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Tick Tock on “The House with a Clock in its Walls” Review (2018)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I saw this film with some friends, not knowing what it was going to be about. In some ways, it made the movie more exciting as everything was a surprise.

The film begins with 10-year-old Lewis, who was recently orphaned and is being sent to live with his uncle, Jonathan. Uncle Jonathan seems nice and doesn’t place any rules at that moment. His house, however, seems haunted to Lewis. Lewis’s mom comes up in Lewis’s dream and says that Uncle Jonathan is evil. Lewis wakes up and believes that. He tries to escape. Even the kids at Lewis’s new school consider the house dangerous. They also don’t care about Lewis. Uncle Jonathan’s one rule is not to open a certain cabinet. Tarby, a classmate of Lewis, tries to disobey that guideline, thinking that it’s no problem. Desperate to make friends with Tarby, Lewis breaks that rule and unintentionally raises Isaac Izzard from the dead. It takes time for Uncle Jonathan and his neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, to listen to Lewis when he tries to admit that he opened that forbidden cabinet. After Lewis confessing his wrongdoing, things get worse and intense.

The movie had its light and dark moments. It also had some strange material, such as toilet humor. I had to cover my eyes when the winged lion excreted. That moment when Lewis is trying to undo the eclipse, Uncle Jonathan turns into a baby with the same adult face and voice. I was trying not to laugh, even after that scene. Does humor like that really belong in a dark moment?

Despite it being rated PG, there were a couple of mature words as well as some intensely dark moments that I was getting goosebumps from, even as an adult. I thought it would’ve been better off PG-13.

On the bright side, the story has a lot of excellent elements. The plot was well-thought-out. I appreciated the plot twists, such as when the neighbor, Mrs. Hanchett, was really Selena in disguise this whole time and her dog was Selena’s rat. Selena has been disguised as Lewis’s mom in Lewis’s dreams the entire time. I also admired how Uncle Jonathan was actually a good guy this whole time, despite the hints of him being wicked at the beginning. After the eclipse was undone, he told Lewis not to tell Mrs. Zimmerman about his baby body during the eclipse process. I found that to make him very believable.

Overall, I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this to very young children, but older kids 10 and up may enjoy it. Note, I never read the book and didn’t know there was a book of this until after I saw the movie. I may check it out, though.

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The Analysis of “Narnia” (2005 film) – The Likes, the Comments, and the Questions

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

Based on C.S. Lewis’s novel, the first Narnia movie, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, focuses on four siblings, the Pevensies. There’s Peter the oldest. Then there’s Susan, probably close to Peter’s age. There’s Edmond, who seems drawn to his father that’s fighting in the Second World War. And then there’s Lucy, the youngest and the most naïve. She is that typical little kid who annoys her older siblings.

Now before I express my thoughts, please note that I will not bring up events from the book series or the play adaptations. I have never read the novels nor have I seen the play. I have seen both sequels. The second one was in full, but a long time ago. With the third, I only saw bits of it here and there. So this post is only going to discuss the First Narnia movie from 2005, with possibly a comparison to a sequel here and there.

As bombs drop in London, Mrs. Pevensie lead the children out to the underground area to hide. Then she sends them on a train to the country, where it’s safer (this is actually historically accurate, by the way). The four kids find a stern woman named Mrs. McCreedy, who will watch them while they stay. While playing hide-and-seek, Lucy means to hide in a wardrobe—only that it leads her to a snowy environment. Little does she know that she has entered a magical land not part of regular Earth. She meets Mr. Tumnus the faun and likes him as an individual. Edmond ends up in Narnia and meets the White Witch, who seems sweet at first, but is really trying to hurt him. She wants to gain Edmond’s trust. After a bunch of drama where the older kids wouldn’t believe Lucy, they all go through the wardrobe and discover Narnia once again. Things get intense and problematic from there. That’s when the meat of the story begins.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. I used to watch is as a child when it’d come out on DVD. One funny activity my brothers and I would do was guess the children’s ages. It was cute.

Anyway, I’m getting back on topic. I admired the world building and how it was a good way to help kids escape from the horrors of WWII. It was actually written to keep children relaxed and feel like they are escaping the war.

