Where Am I?

Cats: Blog, Internet, Movies| No Comments »

The blog has clearly been on hiatus. I’m not planning on ending the hiatus anytime soon, necessarily, but I did want to point you in the direction of a few places you can find me on the web. It would be fantastic if you’d come check out what I’ve been doing more recently.

Movies: https://www.facebook.com/movieblazers

Art: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donsalsbury/portfolio

Photography: https://www.facebook.com/DonaldSalsburyPhotography

Twitter: https://twitter.com/donsalsbury

I intend to post here from time to time, and I may even revamp the entire site someday. For now, though, please check me out at the above places. See you there!

Viggle Math, or How to Turn ‘Couch Potato’ into a Part-Time Job

Cats: Internet, Tech, TV| 2 Comments »

This may not be anything too new for other Viggle addicts, but I wanted to share some of the calculations I’ve been using to decide what I should do to earn as many points per minute of activity, and likewise to maximize the amount of reward for the points used. Please note: this information is intended to educate the average user who doesn’t want to do the math on their own. It is not intended to assist anyone in cheating the system. My understanding is Viggle monitors for abuse and will ban your account if you use artificial means to get too many points. I share my own personal strategies that I use to make the most of the app and loyalty system, but I only play within the system, and usually don’t hit the 12,000-point daily limit. Sometimes I feel guilty getting so many rewards just for watching TV and using the app, but I’ll get over it sooner or later. :-) That said, let’s get down to brass tacks:

Basic Conversion Rate

The rewards with the most common point/$ conversion rate is 7500 pts / $5.00. This equates to 1500 pts / $1.00, or 15 pts / $0.01. This rate is what I have in my head most of the time, because it’s the worst-case scenario, in a way. There have been rewards offered with lower conversion rates, but those are not very popular, thankfully.

Discount Conversion Rate

Some of the larger rewards have conversion rates of 7000/$5.00, or 14 pts / $0.01. This amounts to a volume ‘discount’ of 6.67% over the basic conversion rate. Aside from Viggle Deals (below), these are the rewards I prefer to get for myself.

Viggle Deals Conversion Rates

The Viggle Deals usually have even larger point discounts. Many of the first Viggle Deals were 4000pts/$5, or 8pts/$0.01. This is a 46.67% discount over the basic conversion rate.

The Hollywood Movie Money deal that was around for about 3 weeks was slightly better–but that depends on the cost of a movie where you live. The maximum value was 8000pts/$13, or 6.15pts/$0.01.

As I write this, the Viggle Deal is a 15% ‘coupon’ to Fanatics.com for 3000 points, or basically $3.75 at the 8pts/$0.01 Viggle Deal rate. This could be a very valuable deal for you since there is apparently no limit to the amount of your order. On the other hand, you have no chance of stacking your rewards to get anything truly free.

Points Per Minute of Use – Watching Ads

Let’s start with the ads, because they are probably my favorite way to earn points. Here are the most common ad types, with point amounts, approximate ad duration, and $ value based on the Basic Conversion Rate (which I will use for the remainder of this post):

Short – 15 pts/15 sec = $0.01

Medium – 30 pts/30 sec = $0.02

Long (including movie trailers) – 50 pts/120 sec = just under $0.04

Clearly, the longer ads and movie trailers are less value per minute of use. On a repeating ad, the 15- & 30-pointers are the best value, with the 30-pointers the most efficient use of one’s time. Assuming one could fit two 30-pointers in a minute (which isn’t exactly true due to loading times, etc), this equates to a maximum of 60pts=$0.04/minute, or 3600pts=$2.40/hour. Not even close to minimum wage, but it’s better than nothing! Plus consider this is using the basic conversion rate, which is what makes the Viggle Deals so desirable. But there are other ways to earn points…

Points for Signing Up & Referrals

On signup, Viggle primes your account with 1200pts ($0.80) to get you started. If you successfully refer a friend to Viggle, you get 200pts ($0.13) when they sign up. I would love for the referral bonus to be higher, or at least make it easier by enabling referrals via Facebook instead of email, but that doesn’t stop me from spreading the word. My theory is that these point amounts are set to reward people who tell their friends about the app, but not high enough to be worth exploiting through false account referrals.

