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Review: This is the End

This is the End

I don’t wanna die at James Franco’s house.

The first of two apocalyptic comedies this summer (the other The World’s End), This is the End is written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and follows a group of celebrities as they stave off the armageddon at James Franco’s house.

End is a showcase for the immature sensibilities of Rogen and Goldberg, who up until now have built their careers on being rude and irreverent. But their films tend to revolve around male friendships, so while crude humour, immaturity and an anti-authority streak defines them, the bonds made through friendships is an appeal of their work too.

Whether its Seth and Evan in Superbad, or Britt and Kato in The Green Hornet, friendship matters. End chucks six actors together and the audience watches as their petty, childish needs bring out the worst in each other.

An oft heard complaint of Rogen & Goldberg is that their films are just about vulgarity and stupidity, but that’s a misconception. If anything that sort of behaviour reveals their intended themes and here it looks at what happens when friendships come under duress in an extreme situation. Just how far will these characters go to save themselves?

The film takes the actors’ personas and twists, amplifies and subverts. Michael Cera plays a cokehead, James Franco is pretentious hoarder of art and Jonah Hill is a two-faced and arrogant. The actors enjoy the opportunity to tear their own images to shreds.

Plot becomes less of an importance once the apocalypse rolls in. Danny McBride enters half-way through and plays the self-absorbed tool that’s become his stock in trade, giving the film something close to a villain.

The film hops from one genre to another (survival film, horror), which keeps it interesting. There are visual effects are on a scale that’s not often seen in comedies and there are indulgent moments and an over reliance on the masturbation jokes that waste a few moments.

Emma Watson storms into the film wielding an axe and high heels, but like the rest of Rogen & Goldberg’s output, End is very male-orientated. The introduction of Watson brings a funny and dark conversation to light, but the lack of female characters throughout their work is disappointing.

If you enjoy their brand of humour then there’s plenty to like in This is the End. With some well-placed cameos the film does more than enough for your time. There is the nagging thought that it could have been funnier, but what we have is a film that’s occasionally inspired and never less than good.

7/10

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Ð PART 2

He’s after you, Mr. Potter. You really don’t stand a chance

Let’s get to it. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two is a confident, engaging and emphatic end to a very consistent franchise.

Picking up where Part One ended, Harry, Ron and Hermione are searching for the last remaining Horcruxes in the hope of destroying these object and defeating Voldemort once and for all. Knowledge of the Part One or indeed the series as whole is helpful since Part Two doesn’t offer a catch up. If Part One was the slow build-up, Part Two is the thunderous climax that gives the series the send-off it deserves.

The film revolves around the Siege of Hogwarts, a visually fantastic spectacle involving almost everyone who’s appeared in franchise. It’s frantic, explosive, producing the sense that this wizarding world is finally clashing in a meaningful way is apparent as explosions rock the school and characters we’ve known since the very start meet their fates.

It’s dramatic, tying the story up with a finality that series has lacked. It doesn’t lose sight of what’s important either, giving the characters their due, with some like Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and McGonagall (Maggie Smith) shining amongst the rubble of Hogwarts.

Some of the fringe characters never get their due with several events happening off-screen. Perhaps it adds to the shock of the moment but it also takes something away too. It turns these deaths into a footnote when seeing what happened to these characters could have elicited a stronger response. Perhaps there are too many characters to adequately show.

All the actors, Radcliffe, Watson and Grint in particular, handle the material with aplomb with their best performances to date. Radcliffe especially looks more confident and assured when he’s not throwing tantrums or looking like he’s a little confused. As it’s the climax, everyone has a purpose and that drives the film and the performances in it towards its resolution.

Even the epilogue, with some odd makeup had me feeling a little sad. It really is the end. A fitting send-off then, to a terrific franchise.

8/10

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