Harry Potter

Disney/Pixar

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Columbia Pictures

There’s much to be mocked about sidekicks, one of the easier targets in film. We’re set up to picture a simultaneously meek and booming catchphrase-machine clad in a matching uniform, seemingly created solely to follow our protagonist around and hype them up on their journeys. While plenty of that variety exist, there’s a different and far more interesting breed of sidekicks who prove to be so much more — valuable assets who, really, are so much better than the leads in the first place. Here are seven sidekicks who are smarter and more capable than the heroes they’re supporting.

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Newt Scamander in FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Last year’s news that the Harry Potter franchise isn’t over, not really, should have been music to the ears (perhaps played by The Weird Sisters?) to each and ever Potter fan on the planet. In September, word slipped out that author J.K. Rowling was hitting the page again to develop her Potter supplement “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” into a new, kinda-prequel to the Potter world we all love that would focus on magizoologist and fictitious author Newt Scamander. Earlier this year, that news was majorly beefed up by the news that Warner Bros. was looking to turn that single, forty-two page book into a trilogy of “megamovies” that zip the Potter-verse seventy years back in time to center on the escapades of the young Scamander in New York City. The latest news? Per Nikki Finke’s Twitter account (really?), director Alfonso Cuaron is in “deep talks” (ouch) to helm at least the first film in the new trilogy. Cuaron is, of course, no stranger to the Potter world — he previously helmed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As Finke tells it, that’s a “perfect pick,” and it really just might be, so why does it seem so hard to muster up any excitement for this new trilogy?  Just because we’re returning to the world of Harry Potter — or, you know, the world that Harry Potter will eventually be born into — doesn’t mean that only magic will be there, or that we even need it. It’s okay, you can still be a hardcore Harry Potter fan and […]

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Casablanca Movie

Sometimes, the urge to crack open a cold one when you’re stuck in the middle of a Netflix binge can get overwhelming. And it’s understandable; so many of our favorite films feature incredible bars and pubs that put our local haunts and dives to shame, intergalactic gathering spots that bring together alien races, chic international watering holes and rough roadsides that may necessitate a bodyguard or two. While we can’t frequent these cinematic watering holes, it’s okay to daydream and sip a martini or two while doing so. Here are the movie bars at which we’d love to pull up a stool.

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Newt Scamander in FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Because seven books and eight films were not enough to satiate the minds of millions of ungrateful little muggles around the world, JK Rowling has been put to work writing not one, but three spinoffs to the Harry Potter series. The already published Harry Potter extension/textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will now be a trilogy and therefore three movies, according to the author who probably needs a break to luxuriate in her money pond. These aren’t just going to be any films, though; they’re going to be “megamovies,” if you’d care to listen to Warner Bros. Given the prolific stature of the Harry Potter franchise, the studio is probably right on the money with that designation. Do you hear the teens lining up to buy their tshirts at Hot Topic right now? Back in September when the Fantastic Beasts project was freshly announced, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara was secretive about the nature of Rowling’s new baby, only revealing that his studio was hoping to build a film franchise out of the book. With three on the way, it’s time for Potter 2.0.

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Harry and the Dursleys

There are plenty of things that are extremely satisfying about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise, her bestselling seven-book series that spawned no less than eight of the most popular movies of all time, but there’s one thing that most fans of the series can generally agree on as being one of the most satisfying: that young Harry ends the series with his own, wonderful, loving, magical family. Let’s back up here a moment, in case you’re in need of a refresher (or, God forbid, you’re not familiar with Harry, which seems impossible at this point). When we first meet young Harry, he’s an orphan forced to live under the stairs at his aunt and uncle’s house. His aunt and uncle Dursley are not exactly nice people, to the point that they’re basically emotionally abusing him (and they’re certainly not magical), and his cousin Dudley is one hell of a bully. They’re duds, and the time that Harry spends living with them before being all but rescued by Hagrid and taken to Hogwarts to hone his magical talents and yes, sniff sniff, to meet the friends who will become his family, is a terrible, horrible time. So why would anyone want to see a production that focuses on Harry’s early years?

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the_last_starfighter_3

By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]

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Kill Your Darlings

Watching a few young pretentious writers for 90 minutes should be as unpleasant as it sounds. For the first half of Kill Your Darlings these young rebels, including Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), ramble on and on about shaking up the system and starting a revolution. Imagine being stuck in a room with these young men and trying not to strangle somebody. Now try to calm your rage because Kill Your Darlings is far from a naval gazing experience. Part thriller, part romance, part coming-of-age tale, and part murder mystery, it’s a wild blend of many ideas and genres. At the center of it all is Radcliffe, playing the young, howling poet. I got to sit down with the actor who explained, amongst other things, the difficult choices that come with a stack of scripts and how he transformed into a young Allen Ginsberg (pretentiousness in tact).