Points Per Minute of Use – Normal Check-Ins

If you check into your favorite one-hour TV show right when it starts, you can expect to earn 60 points ($0.04) for that hour of TV viewing. This earning method is what the early app reviewers focused on, mainly because they were apparently evaluating the app during daytime hours and had to rush to publish their reviews. I always make sure I’m checked into the show I’m watching at the time. If I’m out and about, like at a casual restaurant with TVs playing, I also make sure to check in real quick to that show. However, I don’t settle for this relatively paltry amount of points unless the ads are not available for whatever reason.

Gravy – Featured Shows and Viggle Live

When primetime rolls around, if I’m in front of my TV, I now check Viggle first for any featured programming. The minimum 200 bonus points for checking in can be very good, assuming you don’t check into another show for ten minutes. That’s how Viggle makes sure you give the show a chance before flipping channels to the next show with bonus points. But if you don’t like what’s showing, you can get a theoretical maximum of 1200/hour (more if the bonus points are higher), which is equivalent to watching a bunch of ads in a row. Of course, you can do both at the same time, which is probably my favorite point-earning activity!

Viggle Live events can mean even more points. The Oscars, Grammys, and Super Bowl each had 10,000-point maximums over about a 3-hour period, with trivia questions and predictions. The actual points earned varies, since you get more points for right answers/predictions, and less for wrong answers. Viggle generously raises the daily point limit for such events, which encourages me to also use the app a bunch outside the main event, too. Unlike primetime, though, I typically don’t multi-task, because the live questions usually come and go too quickly for this to be feasible.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope this can be of use to some Viggle users. I’ll try to update if there are any significant changes to the program, though I don’t plan on keeping a daily chronicle of things. Please add your own thoughts and strategies in the comments, as well as any corrections you find in my math. After that, happy viggling!

This is True Love

Cats: Kids, Movies, Personal| No Comments »

So yesterday my wife was asking me nonchalantly whether I was going to take our two-year-old Josh to my parents’ house for the weekend. Knowing that she had to study for a work-related test coming up, I had been planning on at least a ‘boys day’ to the pool or something. But we had spent our entire three-day Memorial Day weekend at grandma’s house, and poor Josh had been going through ‘Oma’ withdrawal. So I compromised with myself and decided to take Josh for Friday night and Saturday, so he could get his fix, the wife could study and have some alone time, and I could still have Saturday night and all day Sunday at home with the whole family.

Little did I know that this had been a ruse planned for quite a while. Enough of a plan that earlier this week my wife gave me a gift card as an early Father’s Day present, because she doesn’t like to hold back on giving a present to anyone once she’s bought it. It’s a little quirk of hers that drives me up the wall around two weeks before Christmas or my birthday, when she wants to try to give me my present early. But Father’s Day is more of a minor holiday, and I was more than happy to spend the gift card on some stuff I’d been wanting, so all was cool.

Then last night she sends me a text mentioning a surprise for Father’s Day, that I’d find out about today. Okay, weird…I had already gotten my present, but whatever: if my wife wants to shower me with gifts, why not let her? All it means is she loves me. Again, little did I know…

So let me pause the story here to explain to those who may not have spent more than 5 minutes with me that there are but a few things I have been a fan of my entire life. The first is family: I have always loved being part of my family, and moreover, I have always wanted to have a wife and kids. The first part of that wish was fulfilled almost ten years ago when I married my best friend, Jessie, and the second half came to fruition when we adopted our beloved Joshua just over two years ago. The second object of my fandom is Olivia Newton-John in Grease and Xanadu, again because I saw those films as a toddler and was such a fan that I can sing all the songs by heart – in Olivia’s octave. Not usually something I share with the public, but it’s a part of me I can’t deny. The third (though by no means least) is Star Wars, which I saw in theaters when I was about my son’s age, and I have been hooked ever since. The only real limiting factor on my SW geekdom has been money, and a desire for people to at least identify me for myself five minutes before realizing I am a total Star Wars fan. The kind of fan who went to a Star Wars convention in a homemade Jedi costume, complete with a lightsaber hilt made from a real Graflex flash handle. The kind of fan who specifically asked Paul Blake, the actor who played Greedo in the original Star Wars film, to sign an autograph with the post-script “Han shot first.” (Only fellow SW geeks will get any of this.) The kind of fan who bought the dual-action lightsaber for my son’s second birthday so he could wield the mini-saber and learn to dual Daddy with the big saber.

