Robert Cottrell in Edinburgh is doing 19 things including…

watch 43 movies

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Robert Cottrell has written 12 entries about this goal

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This is the first of the Harry Potter movies that left me wishing I had read the book so I could better understand the movie. Sure, there was plenty of action and special effects but the film seemed to lack a unifying theme. The Tri-Wizard Tournament (or is that Quad-Wizard?) was more like a two hour pod race—some great sequences but ultimately just filler.

I’m not sure how this tournament could bestow such great recognition and fame on the winners. It seems to be corrupt to the core. The choice of contestants was manipulated. The judges have their favorite contestants and don’t seem troubled doing everything than can to help them. And surviving the cruel challenges seems to have more to do with luck than magical skill or strength of character.

I am curious, however, to see how future installments develop. Is this just a bridge between the mischevious adventures of a young Harry trying to find his place in a world of magic and a more mature version of himself who must ultimately face a powerful adversary and a secret conspiracy within the government that protects it.

Or maybe I should just get the 94 hour audio book collection from iTunes to have my questions answered.



Walk the Line

It’s your basic love story about betraying the ones who stood by you when you had nothing, falling into the depths of drug addiction, losing your family, and living happily ever after. Quite possibly the feel good hit of the year.

I’ve never really been a big fan of Johnny Cash. But with a career spanning as long as his, I guess it’s possible that I was just exposed to his music at a less than ideal time. I may have to revisit this because the soundtrack (mostly featuring songs from the 1950s and 1960s) was much better than I had expected it to be.



Elizabethtown

At over two hours long, you would think there would be enough time to tell this relatively simple story about reconnecting with family, dealing with loss, and learning to move on. But the film seemed to want to tell three or four different stories and never could decide what it wanted to be. There were many great scenes in the movie, but I still felt like something was missing. The final road trip sequence really didn’t seem to fit in at all with the rest of the movie.

Like our hero, five years ago I flew into Louisville from the Pacific Northwest and drove to Elizabethtown. It wasn’t to attend a funeral but rather to work a shift at one of my company’s distribution centers during the holiday rush. I can’t recall if I took the infamous exit 60B or not, but I had no trouble navigating the route and it was a dark winter night when I made my drive.



Domino

Two hours of Keira Knightley shooting guns and screaming profanities should be enough violence to let me sit comfortably through the upcoming Pride and Prejudice.

On an unrelated note, I wish that filmakers would get the clue that nonlinear story telling just isn’t cool any more. Sure, there have been a few films that have used original variations of the technique to dramatic effect. But simply playing key scenes three times throughout the movie, both backwards and forwards, is not artistic. It is filler. Like back in high school when you turned in research papers with an extra quarter inch margin on each side, lines spaced 2 1/2 apart, and 13 point type to make a very short report stretch out into the required page count.



Serenity

I never did hear back from Daniel or Erik about the movie, although I would later learn that Daniel sent an instant message back to me after I had logged out and Erik sent a text message to my surprisingly untextmessagifyable cell phone. But there was no way I was going to let the weekend end without watching the movie. So I went down to the theater and bought a ticket for the 7 pm showing, which was what had talked about, but Daniel and Erik went to the 7:30 showing instead.

The automated ticket kiosks were timing out on credit card authorizations, and the machines at the main box office were similarly having troubles. I dug into my pocket to see if I had enough cash to buy the $9 ticket. A $5 bill, three $1 bills, two quarters, three dimes, three nickels, and five pennies were enough. I left the box office with only three cents in pocket, so there would be snacks for this show.

The movie was amazing. All of the characters from the television series were back (although I had read that scheduling conflicts required reducing the roles of at least one of the actors). The special effects were spectacular and the plot managed to be accessible to newcomers while tying up several (but not all) of the loose ends from the series.

I’m not sure why, but I never did get that all the talk about the inner systems and the outer planets all referred to a single solar system. I may be just slow, but seeing a map of the solar system early in the movie really put a lot of things into perspective for me.

How does this movie compare to the television series? I think I still prefer the series—there was a lot of character development that went on across the 14 episodes that just can’t be packed into one two hour movie. Still, this was a great way to build on the saga of the ill-fated series and hopefully just the beginning of the continuing adventures of the Serenity.



Into the Blue

Daniel and Erik wanted to see Serenity on Sunday, so I went to see Into the Blue on Saturday. A customer review of the movie claimed that the movie was about 10% plot and 90% shots of Jessica Alba. That’s enough to make this a pretty good movie.



The Brothers Grimm

Before they wrote the stories, they lived the fairy tales.



The Island

Being a clone isn’t so bad. Sure, you will probably only live three or four years until you are harvested for spare parts. But until then, you get to live in a first class building with complimentary house cleaning services, enjoy personalized high quality medical care, entertain yourself with high tech X-Box virtual reality games, and hang out with copies of other famous and beautiful people. That is, until someone starts asking too many questions and ruins it all for everyone else.



Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It’s been too long since I’ve seen the original movie and even longer since I’ve read the book so I’m not sure I can really trust my memories.

This version seemed to focus more on the scenery and special effects than on the characters. I didn’t feel the same sense of frenzy around the contest that was present in the first movie. And Charlie just seemed too pure and too good and well behaved.

Still, it was an enjoyable movie to watch. Johnny Depp was fantastic as the isolated, eccentric genius who is unable to interact with ordinary people. The flashback scenes that introduced his obsession with chocolate and his discovery of the Oompa Loompas did add some much needed depth to the story.

My favorite scene from the movie was the discussion following the Oompa Loompas’ song after Augustus falls into the river of chocolate. That sounded rehearsed!



The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

It’s hard to judge the movie adaption of a book that played such a central part of my childhood. I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide series several times and spent countless additional hours playing the Infocom adventure game.

The movie was, I think I can say, actually quite good. In fact I think I quite enjoyed it and I would have rated it quite highly if it had been a regular science fiction show. Why, then, do I have this uncomfortable feeling of being unsatisfied?

The most memorable part of the movie for me was one of the trailers for the movie that explained what a movie trailer was. It was funny and original yet completely keeping with the spirit and humor of the story. Why couldn’t the movie have been more like that?



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