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You should probably hold your hands tightly over your ears for the next few moments so your head doesn’t blast off into orbit. According to her Facebook page, J.K. Rowling will be making her screenwriting debut with “an extension of the wizarding world” called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. “It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts’, realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. . . That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros. . . I particularly want to thank Kevin Tsujihara of Warner Bros. for his support in this project, which would not have happened without him. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.” The author also notes that it’s the start to a potential series of films, and that the first kicks off in New York 70 years before Harry gets that first owl invitation to Hogwarts. If this really turns into a series (and why wouldn’t it?), I’m psyched for The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection only slightly […]

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DIVERGENT

There’s a way to know when a YA adaptation is going to be the next big thing, and that’s when everyone had heard of the books prior to the making of the movie. Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games all fit that rule, at least as far as I noticed. Divergent does not. I hadn’t heard the title before production began. In fact, I hadn’t heard about it until Comic-Con last month. I understand that many people are excited about this movie, which stars Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Kate Winslet and Theo James. But now that the first trailer has arrived, by way of MTV and the VMAs, I can’t for the life of me see why. Perhaps it’s a matter of just seeing The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this week and being reminded of all prior YA adaptations, success and failures. Then only afterward learning that it began as Harry Potter fanfiction. In the discussions of fanfic turning into actual hot “original” YA properties, I’d heard the notion that Divergent seems like it was born out of The Hunger Games, and this preview really drives that idea home. Sort of. It looks like a Hunger Games knockoff with a plot inspired by Harry Potter‘s Sorting Hat. For a movie that’s apparently about not fitting into a conventional box, Divergent sure doesn’t look very divergent.

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Mortal Instruments

While it may not be obvious from the get-go that author Cassandra Clare’s soon-to-be-six-books “The Mortal Instruments” series originally found life as Harry Potter fan fiction, by the time audiences reach “The Institute” in Harald Zwart’s movie adaptation, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, it’s pretty damn clear that something Potter-esque is up. Something about those neatly arranged infirmary beds, something about that random bird, something about all those British accents… Lo and behold, yes, Clare did get her start by penning popular online fan fiction about Potter and company, but not the kind you’d necessarily expect (and, personally speaking, not the kind that I’d want). Do Jace Wayland’s white-blond hair and snappy retorts feel familiar? That’s because “The Mortal Instruments” was originally Draco Malfoy-centric fan fiction and what are you even saying, I think my brain just exploded. Step back, it will only get worse. “The Mortal Instruments” was originally Draco Malfoy-centric fan fiction that imagined that Draco turned good and got it on with Hermione. Sorry, Ron. Sorry, goodness. Sorry, happiness. Of course, once Clare locked up a publishing deal, she had to both alter her series to not so obviously look like a Potter rip-off and delete her original work from the web. But it’s still all there (literally, as you can still find the original fanfic if you look hard enough, and figuratively, because obviously this series is ripped from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s work), and it’s far from the only one. At turns delicious, […]

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molly weasley in action

Moms have been an important part of cinema since the beginning, as one of the first humans to appear in a film was Sarah Whitley, mother-in-law of inventor/director Louis Le Prince, in the extremely short 1888 work Roundhay Garden Scene. Since then, we’ve had mothers serving important roles in quintessential masterpieces of Soviet cinema (Mother), Bollywood (Mother India), experimental film (Window Water Baby Moving), animated features (Bambi, Dumbo, etc.), documentary (Grey Gardens), political thriller (The Manchurian Candidate), science fiction (The Terminator), horror (Psycho, Friday the 13th, Carrie, etc.), comedy (The Graduate) and of course melodrama (the whole maternal subgenre). And we’ve all grown up identifying with certain movie moms, and actresses who often played moms; for me they were usually portrayed by Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Dee Wallace Stone and Diane Wiest. Therefore it would be an enormous task and read if I were to attempt to either list all or narrow down the best movie moms ever let alone handpick only a handful of scenes we love involving matriarchs. So I’ve asked the other FSR writers to help out by selecting a single maternal character they favor, and with one from yours truly included we honor ten of these varied women below.

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IntroPrisons

Prison sounds like hell. You’re locked in one room, barely going outside while you are forced to sit around all day and like… read and watch TV and shit. I hear there are movie nights and exercise equipment as well. You’d probably get really fit, and hell – you’d be socializing for once in your life. Okay, when I describe it like that, prison sounds all right. In movies it varies, especially when the film doesn’t exactly take place in our own reality. They cane be comedic, nightmarish and, in some cases, musical. They can also be like hell. Here are the ones that look like the biggest pains to reside in – places where, in a world where you have to either get busy living or get busy dying, the latter would probably be best.

