Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a 2016 fantasy film which is the ninth installment in J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and the first in this new franchise. It is directed by David Yates, it stars Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell and it is such a satisfying movie experience.

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We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt.

They’re currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures

on the planet – humans.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

After five years from the previous Harry Potter movie, we finally get a new one. I’ve waited for Fantastic Beats for years and the wait paid off and I’ve had a blast watching it in the theatre as it is mostly such a tremendous film. It follows Newt Scamander who comes to New York in 1926 with a case full of magical creatures and some unfortunately escape. The film then follows that subplot, but it mostly focuses on the Ministry and the Obscurus (which is the new term I will touch upon later) while setting up its sequels with Grindelwald.

Needless to say, it is a very rich film in terms of storytelling. It touches upon many things with many different storylines and populating the world with many new characters. Now because I love the 1920s, I was fascinated watching a Harry Potter movie set in that time period as it was beautifully conveyed. I also liked the setting of New York and that we now learn the American side of witchcraft and wizardry. This film sets the template for the others to follow beautifully and it is the film that definitely enriches the Wizarding World both in terms of world building and in terms of characters. And even though I loved that about it and it is an ambitious film, I still felt longing for Hogwarts as I really identify this series with that castle which is why the sequence in which they mentioned it was the one which made me smile the most.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Let’s talk about each and every character. Newt Scamander is actually my least favorite as he isn’t as fleshed out as the other characters are. He is solid and sometimes quite likable, but he should have been better developed. Tina Goldstein is at first a bit irritating as this overly serious MACUSA worker, but she eventually softens up a bit and becomes much more sympathetic in the process. I liked the relationship between these two as it was quite moving.

But the film, surprisingly enough, is much more memorable in its supporting characters as Queenie and Jacob are truly something special. She is so charming and so lovable and such a wonderful soul and every time she smiled, I smiled too. The casting was also brilliant as Alison Sudol embodies that 1920s Hollywood actress look just beautifully. But Jacob Kowalski is easily the finest character in the movie, at least he is in my opinion. And who would have thought that a day would come where we’ll get a Harry Potter movie in which a Muggle (or No-Maj in American) is the best character. But it happened and he is fabulous. He is the kind of a man who is just such a kind, great soul and you just have to love him. He is also very funny and such a wonderful comic relief. And their romance is so strong that it is actually one of my favorite things in the whole movie.

Of course Grindelwald is excellent and it is such a shame that we won’t see Colin Farrell in this role as he was just so good in it and actually gave the best performance of all of them. And even though the twist that Graves was Grindelwald was fairly easy to predict, it was still done right in a pretty well executed final sequence. I loved how they set up his character as they perfectly explained why he would find necessary to start a war. He isn’t your typical, boring bad guy who wants to destroy the world. He is frustrated that the magical community has to hide from the No-Maj and wants to change that. Thus far, he isn’t as terrible as he is going to become and I just loved his motivation and this whole conflict was excellent.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Seraphina Picquery is an interesting character. She made some quite terrible choices and is actually a pretty bad president of MACUSA, but I liked that as it was a realistic development as, if you would recall, Britain isn’t all that better either and both Fudge and Scrimgeour were very problematic leaders. But more on the two countries later on.

I wasn’t all that thrilled about the No-Maj characters such as Henry Shaw, but they will obviously play a big role in the later installments. But for now, they were underutilized. But it wasn’t a flaw as not everything can fit in within the two and a half hour time limit. I also loved the mention of Leta Lestrange and I found that part of Newt’s past quite fascinating.

As for the Obscurus, I found their inclusion to be a two-edged sword honestly. An Obscurus is the repressed energy of a child, known as an Obscurial, who is forced to repress their magical talent through physical or psychological abuse. Now obviously this ties well with the American history of witch persecutions etc. But the visual presentation of it I found to be quite uninspired and typical in its dark, black matter. And that also led to less actual duels with the wands which I found quite frustrating to be honest as I love those and though some of the action was pretty entertaining and intense, most of it wasn’t as memorable as I hoped it would be.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

But I still found the emotional side to this phenomenon pretty compelling and Credence is a very well utilized, troubled character and the audience can truly sympathize with him. Everything with him being tortured by his mother was emotionally powerful and devastating and this whole conflict is so well utilized and we finally saw how the non-magical community feels about the wizards and how cruel they can be.

