“Pretty psyched for “Tower Heist”. Not only does it look like the first enjoyable movie with Ben Stiller in years, but it’s also the return of three of my favourites, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick and Tea Leoni.”—
This was originally planned to be a “Final Thoughts” on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, but after thinking long and hard about it, I decided to just look back on the (movie) series.
I guess it’d be around ten years ago now when I was first introduced to a film about a boy wizard and his journey to eventually becoming the man who’d vanquish evil from the realm of magic. I knew nothing of J.K. Rowling and her beloved book series, but I soon figured things out when I saw the trailer for the first film adaptation, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone, depending on which country you lived in).
This film looked epic; magical, even. I decided to take my brother and sister to see it and I was astonished. Chris Columbus has always been a talented director, but I was blown away by what I just saw. Harry Potter was definitely something I’d look forward to in the future.
That was until I made the terrible mistake of telling my Dad how great it was. See, here’s the thing with my Dad; when he sees a movie and loves it, he watches it over and over… and over and over and over. I guess it’s not a terrible quality, but considering I was still living at home with my parents at the time, I quickly became sick of the film I once loved.
This little experience tarnished my want of seeing the future films. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets soon arrived and I decided to go watch it in the theatre, even though I was leery of continuing with the series. Ultimately, I found that I didn’t enjoy it as much. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was now sick of Harry and his buddies or if it was just that the sequel wasn’t as good as the original (I now believe that it’s just not as good as the first film).
Along came Chamber’s DVD release and, once again, along came the viewings… over and over and over again. That was pretty much it. I was now sick of Harry Potter. When Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban arrived, I skipped it. I later caught it on DVD and was amazed by how dark of a film it was. These kids were maturing quickly as Hogwarts (the magical equivalent of Professor Xavier’s school for mutants in the X-Men) was becoming a much gloomier place. I enjoyed the film immensely, but I still haven’t dared to return to it to this day.
The next few films in the series I once again skipped in the theatre. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire… Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix… Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince… all good films and all viewed only once at a later date on video. By the time Half-Blood Prince arrived, I was now living on my own. I found that I was beginning to once again enjoy the series.
Cut to two weeks ago. I FINALLY sat down to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1. I was pleasantly surprised to say that I enjoyed it. This was surprising to me because everyone was telling me it was a slow, boring instalment. Well, I thought it was good. It was the beginning of the characters’ final stand against Voldemort. It had the return of Dobby, my favourite part about Chamber of Secrets. It set up the stakes and I just thought it was an overall good film.
Yes, it wasn’t as action-packed as the rest of the series, but that’s because Part 2 was right around the corner… which just so happened to be an action extravaganza. The thing that people forget is that when a film is listed as Part 1 and then the sequel is Part 2, they’re meant to be viewed as one large movie. The only reason they’re split up is because, A) Most people wouldn’t sit through a 4-hour film, and B) The studio gets double the amount of money in their pocket.
Anyway, I was glad that I saw Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 when I did because when it was over, I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in quite a bit of years; I was going to watch Harry Potter on the big screen. How fitting was it that it’d be his final adventure, too? The posters for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 included the slogan “It All Ends”, but what they failed to mention was that it’d blow your freakin’ mind while doing so.
Last night I watched Harry Potter’s final film… in the theatre. It was a little over 2 hours of non-stop action. It was breathtaking and epic, everything the final film in such a popular and beloved series should be. Last night I believed in the series again and my fandom returned. Obviously, this is Harry’s final showdown with Voldemort, but I’m not going to go into any details. I don’t want to spoil anything. Believe me when I say, though, you will smile and, if you’re a pussy like me, you may even cry.
It’s been interesting watching the Potter kids grow up over the years. I never expected the series to last eight films, but then again, I never knew how huge the franchise was before I went into the first film. Not only was Harry Potter as a film an enormous success, but it also triggered other studios to pick up the rights to other young adult novel series left and right. Without Harry Potter, I doubt we would’ve seen films such as The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Golden Compass or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (which was also directed by Chris Columbus). Hell, we may’ve waited even longer for The Chronicles of Narnia to make it to the big screen if it wasn’t for Harry.