Of course, no story, either written or on screen, is perfect. For instance, who decided that the Pevensie kids would stay with Mrs. McCreedy? She led them around the house with ground rules and no signs of a positive attitude. She especially snapped when Susan touched a statue (and that I supported because Susan should’ve known better at the age she was). No welcoming attitude with “Make yourself at home. You want some water?”? Obviously, the kids wouldn’t have gotten to pick. If Mrs. Pevensie had chosen, perhaps she should’ve been more careful. If the state equivalent in the UK did, then that was they was it was. On the bright side, the professor was very sweet. When Lucy cried, he offered to make her some hot chocolate.

When Aslan is executed, Lucy and Susan cry like he was a loved one they’ve known forever. Lucy also wept when Mr. Tumnus turned into stone. I get that they cared about these characters. But I did find it a bit odd that two girls would cry over deaths of animals they barely knew, especially if they weren’t their pets. Well, I guess the viewers needed some sadness and sympathy for all those characters.

Narnia’s time is pretty confusing. One year equals, like, a few minutes in the real world. After Lucy leaves Narnia for the first time, she returns back to where the hide-and-seek game started. At the end, when the kids have become adults and rule Narnia, they return to the wardrobe. The reverse back into the ages they were when they first entered. And they didn’t seem to react much. I wonder why it’s like that. Kind of strange, huh?

And the last point will tie into the sequels. In “Prince Caspian”, a year has passed since “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”. Centuries have gone by in Narnia. There are now humans. While there are adults from Narnia who can be there, adults from Earth are too old to be there. That is why Susan and Peter don’t go back to Narnia in the third film. There, it’s Edmond’s and Lucy’s last times, too. But Edmond is probably a few years older than Lucy. So while I’d understand Edmond’s last time, why Lucy? Unless they plan to lower the maximum age for going to Narnia.

Yes, there is a reason why kids can’t go to Narnia once they reach a certain point. The short answer is that they no longer need it. And there’s more to the long answer. But I don’t know it well. You could search for it elsewhere if you’re really desperate to find out.

Nevertheless, Narnia is a fantastic movie. Both as a fantasy and an amazing film. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

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Alohomora! Review for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

The first installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” film series began in 2016. It’s a spinoff and continuation of the “Harry Potter” universe, but is set 70 years before the “Harry Potter” series is set (1991-1998). The second movie will come out this November 2018. There will be five films.

Anyway, let me get to the review. The story focuses on a wizard named Newt Scamander, who traveled to New York City with a briefcase of magical creatures. He is on his way to Arizona. He meets two witches, Tina and her sister, Queenie. He also meets a no-maj (American term for “muggle”) named Jacob, who has a briefcase of pastries since he wants to open up a bakery. Newt’s nifflers get out of hand and create disasters around the city. Newt gets arrested, befriends Jacob, Tina, and Queenie, and helps a boy named Credence who has issues as an obscurus, which is when a wizard child becomes a cloud-like figure from suppressing his or her sorcery. Things get crazy.

As an American myself, I enjoyed learning about the American wizarding world. We learned about the government, different terms they use compared to British wizards (like no-maj from muggle), their magic school, Ilvermorny, and their history. The characters were amazing and real. Jacob was very likable, particularly.

I will admit that there are some flaws in this film. For example, it’s kind of hard to see how the little girl doing the “My mommy, your mommy…” thing is important, unless it’ll play an essential role later on. And although this is crucial to their world, I found the wizards wiping the no-majs’ memories with the rain to be sad. I especially felt sorry for Jacob as he seemed interested in Queenie and had to forget her.

The action and level on stakes kept me engaged, though. The moment when Newt took Jacob into his briefcase to discover the fantastic creatures was very magical.

I would rate this film 5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to what the next “Fantastic Beasts” films have to offer.

