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Every ‘Harry Potter’ Movie Opening, Ranked

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Every ‘Harry Potter’ Movie Opening, Ranked

The recent Harry Potter reunion special Return to Hogwarts airing on HBO Max (where you can also watch all 8 movies), a heady rush of nostalgia has hit, making it time for us to return to Hogwarts as well. Of course, there is always the Fantastic Beasts film series, which has a new installment, The Secrets of Dumbledore, coming out later this year.

However, that series just can’t match the magic and feeling of the original, based on J.K. Rowling’s series of seven novels that follow Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as other beloved characters.

That magic we spoke of is perhaps most strongly felt at the beginning of each film. For those of us who watched the Harry Potter kids grow up, and for those of us who grew up alongside them, each return to Hogwarts, aided by John Williams’s famous theme, incites a feeling of giddiness that is very specific to the franchise.

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RELATED: ‘Harry Potter’: 10 Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit

7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

After making his return known to all, Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) sends his Death Eaters to wreak havoc upon the Muggle world. This brief opening establishes Voldemort’s increasing power, as well as the pressing danger that comes with it.

Without dialogue, the opening of The Half-Blood Prince quickly works to set the tone of hopelessness that defines the film, based on the penultimate novel of the series. The heroes don’t really get any wins in this one, unless you count Ron’s success in Quidditch.

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6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

First, and perhaps this goes without saying: there really aren’t any bad openings to a Harry Potter movie. Furthermore, there aren’t any bad Harry Potter movies. Part 2 of the finale picks up exactly where Part 1 left off: with Voldemort stealing the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave, potentially signaling a great advantage for Team Dark Lord.

Since that scene was already shown in the previous film, however, perhaps the opening scene is more accurately the gorgeously stark one featuring Headmaster Snape (Alan Rickman) looking over Hogwarts under the control of the Death Eaters. It’s a rare moment when we get to see Snape observing without any change of being seen, so that his emotions can be present on his face, almost completely unguarded.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

Part 1 of the two-part Harry Potter finale opens with the new Minister of Magic giving a public speech declaring the return of Voldemort, as well as the Ministry’s intentions of fighting back to protect the wizarding world. It’s a rather brief opening scene, but works to reorient us with what’s going on in the world of Harry Potter.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

The Prisoner of Azkaban offers a more simple opening. The film opens with Harry hiding under the sheets in his bed practicing “Lumos Maxima” (oh, third years). When his uncle barges into the room to see what Harry’s doing, he quickly pretends to have been asleep.

While this opening is brief, it sets the tone for the whole movie. The light from Harry’s wand transforms into the opening title, and also foreshadows the movie’s focus on light in the darkest times.

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

When we pick up with Harry after his first year at Hogwarts, he’s not doing so great. He’s back with the Dursleys, waiting for his second year of school to start, and he’s not allowed to do magic off campus grounds. To make matters worse, he hasn’t received any correspondence from his friends.

On the night of an important dinner party his aunt and uncle are hosting, the house elf Dobby (Toby Jones) arrives and immediately begins to wreak havoc on Harry and the Dursleys’ lives. The chaos results in Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) putting bars over Harry’s window to prevent him from ever going back to Hogwarts.

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3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

The previous film in the franchise marked an end of childhood innocence for Harry. Sure, he’d already burned a man’s face off, and fought a giant snake, and time traveled, but he’d never watched an innocent die until the night Voldemort murdered Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson).

The Order of the Phoenix picks up with this theme of lost innocence, with Harry sitting dejectedly on an old swing set. Dudley (Harry Melling) and his friends approach, and Dudley hits him with the best, most original, most clever insult ever (kidding, obviously). It’s then that they’re set upon by Dementors, and Harry gets to show off his Patronus skills by saving the both of them.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

The Goblet of Fire is the first Harry Potter film not to open with Harry himself. Instead, the film picks up at a graveyard, where a caretaker becomes aware of a light in a building across the way. When he goes to investigate, he finds a secret meeting between Voldemort, Wormtail, and Barty Crouch. The man’s eavesdropping is revealed when Nagini slithers by and tells Voldemort of his presence. Voldemort kills the man, and we cut away from the violence of the act to Harry jolting awake from a dream of the same events.

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1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

The first film in the Harry Potter franchise begins with Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and McGonagall (Maggie Smith) arriving on Privet Drive to wait for Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) to arrive with an infant Harry Potter. The magic of Harry Potter is introduced quickly and beautifully, with Dumbledore’s use of his Deluminator, McGonagall’s transfiguration, and Hagrid’s giant flying motorcycle.

All of this taking place on a dark, quiet street filled with sleeping, unknowing Muggles heightens the feeling of magic and mystery that kicks off the first film in the series. The dialogue manages to efficiently orient the viewer in the story: Harry’s parents have been killed, and the Dursleys are the only family he has left.


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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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