Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: The End of an Era?

Although it took a lot of work, I was able to snag last minute tickets to the midnight showing of the final installment of the Harry Potter film franchise. I'll talk about the movie itself in a bit, but the emotions that go along with the release of this movie are what's on the forefront of my mind.
As soon as I got home at about 2:30 AM I got out my Harry Potter notebook (yes, that's a thing I have) and wrote down the following:

"It has been 10 years, and the journey of book and film is complete. I have spent half my life a dedicated fan and follower of the Harry Potter series. It is hard to believe that the day that changed my life when I was 8 years old was a decade ago. Tonight, at midnight, I attended the last film; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. In a way, the movie tagline 'It All Ends,' is correct. There are no more books, and no more movies bringing those books to life on the big screen to look forward to. But it's not really over. For those of us like me, it never will be as long as we keep and cherish the magic of Harry Potter in our hearts.
It's hard for me to describe the feelings that I'm experiencing as I reflect on the past 10 years. I cannot imaging what my life would've been like if I hadn't picked up a battered copy of Sorcerer's Stone in my fourth grade classroom. From that day on, I was inspired to be all that I could be. I looked inside myself and was able to see what I needed and how Harry Potter could help me get there. I became a Gryffindor and transformed from a shy, easily frightened child into someone who strives every day to be brave, confident, just, chivalrous and everything else that the house stands for.
I have made some of the best friends I've ever had through Harry Potter and have had so many wonderful opportunities because of this.
I cannot thank J. K. Rowling enough for creating easily one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Words could never express my gratitude. I'd also like to thank everyone responsible for helping to publish and sell the books. A huge thank you to everyone involved in the making of the films as well, the hard work and dedication shown throughout 8 movies is truly inspirational.
Finally, I'd like to impart the single most important theme of the whole thing: love. I believe what I was taught beginning all those years ago: There is nothing more important and potent than the power of love."

Now! Onto the movie. Really there's not a whole ton to talk about without spoilers, which I don't usually do.

All in all, this was a good movie. There were some deviations from the book that I thought were unnecessary (they never learn), but some of these were due to circumstances outside of this individual movie, like the failure to introduce certain characters previously. That's not to excuse the script writing etc. of the other movies but that's why some of the scenes in this one were a bit lacking. I could go on to talk about other things that bothered me, but it may be a bit unfair because my perspective is that of the hugest Harry Potter detail nerd EVER. There were plenty of really good things about this movie that I think I can talk about though!
Of course, the cinematography, music and technical artistry were beyond superb and beautiful. The acting was fantastic, especially Helena Bonham Carter pretending to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix! The expected moments of triumph were satisfying and there are a few lines of script thrown in that were just perfect. There were also a few quirky things added in that were cute. I generally don't like anything being added in, but there are exceptions. And of course, it was a really freaking emotional movie. I'm not a movie crier, but I had tears in my eyes more than once.

Of course, I recommend seeing this film. You really have to have seen the other movies at least to know what's going on, but hey, you should watch them too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I got a Tumblr!

So yeah... I finally broke down and got a Tumblr. If you're interested in checking it out, my URL is I'm still working everything out and haven't refined my tumblog's appearance yet, but these things will come in time. I'm looking for people to follow, so if you've got a Tumblr yourself, let me know!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Let me just start off by saying that Harry Potter: The Exhibition was like a dream come true for me. I am so grateful that I was able to visit it at the Discovery Center in New York City. If you like Harry Potter, can get to NYC before September and have $25 to spare, GO. It will be worth it!

As someone who is interested in working in the film industry, this was one of the best opportunities that I could take advantage of. Not only was I able to take a look at the world of my favorite series, but I was also able to see how some truly talented designers and technicians brought it to life on the big screen. 

It's hard to say what my favorite parts were because I loved it all, but if I had to choose, I'd say Hermione's Yule Ball gown, the sword of Godric Gryffindor, the creatures (which includes Buckbeak, Fawkes, and a few House Elves!) and .... oh I can't pick anything else out... It's all so cool! Of course I had a special appreciation for the costumes. The design and craftsmanship are simply superb. I was surprised to find out that Emma Watson is really very tiny, maybe even smaller than me (and I'm 5'2" and weigh about 110 lbs.). Snape wears midnight blue rather than black, and the Weasley Twin's school robes show some signs of explosions! Ron's clothes are really that terrible, and his dress robes are just as lacy and horrid in real life. Hagrid is also huger than you can imagine, but as soon as I saw his display, I just wanted to give him a big hug. The Quidditch robes were quite good too, and it was cool to see how they were inspired by old rugby pads and modern day sports uniforms.

These wanted posters contain tiny, yet accurate print!
Something that is probably a huge part of what makes the movie series such a success is the level of detail put into every last element of design. For Christmas this past year, I was given a book entitled Harry Potter Film Wizardry which was all about the making of the films. This book was not only a wonderful resource for an in depth look at the kinds of things displayed at the exhibition, but was in and of itself an example of dedication to detail on behalf of the team of graphic designers who worked on the movies and also compiled the book. This ethic is echoed completely in the sets, props, and costumes displayed currently in NYC. There are things that can only be fully appreciated in person; details that can't be observed on film but have been painstakingly put there anyway. What an inspiration!

