A couple of quick reviews:
First, Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, the 6th movie in the series, came out last week. I went to see it on opening night, then, a second time on Thursday, and it was absolutely great. It was so much better than the last couple of offerings, and probably my favorite thus far. They definitely recaptured the magic (pun intended). At just over 2 1/2 hours; the pacing, a major issue with the last few films in general, was superbly calibrated. Let's face it, this movie, and the book from which it was based, are pretty much just the exposition setup for the seventh and final book/movies. None the less, the movie never felt boring or overly expositional. All of my favorite moments were there, and the things that were changed were understandable at worst and welcome in quite a few cases. There was only one scene that I didn't think they should have made, and that was the scene at the Burrow during Christmas time. For those that have seen it, you know the one. What the hell. It didn't progress the plot, and it wasn't necessary for any other reason. Other than that, my only complaint was the missing funeral at the end, but I got over it. The budding romances and out of control hormones were in full force during this installment, and they were mostly handled really well. The casting, as always, was superb. I'm very willing to forgive Slughorn's physical inaccuracies for the excellent performance of Jim Brodbent in the part. Michael Gambon really brought Dumbledore to a perfection that I thought came up slightly short in past movies. Alan Rickman is still Alan Rickman. All the children were great with a special honorable mention going to Luna Lovegood. Perfection in casting if there ever was any; she was even better in this movie. I <3's me some Luna wackiness. Hermione, Ron, and Harry were as good as ever. All in all, an excellent job, and I look forward to the final installments even more now.
The other movie I saw recently was Zac and Dawn Make a Wedding. The supposed sequel to Zac and Miri Make a Porno. Although, as far as I can tell, the movie has been entirely recast both behind and in front of the camera. I personally think it was an improvement overall. The casting was excellent. It starred that guy from the new Johnny Depp movie, Public Enemies. I can't remember the actor's name, as his IMDB entry seems to be missing for some reason, but his portrayal of Zac Shipley was superb. Beside him was his eternal flame Dawn (formerly Sulok) Shipley, who was portrayed perfectly by the bassist of The Recession, my favorite underrated four-hit wonder band. As I understand it, her debut in this movie may be her last, as she is retiring to go into teaching. It's a shame, but I wish her the best, and I think she'll be great. The pacing of this movie, at least from my perspective in the audience, seemed a bit fast. It was a full 48 hours long, but seemed to go by much quicker.
My favorite part was the bachelor party scene, but they may have to wait for the DVD release to show that in its entirety. Maybe they can post some deleted scenes on YouTube or something. This scene seemed to preserve the humor style of the first movie more than others. I do have to say that the stripper seemed a little plastic. Where did they find an albino, headless, quadriplegic stripper? That's incredibly specific casting. She also had that problem where she looked good from the front, but not nearly as good from the back. She had no butt to speak of at all. I also have a minor gripe about the card game being played in that scene. Like many things made up for movies, it didn't seem to have any discernible logical rules. At least they got the video games correct for once. No recycled Pac-man sounds coming from the TV as the players, all holding incorrect controllers, button mashed unrealistically to imaginary images. Nope, they got the real deal for this one. They must have paid up to $60 each to license all these great titles. It was worth it, though, as it looked absolutely real.
The wedding ceremony scene was excellent, although I think the bugs looked fake. They should have added those using CG in post or something, rather than trying to do the effect practically. Zac, usually the consummate performer, seemed a little nervous in that scene, but he pulled it off in the end. The scene was perfectly timed, and not long and drawn out like in other similar wedding movies I've scene. The costume designer and set decorator did a superb job of getting the feel and heart of the scene. It felt just like being at a real, good wedding.
The reception scene looked like it was shot in a local senior center or something. Don't get me wrong, they did a good job once again of dressing the set; though I think the props master has a bit of an obsession with legos. It looked like even part of the cake was made of lego blocks. Don't eat those. The soundtrack in this part of the movie was excellent, though I think they made a continuity mistake in the editing. It appeared that they started up one song, then suddenly a different song was playing. At least the new song was wedding appropriate; being about never giving you up, never letting you down, never running around and deserting you, etc. You know, commitment type stuff, although I question the sexual orientation of the singer. They also seemed to have a few too many untalented extras that were unwilling or unable to dance. I feel the need to apologize on their behalf. A good time seemed to be had, though, and that's what was important. I'm very happy to have seen this movie, and I wish the cast a long and happy career. As I understand it, their next project takes place in Washington DC. I'm hoping for a live-action Fallout movie.
P.S. - I do think they under-utilized the guy playing the security guard with the laptop by the bathrooms. He was there the entire time, but didn't really have anything to do. Maybe they could have had a scene with an attempted break-in to the steal the Fitchburg Death Star plans. Or, they could have had the legos turn out to be robots in disguise, bent on stealing the Fitchburg Allspark. Maybe a bank robbery, and the guard could have been the audience at the trial. See? There are lots of ways they could have utilized this talented, albeit quiet, security guard.