Friday, December 16, 2011

Where the Wild Things Are - by Maurice Sendak - The Movie (2009)

While programming my PVR the other day I noticed that Where the Wild Things Are was on that night. I have never seen it, so I decided to record it. I remember seeing the trailer at the theatre years ago when they were advertising the movie coming out in the future and hearing the audience at the theatre gasp with excitement. Needless to say, my expectations were pretty high when I sat down to finally watch the movie with my family.

Now, I know many people are huge fans of the illustrated children's book with the same name, and I think the illustrations in the book are spectacular, but I really don't remember the story all that well. In fact, while watching the movie I tried to remember the book and couldn't remember anything but the illustrations of the characters. That being said, I won't be able to do a very fair comparison between the book and the movie until I'm able to get my hands on the book by either sitting down in a book store and reading it, borrowing it from one of many of my friends who has the book, or giving in and purchasing it for my own collection.

As far as the movie is concerned, cult followers of the story may kill me for saying this, but I wasn't all that impressed. The movie drags out and I did not find that it had a very interesting storyline. The story takes a little while to get going while they try to set up the hyperactive, loner, Max's character. You start to feel sorry for him since he seems to have serious mental issues that are not being addressed. When he finally runs away and ends up "where the wild things are", you think the story will begin to take off as the new characters are being introduced, but the story continues to be slow-moving and a bit boring. When the movie finally ended, I felt like I hadn't gotten much out of it and if someone were to ask me to retell the story to them I don't feel like I would have much to say.

The one thing I would absolutely have to say is that the costumes and animation used for the "wild things" characters were fantastic. They really were brought to life from the images I remember from the book. Kudos on that for sure!

Are you fan of the Where the Wild Things Are book?

Did you grow up reading it? If so, what were your thoughts on the movie?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) - by J.K. Rowling - Characters

For those of you just getting into the Harry Potter series of books like I am, you'll notice that the first book has a LOT of characters. I, at times, found it hard to remember who was who in the first few chapters. To help, I've made a list of the characters that present themselves in the first book.

Harry Potter - he is of course the namesake for the series of books and very quickly begins to play the role of a hero. To me he seemed a bit uncomfortable in his own skin which is no surprise since he was not only orphaned as a baby, but also taken in by his aunt and uncle who locked him in a cupboard underneath the stairs of their home. Harry does not find out about his "magic" past (and future) until he is approached by Hogwarts, his new school.

Petunia Dursley - Petunia is Harry's aunt and sister to Harry's late mother. Although her sister was able to perform magic, Petunia has no abilities of her own (a non-magical person is called a Muggle). She is against magic and makes every effort to keep Harry in the dark about it. She caters to her son, Dudley, but treats Harry as a burden to her.

Vernon Dursley - Petunia's husband and Harry's uncle. He is very much the head of the household and also does not believe in magic. He is rather mean to Harry, and also keeps Harry from finding out the truth about his parents and his past.

Dudley Dursley - Harry's cousin and son of Petunia and Vernon. Dudley is a spoiled bully and knows how to get his way with his parents. He is privileged, and likes to rub this in Harry's face.

Fred and George Weasley - a set of trouble-making twins that attend school with Harry. Their younger brother, Ron, is in Harry's class

Ron Weasley - Ron is Harry's best friend at Hogwarts. He comes from a poor family and has several siblings. Everyone in his family is magic, so he often lives in the shadows of his other family members.

Hermione Granger - When she is first introduced in the book, Harry and Ron both find her bossy and annoying. She is a know-it-all, but has a lot of skill as far as magic is concerned. She excels at school, and tries her best to fit in even though she has a fear of failure. By about mid-novel she has become a friend to Harry and Ron.

Draco Malfoy - An arrogant bully who is in the same year as Harry at Hogwarts. He makes it clear that he does not like Harry, and does not respect anyone who does not have the same financial or magical background as he does.

Neville Longbottom - a nerdy child in the same year as Harry at Hogwarts. He is always forgetting things, and is not as skilled as the rest of his class. He is somewhat of a friend to Harry, although it is not clear if Harry and his friends really consider Neville their friend, or only feel sorry for him.