Okay, so you’re getting the picture. The Force is strong with me.

That said, my wife is not with me on this. Never-mind that she abhors Xanadu (amazingly, I married her anyway), but she’s just not a Star Wars fan. True, she lets me geek out, and she actually wants me to get a display together in our family room for all the original SW toys I have kept since childhood. But she hadn’t watched any of the original trilogy until the Special Editions came out. Last week, I asked her off-handedly if she would ever let me build a life-sized R2-D2, and not only did she ask “What would you do with a life-sized R2-D2?” but also had to confirm “He’s the little blue one, right?” I was dumbfounded…this was stuff I learned before my ABCs!

Flash back to this afternoon, when I bring Josh back home to Mama. We come in, and my wife tells us both to come sit on the couch, while she shows me the surprise. I’m really glad she had me sit down, because I probably would have fainted. She has me close my eyes, then open them a few seconds later, to see this:

lightsaber tattoo

I was looking for evidence this was a fake tattoo.

WOW. Crossed lightsabers with Josh’s and my names. On her arm. I couldn’t believe it…it had to be fake, like she had gone to a face-painter or something. But she insisted it was real. Wow. Here’s a detail from the above photo:

Lightsaber Tattoo Close-Up

Yup, it's real, alright.

Aside from some shock and mild disappointment that she had sprung on me this kind of permanent (and, let’s face it, not un-expensive) addition to her body, I was completely blown away that she would do such a thing–especially an undeniable Star Wars reference in a permanent homage to me and our son!

It takes a special woman not only to love such a fervent Star Wars fan like me (and allow our son to become trained in the ways of the Force, as well), but also go the extra mile to do this:

This is true love.

This is true love.

What a fantastic gift! I can never, EVER question this woman’s undying, unconditional love for me. I love you, my darling wife.

Lightsaber Flashmob: Wish I Was There!

Cats: Internet, meme, Movies, Video| No Comments »


Words cannot express how much I think of the people who orchestrated and participated in this lightsaber flash mob. A gorgeous sight to behold! I may have to start carrying my saber to the mall with me just in case…

Oscars: 2010 Academy Award Predictions

Cats: Current Events, Movies| No Comments »

Here’s the list of Oscar nominees, underlining my predictions for each. As always, note that I haven’t seen many of these films (still waiting for my screener DVDs to reach me, ha ha); I will indicate the ones I have seen by putting them in italics. If you’re an avid Random Acts reader, you know that you can always find the first Oscar predictions in the blogosphere right here. My ‘every other year’ curse has caught up with me, unfortunately, so here they are a little late. (Note to Oscars.com: Please provide a slimmed-down nominees list without all the producers, if you would please. Formatting is a b****). As I always say, you don’t really need to see all the films to know who’ll probably win. I will update this post to indicate new films I’ve seen as needed, but will not change my actual predictions. The ones I hope to see before the Oscars ceremony? Inglorious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, The White Ribbon, and The Young Victoria.

Impressions so far:

- I would like to thank the Academy for increasing the number of Best Picture nominees to 10 films. This will recognize more deserving films, while silencing any whiners like me that, for example, animated features aren’t included. Case in point: Wall-E should have been nominated for best picture in its day. The jury’s still out as to whether foreign films like my favorite La Vita e Bella (Life Is Beautiful) would have been nominated in a 10-film field, but I’d like to think it would.
- That said, where the heck is Star Trek on the list of Best Picture nominees??
- I thought District 9 was a really good film, but sadly (if deservedly) it will be overshadowed by Avatar in the categories it deserves to win (the technical ones).
- The Hurt Locker probably deserves to win most of these awards, but Avatar will rule. Avatar wasn’t that good, but it was good enough (and far too much of a game-changer) for the Academy to give it the sweep.
- I would also like to thank the Academy for not just taking the 10 Golden Globe nominees for Best Drama & Best Comedy for their Best Picture nominees. I was dying to think that The Hangover might have been nominated…
- This is the year for Avatar, Precious, and Sandra Bullock. Really. Crazy, huh?