I’m curious to see what Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint do in the future. Will they even need to work again? Personally, I think Watson has the biggest chance for stardom, but who knows? She’s been showing more interest in fashion lately, so she may leave Hollywood altogether. Either way, I’m sure all three of them will still have plenty of success in their futures. I end this now by waving goodbye to Harry Potter… until his inevitable return.
I read an interesting column over at Newarama (I’ll post the link at the bottom of this page) last week regarding digital comic books and their possible effect on the printed comic market, as well as comic book retailers. While reading, it got me thinking of how my own personal view and preference on comics has changed over the years.
Around ten years ago, there was a massive boom within the trade paperback and hardcover collection market. At the time, I was buying and collecting approximately 30 to 35 comic books per month (I was clearly making more money at the time and I clearly had less responsibilities). I mean, how couldn’t I collect that many when there was so many amazing reads available? I had Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee’s Batman, Bruce Jones’ The Incredible Hulk, J. Michael Straczynski’s Supreme Power, Peter Milligan & Mike Allred’s X-Force, Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker’s Invincible, David Mack’s Kabuki, Dan Slott’s She-Hulk, Brian Michael Bendis’ everything at the time… I could go on forever.
Trades obviously would’ve been the easier, more feasible root to take, but I was a true-blooded collector. I enjoying keeping track of my pull list, bagging and boarding, buying all the variant covers, organizing my long-boxes, proudly displaying my prized possessions and buying each new issue of Wizard to keep track of the price values and to tell people how great an investment comic book collecting was.
Now, I’m not sure where it happened exactly, but somewhere along the line, I started to lose interest. I started to care less. My pull list was shrinking, my comics were no longer bagged and boarded immediately, variant covers were now boring, my long-boxes were horribly unorganized, my prized possessions were now dusty and Wizard… well, they just went out of print. And while all of this was happening, my focus was slowly moving into a new direction: trade paperbacks.
Trades were in. Not sure what happened to my brain, but it apparently finally figured out that buying a trade paperback and putting it on a shelf was a hell of a lot easier than moving around thousands of comics just so I could fit in that new issue that just so happened to start with the letter A. I discovered a lot of new series through this format, too, whether it be Y: The Last Man, 30 Days of Night or Brian Michael Bendis’ everything else that I wasn’t already reading. Not only that, but it was also much cheaper than buying the individual issues.
I didn’t give up buying “floppies” altogether, though. I still kept my favourites on my pull list. Invincible is still there to this day and Wolverine will most likely always be there since it’s practically an addiction for me to have it every month (while many 13-year olds were discovering the addiction known as cigarettes, I was discovering the character known as the Wolverine). Most of my comics went bye-bye, though.
Thousands upon thousands entered the realm of eBay and my collection dwindled quickly. Oh, and by the way, whoever first said that comic collecting was a great investment was a lying sack of shit. I can honestly say that I didn’t come out ahead once my sales were complete. What I did have, however, was a lot more closet space and a lot less heavy-ass long-boxes to lug around. My back would later thank me for that (and my girlfriend would thank me for the closet space).
I would say that I’ve been buying trade paperbacks consistently for the past five years and now with the digital age upon us, it looks like everything’s about to go full circle with me once again. A couple years ago, I heard about Marvel Comics’ digital comic book service. I’ll be honest; I was intrigued. I went over to their Web site and checked it out. “It’s just not the same when you’re reading it off a monitor,” I said. “I need to hold the real thing in my hands.”
Fast-forward to a few months ago and my mind was once again changed. In April, I purchased an iPhone. Of course, with the iPhone comes Apps, right? So while I was browsing through the land of Apps, I came across something called comiXology. Basically, comiXology is a digital comic book reader that you download for free and then, while in the App, you purchase your individual comic books.
There were some freebies available so I thought I’d download a comic and check it out. To my surprise, I loved it. Each panel within a comic was enlarged for easier reading. I could now read my stories on the go, no matter where I was. It no longer mattered whether I stayed in the safe confinement of my home to preserve the condition of my comic because it was now right there on that little iPhone screen in front of me.
Not only was it more convenient for me to read my comic books digitally, but it was also a lot cheaper. I thought the trades were cheaper than the floppies? They had nothing on the digital discount that was available. Now, of course, the day & date comics cost the same as the print versions so that comic book retailers out there stay pleased, but the back-issues, though… now that’s another story!