Professor Dumbledore - Headmaster of Hogwarts. He is a great wizard with a bit of a sense of humour. He seems to be taking Harry under his wing and guiding him to becoming a great wizard as well. He is a bit of a mystery, but I am sure we will learn more about him as the stories progress.

Professor McGonagall - She is Transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts, which makes sense since she often disguises herself as a cat. She is also head of Gryffindor House (Harry's dormitory at Hogwarts).

Professor Quirrell - He is the "Defence Against the Dark Arts" teacher at Hogwarts. He wears a turban that conceals a surprise towards the end of the first novel. He seems very nervous and jumpy, and has a bit of a stutter.

Professor Snape - Is teacher of Potions at Hogwarts and also head of Slytherin House (Malfoy's dormitory). He is quite mean to people he does not like, and makes a point of being especially humiliating towards Harry. Harry considers Snape an enemy early in the novel.

Hagrid - Hagrid is the gamekeeper at Hogwarts. He is a giant and hairy man, and was first introduced to us when he went to retrieve Harry (in order to take him to Hogwarts). He once attended Hogwarts, but was expelled, and that is why he is now only the gamekeeper. Dumbledore seems to really trust Hagrid, and Harry immediately considers Hagrid one of his closest friends. Best description of Hagrid so far in my mind would be that he is a "gentle giant" who does not mean anyone any harm.

Filtch - He is the school's caretaker, and loves to catch students where they are not supposed to be. He tours the halls at night, and seems to get a thrill from the hunt. Harry and his friends have a couple of close calls with Filtch.

Mrs. Norris - Filtch's pet cat who helps him find students who are sneaking around the school.

Professor Sprout - Herbology teacher

Professor Flitwick - Charms teacher

Professor Binns - History of Magic teacher. He also does not realize he has died and has become a ghost.

Madam Hooch - Quidditch coach (a sport Harry and Malfoy participate in - on broomsticks).

Peeves - a poltergeist who appears out of nowhere and causes trouble for anyone who encounters him.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) - by J.K. Rowling

I admit it's taken me awhile, both to write my next post and to get into the Harry Potter series. I was one of those rare people who hadn't caught the Harry Potter bug, and now that I don't have to sit here anticipating the next book or movie, I've finally decided it's due time I gave the series a serious chance.

I'll admit this wasn't my first date with Mr. Potter...I had attempted to read novel 1 about four times and had never made it past chapter 2 without straying, and when the last movie was first in the theatre, I made an attempt to do a marathon session with the previous movies so that I could see the final movie in the theatre with my sister (who is a pretty big fan of the Potter books and movies). I made it to movie four, I think, and realized I hadn't been paying enough attention to be able to understand such a complex story.

I'm pleased to say that I've finally made it through the first book and found myself a little bit excited to read the next. I confess that I really had to push myself through the first few chapters. I found them to be slow moving and they introduced too many characters for my liking. The talk of "magic" was also a bit confusing throughout the first novel and I realized quickly that having watched the first movie really helped me to picture the details in the book. I think this is a rare occasion where watching the movie first assisted in my understanding of the details of the novel. I still do plan to watch the movie again very soon and give my review.

After reading The Sorcerer's Stone, I can understand why people just cannot get enough of the Harry Potter series. Even though I felt there were too many secondary characters introduced, which made it quite confusing to visualize at times, the details about places, objects and magic were enough to make you really feel like you were right at Hogwarts alongside Harry and his friends.

Now that I have FINALLY finished the first book in this series, I really look forward to reading more about Harry Potter and his adventures. I'll admit that I am not completely in the dark when it comes to Harry and that I know about bits and pieces of his life (I think the only way not to is if you lived in a cave for the past several years), but it's fun to get to know him myself, and maybe now I'll understand more what all the hype has been about.

Are you a Potter fanatic? Let me know why!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trying to get back...

Wow, it's been awhile since I've even had time to visit Read it OR See it, and for that I apologize. I'm in the process of trying to get back into my blog, even if it is just once every couple of months. Yes, ideally I'd like to be able to write every day, but I've realized that just isn't realistic for me right now, and is probably the reason I abandoned the blog in the first place.

For those that continued to follow my blog even with my absence, thank you. I will try harder to be more present.

Happy reading and happy viewing!

Until we meet again....