***Updated 3/7/10 at 6:18pm CST to reflect the nominated films I have seen since these predictions were first published.***

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
82nd Annual Academy Awards Nominations

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Matt Damon in “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”

Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Best animated feature film of the year
“Coraline”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”
“Up”

Achievement in art direction
“Avatar”

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Achievement in cinematography
“Avatar”

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The White Ribbon”

Achievement in costume design
“Bright Star”
“Coco before Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“The Young Victoria”

Achievement in directing
“Avatar” -James Cameron

“The Hurt Locker” -Kathryn Bigelow
“Inglourious Basterds” -Quentin Tarantino
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” -Lee Daniels
“Up in the Air” -Jason Reitman

Best documentary feature
“Burma VJ”

“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Best documentary short subject
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”

“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit à la Berlin”

Achievement in film editing
“Avatar”

“District 9″

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Best foreign language film of the year
“Ajami” -Israel
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos”  -Argentina
“The Milk of Sorrow” -Peru
“Un Prophète”  -France
“The White Ribbon”  -Germany

Achievement in makeup
“Il Divo”

“Star Trek”

“The Young Victoria”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“Avatar”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“Up”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36″
“Take It All” from “Nine”
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”

Best motion picture of the year
“Avatar”

“The Blind Side”
“District 9″

“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”

“Up in the Air”

Best animated short film
“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”
“Logorama”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Best live action short film
“The Door”

“Instead of Abracadabra”
“Kavi”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

Achievement in sound editing
“Avatar”

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

Achievement in sound mixing
“Avatar”

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Achievement in visual effects
“Avatar”

“District 9″
“Star Trek”

Adapted screenplay
“District 9″

“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“Up in the Air”

Original screenplay
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”

“The Messenger”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”

My Affair with Modern Warfare 2

Cats: Games, Personal, Tech| No Comments »

I logged into Xbox Live for one game this morning before leaving for work. It just so happened that it was my best performance ever in a team deathmatch.

Granted, it’s nowhere near the best anyone has done, but I was so shocked, I had to share my new personal best with the wider world. (see screen photos)

Dones’ Review: Avatar – Part 1: The Movie (Spoiler-Free)

Cats: Current Events, Movies, Tech| No Comments »

Bottom Line: Jaw-dropping visuals enhance a really enjoyable film.

**Note: If you want to remain totally spoiler-free before you watch the film, please note this review contains none of what I would call significant spoilers. I also intend to keep the comments to this post spoiler-free, so if you don’t want your comment to be removed, please follow my lead. **

Oops. Wrong Avatar.

Oops. Wrong Avatar.

What? It’s the other Avatar movie that everyone’s been talking about? Well, let me see here…

Ah, much better!

Ah, much better!

If I would allow myself to be a little less descriptive with the “Bottom Line” above, it would say, “As good as it needs to be.” But that’s a bit cynical, based on the complaints of an unoriginal story (some of them mine) being bandied about today. The real bottom-line, however, it that Avatar is a game-changer: it changes the way we will view much of our content from here forward, and it also changes the way film reviews need to be written.

The 3D is SO MIND-BOGGLINGLY GOOD compared with anything that I have seen before, especially in a feature film, that it will sell many people on 3D technology that heretofore were highly skeptical. We will have 3D televisions in many home theaters this decade, mostly because of the influence of Avatar. The fact that it has already reached a billion dollars will support more 3D feature films to be made, as well as promote the success of upcoming Blu-Ray 3D technology and 3D televisions and TV content. The Discovery Channel and ESPN have already announced they will have 3D content within 2 years; the overwhelming appeal of Avatar will guarantee that the viewing population will be clamoring for 3D content everywhere, as soon as it’s ready. The revolution will be televised, and it will have three dimensions.

But this review isn’t about the 3D viewing experience, which brings me to my second point: Avatar changes the world of film reviews, too. Some films will be created especially with the 3D experience in mind, which affects how they will ‘play’ in 2D. As a result, you’ll probably start seeing some reviewers double up and have a 2D review and a 3D review. The best I can do right now is to split up my review to expose the difference when viewing in 2D versus 3D, but future reviews may have just a separate section for that. In my opinion, 3D technology will eventually become akin to Technicolor: that is, we’ll start seeing almost more and more films in 3D, and the closing of the technology gap in the home will mean that everyone watches 3D content in 3D, and never in 2D. This will make film reviewers’ jobs easier, but in the meantime, we’ll have to pull double duty. Since I want to make especially clear what the technological and experiential differences are between 3D and 2D viewing, I will have a second post reviewing just the 3D aspects of Avatar. Here’s a sneak peek: You’re crazy to see Avatar in anything other than IMAX 3D.