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IntroStructures

Let’s face facts – explosions are great. No one is denying that in the least, but sometimes they just get a little… mundane. Really once you’ve seen the White House explode under an alien disaster beam or get rammed by a giant tidal wave, you don’t really need to see that again. It’s been covered. So let’s take alien beams and tidal waves right off the table and start thinking about some of the more ingenious ways Hollywood has wrecked the place.

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postmodem-borscht

Halfway through the 2012 Borscht Film Festival, a documentary screened titled Rising Tide: A Story of Miami Artists. In the film, which offers a basic guide to the growing art scene in the city, local paper sculptor Jen Stark acknowledges the way the digital world allows contemporary artists to flourish outside of major art centers. “Ever since the Internet came out,” she says, “ I never thought I had to be in New York or wherever.” It was a resonating quote to hear in the middle of an event so devoted to both regional communities and how they can come together as a broader, networked collective of filmmaking scenes. The central occasion for Borscht, which was held last weekend, is a screening of shorts either made by local filmmakers or commissioned by the Borscht Corporation and at least shot in Florida. Many of the films involve an overlapping of talent, and by the end you’ve seen 20 works that have given you a good sense of what’s happening with the underground “Miami New Wave.”

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  By the end of Breaking Dawn — Part 2, it’s clear that the Twilight Saga, as one long story about vampires, werewolves and a chaste teenage girl, is first and foremost a romance picture. This may not sound like a revelation, but in the past four years we’ve all looked at the series in terms of how it transcends the traditional “chick flick” ghetto to dabble in elements of superhero and horror genres, potentially wooing male moviegoers in the process. Interestingly enough, the finale features a sequence that is very much aimed at fans of genre cinema just before pulling a 180 and concluding with an ending that the same audience will find mushy and sappy as (their personal) hell. While romance figures into most film genres and even dominates the conventional Hollywood denouement for movies no matter what audience is targeted, most of these features are not classifiably romance pictures. The love stories are secondary or even tertiary in importance to plots primarily concerned with adventure or disaster or some treatment of good versus evil. And although there are antagonists strewn throughout the Twilight films, there aren’t really good guys and bad guys in proper terms. Instead there is simply love and family versus threat to love and family. […]

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Remaking a movie is a tall order, and transitioning a story from another medium to film is even tougher. So it’s no surprise that details frequently get changed to accomodate a new era of filmmaker or the different “beats” associated with a feature-length movie. It becomes a problem, however, when one of the things cut to accomodate an extra action scene turns out to be vitally important to the plot, leaving the movie with a scene or detail that only makes sense if you’re familiar with the original. Things like…

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Who doesn’t love watching teenagers fight? These days it’s just nice to see them doing something that gets them outside and moving around – not to mention the wonders it does for team building skills and self esteem issues. Compared to them sitting in a moist den somewhere playing Skyrim and housing six servings of Zesty Salsa Combos, youth violence isn’t the worst fate for our nation’s children. Anyhoo – Here are some of the better films that celebrate the time-honored tradition of kids punching each other to pass the time.

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In a roundabout spiral of movie news from Cinema Blend via The Playlist via Deadline Barsoom, we are seeing another explosion of development frenzy. This time, instead of competing movies about Snow White or The Wizard of Oz, there are now multiple Tarzan movies getting put through the development wringer. According to the story, screenwriter Adam Cozad (Untitled Jack Ryan Reboot/Remake/Redo/Rehash) talks about his script for Tarzan generating interest from some major directors, including David “Four Harry Potters” Yates and Gary “Only One Hunger Games” Ross. Suzanne White, who is most known for her work on television but recently directed Nanny McPhee Returns, has also expressed interest. This film would be the second one in development, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous novels about a boy stranded in the African jungle, raised by great apes. Craig Brewer (Footloose and Hustle & Flow) is already developing his own version of the story based on his own script and starring Twilight beefcake Kellan Lutz. No word yet whether Lutz as the title character will rap or sparkle in this film, but it is hard out here for a pimp ape man.

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Sure, Quidditch looks like a whole bunch of fun until you take into account the fact that you’re probably not very good at it. Not to mention how exhausting it must be. There’s a reason you barely see anyone over 20 on a broom in those films. So what’s a lazy person to do in these fictional universes? Luckily there are options, some of which are arguably cooler than trying to balance on some stupid piece of custodial equipment.

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