Get this; I purchased the entire Planetary series (28 issues in total) in a digital omnibus format for only $24.99. Yes… $24.99. You know how much that’d cost in trade/hardcover format? Easily over $100. How’s that for feasible?
Now, clearly, I’m not going to go 100% digital on everything. Even if I wanted to, it’d be impossible. It’s still a very young format and while there are thousands of issues available now, there’s still millions missing… millions missing that you can only find in print. No, I’m still keen on owning some printed material. Like I said, Invincible and Wolverine aren’t going anywhere. Any future ThunderCats comic books… in print. Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers… hardcover collections. Y: The Last Man… keeping my trades.
I know that there’s millions of comic fans out there who have the same mind-frame that I once had. Let me tell you something, if you’re in it for the collecting, keep to print. If you just want to follow along an amazing story, though, digital’s a great alternative.
I do worry for the comic book retailers out there (especially the smaller ones), but the fact of the matter is, I have to worry about my own wallet first. Also, let’s face it; this is the future. Everything’s going digital and everything’s going greener. For that matter, comiXology makes sense… and boy, is it addictive!
FINAL THOUGHTS - In Flames: Sounds of a Playground Fading
In Flames is dead. That is evident on their new album, Sounds of a Playground Fading. What is also evident, however, is that a “new” In Flames is born.
If you listen closely, you’ll have trouble finding much of the “old” In Flames on this new album. In fact, I’d go so far to say that if you listened to Sounds of a Playground Fading and The Jester Race (their second album and first to feature vocalist Anders Friden) side-by-side, you wouldn’t even think that you’re listening to the same band.
This new album is the first to not include In Flames founding member Jesper Stromblad who left the band in early 2010. I’m not sure if he left the band because he’s “determined to defeat his demons once and for all” (as he stated) or if it has something to do with the new direction that In Flames is heading in. Either way, before I even heard the album, I knew immediately that it was going to be interesting to listen to the first Jesper-less album.
Sounds of a Playground Fading will, I presume, cause In Flames to lose a lot of their long-time fans and followers. I’ve read the negativity online and I’ve heard it up close. For example, allow me to explain my brother’s situation.
James’ followed In Flames almost since their beginning. He’s flown places to see them. He’s bought tickets to see them in other cities when he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to make it (he didn’t make it). He has three pieces of important In Flames memorabilia hung on his wall; an autographed and framed “Come Clarity” poster, a framed copy of the rare “Black-Ash Inheritance” shaped disc that was exclusive to Germany and an autographed V.I.P. pass from the one and only time In Flames has stopped in my hometown. He is and has always been a HUGE fan.
Imagine my surprise then when I asked him what he thought of the new album and his only remark was, “It fucking sucks.” I almost felt like I had to clear my ears out and ask again. It fucking sucks? Really? Now I REALLY have to listen to this album.
Now, here’s the thing; I listen to almost any type of music. If I like it, I’ll listen to it. Doesn’t matter what genre or what country it’s from. I’ve been listening to In Flames for years now, ever since being introduced to them by my brother. I’ve listened to many bands change their sounds over the years and I continued to follow them afterwards because I enjoyed their new sound and because I respect their decision.
I’ve now listened to Sounds of a Playground Fading multiple times and I can officially say that I love it. The title track is incredibly catchy and their first single, Deliver Us, is awesome, too. The remaining 11 songs on the disc are also great and catchy. I simply have nothing negative to say about this album because I’m alright with the change in sound. Sure, there’s a little heavy guitar here and there and there’s the occassional Anders growl (trademarks of the past), but for the most part, this album sounds more pop-rock than metal.
While many fans will swear and kick and go on to the In Flames message boards to complain how the band betrayed them, I’m going to sit back and enjoy Sounds of a Playground Fading. Like with all things, with life comes death. While I will mourn the passing of the “old” In Flames, I will gladly welcome and celebrate the birth of this “new” In Flames.
“If you go into Cowboys & Aliens expecting a film about cowboys versus aliens, chances are, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re expecting more than that, you’ll most likely be disappointed. Watch it for what it is and you’ll leave the theatre satisfied… I did.”—