Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
There are a lot of ways that you can mess up a sequel, but the most disappointing is when the film doesn’t just IGNORE the problems of the first film but actively builds off of them as if they were what we came there to see in the first place. It happened to The last Exorcism (no one cared about the Satanic Cult!), it happened with… well basically EVERY Hellraiser movie (the Cenobites shouldn’t be the main characters!), and it looks like that’s what’s happening with this film; a sequel to a film I enjoyed the heck out of but ended on… that note, and that’s the direction we’re going with. Sigh… I don’t know, maybe there’ll still be enough of the first movie’s cast to keep this form being utterly sunk by the presence of… that guy, but then again I can’t imagine how good the judgement of anyone involved with this could be if this is the guy they want to star in their lynchpin movie to an entire Harry Potter universe. Does this manage to eke out a bit of fun despite being in such poor taste right out the gate, or is it time for someone else to take a crack at the Wizarding World before the original creators cause even MORE damage to the franchise? Let’s find out!!
After the events of the last film, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has been under in a magical US detention center and the Ministry of Magic in… I guess the UK (did they ever establish if the ministry in the books was just London, the United Kingdom, or something equivalent to the European Union?) has decided to move him back to London so he can stand trial. Of course they have a very convoluted and whimsical way of transporting this suspected murderer and terrorist which means that he ends up escaping and fleeing to France to I guess gather power and execute the next step in his overly convoluted scheme. If only there was someone powerful enough to hunt him down and bring him to justice! Sadly there isn’t, but Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is still bumming around England after the first movie, so I guess he’ll have to do! He’s been having trouble with his work since the Ministry put a travel ban on him after the events in New York (for reasons I guess?) and his brother Theseus (Callum Turner) is trying to help him within his power as an Auror, but Newt’s not much for shady deals and compromises, so he rejects any offer that they give him to… I think join the Ministry or something. Anyway, all this bureaucratic nonsense won’t keep Newt from starring in this movie, especially since Dumbledore (Jude Law) is giving him Main Character Tips and explicitly wants him to fix everything! I think the plan is that if Newt could somehow get to France then he can find Credence (Ezra Miller) from the first movie who by the way is still alive and important for some reason, and only Newt can do this because… reasons. Oh, but Newt needs more than just saving the world from tyranny as a motivation! Maybe if we could throw in some of the characters from the previous movies, we could get this ball rolling. Oh look! Jacob and Queenie (Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol) are back together and he knows about magic again, but Tina (Katherine Waterston) is in France to try and find Credence for the US Ministry, and now Newt’s super into her which is something I really didn’t get from the first movie, but whatever. Newt heads to France to find Tina and I guess Credence, Queenie fights with Jacob and tries to find Tina, and Jacob goes with Newt to find Queenie. There are also subplots involving Newt’s ex-girlfriend and Theseus’s current fiancée Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), Dumbledore being under strict watch by… someone at the Ministry, Credence and his new buddy Nagini (Claudia Kim) who gets maybe three lines trying to find his birth mother, and probably a few other things that just whizzed past me as I was watching this. Can Newt find Tina and Queenie and Credence and Grendlewald and maybe a few Fantastic Beasts before the running time threatens to suck up every remaining moment of my life!? Why the heck did they get Jude Law to play Dumbledore just to lock him in a castle for two hours!? WHO THE HECK THOUGHT ANY OF THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
Well DC certainly isn’t about to keep Warner Bros solvent for years to come, so it’s time to dip back into the Harry Potter well and Accio them some of that sweet franchise cash! Now despite the somewhat desperate circumstances surrounding the studio behind this film, there is a lot of potential here as JK Rowling wrote the script for it and David Yates has returned once again to direct. Then again… neither one of them has had much luck with their creative endeavors since the last Potter film, particular David Yates whose Legend of Tarzan earlier this year is one of the many domestic flops Warner Bros has had to deal with in the last few years. Huh. Well I’m SURE none of that is important when it comes to this film which promises to get us all back to waving overpriced wands and repurchasing the book sets once again! Does this latest entry in the Potter Franchise manage to inject some new life to build a new slate of films from, or is this a desperate cash grab form a lot of people who haven’t found a way to move on from this series? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in New York City with nothing more than the clothes on his back and his TARDIS like suitcase full of magical creatures. He’s come to the US in search of yet another magical creature to further his research, yet things start to go sideways once his suitcase’s latch starts malfunctioning which gives some of the more rascally creatures a chance to escape. You’d think that tying a belt around it would solve the issue, but maybe he would need a MAGIC belt and simply didn’t have one available at the time. Anyway, one of the creatures does get loose which is quickly retrieved, but not before a No-maj (the American word for Muggle) named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) sees too much as well as Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) who seems to work for the US Ministry of Magic and wants to bring Newt in for questioning. Sadly for all involved, shenanigans ensue and Newt’s suitcase is broken wide open for even MORE creatures to escape which means that he must roam the streets of New York looking for them with Tina and Jacob in tow in an attempt to keep things nice and quiet as well as avoid jail time for all three of them. Of course, that’s not ALL that’s going on here as there seem to be some deeper intrigue involving a REALLY on the nose religious group known as the New Salem Church (subtle) being led by some zealot (Samantha Morton) and there might even be some traitorous players in the US Ministry of Magic that are helping them in their goals of hunting down magic users. Will Newt manage to get his creatures back before animal control either kills them or gets eaten themselves? What exactly is the New Salem church after, as well as those inside the wizarding world who are VERY closely looking at their activities? How the hell did Newt even get mixed up in all this!? HE JUST WANTED TO BUY SOMETHING!!
