Winners Announced in the Harry Potter Blogsplosion Giveaway!

Details

Eight lucky winners have been chosen in the Harry Potter Blogsplosion giveaways!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Congratulations to Gisele who left a comment on July 27th

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Congratulations to Wehaf who left a comment on July 4th

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Congratulations to Vanessa who left a comment on July 24th

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Congratulations to Felicia who left a comment on July 7th

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book) – Congratulations to Thao who left a comment on July 25th

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (DVD) – Congratulations to Vicky who left a comment on July 11th

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Congratulations to Crystal who left a comment on July 25th

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Congratulations to Cole who left a comment on July 17th

 
Congratulations to all the winners!! 
 
 
Winners: Please contact me with your name and mailing address by August 7, 2011 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only.
 
Thank you to all of the participants! 
 
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Harry Potter Blogsplosion Wrap-Up!

I do hope that you’ve enjoyed the 15 days of posts dedicated to Harry Potter!!!  However, all good things come to an end.  Whomp whomp.  In case you didn’t get a chance to enter all of the giveaways, here is a quick listing and link to them.

All giveaways are open until midnight on Saturday July 30th.  Winners will be announced Sunday, July 31st.   Good luck to all the participants!

I’d like to send out a huge thank you to all my friends who guest blogged over the past two weeks: Adam, Savanna, Sam, Todd, Adam S, Amy, and Zach!  You were wonderful guests and without you the blogsplosion wouldn’t have been as big a success as it was!  I also want to thank  all of you fabulous participants for paying homage to Harry Potter with us here at the blog.  You’re fabulous.

Until next time…..

…Happy Reading!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 15: Zach’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

Guest blogging for us today is friend of the blog Zach Naiman.  Thanks for the great post Zach!

Maybe my expectations for the Harry Potter series have been too high.  Maybe I got too hung up on how far from the books they’ve come and how many story lines were abandoned along the way.  From The Sorcerer’s Stone, where they somehow managed to forget Snape’s riddle guarding the Stone, to changing wizard dueling into Cirque du Soleil sword fighting, to forgetting the massive battle scene at the end of Half-Blood Prince, I’ve been quite disappointed with most of the movies.

It took them six movies to change my mind.  Even though the ending was not as I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed The Half-Blood Prince, so I was ready for another touching movie full of triumph and despair.  The previews tickled my imagination, stirring the feelings I had when I first read the books.

And then I saw the movie.  And it was boring, slow, and drawn out, just like the book!

Wait! You just said the movie was boring?!

Exactly.

The Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books, in fact I consider it J.K. Rowling’s best written novel.  The despair in the pages is palpable; the tension seems to permeate the room as you read.  The movie captures the awkward slow death, utter confusion, and doubt that infects Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they travel throughout Great Britain anxiously trying to decode Dumbledore’s vague instructions.  Whether it is the wide stunning shots of the desolate areas the three travel through or the tension filled scenes running from the Snatchers, you feel what the characters are feeling: raw hopelessness and frantic terror.  Unlike the other movies, director David Yates seems to thrive when he has less of a set description of the scenes.  The cinematography and sound track illustrate the inevitable journey leading to their capture and imprisonment in the Malfoy’s Manor.

As usual, Daniel Radcliffe is a passable Harry.  His strengths seem to rise when he has little to say during the quiet moments of the film.  Rupert Grint and Emma Watson shine in increasingly crucial roles.  Typically the films have shined by selecting incredible actors to play the smaller roles.  This one is no different.  Alan Rickman, Kenneth Branagh, David Thewlis, and Maggie Smith flawlessly portray their parts, not only looking exactly as I imagined but perfectly emanating their mannerisms and characteristics.  Rickman especially seems born to the part.  His slimy, oily-ness seems to leak right out of the screen.  One of my favorite scenes is the animated story of the Deathly Hallows, which is an incredible visually stunning sequence that takes the audience by surprise.  Taken by itself that scene deserved to win awards and is a true testament to the artistic vision of Yates.

The biggest issues I had with the film deal with two points of contention.  The first is the introduction of the fifth Weasley brother, unseen until this point, and conveniently slid into this film without rhyme or reason.  If they wanted to film the wedding scene then why not introduce him in the last film so that we see him attacked by Fenrir Greyback, and have some emotional tie to his character.  The other problem I had was the absence of any feeling when Dobby died.  I wanted to feel something, I truly did.  He is one of my most beloved characters, but the CGI image does not instill any warm and fuzzies.  Perhaps like George Lucas, they should have stuck with the puppets.

