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Richard, Gryffindor House (Sheffield, England)

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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magical thrill ride - Fans of the book rejoice!, 11 Nov. 2001
I have to admit, I was ready to hate this movie. Having been a long-term fan of the Harry Potter books, a less-than-faithful adaptation could have spoiled it all for me. As it turns out, my fears were unfounded.
Okay, some viewers will nitpick over discrepencies in characters' appearances, but all the IMPORTANT stuff is here. The relationships between the characters are spot-on. The film also successfully convinces us that the magical goings-on are part of the protagonists' everyday lives, whilst at the same time instilling a sense of wonder in the audience. This difficult balance is one of the main reasons the books are so successful.
Some of the child actors are a little wooden at times, but generally the all-British cast is excellent. The rich characters of Rowling's books have translated perfectly. Robbie Coltrane IS Hagrid. Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) have immense fun delivering most of the film's best lines. Dan Radcliffe does well in the difficult task of communicating Harry's thoughts, when the audience is unable to see them written down. Deserved mention, too, for Maggie Smith's McGonagall, Alan Rickman's Snape and Tom Felton's nasty-yet-vulnerable Draco Malfoy.
The quality of the production is excellent. The sets and costumes are fabulous, and the attention to detail is breathtaking. The effects are superb, obvious highlights being Harry's invisibility cloak, and the Quidditch match (an adrenaline-pumping spectacle right up there with anything Star Wars has to offer).
In between the showpieces, director Chris Columbus remembers to let his audience take a breather with quieter moments. Harry staring out of his bedroom window, and he and Ron opening their presents on Christmas morning, are endearingly down-to-earth. And the scenes of Harry in front of the Mirror of Erised brought a tear to my eye (If you've read the book, you'll know why).
That's not to say the movie is without its faults. In an attempt to please purists, ALL the subplots have been included (though pared down a great deal), when omitting a few entirely may have helped the pacing of the film. The opening half-hour may be difficult to grasp for those who are unfamiliar with the book. A few of the magical artefacts seem rather more mechanical than mystical.
But these are all small niggles, really. The bottom line is that 152 minutes fly by as if it were half an hour. The only wish you have is that it were longer, and there can be no better sign of a good film than that.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [DVD] [1999]
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Ewan McGregor
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £8.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An overwhelming amount of Star Wars for your money!, 16 Oct. 2001
Okay, everybody's seen this film, right? Whilst I could go on about the heart-pounding desert podrace, the visually superb droid armies, the impossibly frenetic lightsabre battles, and the magnificent John Williams' score, you know all about that already. What we're really interested in here is the added extras.
Lucasfilm said they waited to release this until they'd got it right, and BOY, have they got it right! I've spent the last two days trawling through the features, and I'm still finding loads I haven't seen.
The seven deleted scenes are an obvious highlight (the extended podrace being my particular favourite). They can be watched separately or within a documentary describing why they were cut (Watch out for the Pixar-style 'out-takes' at the end!). A few have even been incorporated back into the movie proper, giving a sort-of Episode I: Special Edition (if you like).
With around twenty 'making of' featurettes, some of them do repeat each other slightly, but the showpiece hour-long documentary "The Beginning" is very well done. Happily focussing on the casting and human events rather than just the effects, it has enough interest to ensure repeated viewing.
The remainder of the two (yes, two!) discs are filled with production stills, trailers, a director's commentary, and probably a few other things I've forgotten. The animated starships and droid antics that make up the menus add to the superb feel of quality here.
Lucasfilm could have easily rushed this and everyone would still have bought it. However, whilst watching the extras will bring home the enormous creative effort involved in making this movie, the same thing can be said about the DVD release. There is really no excuse to not buy this.

Rugrats In Paris - The Movie [VHS]
Rugrats In Paris - The Movie [VHS]

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rugrats' second movie outing exceeds their first, 14 Sept. 2001
This is that great rarety, a sequel that is not merely as good as the original, but surpasses it in every way. This time around, the intrepid tots are bound for Paris, in search of a new Mom for Chuckie. Unfortunately, the most likely candidate seems to be the Cruella de Ville-like boss of EuroReptarland. Inevitably madcap escapades ensue across the theme park (the writers poking a great deal of fun at a certain other Parisian resort), resulting in ... Well, I won't spoil it for you. I'll just say 'shades of King Kong' and leave it at that.
The gang are all present and correct, including newcomer Kimi (who oddly does not have much to do). Twins Phil and Lil take gross-out humour to a whole new level and evil cousin Angelica commits her worst atrocity yet, but really this is Chuckie's film. Everyone's favourite scaredy cat takes the viewer from moments of heartbreaking sadness (I genuinely cried at one point!) to madcap sequences like the must-be-seen-to-be-believed 'Chuckie Chan (Martial Arts Expert of Reptarland)' and everywhere in-between.
Anarchic and endearing in equal measures, 'Rugrats in Paris' also wisely aims its gags across the age spectrum. After all, any cartoon that opens with a lengthy parody of 'The Godfather' can't just be for kids, can it?

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 5 (Box Set 2) [VHS] [1998]
Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 5 (Box Set 2) [VHS] [1998]

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb mix of drama & fun - Buffy has reached its maturity, 6 Sept. 2001
Season 5 of Buffy is perhaps the best yet. This second half focuses almost entirely on the main story arcs of the year, with virtually no 'filler' episodes. With the exception of the lamentable "Crush", every one is Buffy at its classic best.
Be prepared for some heart-rending developments. Dawn's discovery of who she really is, the death of a major character in "The Body" and the epic five-part run-up to the finale all make for powerful television. Compared to this, I found the much-hyped ending slightly contrived at first, but it has grown on me during repeat viewings. If you don't know what happens, brace yourself for a shock.
With such heavy drama, some light-hearted fun needs injecting into the proceedings, and this is provided admirably by Glory. The brain-sucking devil-in-a-dress proves herself to be the best baddie to appear on the scene since Spike and Dru first rolled into Sunnydale. Speaking of the Big Bad, Spike has some great scenes with Dawn, and his crush on Buffy (whilst a questionable idea for a plot line) is handled much better here than in the first half of the season.
What this set demonstrates most of all is the maturity of the series. This is an altogether more confident Buffy, unafraid to handle difficult issues and mixing serious drama with comedy and gloriously (excuse the pun!) epic action. Great stunts and effects, top-notch acting all round (special mention for newcomer Michelle Trachtenberg), and gripping story lines. A winner on every level.

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