Especially with Avatar winning the Golden Globe this week for Best Drama (thus making it a near-lock for an Oscar nomination), many people who still haven’t seen the film (and many who have seen it) are asking: Is Avatar really worth the award attention?

I hope to use the ratings below to answer that question with a “yes”:

Production value: 5/5 stars. Give me a break. James Cameron has spent some of the largest film budgets in history, and Avatar’s budget (nearing half a billion dollars according to the New York Times) is largely spent on the 3D and CGI technologies underpinning the story. It shows. I may waffle about the return of Cameron’s investment on actors and screenwriters, but no one can ever say I didn’t like the pretty pictures. Everything from the futuristic computer screens to the feeling of life imbued by the fanciful creatures and vegetation on the planet Pandora (where Avatar is set) looks better than CGI: it looks real. A scene with CGI generally looks better when it is all CGI (that is, no real-life actors or objects spliced into the scene), but in this case, it’s all seamless.

If you want me to nit-pick, here it goes: The humans should remain human, and the aliens should remain alien. The humans who have blue Na’vi avatars (no spoiler here, this is how the film gets its title) were imbued with subtle characteristics in their avatar forms that make them appear more human. This may have made some sense to the science fiction junkies who want there to be a difference, but in my opinion, the real Na’vi looked more real than the avatars, especially that of Sigourney Weaver. Maybe it was the side-by-side comparison, but her avatar stood out like a sore thumb to me, and was more in the uncanny valley than Neytiri, the Na’vi huntress we see the most in the film. Also, some establishing shots at the start of the film (all typical James Cameron) were completely forced and took me out of the experience, but that’s the director’s fault more than the budget.

Later, when the action takes place exclusively in the CGI world Cameron and his art directors have created for us, I was completely engrossed. If I had seen this film instead of Star Wars at the crucially formative point in my life when I became a fanboy, Avatar would have been that geek-out moment for me. As it is, the film has been impressive enough for me to see twice in IMAX 3D. When my wife (whom I took to my second viewing) asked about seeing it again, I didn’t blink at a third viewing; I only wanted to make sure we see it again with someone else who hasn’t yet seen this gorgeous film.

Story: 4/5 stars. Really. No, the screenwriters aren’t going to win the big awards for this film, just like in Titanic or Terminator 2 or any other huge blockbuster CGI action film. But that’s not what drew me here. Granted, a case could be made that science fiction films will continue to not be taken seriously because of a focus on the visuals as opposed to dialogue and plot. But this film isn’t as much sci-fi as it is fantasy. The Wizard of Oz didn’t win any awards for screenplay, either (also didn’t win Best Special Effects, unbelievably). But in The Wizard of Oz and Avatar, the stories were both easy enough to follow along, and suspenseful enough that the viewer really wasn’t sure what would happen next. The characters weren’t believable in the strictest sense, but the viewer could identify with the main characters, hate the villain, cheer for the protagonists, and so on. This is where I say that while Avatar isn’t the best-written story out there this year, it is “as good as it needs to be.”

Enjoyability: 5/5 stars: If you can only see Avatar in 2D, I feel sorry for you. However, the people I know who have only seen it in 2D absolutely loved it. There is plenty of eye-candy to satisfy any blockbuster-lover’s hunger for visuals (if you liked the Transformers films, you’ll love Avatar), and the story of the protagonist Jake Sully and the Na’vi is compelling enough to keep the non-cynic fully engaged to the point where you will feel the main characters’ fear, apprehension, exhilaration, and sorrow as they do. That said, I was captivated. I saw Avatar for the first time in the middle of the Christmas Eve blizzard, on a 6-hour break from working over 18 hours in 24–I was fairly sleep-deprived. As such, the film was likened to a waking dream, where I felt as though putting on the 3D glasses transported me to Pandora. When the end credits rolled, I effectively woke from the dream, walked out into the blizzard, and worked an overnight shift. The entire experience for me, then, let me emphasize with Jake Sully’s realization in transferring in and out of the avatar body: “Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream.” Any film that can make me blissfully forget my surroundings and personal troubles for two and a half hours is doing its job admirably.