Despite its shortcomings, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the best film yet.  The amazing shots of the countryside combined with the above average performances by Grint and Watson raises the level to new heights.  It was an honest tribute to the novels that have captured our hearts.

4 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Warner Brothers
PG-13, 146 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 14: Todd’s Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling + GIVEAWAY

Cover Image

It all has to end somewhere.  For Harry Potter fans around the world, the literary tale of The Boy Who Lived ended on July 21st, 2007.  Almost four years to the day later, the final installment of the Harry Potter film series is hitting the world.  It seems amazing to see what the tale of a young boy that becomes a wizard only to find that he is destined to do great things can do to us.  We see ourselves in Harry, and we see his struggle as analogous to the struggles that we face in our everyday lives.  Rowling’s final work is arguably her greatest, finally bringing all of the years of struggle that Harry has faced, both internally and externally, to a head.  He faces a battle of epic proportions, and it is one that he knows will either make him or break him.  It is a battle for the salvation of the entire wizarding world.

We begin this novel as we do most of Harry’s adventures: at number four, Privet Drive.  After an awkward goodbye (which I though included a very interesting sequence where Aunt Petunia, realizing what they have done to Harry over the years, almost tries to talk to him and apologize), the Dursleys leave Little Winging to be safely secured away from the Death Eaters.  Fearing that transporting Harry will attract Death Eater attention, and knowledgable that Harry is still under the trace as he is underage, the Order decides to move him with other members acting as body doubles.  Six other Harrys, along with the real one riding in the sidecar of Hagrid’s bike, race towards different locations.  After being surprised by waiting Death Eaters, the group is attacked, leading to a battle in the skies with Harry just barely escaping Voldemort as he attempted to kill him personally.  Unfortunately, the Order takes some heavy damage, with George losing an ear and Mad Eye Moody falling at the hands of Voldemort.  After finally making it back to the Burrow, everyone recuperates long enough to enjoy the marriage of Fleur Delacaur and Bill Weasley.  Unfortunately, the party is broken up by the arrival of Death Eaters, who have now taken over the Ministry of Magic and effectively control the wizarding world.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione escape in the nick of time, and hide out in the old headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix while they plan their next move.  They realize that they must destroy all of Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes in order to finally make him mortal and therefore defeatable.  However, this is no small task, as the group has little information to go on besides the fake Horcrux locket that Harry and Dumbledore retrieved in the last book.  Will they be able to find and destroy all the remaining Horcruxes?  Will Harry finally face Voldemort and fulfill the prophecy written about the two of them?  Will Hogwarts survive Voldemort’s Death Eaters?

Although a lot of people have a lot of different opinions on which Harry Potter book is their favorite.  There is no denying that this one ranks among the top of most people’s lists.  Epic in its scope and implications in the wizarding world, this novel incorporates all the major themes of the novels and provides a final showdown that is unmatched.  I’ve always been a fan of the Lord of the Rings-esque battle scene, and this book definitely does not disappoint.  It definitely makes sense that it was split into two movies, as the natural progression of the story enables two halves.  The first being the initial battle and search for Horcruxes, and the second being the battle for Hogwarts.  Rowling expertly combines the maturation of her characters with the climax of the entire plot, making the characters work seamlessly together to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters.  Of course, this battle has a lot of different implications and parallels to all the epic dualities in life (good vs. evil, light vs. dark, etc), but besides that it’s just an amazing end to something that has been building for six novels.  The way in which Rowling brings all of her storylines to a close (or close enough so that we have some questions left to ponder) is amazingly well done, with all the pieces falling into place that had been scattered throughout the other novels.  Character development is unparalleled, with some characters showing their true colors and others coming into full bloom during the battle at the end.  It is almost as fun to watch all the characters interact and give it their all as it is to see the entire battle.  All in all, this is definitely not one to miss!

5 out of 5 Stars

Scholastic (2007)
Hardcover 759 pages
 
Giveaway
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Paperback) by J.K. Rowling.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 13: Adam S’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Joining us today is good friend Adam Spunberg.  Adam has done tons of things that I need to mention.  He is the editorial producer at MLBAM, a writer for MLB, associate editor at Picktainment,  co-creator of the Jane Austen Twitter Project, founder of The Potter Games, producer/co-host of the Hunger Games Fireside Chat, and much more! Thanks for the guest post Adam, and welcome to the Reflections family!