The touristy bits of the exhibition were pretty ok. As you enter the attraction three people are sorted by a replica sorting hat. As much as I longed to hear the hat cry out "GRYFFINDOR" as it sat on my head, I let the younger children in the crowd have a go at it. I did get to hear the hat cry out my house though -  three times. It would have been nice for some variety, but I expect that most small children don't really have an idea of what their house is yet, so it's to be expected (and yes, the hat is rigged to say whatever you tell the attendant your favorite house is). The two interactive parts of the exhibition, pulling up mandrakes and throwing quaffles trough scoring hoops were simple, but fun for the kids. Sitting in Hagrid's chair was cool (my brother and I both fit in with room to spare). The gift shop at the end was indeed overpriced, but I came away with a nice mug and a magnet for about $15. The audio tour, which costs $6-7 is an ok feature, but I wouldn't do it again. It's billed as a worthwhile addition to the regular attraction for any serious fan who wants to know every last detail, but as a "serious fan" I don't feel like I learned a whole ton. The audio tour also holds the crowd up at certain points where there are a few things to listen to clustered together. If you really want to do it, try to look for the numbers to punch into the audio device before you're actually in front of the exhibit. That way you can listen while you wait and not hold the line up.

I really enjoyed Harry Potter: The Exhibiton, and would love to go back! If you can make it, go. It's a terrific opportunity and worth every cent of the admission price!

Friday, June 24, 2011


So, Pottermore. As one of the biggest fans of Harry Potter out there, naturally I was jumping up and down when I found out that there was something called Pottermore and we were going to find out what it was very soon. I kept a close watch on the countdown and got up at 6 A.M. to watch the above video be presented. I can tell you that I'm still excited, but I'm not quite sure what to think.

I was touched that Jo had put together this effort as a way to say thank you to her fans and to provide them with more Potter just as the final movie will end the book/movie legacy that began with the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 1997. But there are a few things that I'm not so jazzed about.

First of all, we have to wait until October to even get into the site, unless we are one of the lucky people who get in early (we'll find out how on July 31st). It's fine that Pottermore won't be ready until then, but it's unfair to build up the hype four long months ahead of time. I wish the announcement would have been made much closer to the release of the site.

I'm also very confused as to what exactly the site IS. The video itself is very vague, claiming an "interactive reading experience." What is that, exactly? I've heard from many other sources that we will be learning about subplots that never made it into the books, which is very exciting. However, I've also had it from other sources (including my local newspaper) that it will include a "role-playing game and a digital encyclopedia with social networking and an online store." I have heard rumors of a sorting test hand crafted by Jo herself, as well as an activity where you are given a wand based on your personal characteristics with thousands of variations available. So what the heck is it? Is it one of those things? Is it all of them? Is is none of them? I guess we'll just have to wait until October to find out.

The article in my newspaper talked about the one thing that we're all certain about as well: the electronic forms of the books becoming available. I guess your opinion on this depends on your opinion of eBooks. Although the audio versions of the books will be available on the site, what most people are talking about it the release of the series in electronic form for use on eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle the Sony Reader and the iPad. Until now, JK Rowling has refused to allow her books to be published in this format. Booksellers are less than thrilled about this. According to Jo, however, "You can't hold back progress, e-books are here and they are here to stay."

Overall, I'm still very excited for Pottermore, and you can bet I'll be fighting my hardest to be one of those people who gets in early. But I'm a bit frustrated and I think it's left us all a bit confused. I don't really care one way or the other about the transition to e-book either. But I want to know... what do you think about it all?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paper Towns

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

My second John Green book in a row was just as impressive as the first one. 

I realized after reading Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns one after the other that they actually share a pretty similar model. Both books involve searching for a girl that the main character is fascinated by (and a little in love with). Although sometimes the "searching" is a bit more metaphorical, each quest is a journey of self discovery for the hero and the outcome of each search is not quite what you expect.  

Although Paper Towns has a lot in common with John Green's first book, it is a story unto itself with its own characters and settings. The main heroes in this story are really hilarious while still managing to capture the magic of pondering a deeper meaning that I believe is the author's trademark.
That's the thing that I really love about these books. You will really enjoy yourself while reading them, but at the same time, you're thinking about what you would do in the character's situation, and by the end, you've given your brain a good workout and maybe have even emerged enlightened about something that you'd never considered before.  

Aside from the deep stuff, the characters were especially fun to think about as just teenagers. Q and his friends are in their last stretch of high school, and I know how that feels. The mood of this entire book really reflects those emotions: adventure, uncertainty, and fun; as well as the desire to do something important with your life.

This is a novel that I will look forward to reading again and recommending to my friends! It also makes me even more eager to get my hands on other John Green books!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II Final Trailer

I don't really know how to describe the way I'm feeling after watching this. Beyond words. July 15th, here I come, whether I'm ready for it or not!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

JK Rowling's New Announcement

It seems that JK Rowling has been working on a new project, and the teasers for it have begun today!

There have been coordinates put on Harry Potter fan sites (like, for example). Our job is to plug them into the map at where the coordinates will take us to places important to either JK Rowling or Harry Potter. At each location are letters that need to be unscrambled.

All of the fan sites in question are completely overloaded, so I managed to find a site that had all of the coordinates on it (I know it's kind of cheating, but how was I supposed to get them otherwise?) I'm not sure if there exists an original list of sites to go to or not. On the site I used, coordinate four does not work for some reason, but here are the correct ones: -23.547149,-46.520266

Go try everything out! It's fun! And if you don't want to know what the letters spell out... don't look at what's below this very lovely .gif!

By now, most people have figured out that the letters spell out POTTERMORE. You can follow @pottermore on Twitter to keep up on the news. No one knows what exactly Pottermore is and there's already a lot of speculation. The spelling is confirmed by a Brazilian fan site which noticed a trademark registration for "Pottermore." Further investigation has told me this: Warner Brothers filed the patent in 2009 and was granted an extension on it this year. You can check out the site where I found the patent for youself here.

There is now also a website: Nothing's on it yet, but it's got JKR's signature on it which is exciting.

I can't wait to find out what this is all about. With the movie series coming to a close, we've all been looking for something to keep us going, and this might just be it!