Saturday, November 26, 2016

Theatrical Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Date- Sunday November 20 2016
Time- 1:15pm
Location- Pocono Movieplex (honestly, we go there all the time... I should just leave this field unchecked unless I'm going elsewhere)
Party- 4 (my mom, sister, aunt who loves the same books/movies, and myself)

Director: David Yates
Writer (book AND screenplay): J.K. Rowling
Composer: James Newton Howard

Notable Cast:
Newt Scamander- Eddie Redmayne
Jacob Kowalski- Dan Fogler
Tina- Katherine Waterston
Queenie- Alison Sudol
Graves- Colin Farrell
Credence- Ezra Miller
American Minister of Magic, Seraphina Picquery- Carmen Ejogo

Duration: 133 minutes (+3 trailers)


Audience & Coming Attractions

The next time we go to the movies (which will be later today), we need to bring a flashlight or at least light up a smartphone when we enter the theater. It's getting kind of annoying that we can't see where we're going or which seats are taken because the theater is darkened to show a dozen commercials. Seriously, if I want to see commercials, I could just stay home.
Couldn't even see how many people were in the theater, but there weren't as many as we expected. It was miserable and raining outside at the time.

It seemed like all three trailers figured we were all into Sci-fi (almost spelled that like the network... I don't even watch it that much) because they all fell into that category. I didn't even think Harry Potter fit there (it's more of a fantasy type deal, isn't it?).

First: Valerian- which is based on a graphic novel. I recognized Cat Delevingne from "Paper Towns." (Not quite who I pictured to play Margo Roth Speigelman, but she grew on me pretty quickly). The other guy, not so much. But the trailer promoted it more as a Luc Besson film (since he recently had a lot of success with "Lucy" which I've yet to see, but might need to).
The special effects and the environment look amazing. Not quite at the "Avatar" level, but the closest I'd seen in a while. Unfortunately, I have a gut feeling it's going to do about as well as "Jupiter Ascending."

Second: Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson. I'd heard of the animé series it was based off, but I never watched. It seemed too dark and too sci-fi for my personal tastes (just to give a clearer picture of my tastes- InuYasha, FullMetal Alchemist and Bleach were my favorite series on Adult Swim).
But the way this movie is set up and rendered, it looks really impressive. And Scarlett of course playing a kick-ass bad-ass. Something she brought to Black Widow and "Lucy" (yep, that Luc Besson movie I just mentioned) and may have perfected here.
I also remember the major controversy with this movie for casting her because she isn't Asian.
:sigh: will it ever end?

Finally, the trailer Comic-Con probably saw of the new "Power Rangers" movie.
I grew up on that franchise... well, 2-3 years of my childhood was wrapped up in it... I think I got into Pokémon shortly after I lost interest (which was when David Yost was written out of the show- he played my favorite character).
And I get the feeling that I am going to hate this movie because it's going to rewrite the entire mythology of the franchise. Two characters, I heard called Jason and Zack. And it sounds like they found the Command Center and Zordon instead of the other way around. Not to mention they're all "bad kids." That's completely wrong. The Power Rangers were chosen by Zordon because they were exceptional teenagers that were active in their communities. Unless they're opting for the angle "they're good inside, but have just gotten a raw deal in life"... I don't buy it.
Speaking of race, it looks like they might be doing that thing that got an outcry with the original series- the Black ranger was black and the yellow ranger was Asian. Honestly, I didn't really notice that when I was a kid and it really doesn't matter to me either way.

I remember the names of all the original actors except the Yellow ranger, Trini. Only that she died in a car accident. I know how to pronounce it, but I'll probably spell it wrong. Truy Thang, I think. [okay, I was close- I got two letters mixed up in her name- Thuy Trang].
Quick note: IMDB is great for a lot of things, but I don't get how they know the last names of the characters (when they were never mentioned on the show, yet they don't know Zack was the Black ranger and Trini was the yellow ranger).