When Kim asked me if I would like to write a guest blog on Harry Potter, I was thrilled to help out, but I was even more excited when she told me I could choose which film I wanted to write about.  I’m actually a pretty big fan of all the movies (even Cuaron’s Prisoner of Azkaban has grown on me over the years), but there’s a reason the David Yates-directed Half-Blood Prince was, and has remained my favorite in this wonderful franchise.

The biggest challenge in directing a Harry Potter film is finding some way to effectively keep to the source material and also appeal to the common populace at the same time.  Still, there is plenty of room for artistic liberty: Rowling might describe a wand fight, for instance, but the filmmakers can decide who’s in the fight, what camera angles to use, lighting, positioning, how much time to invest on the scene, etc.  Of all the Potter directors, Yates seems to have the best grasp on finding that balance, and then – once he establishes how loyal he wants to be to the written word – putting a whimsical stamp on the things he can control.

Every scene is deliberated over with such care, whether it be a spectacular two-minute sequence at Fred and George’s joke shop or the waves crashing against the shore when Harry and Dumbledore track down a horcrux.  We also have plenty of the gooey stuff (which I admit, I liked!), with teenage love floating through Hogwarts like pixie dust in the air – as Ron learns, sometimes to his detriment.  Catapulted by a wondrous score from Nicholas Hooper and a plethora of memorable scenes, Half-Blood Prince is simply a delight to watch, even as the conclusion leaves you in shambles.

I also should point out what an exceptional addition Jim Broadbent is to the tale, stepping in as the fame-obsessed, slightly unscrupulous Horace Slughorn.  The child leads also seem to have really come of age here, and the rest of the supporting cast – many of them A-List stars – pull their weight with considerable charm.  I’ll be curious to see if Deathly Hallows, Part II can supplant Half-Blood Prince as my favorite Potter movie, but unless those recollections in my pensieve go rotten, it will be a Hagrid-size tall order.  Still, I’m hopeful!

5 out of 5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Warner Brothers
PG, 153 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 12: #41 A Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling + GIVEAWAY

Cover Image

Welcome to the 12th day of the Harry Potter blogsplosion!  Today I’m reviewing the sixth installment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  This time, we follow Harry in his sixth year at Hogwarts as his nemesis Voldemort grows ever stronger. Harry decides that if he is supposed to battle the Dark Lord, he needs to know more about his past in order to survive.  In order to do so, he works with Dumbledore on their most dangerous and far-reaching journey together yet in the series.

The Half-Blood Prince begins slightly differently than the other Potter books, as Harry is picked up from number four, Privet Drive, by Dumbledore himself.  On the way back to Hogwarts, they stop to persuade Horace Slughorn, former teacher of potions at Hogwarts, to return to his post as potions professor.  (Severus Snape is appointed to the role of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor)  Harry attends classes as usual, and receives a used and marked-up version of the potions textbook, previously owned by a student named the “Half-Blood Prince”.  The annotations written in the book allow Harry to excel in potions, causing him to wonder about who this mysterious student was.  Meanwhile, Dumbledore begins asking Harry to join him for special lessons that will supposedly give Harry an edge over his foe when they inevitably battle.  These lessons turn out to be trips into the pensieve to look back on memories that might hold clues to what Voldemort’s weakness is.  It is through these memories that we learn about horcruxes, objects that hold a piece of one’s soul.  Voldemort it seems has made seven horcruxes, and it’s up to Voldemort and Harry to find them.  Can they do it?  Do they have enough information to start their search?

Half-Blood Prince in my opinion is the second darkest book in the entire series.  (I think there is definitely more darkness in Deathly Hallows, but that’s another review).  This book was the only one I’ve read where I didn’t feel some bit of hope at its end.  For those who have not read the book yet, all I will say is that one of the main characters is murdered towards the end.  It’s shocking, heartbreaking, depressing, and terrifying.  Terrifying because for a fleeting second you can finally recognize the strength that Voldemort and his followers have.  In that fleeting second you see no way of beating him and no way of living in a world filled with goodness and love. 

