Weekend Warrior: Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe / Emma Watson / Rupert Grint

The Consensus: The last Harry Potter film has been racking up the positive reviews this week. It currently has a very fresh 96% score at Rotten Tomatoes, and a 90 at Meta Critic. I’ve been a fan ever since watching Chamber of Secrets in an airplane and eagerly devouring the first four books in short order. I got my wand at Hot Topic, my Gryffindor tie just arrived from Amazon, and I’m ready for the midnight premiere. (Yes, my wife and I are brewing butterbeer that night) I’ve never been in costume at a movie before, but I’ve grown attached to the Harry Potter characters/cast, and it seems a fitting way to join them one last time.

Negative Take: N/A (from top critics) at this point.

Positive Take:

It ends well. After eight films in 10 years and a cumulative global box-office take of more than $6.3 billion, the most successful franchise in the history of movies comes to an obligatory — and quite satisfying — conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Fully justifying the decision, once thought purely mercenary, of splitting J.K. Rowling‘s final book into two parts, this is an exciting and, to put it mildly, massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now. If ever there was a sure thing commercially, this stout farewell is it.

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)

Winnie the Pooh
Directed by: Stephen J. Anderson / Don Hall
Written by: Stephen J. Anderson / Don Hall / Clio Chiang / Don Dougherty / Brian Kesinger / Nicole Mitchell / Jeremy Spears
Starring: Jim Cummings / Craig Ferguson / John Cleese

The Consensus: I’ve been a fan of the older Winnie the Pooh films, which the latest iteration seems to take visual inspiration from, watching them on well-worn VHS tapes time and time again. I’ve seen moments of the attempted revivals of the classic characters, including the hideous CGI television series. This version looks to be a fun, nostalgic romp with old friends in the 100 Acred Woods. Rotten Tomatoes agrees with a 77% score, and a similar score of 72 from Meta Critic. With the Harry Potter behemoth breathing down it’s neck, I hope Winnie the Pooh does well at the box office.

Negative Take: N/A (from top critics) at this point.

Positive Take:

So definitive are the soft, simple, pastel evocations of the English countryside in E.H. Shepard’s original Pooh illustrations that revisionist versions would be unthinkable. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall (director and a writer, respectively, on Meet the Robinsons) do nothing to rock the boat, delivering rich, beautifully rendered visual backdrops for the mild antics of the familiar characters.

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)

Let us know what YOU thought in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Weekend Warrior: Super 8 vs. Judy Moody

Super 8
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, Kyle Chandler

The Consensus: The Tomatometer is soaring with an 87% rating for J.J. Abram’s Super 8, followed by a 67 / 100 score from Meta Critic. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this one since the first teaser trailer hit the web. It looks like a mixture of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Iron Giant.

Negative Take:

I find myself wondering if the pitch meeting was little more than Abrams promising Steven Spielberg that the famed director’s oeuvre would be all but gilded and bronzed right there on the screen. But that can be forgiven…if there’s a story.

And there’s not. Well, there’s not a complete story. There’s a lot of mayhem that feels injected into a coming-of-age yarn that itself needed some tinkering, and then there’s a climax that is meant to bring it all together, but ultimately whiffs worse than Begbie’s scratch in“Trainspotting.”

Kristopher Tapley (Incontention.com)

Positive Take:

The effects, while spectacular, also happen to be germane to the plot, and they have an intimate, tactile quality, rather than seeming too glossy or removed from reality. (And they’re NOT in 3-D. Yes, it is indeed possible.)

So all you’re left with is … story. And strong performances. And well-developed characters. And a believable emotional arc. And genuine thrills.

And that’s apropos, given that it’s a love letter to the man who skillfully wove together all those elements in inventing the modern blockbuster.

Christy Lemire (boston.com)

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer
Directed by: John Schultz
Written by: Kathy Waugh, Megan McDonald
Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller

The Consensus: No consensus yet. (I think I’ll pass on this one)

Negative Take:

At the risk of being a Debbie Downer, watchingJudy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer is akin to being trapped in the ADHD-addled mind of an adolescent hopped up on too much Ritalin.

Nick Schager (The Village Voice)

Positive Take:

The movie may be a bit too high on the junk food meter, and excessively frantic in action sequences towards the narrative finish line when chasing down assorted runaway plot threads, but who cares. John Schultz’s Judy Moody And The NOT Bummer Summer generally delights as it excels in its Juno-in-training wild tween talk lingo. And with generous heaps of sublimely cartoonish kid satire, even at its most hyper-actively hokey interludes.

Prairie Miller (News Blaze)

 

Let us know what YOU thought of Super 8 and Judy Moody in the comments.