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!?
Early Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aardman Animations and StudioCanal
Directed by Nick Park
I remember watching those Wallace and Gromit shorts many times when I was a kid on VHS tapes (none of which I still have), and while I haven’t been keeping up with Aardman TOO much in the last decade, I have always respected them as a studio and have had nothing but good things to say about their work; including that Pirates movie which seems to have had a much more mixed reception than a lot of their other work. Now we’ve got their most auditions work to date; not because it’s a particularly out there or unexpected from the studio, but because they had the gall to open it against Black Panther! I mean I guess it goes with the David and Goliath underdog story this movie is trying to tell, but something tells me that the forward thinking and groundbreaking black centered super hero movie is gonna do a SMIDGE more business than this silly cartoon. Does Aardman’s latest adventure hold up to the high pedigree that they’ve set for themselves over their long and prestigious filmography, or have the masters of clay lost their touch in this latest outing? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Dug (Eddie Redmayne) who is the youngest and the most wide-eyed member of a tribe of cavemen that spends their days hunting rabbits and playing primitive instruments. Dug dreams of something more though, like possibly hunting BIGGER animals (maybe even a Mammoth), yet the leader Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) doesn’t feel like rocking the boat is the best thing for the tribe; especially when everyone else is so incompetent that they can manage to catch rabbits. Still, the march of time is a cruel one and one day the tribe is uprooted from their idyllic homes by the war machines and mining equipment of Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston); leader of a nearby town that has advanced to the Bronze Age. Through a series of convoluted missteps and slapstick humor, Dug ends up tripping falling into the Bronze Age city and even gets stuck right in the middle of their sacred arena where the mightiest warriors gather for the crowd’s amusement. What exactly do they DO in the arena? Fight to the death? Feed Christians to lions? NO! They play SOCCER of course! You know, that one game that everyone else calls football that we in the US only seem to care about once every four years! Dug, seeing how much the people of this town crave the sport and treat as sacrosanct, challenges Lord Nooth and his best players to a match against him and his tribe! If Lord Nooth wins, he can keep their homeland, but if Dug wins they get it back! Can Dug and his tribe manage to learn how play just in time to beat the very best players the Bronze Age has to offer? Will Dug’s new friend Goona (Maisie Williams) be the ringer they need to secure victory and will she finally get to live out her dreams of glory on the football pitch? More importantly, can FIFA find a way to somehow turn this into an excuse to plunder a country of its riches and bully local governments!?
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!!