Everyone always thinks of magic as this amazing talent/gift that they wish they possessed themselves.  It’s really interesting to see the darker side of it, however.  This book is filled with people being cursed at with death spells, spells that inflict mortal harm, destruction, and finally, death.  The fight between light and dark and good and evil is very pronounced in this novel, and Rowling really brings the world of magic to a whole new level.  She definitely makes the story more realistic by doing this, as she reminds us that there are these forces of evil at work in the world, and we must work tirelessly to make sure that they don’t overcome the light of the world.

Half-Blood Prince is definitely worth the depression you feel upon completion of the novel.  Yes, a main character dies, but it brings the reality of the war that the magical world is facing to the front lines of the plot.  I do hope that you read up to this book in the series, and continue on along to the last book.  Half Blood Prince does an excellent job prepping you for the greatest battle the wizarding world has ever seen.   It’s definitely one you don’t want to miss.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my thirteenth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge
 
This is my fifth completed review for the Chunkster Challenge
 
Scholastic (2005)
Hardcover 652 pages
 
Giveaway
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Paperback) by J.K. Rowling.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 11: Amy’s View on The Best of The Rest!

We have a special treat in-store for you today as we are joined by our newest guest blogger Amy “ArtsyBookishGal” Sondova!  Amy is a writer, dog lover, and blogger who runs a faith-meets-culture site called Backseat Writer  and a book blog called Backseat Reader .  Catch up with her on her blogs or on Twitter (@artsybookishgal.)   She is a firm believer that Fred Weasley is not “dead” and has ripped page 637 out of her Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book.  Welcome to the blog Amy!

One of the most delightful elements of the Harry Potter series is author J.K. Rowling’s colorful cast of supporting characters.  Unlike many authors, Rowling doesn’t simply use her minor characters as props to move the plot forward, but paints them with lifelike detail.  The supporting cast is as loved or even more loved that Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  Therefore, I would like to introduce you to some of my favorite Harry Potter characters.

Fred and George Weasley

Without a doubt, the Weasley twins, Fred and George, are my favorite Harry Potter characters.  Their antics, witty dialogue, and disregard for rules make them loveable miscreants.  Two years older than their brother, Ron, the twins are also valuable to the Harry Potter tales gifting Harry with the Marauder’s Map, playing Quidditch with him for Gryffindor, and adding levity to otherwise tense times in the wizarding world.  Harry gifts the twins with his winnings from the Tri-Wizard Tournament to start their joke shop, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.  Best friends, brothers, and jokesters, Fred and George (or Gred and Forge) are two of the series’ most hilarious characters. (By the way, I am a firm believer that a wizard as fine as Fred does not die in the Battle of Hogwarts.  It’s simply ridiculous and I refuse to accept it.) [Books 1-7]

Nymphadora Tonks

As soon as she first appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, I knew the auror with the spikey purple hair was destined to become one of my most beloved characters.  Being a Metamorphagus (shape shifter), Tonks has the ability to change all aspects of her appearance.  She is also incredibly clumsy, even tripping over her heart when she falls in love with werewolf Remus Lupin, eventually marrying him and having a baby boy named Teddy. [Books 5-7]

Luna Lovegood

She reads her paper (“The Quibbler”) upside down, wears radish earrings, and cheers for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, despite being a Ravenclaw—let’s give it up for Luna Lovegood!  Luna’s about as quirky a character as they come, believing in all sorts of fantastical creatures (much like we muggles believe in aliens or bigfoot), yet her support of Harry never wavers, even when her father’s does.  She possesses a sensitivity and individuality that make her an excellent supporting character. [Books 5-7]

Dobby the House-Elf

Coming to Harry’s aid in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dobby is the Malfoys’ bonded servant.  Going against his master’s commands, Dobby aids Harry several times and Harry eventually helps Dobby realize his freedom.  After becoming a free elf, Dobby and his female friend, Winky, procure jobs working in the Hogwarts kitchen for wages, while the rest of the house elves work for “free.” This outrages Hermione who forms S.P.E.W (Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare).  Dobby dies in Book 7 (along with almost everyone else), saving Harry and his friends from the Malfoys’ mansion.  His gravestone reads, “Here lies Dobby, a free elf.” (Though I heard rumors he is alive, learned how to knit, and is opening his own sock company.) [Books 2-7]

