. Things are going from bad to worse in the wizarding world, and Umbridge is steadily depriving Harry of each and every thing she can, making his life miserable. Dumbledore wants Harry to take Occlumency lessons from Professor Severus Snape, who is working as a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix against the Dark Lord. Harry continually dreams of a long, dark corridor which he later figures out is the Department of Mysteries, and informs the Order when he sees Arthur Weasley attacked and damn near killed by a giant snake. It is of utmost importance that Harry learn the art of closing off his mind to Voldemort, before Voldemort realizes that there is a connection. Harry has started up an exceptionally wobbly relationship with Cho Chang, and it is rapidly losing its appeal. Umbridge, however, has finally succeeded in removing Dumbledore from Hogwarts, and assumes the role of Headmistress immediately. Dumbledore’s prediction about the Dementors joining ranks with Voldemort seem to be realised when ten top ranking Death Eaters escape from Azkaban, causing people to wonder if Harry really is losing his marbles. The Ministry of Magic, however, refuses to admit that there is anything wrong.

Will Harry master blocking his mind from Voldemort? Will the magical community ever admit that the Dark Lord has in actual fact returned? Will Umbridge continue her reign of terror on the school? Will the students in the DA be better off learning their defensive magic, and will the Ministry ever leave Howarts and their business to themselves, or will they continue to interfere? Will anything come of the relationship with Cho Chang? Will Cedric’s death ever be commemorated for what it was, or continually be labelled an accident, not a murder? When will Voldemort step back into the public eye?

GRADE 10This is by far my most favourite of the whole series, no questions asked, as well as one of my favourite books of all time. I had a debate with my very best friend in the world about it. Natasha always thought this to be her least favourite. I have to contend with why I feel that this was the greatest one of them all. None of the other books manage to capture all the emotions as astutely as this one. Pity, anger, happiness, hate, pain, sadness, loneliness, everything. You discover more in this book about the characters and fear than any of the others. You also learn so much more about the pasts of people and how their suffering ties into the story, and why Harry’s past had to be the way that it was. This was the first book to demonstrate Snape as more than just some terrible snake, the very first time I started liking him, even if he was still dreadful towards Harry. The characters aren’t little kids anymore. Sirius gets a massive part in it all, and it is great to learn more about him as a person and how he manages certain situations. So much planning and scheming was going on at any given moment in this book. Umbridge will remain the most loathed book character I have probably ever encountered. She was the embodiment of evil. The more you read about her, the less that you liked her. There was some fantastic humour in this book. I must say, I was not particularly enamoured with the relationship between Cho and Harry (not how it was written, just the match that they were), but I can understand the necessity in terms of character growth. The DA was awesome, and the injustice that people suffered throughout this book smarts. The flight of the Weasleys was simply amazing, and will remain a favourite of mine forever. This book was a solid and strong entry to a wonderful series, and I will always regard this as my favourite book no matter what. The pacing was also perfect, and nothing rambled or took too long, and nothing was rushed, either. Truly worth the read, each and every time it just gets me.

I can go on forever about what is right with this book.