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Big Fish

Big Fish is a 2003 fantasy film and quite possibly Tim Burton’s masterpiece.  Billy Crudup stars as William Bloom, a writer who is trying to connect with his dying father. He feels like his relationship with his dad is like two strangers who happen to know each other extremely well. The problem is that William was never able to connect with his father. His father was a traveling salesman with a passion for telling tall tales and embellishing the truth, and he feels like he never knew the real person behind the stories.

The film is framed by an elderly Edward Bloom (played by Albert Finney) who is bedridden and slowly fading away. The story flashes back to a younger Edward (played by Ewan McGregor) doing fantastic things and having amazing adventures. He meets a giant, a werewolf, Siamese twins, a witch, and has a few encounters with a particularly big fish. On the surface this is a modern fairy tale. But it’s really about reconciliation. Edward and William have a broken relationship. Everything Edward ever told William was embellished and elaborated. William thinks that everything his father told him was a lie. They are bonded by blood but don’t have much in common.

This film is more sophisticated than Tim Burton’s other films. It’s more adult and decidedly less gothic. There is a great supporting cast including Jessica Lange, Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, and apparently a young Miley Cyrus. Helena Bonham Carter is in it too and Danny Elfman provides the score. Johnny Depp is the only Burton Regular who doesn’t show up.  I guess there wasn’t a part for a pale pedophile. This is the type of movie that you can watch with your parents and feel like you’ve bonded. Real art effects emotion. This film is art.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)

David Yates steps in to direct, and he brings back the energy and joy of Prisoner of Azkaban. The fifth book was the longest, but the fifth movie was one of the shortest. Yates keeps the movie flowing and it is more energetic and fun than Goblet of Fire. Lots of things are left out of the movie, but they are alluded to. It captures the feel and tone of the fifth book, even though so much is left out. Even if you haven’t seen the other movies or read the books, this film is solid enough to stand alone.

This movie came out in July of 2007, the same month as the final book. It was a very good month for Potter fans. Not only did it also come out in IMAX, but the final twenty minutes were converted into 3D. Keep in mind that this was way before Avatar, and the whole movie was in 2D, but then when Harry and his friends jump on the Thestrals to save Sirius it becomes 3D. There were some great 3D moments as they explore the Department of Mysteries and get attacked by the Death Eaters, but nothing compares to Voldemort and Dumbledore’s fierce dual. Seriously some of the best use of 3D in film. It really added to the film, and because it was only 3D at the end, the 3D seemed more impressive. The dual is an amazing spectacle. Computer graphics can still make jaws drop if done correctly.

As per the trend, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continue to grow up and improve as actors. Gary Oldman has only a few scenes as Sirius, but establishes a real connection between Harry and Sirius. Keep in mind that Sirius only had one scene in Goblet of Fire, so it was vital for the audience to relate to Sirius so that when he dies you feel sorry for Harry. There is a great moment in the midst of the Ministry battle where Sirius calls Harry “James” by accident. It is a really brief but subtle allusion to Harry seeing Sirius as a father, but Sirius sees Harry as his friend. It sums up their relationship perfectly.

Two great female villains are introduced in this movie. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Bellatrix Lestrange, and makes her very deranged and psychotic. You can tell she went to the Alan Rickman School of Hamming It Up and graduated at the top of her class. Imelda Staunton steals the show with her portrayal of the loathsome and evil Dolores Umbridge. If you didn’t like Umbridge in the book, you will hate her in the movie. When she gets dragged off by the centaurs at the end, I still get giddy. It takes a lot of talent to not only have everyone hate your character, but to enjoy hating your character.

There was a lot of stuff left out of the movie. But it flows better and feels more like its paperback companion than Goblet of Fire. Yates did a great job and got the franchise back on track. A lot of people are critical of this movie, but in time I think it will be remembered as one of the best movies in the series.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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