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Accio Analysis! Harry Potter and My Thoughts on the Series

I’ve read all the books, seen all the movies (except for Deathly Hallows Part 1), and have learned more about the series online. However, I am not like many other Harry Potter fans for this reason: I like the movies more than the books. Why? Here are two reasons (feel free to disagree with me):

1: I find the characters and situations to be more believable in the movies than the books. There are so many instances where I was glad something from the books that I didn’t find credible were either cut out of the films or changed into being more believable, with the exceptions of bigger concepts, like no one reporting the Dursleys to social services or how owls know how to deliver letters to the right people. Here are a couple of examples of scenes I was glad were cut out of the movies:

-In Prisoner of Azkaban, there is one scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are at Hagrid’s hut. At first Hagrid thanks them, but then he suddenly explodes at them (“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, EH?”-written by J.K. Rowling). Unless Hagrid has some mysterious mood-swing disorder (which I’m sure he doesn’t), there is no way he would erupt out of anger from calmness. It just doesn’t feel believable.

-In Order of the Phoenix, when Harry punches Draco, he not only gets detention from McGonnagall, but Umbridge adds a life-long ban from Quiddich because of that. But I don’t think any instructor, even someone as horrible as Umbridge, would hand out such a severe punishment for an offense not harsh enough for that. Harry would have been banned from Quiddich for life if he were a professional Quiddich player and did something much worse over and over again. But for punching another student, he would have been, at most banned from the Hogwarts Quiddich team for the rest of his fifth year, maybe until after he graduated.

And here are a couple examples I was happy that the movie makers changed:

-In the Sorcerer’s Stone When Hagrid first meets Harry after ten years, he says something about tea (I don’t remember off the top of my head), but it didn’t sound natural. In the film, he actually apologized, and I liked that more.

-In the Goblet of Fire, when the champions are being selected, there were some unnecessary reactions. One was how some Beaubaxton students cried from not being selected. And the other was Ron shouting, “No!” when Cedric was selected the Hogwarts champion. I get that the movies need to cut out a lot of content (I’m also aware the Book 4 was originally going to be two movies, like Book 7), but I still liked this better than in the book.

2. I like how the characters are better at controlling their emotions in the films than in the novels.

-While everyone says Book Ginny is better than movie Ginny is better, I can see the reasons why… except in Book 1. Ginny was too immature for her age. If I had been old enough to read Sorcerer’s Stone before Chamber of Secrets had been released, I would have thought Ginny was 5 or 6 at most. No way would I have thought she was 10. I’m glad the movie makers matured her.

-In the Order of the Phoenix book, Sirius was not as friendly as in the movie. He had bad tempers, which didn’t really happen in the film. That was why I found movie Sirius more likable than book Sirius.

That being said…

-This may be the opposite that everyone complains about. In the Goblet of Fire book, after Harry is selected champion, Dumbledore asks calmly, “Did you put you name in the goblet of fire?” While in the movie, it’s aggressively. I laugh at that, because I thought the way it was done in the film was fine. Even though I discovered that it wasn’t like Dumbledore to talk like that, I still find it humorous.

And now here are some unanswered questions that have been wandering in my mind?

  1. What would have happened if someone reported the Dursleys to social services and the social services people took Harry away and placed him in foster care?

I find it hard to believe, even for a child who grew up in the 80’s, that nobody had been horrified by how the Dursleys have treated Harry and have done anything about it. Did the neighbors not ever have visitors who were new to Privet Drive? Or new residents moving there? I get that this is fiction. I also know that the wizarding world forces Harry to stay with his blood-relatives for protection, even though they treat him horribly. But I still find it odd that no outsider had been shocked and reported the Dursleys. I’m pretty sure in real life, long before Harry turned 11, somebody would have reported the Dursleys to Britain’s child protective services equivalent, and by the second chapter on Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry would have already been living in foster care for a while, with more responsible and legitimate foster parents. Maybe they would have been strict and/or overprotective with lots of unfair rules (maybe they would’ve been against the idea of Harry going off to Hogwarts), but they wouldn’t have been nearly as bad as the Dursleys.

2. What would the magical world have done if someone had reported the Dursleys to social services and Harry was taken away and placed in a foster home (and Harry wasn’t involved in any of those decisions)?

This will probably never be answered. But I still wonder what the ministry of magic would have done. Would they have been able to move the protection to the foster home? Would they have asked social services to take Harry back to the Dursleys? Would they have done nothing? Who knows?

That’s really it. Regardless of all these things, I still enjoy the series and learning more about it.