Anyway, they lost me after they did an entire recast... end of story.

The Main Event in a Nutshell

What you need to know about the basic story: Newt Scamander is a British Magizoologist (studies magical creatures) who travels to America in the 1920's to release one of his magical creatures to its native habitat in Arizona.
But he picks a pretty bad time to go. New York is currently under siege thanks to something dark and destructive. What that is remains to be seen. But it's been terrorizing the Nomaj (American muggles) and the magical world is trying to solve the problem before their world is exposed and comes under fire. It is believed to be the work of a dark creature, which automatically makes Newt the #1 suspect.

Actors and Actresses

I don't know if I imagined the success Eddie Redmayne what have in his career after being in "Les Mis"... but it's been pretty fantastic. His performance of Stephen Hawking, while it was SO obvious he was going to win... I know the man is a super genius, but I gained so much more respect for him after seeing the movie. And he is great in this one as well. There were just some time I wish I had subtitles. He kinda mumbles sometimes, you see.

Dan Fogler, I knew from "Fan Boys" and it's cool to see him in a role like this. The man isn't obnoxious. He's just a lovable Nomaj that is having trouble getting his dream of owning a bakery. He meets Newt at the bank where he's trying to get a loan, but can't due to lack of collateral. He unwittingly becomes part of this journey into the magical world due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not to mention a "comedy" of errors.

The actresses, I hadn't really known before this, so I don't have much to say for them. Tina (Katherine Waterston) had gotten Hermione comparisons. Some of it is well-deserved. She's very smart and calculating. But her talents aren't taken as seriously due to actions taken before the movie begins.
Queenie is a bit of a scene-stealer and her storyline with Jacob is one I hope gets continued in future movies, despite the fact Nomaj are not supposed to be knowlegeable about the magical world. He's just such a great character.

Colin Farrell, I'd had a lot of moments on this blog where I've given him a hard time. My only complaint with him... he's Irish and he's playing an American character. Seriously, what the hell?! He plays a pretty complex character in that you really don't know what side he's on. We see him in the alleyway a lot talking to Credence, the adopted son of a woman who's been trying to organize a witch hunt.
Credence is played by Ezra Miller, who I know from "Perks of Being a Wallflower"... this was a good role for him, although a pretty sad one. He gets a raw deal and it extends past the fact his mum abuses him.

Same World, But a Different Place and Time

David Yates directed the last four Harry Potter movies and did so very well. We have the same visual look here as well, but considering it's New York in the 1920's, it's a bit different. But an interesting good different.

Visual and Special Effects

My other big negative with this movie... the effects are too chaotic in the action scenes. This is a good movie to see on the big screen, but it was still hard to see what was going on.
As for the contents of Newt's suitcase... well, you have to see it to believe it. It's the most jaw-dropping moment I think I'd had out of all the Harry Potter movies and there was a lot of that back then.
The first creature we meet is a Niffer. It looks like a black roly-poly platypus with maybe some echidna-like spines. I think I heard Ron mentioned in one of the books that he'd like to have one because they're good at finding treasures and shiny things. The one Newt has in his suitcase escapes into a bank, so you can imagine the shenanigans it gets into there. Everything else- I don't remember what any of them are called (like I said, Newt mumbles), but they're just amazing to look at. Hopefully we'll get to see more of them in the upcoming films.

What the Future holds...

I was skeptical at first when I heard that this movie adapted from a Hogwarts textbook was going to be make into a five-movie franchise. But taking into account who the ultimate villain of this movie turned out to be, I have a very good feeling I know what the ultimate goal of this new magical franchise is... and there is one very important casting choice coming up.
I'm sure a lot of Harry Potter fans have already figured it out.
Let's just say I got my idea from a Chocolate Frog card..

Grade: A-
(just to give an idea- I'd give "The Sorceror's Stone" an A+, "Prisoner of Azkhaban" an A, and the "Order of the Phoenix" maybe a B+)

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