This film is marketable to a large viewing audience, so the average seven or eight-year-old should be fine watching it, I think. That said, if you don’t like cartoon and/or warlike violence, this isn’t the film for you. Apparently people curse some in the future, but not nearly as much as in a standard action film, and smoking cigarettes is still a habit for a few. Also, the blue people are dressed like, well, like natives in a big hot rain forest. Things to consider if you’re sensitive to such things.

Dones’ Rating: ★★★★★ Avatar is a ground-breaking film which must be seen in 3D to be truly appreciated. Even for those who can’t see it in 3D, it’s still worth seeing. Be sure to look for my upcoming review of the IMAX 3D experience.

More to Come Soon

Cats: Blog, Movies, Tech| No Comments »

I realize my last review was several months ago. I am going to see Avatar in Imax 3D for the second time today. I want to provide an extensive review not only of the film, but also of the 3D experience, so I felt I owed it to my loyal readers to watch it a second time, since the first time I just spent 3 hours with my jaw on the floor. (How’s that for a teaser?)

Dones’ Review: Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince (May Contain Spoilers)

Cats: Books, Movies| 1 Comment »

Bottom Line: The best Harry Potter film yet.

**Note: If you want to remain totally spoiler-free before you watch the film (or read the book), please note this review does contain what I would call significant spoilers. It’s also safe to assume any comments may contain spoilers**

Half-Blood Prince

Half-Blood Prince

When I read this book, I wasn’t terribly impressed (until the end), and it didn’t become my favorite book of the series, unlike each previous volume that preceded it. In the theaters, however, it was the fifth installment that failed to surpass the previous one in my estimation. Book Five remains my favorite of the series, yet the film version paled in comparison (while remaining an acceptable filmed version of the book. Film Six, however, restores my faith in director David Yates’ ability to finish out the series.

In this film we have the much-anticipated relationships coming to fruition between Ron & Hermione and Harry & Ginny. This was exposited superbly well, though some critics may complain that it takes up too much screen time. I see their point, but disagree: this is what fans like me want to see, it moves the story along nicely, and the lightheartedness of this lifted the film’s mood from its inevitably dark nadirs.

Enough of this, and on with the ratings:

Production value: 5/5 stars. The CG was believable, creative, and at the top of the present state of the art. But that’s not what made this film great. I’m going to talk up the cinematography in this film, which provided much of the tension and chill factor to the darker scenes. The greenish, desaturated pensieve scenes were mirrored by the almost black-and-white final scenes, and the whole sense of creepiness that followed each scene was sublime.  The angles chosen for many shots were spot-on based on the desired feel of the scene.

Story: 5/5 stars. It’s been a while since I read the book, but there was nothing glaringly missing in the transition from book to film. Especially wonderful was how Yates did on film what Rowling did in print, especially in the dialogue-free narratives about Draco Malfoy’s secret project; though where Rowlling mercilessly teased the reader with the mystery of Malfoy’s actions, Yates depicted each last bit of Malfoy’s plan in chronological order with the rest of the story, an artistic choice that pays off very well. The filmed version of these events were far less confusing and appeared far more central to the plot of the movie, as opposed to it being almost a sidebar in the book, at least until all was revealed in the end.

Enjoyability: 5/5 stars: At times I was perfectly giddy, along with the characters; at other moments I was chilled to the bone. I loved this movie!

Dones’ Rating: ★★★★★ This film was nearly flawless. I won’t even waste space here to nit-pick. This film demonstrates why the books & films are so great!

Finally Upgraded

Cats: Blog, moblog, Personal| No Comments »

Upgrade WordPress from 2.1 all the way to 2.8.1, which enables a lot of features I have heretofore been missing out on:

- Ajax back end
- auto upgrades, plugin installs, etc
- posting from my iPhone

So now you’ll hopefully see more posts from me. I’ve also decided to more fully integrate my Twitter posts into this blog, so expect some one-liners you have otherwise missed if you haven’t been following me at this link.

In other news, I have a load of dishes to finish, a toddler bed to construct, and dinner to plan. So I’ll catch you on the flip-side…

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