The Legend of Tarzan and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David Yates
I had no idea this movie was even coming out until maybe a month or two ago, and it seems like the studio wants it that way. They’ve been trying to get a live action Tarzan movie out since AT LEAST 2003 (probably to capitalize on the Disney film) and you can really tell that this shit was cobbled together from a production that’s been willed into existence by sheer stubbornness at the refusal to let a bad idea (or at least a good idea with no good way to bring it to life) just go away and to work on something else. Still, the Disney movie WAS pretty good and he’s a character that’s endured for over a hundred years now as he was a creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs; the king of badass genre stories. Do they manage to eke out an enjoyable action flick from this timeless source material, or will this suffer the same fate as the Conan remake and John Carter which were the last two Burroughs adaptations? Let’s find out!!
A quick refresher on the story of Tarzan that we all know (as told by Phil Collins). AHEM! A paradise untouched by man; a simple life, the apes lived in peace. But dangers are in fact no stranger here! The son of man known as Tarzan is taken in by the apes after his parents are killed, but in this version it’s actually the apes that killed his dad… so I guess that makes things a bit awkward here. Despite that; the power to be strong, the wisdom to be wise, all these things came to him in time during his journey from boy to man! But in time he ALSO wanted to know about these strangers like him. One stranger in particular was Jane Porter whose every gesture and every move she made in turn made Tarzan feel like never before, and soon he had this growing need to be beside her. Now if you only know the story from the Disney Movie (pretty much anyone born after 1990 and are HOPEFULLY getting all these clever jokes I’m making), you all know that his story ends with Jane staying with him in the jungle. Not true here (and in pretty much every other version of the story from my understanding) as he goes to some other world far beyond that place; namely England. Thankfully this brings me to the ACTUAL movie I’m talking about (also meaning I can stop quoting Phil Collins lyrics) which involves a domesticated Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) who’s being asked by the British government to go to back to his home (The Congo) for… some reason. Actually, I’m not sure why Jim Broadbent (playing A British PersonTM) wants him there so badly, but I do get why Samuel L Jackson wants him there who’s playing George Washington Williams; an ambassador for the US who wants to see if the rumors about the Belgians enslaving people in their colony is actually true so he can report it back to his government. Tarzan (also known as John Clayton) begrudgingly accepts the assignment and also begrudgingly accepts that Jane (Margot Robbie) is gonna go along with him. Waiting for him in The Congo though is Christoph Waltz playing Captain Léon Rom who is assigned by the King of Belgium to get some damn diamonds out of that colony by any means necessary, and Tarzan is the key to getting them. How? Well there’s a tribe there whose leader is SUPER pissed at Tarzan and has agreed to help Waltz get the diamonds if he will deliver Tarzan. Needless to say that Rom goes about this in the most dickish way possible which includes kidnapping Jane, and so Tarzan must go after them to save his wife and stop them from doing any more evil shit in his home country; all of this with the help of Samuel L Jackson of course. Can the two find out what Léon Rom is up to and save Jane before it’s too late? Just what is Christoph Waltz up to other than to pillage the country of all its natural resources? Wait, this movie is somehow less than two hours!? Well it certainly FEELS a lot longer, that’s for sure.