Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Recommend: 'Harry Potter Page to Screen' Book & 'The Amazing Spider-Man' Film

(Image courtesy of Harper Design)
Jeff Dodge's Recommendations:

Harry Potter: Page to Screen by Bob McCabe

Put simply, if you are a Harry Potter fan, you NEED this book. Harry Potter: Page to Screen -- The Complete Filmmaking Journey by Bob McCabe is a 540 page tomb showcasing every little detail that went into creating and filming the Harry Potter movie series. Part 1 has separate chapters for each movie and how each one was made, and Part 2 goes through the art of HP, such as the costumes, set design, digital effects and prop making. And the introduction and first chapter talks in-depth about how Warner Bros. and the whole team got into making this series in the first place, from acquiring the rights, hiring a director and screenwriter, creating the look and casting the characters.

 There are obviously going to be things in here that we as obsessed fans already know. But along the way, you'll discover things about the process that you didn't know and will be amazed by. One of those that stands out involves Hagrid. Robbie Coltrane plays the lovable giant, but did you know that he's not actually present in every scene that his character should be in? And no, I'm not just talking about when you need a stand-in (since Hagrid is much bigger than Coltrane is) for certain shots. What I'm bringing up goes beyond that. His stand-in, Martin Bayfield, actually becomes Coltrane as Hagrid. The crew created an animatronic head that moves--the eyes, mouth, etc. So I'm sure there are certain scenes in the movies that we've been watching all these years thinking that it's Coltrane face, but think again. And to see all this for yourself, watch the below video from the Harry Potter Wizard's Collection:

The first half of Page to Screen is mostly text, still with plenty of images to accompany, and the second half is mostly pictures and images of various sorts. And not just film stills. It shows behind the scenes looks, concept art, actors in front of green/blue screens, etc. Look at the wires inside Aragog and what the Basilisk looks like as the skin is being put on. Emma Thompson had input into how Trelawney looked. See the small scale versions (multiple ones) of Hogwarts. And they don't make everything out to be fine and dandy--they even bring up that, as we know by now, Emma Watson almost quit the franchise. There's a two page double spread of a blueprint of the Hogwarts castle and grounds, showing where everything is in relation to each other--with something like this, don't just glance at it and turn to the next page; you need to really spent time focusing in on each aspect and each little detail and take it all in.

I could seriously go on and on and bring up every little nuance and new detail we might not have known before, but I won't because that would take up so much space and would take me days to write. But also because you should experience this book for yourself. The price is expensive (considering how big it is, that's understandable), but I'm sure you can find it used online. I don't own Page to Screen yet (I checked it out from the library to read), but there is no doubt that one way or another, I'm going to buy it someday. It's not only worth it, but it's an experience and you'll literally spend hours each day going through each page.

The Amazing Spider-Man (in theaters now)

(Image courtesy of Sony)
Yes, I know it's been a little over a month now since the newest Spider-Man film opened, and yes, it's been two weeks since I myself saw it. But since I've been in the middle of doing some catch-up from the past couple months, I still couldn't leave this one off my Recommendations list.

Forget Batman and the craze surrounding The Dark Knight Rises. We need a superhero who actually has superpowers, and that's Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot away from the originals made by Sam Raimi. I love those films (well, okay, even I'll admit that #3 was a bit of a mess), and I was equally looking forward to this reboot. I know a lot of people had hesitations about starting over with the franchise, but I was excited to see how this new one would interpret my favorite superhero.

Andrew Garfield excels as Spider-Man. So does Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. There's Dennis Leary and Martin Sheen. In fact, the whole film was well cast. (The only asterisk I'll put on that is with Aunt May--while she's a fantastic actress and embodies the spirit of the character, Sally Field just looks too young to play Peter Parker's aunt; I guess I'm used to the gray hair instead of black.)

One of my favorite parts of the film is the backstory dealing with Parker's parents; that very much underlies the whole story in some way or another. And regardless of us already knowing there'll be a sequel, it's obvious that they made this movie with a sequel in mind; not everything is wrapped up and settled. And because of that, I can't wait for #2.

I've seen 3D films in theaters before, but they've all been converted in post-production. This is actually the first movie I've seen in theaters that was filmed with 3D cameras. And the use of 3D in this film is very well executed. The depth shown at times is beautiful, and there were some moments when I moved my head back when things were coming at me (we know it's not real, but yet we still do it).

I'm glad they did a reboot. It allowed us to see a fresh take on this fantastic character. I definitely recommend The Amazing Spider-Man to everyone, and it's one I'll be buying when it comes out on DVD.

TV Watch Online (@TVWatchOnline)

Jeff Dodge Blog:
I Recommend: 'Political Animals' Miniseries & 'Opening Act' TV Show

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'Glee' Videos: Santana Coming Out, Rachel's Yearbook Message Deleted Scenes
'Glee' Deleted Scene: Mike Chang's Graduation Gift from His Father [Video]

#1 Recommendations: Harry Potter: Page to Screen & The Amazing Spider-Man

As part of my catch-up, soon I'll have up a bunch of pictures from my summer trip to Las Vegas (and maybe ones from the American Idol Live concert if those ones turned out). And if I don't run out of time before the fall TV season starts, I might do a series of posts on TV shows from the past year and ones that are forthcoming.

Follow me on Twitter @TheJeffDodge. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions (or your own recommendations), either tweet me, e-mail me or leave a comment below.

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