Neville Longbottom

First seen on the Hogwarts Express chasing his escaped toad, Trevor, Neville is in the same year as Ron and Harry and lives with them in Gryffindor House, though many believe he would have been better suited for Hufflepuff.   Raised by his strict grandmother, Neville flourishes at Hogwarts, except in potions class with Severus Snape.  Showing himself to be loyal and dependable, Neville ends up leading Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts in Book 7.  Eventually, Neville becomes a herbology professor at Hogwarts, a legacy worthy of the Longbottom name. [Books 1-7]

Crookshanks

Half-cat, half-kneazle, Crookshanks first appears in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, after Hermione purchases him in Diagon Alley from Magical Menagerie.  The ginger-colored, bandy-legged cat is described as large and very intelligent, and takes an immediate dislike to Ron’s rat, Scabbers (who is actually Peter Pettigrew in disguise.)  Crookshanks aids Sirius Black in the third book, and after that, is only mentioned here and there.  By Book 7, Crookshanks is all but forgotten.  Personally, I think Ginny adopted him while Hermione was off looking for the horcruxes. [Books 1-6]

Peeves

While the scheming poltergeist didn’t make it to the movies, Peeves causes havoc around the Hogwarts castle—throwing water balloons at students, blowing raspberries, and finding all sorts of pranks to play on unsuspecting students (and staff) alike.  One can always count on Peeves for a random laugh here and there. [Books 1-7]

The Weird Sisters

Undoubtedly the best wizarding band of all time, The Weird Sisters are a favorite among Hogwarts students and even perform at the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Known for such hits as “Do the Hippogriff.” “Magic Works,” and “This is the Night,” their songs are in constant rotation on Wizarding Wireless Network (WWN), a radio station for the wizarding world based in Hogsmeade.  The band’s eight members are all guys who have incredible hair and sport “artfully torn” robes.

 

These are but a few of the characters that make the Harry Potter series so memorable.  Tell me, in the comments, who is your favorite supporting character?

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 9: Todd’s Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling + GIVEAWAY

Cover ImageMoving along in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, we come to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth installment in the series.  We definitely have entered a new era in the Potter realm, as the impending return of You-Know-Who has changed the wizarding world overnight.  Although vehemently denied among the Ministry of Magic, Harry and a growing number of students at Hogwarts decide to take matters into their own hands and arm themselves against what they feel is a clear and present danger to their lives.  Will the wizarding world at large agree?

Our story begins in Little Winging with Harry and Dudley, Harry’s cousin, arguing in a park.  Things take a sudden turn for the unexpected when a group of dementors show up and effectively incapacitate Dudley before Harry can dispatch them with a patronous charm.  Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, obviously upset over their Duddykins, send Harry packing, where he eventually makes it to number twelve, Grimmauld Place, the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.  The Order, originally established during Voldemort’s original rise to power, exists to combat the rise of Voldemort and protect the wizarding world from Voldemort and his Death Eaters.  It was originally comprised of a number of brave witches and wizards, many of whom unfortunately lost their lives fighting.  Even though most signs are pointing towards the fact that Voldemort is returning to power, Cornelius Fudge and the rest of the Ministry of Magic refuse to accept this fact.  They go as far as to install Dolores Umbridge as “high inquisitor” of Hogwarts, giving her almost unlimited power at the school to run it as she sees fit.  Being that Fudge is effectively a puppethead at this point, Umbridge begins to crack down on any resistance and attempts of the students to discuss or think about Voldemort and the Dark Arts.  Therefore, the students begin to arm themselves, forming “Dumbledore’s Army”, an extracurricular club of sorts where Harry teaches his classmates tricks to defend themselves against dark magic.  This works to a point, where Harry is able to get across the basics of dark arts defense to all the members before the group is discovered by Umbridge and disbanded.  Furious with what has happened, Umbridge is about to use the cruciatus curse on Harry before she is outsmarted by Harry and Hermione and they escape, fleeing to the Ministry of Magic, where Harry has had premonitions about a prediction made regarding Voldemort and himself.  Will Harry be able to get the prophecy and leave unharmed?  What will Voldemort do with his increasing power and influence?

