Category Archives: Review

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

You’ll notice this review is shorter than the previous one. I was asked to keep it shorter so there would be room on the page for art.

After more than a decade, seven books and this, the eighth film, the Harry Potter saga has finally come to an end. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” serves as a fitting and satisfying finale to one of the most popular series in recent memory.

The sheer length of J.K. Rowling’s final book necessitated splitting it into two movies. It’s a good thing, too. It allowed the final chapter to address the many plot points appropriately, with proper weight and without feeling rushed.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

I wrote reviews for the last two Harry Potter films for my paper; however, I have yet to post the reviews for some reason. So here they are!

The seventh film in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, is bittersweet for Potter fans. It’s been nearly a decade since the first Potter film was released, and while fans finally get to see Harry start to live up to his destiny, it also means the adventure is almost over.

Hallows is the darkest film in the series, but one of the best. Its setting and plot are larger in scope than any other film in the series, too. From the opening minutes, it’s apparent to the audience that there is something at stake for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as the actors who play them. All are operating without safety nets this time. The magical trio don’t have the Hogwarts staff to save their skins, and Radcliffe, Grint and Watson must carry the bulk of the film; they can’t rely on a supporting cast that reads like a who’s who of British actors as they have in previous movies.

Pictured: Carrying the bulk of the film.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Smoking Popes

I’m trying to get better at posting these, so without any further adieu:

#5 Smoking Popes

The Popes are near and dear to me because they are from my hometown, Crystal Lake, Ill. Well, one of the members is; the others are from the neighboring town but close enough.

The Caterer brothers, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., formed the pop-punk quartet in suburban Chicago during the early 90s. Josh, Matt and Eli Caterer received instruments as kids and started playing together. After some instrument switches, Josh and Eli took the guitar duties and Matt took up the bass.

Drummer Dave Martens completed the original incarnation of the band—Speedstick. But Martens was unhappy with the band’s musical direction and quit. Dan Felumlee (who went to the same high school as me) replaced him and the band became Smoking Popes.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: The Afghan Whigs

Well, I initially planned to make this a weekly series, but you can see how well that worked out, as this is only the fourth installment. Anyway, my over-ambition aside, this entry is about Cincinnati quartet The Afghan Whigs.

#4 The Afghan Whigs

The band formed in 1986 when the members—vocalist/rhythm guitarist Greg Dulli, bassist John Curley, lead guitarist Rick McCollum and drummer Steve Earle—were attending the University of Cincinnati. Curley did not attend the university like the others, though. He made his way to Cincinnati to intern as a photographer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Later, Paul Buchignani took over duties as drummer after Earle left.

The Whigs were part of a group of garage-inspired, indie bands formed in the late 80s and early 90s, which also included The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr. and The Goo Goo Dolls (before they recorded Dizzy Up the Girl). I’ve always contended (well, not always but since I first heard the song “Blame, Etc.”) that the Whigs are one of the most underrated and underappreciated bands of the 90s. Frankly, I think they were just lost in the crowd of other indie-rock bands from the era.

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The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of: Teenage Fanclub

#3 Teenage Fanclub

What do you  get when you mix the jangling guitars and vocal harmonies of the Byrds, the tight songwriting of the early Beatles and Big Star’s general sound?

You get Teenage Fanclub.

Teenage Fanclub.

Surprisingly, I was introduced to Teenage Fanclub via Pandora. Instantly, I became hooked on their harmonious, upbeat songs. They remind me of a 60s-era, west-coast band like the Zombies, which is a sound that you don’t really hear anymore. After some research, I was surprised to learn that they’re from Scotland. You would never guess that after listening to them.

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