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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The Harry Potter saga ends here
by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two
Opening July 15


At long last, the end is here. The final Harry Potter film has been written, filmed, edited, and released. The magical tale of The Boy Who Lived comes to its much-touted and long-awaited conclusion. For the last 10 years, the cinematic world has grown up with the orphan boy who becomes a hero and now, after the last filmed installment, we are ready to see what happens when the trio of misfits battle the greatest evil wizard who ever lived. One does not have to be the seer Professor Trelawney to detect the huge amount of audience anticipation.

Picking up where the first half left off (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One), the three adolescent wizards (Ron, Hermione, and Harry) are still trying to hunt down and destroy Lord Voldemort's seven horcruxes - everyday items that are enchanted with parts of the dark wizard's soul to ensure his immortality. At this point, a ring, a diary, and a locket have been destroyed, leaving four more to be discovered. But time is running out as Voldemort gathers the Dark Armies. As the prophecy that binds Harry and Voldemort says, 'Either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives.' And the final battle between Voldemort and Harry, The Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, good and evil, will have its last showdown at Hogwarts.

Most of this film revolves around Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) - as it should - and leaves the others to be well-supported side characters. Author J.K. Rowling has spent the last 14 years carefully building to this moment in her monumental series, and one of the wisest decisions of the cinematic translations was to make this tome a two-part film. Daniel Radcliffe has grown up with, and into, his role. He's matured as the character has, creating complete believability with each action he takes. Every main character that fans have grown to love (or love to hate) is present in this final epic. All of them live up to their expectations. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (Ron and Hermione) remain the ever-devoted and supportive friends. Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) continues her wonderful portrayal of the mad Death Eater; her wide eyes and wild laugh are creepy enough to intimidate without going too far over the top. Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) is a major part of this final portion. His character reveals twists and loyalties and even, in some part, redemption.

As for the storyline, you will most likely be lost if you've never seen any of the films, never read any of the books, or never followed any of this pop-trend phenomenon. (It's OK - crawl out from under that rock, and welcome to our planet.) The special effects in this film are as good as any of its predecessors (if not better), and if you are seeing a 3-D presentation, it can be taken to the next level. (Note on 3-D: While I'm not usually a fan of 3-D effects in movies, it works really well here. This film would be highly enjoyable either way, though.) The magical world comes alive for us. It's complete with dragons, goblins, giants, and trolls among other fantastical creations, and the special effects go even further. Taking the roller-coaster ride through Gringotts bank is like experiencing the twisted rails with every turn. The dragon's flight and the Demonic Fire are among the effect highlights in the film, and fans will not be disappointed.

Strict devotees of the books will find some changes have been made, but for the most part it remains accurate. In translating the final volume's 749 pages into over 4.5 hours of film, naturally there were things that needed to be edited or condensed for time's sake. All of the major parts are included and discrepancies are easily explained with a carefully placed sentence in character dialogue. Fans of the books will note that the epilogue is included. It's done well, and is conclusive without being cheesy.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two is what it is meant to be, the dramatic conclusion of an epic series. It'll keep the audience entertained from beginning to end. The action doesn't stop, and the special effects are wonderful. The story line is satisfying and above all, it's conclusive. The bottom line is that people will break into two camps: You are either a fan, or you're not. If you are a fan, you'll enjoy the films as much as any of the other adaptations in this series. If you are not a fan, well, enjoy Captain America.


Energy future in limbo in The Last Mountain
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

The Last Mountain
Opening July 15


Deep in the heart of West Virginia sits Coal River Valley. Once upon a time, the Appalachian Mountains loomed over the top of this community, looking down on it like Greek gods surveying their domain. But now, with the advent of mountaintop removal and the easing of restrictions against it during George W. Bush's administration, most of this range has been decimated, and a single mountain is all that remains of this once-pristine wilderness.

The documentary The Last Mountain examines the battle going on inside Coal River Valley, asking questions about the continued viability of coal mining, the political influence massive corporations like Massey Energy have both on local and national levels, the health risks associated with mountaintop removal, alternate sources of energy production, and the economic effects upon communities if coal production is slowed or stymied. While its point of view and opinions on the subject are not in question, director Bill Haney and his fellow filmmakers still allow industry spokesmen like West Virginia Coal Association president Bill Raney to make their case for continued production. Not so much even-handed as open-minded, this forceful and impacting documentary is as much an indictment of how energy is produced in the United States as Inside Job was of Wall Street.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., author of 2004's Crimes Against Nature, acts as our eyes and ears for this journey. He travels into the heart of West Virginia as well as to hot spots of alternate green energy production and does his best to examine them intimately. He meets with Coal River Valley residents impacted the most by the devastation caused by mountaintop removal, listening to their stories and assisting as they try to get politicians, corporate leaders, and others to hear their insistent cries for change.

Still, it isn't like this movie is a Frontline or 60 Minutes piece of journalism, doing its best to stay out of the way and allow viewers to make up their minds as to the plusses and minuses of what is being presented. Haney and company are definitely making a proactive piece showcasing the ills of coal mining and production, and doing their best to show how wind power and other forms of green energy production can create jobs and help economies.

My earlier mention of Inside Job was not out of left field. Like that film, this one is also an opinionated piece trying to hammer its points home, but it's not like the facts it presents are in question. You believe the information imparted, the science, and the realities for these communities combining in a way that is heartfelt, moving, and, most importantly, infuriating. Watching the Appalachians disappear and listening to Bill Raney say that it's OK boggled my mind and had me silently fuming, and I can't see how anyone watching this film won't come away wondering how in the world we allow stuff like this to go on.

The sad part about all of this is that many have already made up their minds and will refuse to allow them to be changed, no matter what information is thrown their way. You can tell people about the millions their community could be making from wind turbines, yet they'll frustratingly still believe the paltry thousands they receive from the likes of Massey Energy are more important and produce more jobs. You can tell people how the coal industry has shed 40,000 positions and doubled their profits, but they'll still believe the opposite. Facts no longer seem to matter, and fiction becomes truth in a way that's remarkable and disturbing.

Films like The Last Mountain serve a greater purpose as they try to turn a tide that has only seemed to build into a titanic wall over the past decade or so. It shows how David can still face down Goliath and come away, if not victorious, at least having made significant changes to the field of play. This is a movie people like me need to extol the virtues of, and which those in the target areas need to see for themselves. Change doesn't happen overnight, but at least Haney has helped add to a conversation that hopefully will continue to build until the powers that be have to stop feigning cluelessness and begin to engage in the debate.






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