In the grand scheme of things, certain books in a series do more to advance the plot instead of providing show-stopping action that can be easily transferred to the big screen.  I believe that the majority of this book falls into this category.  Yes, the end of the novel does have a great element of action and adventure that made a great transition to film, yet the majority of this novel serves to advance the plot of Harry’s attempts to mount a significant defense to Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

It is also a book of maturation: both of Harry and his fellow classmates.  In theory, they have been underprepared for the return of Voldemort, as the majority of the wizarding world has been lulled into a false sense of security surrounding Voldemort and the fact that most believed that he could not return following his fall from power.  However, Harry serves as the crucial pivot point to not only mature his own views towards what he must do to fight Voldemort, but also convinces others to join him as well.

Personally, I tend to like this book a lot, as it sets the stage for the final two novels, which detail the final preparations and battle against Voldemort and his army.  It represents a turning point in the views of not only Harry, but everyone else, as they finally begin to believe that it is possible that Voldemort is returning.  I see a lot of parallels between this mindset and current events.  A lot of times we tend to think that if we just don’t believe that something is happening, such as the genocide in Darfur, or the trafficking of humans as slaves across borders, it doesn’t exist.  However, as we all know this is far from the truth.  I give Rowling a lot of credit for attacking the “complacency” issue, where we tend to believe what others in authority tell us and take the easy path out.  I think the fact that Harry was eventually able to convince the majority of the wizarding world of Voldemort’s return helped him immensely in his final battle, and I think this book has a lot to do with that convincing.  It is, in my opinion, the turning point of the series, and as such, is vitally important and an amazing addition to the series.

5 out of 5 Stars

Scholastic (2003)
Hardcover 870 pages
Giveaway
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Paperback) by J.K. Rowling.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 8: Adam’s Film Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Welcome back to the Harry Potter Blogsplosion! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth (and Kim’s favorite) adventure in the series.  It once again stars Daniel Radcliffe, as the title character, and Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint as his trusty sidekicks.  Harry is in his fourth year at Hogwarts and finally comes face to face with a human form of Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes.

The movie starts off with Harry Potter having a nightmare consisting of Peter Pettigrew, Lord Voldemort (who is unseen), and an unknown man.  Harry watches as Voldemort kills an elderly man who was standing near them watching them.  It is as Voldemort yells “Avada Kedavra” that Harry suddenly wakes up.  Harry awakens to find Ron and Hermione watching him to make sure he’s ok.  Assuring them that he’s fine he goes back to sleep, only to wake up a few hours later for the Quidditch World Cup finals.  While everyone is sleeping post-match, the Death Eaters, who are the faithful servants to Lord Voldemort, terrorize the campsites to announce to everyone that Voldemort’s return is imminent.  After narrowly escaping the Death Eaters, Harry and his friends return to school to learn that Hogwarts will be hosting the Triwizard Tournament.  Three different schools of wizardry send representatives from their respective schools to compete in a series of events that push their magical skills and endurance to the limit.  The winner of the tournament wins the Triwizard Cup, a small fortune, and bragging rights for their school. Controversy arises when Harry Potter, 3 years younger than the 17-year-old cut off age, is the fourth candidate to be chosen to compete.  With Harry as an extra champion, four candidates will now vie for the title instead of the usual three, including Viktor Krum from the Durmstang institute, Fleur Delacour from the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, and finally Cedric Diggory (played by a pre-Twilight Robert Pattinson).  The three tasks they face are: steal a golden egg from a dragon, save a loved one trapped in the lake, and find the Triwizard Cup in the heart of a giant hedge maze filled with obstacles. While in this last challenge, Potter is transported to a place where for the first time, he comes face to face with a human form of Lord Voldemort.

After the dark take of the third Harry Potter film, this one has a bit of a lighter look.  There seemed to be more of the magic that makes Hogwarts so appealing and makes it a place you’d really want to visit.  Mike Newell the director, had a way of making every shot count. The shots were beautiful and really made Hogwarts this magical yet accessible place.  I don’t feel that this was done in the first three films.  One of my favorite shots of the film was when Harry was crossing the long bridge on Hogwarts’ grounds.  Before they zoomed in on him, they held off just long enough to make you notice what an amazing shot it was. The most beautiful shots in my opinion were of the Yule Ball.  The use of cinematography in the film just makes each shot magical.  The music went perfectly with these scenes and really played off of the characters emotions, just like a good score should.

