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Cinema Dispatch: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

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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!?

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“ACCIO A SCREENWRITER AND SIX BOTTLES OF WHISKY!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Meg

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The Meg and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Jason Statham has fought criminals, terrorists, rednecks, and even Vin Diesel, but can he face his greatest challenge of all?  No, not the shark!  Headlining a hundred million dollar international blockbuster ABOUT a shark!  Heck, even Dwayne Johnson has had some stumbles in that department!  If you think about it, the man is a household name at this point with a huge back catalog of classic action films, yet he’s never really been THE A-LIST STAR his reputation would lead you to believe he has.  Sure he’s in a few franchise that made boatloads of money (Fast and the Furious, The Expendables), but those were always in supporting roles.  The times that HAS headlined a movie, even PHENOMENAL ones like Crank: High Voltage, have never really been the biggest of box office draws; especially in today’s climate where a hundred million dollars can be considered a disappointment.  Now he’s front and center trying to sell himself on the biggest stage of his life; sharing it of course with Chinese superstar Li Bingbing and a giant freaking shark, but still!  Can Statham and company manage to make a classic blockbuster that will catapult him and everyone else here to superstar status, or will this be the biggest shark jumping moment in this new age of giant international blockbusters?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where there is a research facility called Mana One that is being financed by “eccentric billionaire” Jack Morris (Rainn Wilson) and is run by Dr. Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing).  The big theory they’re working on is that there may be a place in the ocean EVEN DEEPER than the Mariana Trench which is undetectable by radar for… some reason (something having to do with it being SUPER cold down there) and so they have a manned submarine diving down there to see what they find.  Of course things go wrong almost as soon as they get past the cold patch, and so someone needs to go down there to save them, and as it turns out they know JUST the guy for the job!  Jonas (Jason Statham) is not only the best darn rescue diver of all time, his ex-wife Lori (Jessica McNamee) is one of the crew members stuck down there so of COURSE he ends up coming aboard Mana One despite being a grumpy drunk ever since… the incident.  Despite protestations from one of Mana One’s crew (Robert Taylor) due to… the incident, Jonas grabs a super science sub and dive ALL the way down to where the submarine was lost.  He manages to find it, but there’s something else down there waiting for them, and it’s sure no moon!  No, it’s a GIANT FREAKING SHARK (also known as a MEGalodon) that doesn’t take too kindly to weird metal boxes encroaching on his territory, and while Statham is able to save MOST of the sub crew, it turns out that THE MEG managed to follow them home and is wreaking havoc all over the Pacific.  Can Statham and the elite crew of Mana One, including Mac, Jaxx, and DJ (Cliff Curtis, Ruby Rose, and Page Kennedy), find a way to stop this massive creature before it kills everything!?  What exactly does Jack Morris have planned for this newly discovered monster, and is it in the best interest of everyone involved?  Seriously, considering how big this shark is, maybe we should just bite the bullet and call in Godzilla.

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“A glass wall!?  CURSES!!  MY ONE WEAKNESS!!”

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