Ralph Fiennes is the PERFECT villain. He just embodies what Lord Voldemort should be.  Not having read the books, I didn’t have any idea of what Voldemort should be like.  He is the perfect combination of creepiness and pure evil, just what a villain should be.  I imagined him not having a heart and kicking puppies in order to get into the mindset of the role.  He was definitely the highlight of the movie.  I was eagerly waiting for him to finally appear and when he did, I was so excited.  My eyes were drawn to him and I listened to every word he spoke.  I can’t wait to see him play this role more in later films; I’m excited to see how he develops Voldemort’s character. It was also interesting to see Harry and Ron as just regular teenage boys.  They are so powerful with their wizard powers that I think the viewers often forget that they’re teenagers, and it was interesting to see them being nervous around girls and awkward with their first love.  

All and all, I think this was the best of the Harry Potter films I’ve seen thus far.  The story was the most unique, and I liked the addition of new characters and finally getting to see Lord Voldemort.

5 out 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Warner Brothers
PG-13, 157 Minutes

Harry Potter Blogsplosion Day 7: #40 A Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling + GIVEAWAY

Cover Image

Rowling again graces us with another installment of the life of Harry Potter, our favorite wizard, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Set during Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts, a magical school for witches and wizards, we follow Harry as he begins to expand on his previous knowledge of magical defense and an increasing threat from You-Know-Who.

This year, Hogwarts is bestowed the distinction of being the host school for an inter-magical school championship called the Triwizard Tournament.  Held for the first time in centuries, the tournament is comprised of three tasks that are meant to challenge the contestant’s magical skills and ability to perform under pressure.  Typically, it is held with one representative from the three great magical schools: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, The Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, and The Durmstrang Institute, however, this year four champions get selected.  After a student is picked from each of these schools, another name is surprisingly pulled from the cup, announcing the name of the fourth contender.  This fourth champion is Harry Potter, who technically is not allowed to enter the contest because he is well under the 17 year age limit.  However, he is eventually forced to enter as another representative of Hogwarts.  Confused and nervous of what lies ahead, Harry bravely enters the tournament, facing the tasks under the guidance of Alastor Moody, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  Moody, an ex-auror and famous soldier against Voldemort and his followers, seems to be a huge help to Harry’s cause as he helps him along the way.  However, nothing can prepare Harry for what happens during the third and final task of the tournament.  Will Harry make it out of the tournament alive?  Will he be able to fight Voldemort’s seemingly inevitable rise to power?

What can I say about this book?  It is far and away my favorite Potter book in the series.  Of course, Rowling is a master at weaving multiple plot lines throughout all her novels, but she seems to do it especially well in this particular book.  In addition to the tournament, we also explore Hermione’s quest to gain fair wages and representation for house elves, bringing in complex themes and ideas that we have to see and deal with in our own world.  Also, we find out that Hagrid is half-giant, and we explore the implications this has on his career as Rita Skeeter does her expose on him.  There is also the over-arching theme of “international magical cooperation”, as the separate schools strive to strike up a sense of unity in the magical community.  This is important in the overall scheme of Voldemort’s rise to power, as the wizarding world must not only come to terms with his rise, but band together in order to defeat him.

Additionally, this book is important in that it is the first time which we see Voldemort’s true power as he takes control of his human body.  Up until now his threat had been more distant, as he was too weak to pose any true and present danger to the wizarding world.  Yes, he was becoming stronger, but we don’t totally take that into account until the final showdown of this novel.  The interaction and subsequent battle between Voldemort and Harry at the end of the novel is epic in terms of what it means to Harry and his struggle to avenge his parents’ murder, as well as Voldemort’s rebirth.  Harry now has a face and body to direct his anger towards, and Voldemort can finally try to destroy what almost destroyed him 14 years prior.  It’s interesting that in the face of the evidence of Voldemort’s return that the wizarding world would rather fold and deny such a thing was happening instead of galvanizing to fight him, but Harry of course doesn’t take this path.  His course is now set, and the final chapter of his fight against Voldemort can unfold.  This book is the gateway to the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort, and it’s a crucial pivot point for the series.  Rowling does an excellent job at accomplishing both of these tasks, and every time I read this book it makes me a Harry Potter fan all over again!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my twelfth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge
 
This is my fourth completed review for the Chunkster Challenge
 
Scholastic (2000)
Hardcover 734 pages
 
 
Giveaway
 
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Paperback) by J.K. Rowling.  For your chance to win simply leave a comment in the thread below.  Comments will be accepted through midnight of Saturday July 30, 2011.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on Sunday July 31, 2011.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!!