As for the titular beasts, they are mostly great owing to some pretty good special effects and charming personalities and looks. Of course the highlight is Niffler and his obsession with glittery objects produced many hilarious sequences. He is not only the best, but also the cutest, funniest and most certainly the best visualized creature in the movie. Occamy is so memorable as well and such a great Asian influenced dragon with cool looks to it and the way to capture it is really intriguing and that scene was wonderful. Bowtruckle is so endearing and one of them is pretty dependent on Newt and I just loved those pretty heartwarming moments between the two. As for the other creatures, they are all pretty magical and the entire scene in the suitcase is the most enchanting in the movie as we get to know different creatures from different habitats and all are truly magical and charming.

The creature that is not magical is Erumpent. Wow, did I not like this one and most especially the sequence surrounding him. Not only is that entire scene oh so stupid, ridiculous and totally pointless, but it is also filled with some sort of silly animal sexual humor which was just awful in my opinion. And that scene pinpoints to the biggest issue of Fantastic Beasts – its tone. To me this movie is probably the most childish of all the Harry Potter movies as it just has way too many silly scenes and some are filled with quite juvenile humor. Some of those scenes were not great, but some were pleasant and childlike more than childish. But the problem is that it is a tonally uneven work as it jumps from one very kiddy scene to the next pretty dark scene with death and torture in just a moment basically.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Another smaller problem is the pacing which is sometimes quite problematic. It is mostly solid, but you can’t deny that it takes its time to get there owing to a slower beginning and it most certainly has an overly prolonged conclusion with multiple endings in it. But I liked that as it shows us that the stories of these characters are finished and that there won’t be more of them in the sequels. The payoff was emotional and the goodbye scene between Newt and Tina was moving. But of course everything about that last scene with Queenie and Jacob was a winner. Touching and just beautiful in every way, it was a perfect way to end this magical journey and to finish the stories of these highly endearing people.

The film definitely is emotional and I just admired how they gave us a Muggle character who was awesome in every way and never as bad or as insufferable as the Dursleys were. His childlike wonder coupled with goofy persona added a lot to him being as great of a character as he ended up being. But him losing memory in the end was heartbreaking and finally we see a movie that revolves around Muggles and the relationship between these two people. So well done.

Let’s talk about the Americans and their wizarding community. It was a great touch to show that they need Wand Permit and how they govern themselves by a bunch of rules and regulations in contrast to the British. But what I found very interesting is how the Americans were portrayed as a backwards society in comparison to the British wizards and witches. Not only do they have ridiculous sorts of punishment, but they also have very weak governing and control over magical children and they basically let the No-Maj people seriously damage those children which is the case with Credence. That was odd, but again an interesting approach which I honestly found fascinating.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

I liked Fantastic Beasts’ cast and crew. No matter what some say, I found its cast of characters very memorable and this foursome is truly such an endearing group. And to me the acting is excellent. Eddie Redmayne is quite weak actually, but all of the others are very good with Farrell giving the finest performance. But Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol are excellent and very charming in their great roles and Dan Fogler is memorable in every scene he’s in. The score is superb and not only magical, but also perfectly fitting in with its time period which is beautifully brought to life with a gorgeous attention to detail and amazing world building. I also liked the direction in this movie which is something I didn’t expect from Yates and is actually his best work yet in the franchise. Fantastic Beasts isn’t as good as the first three HP movies, but it most certainly is better than all of the succeeding five entries.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is tonally uneven and quite childish in some scenes in the first half, but everything else here is terrific. The casting is spot-on with most of the performances being excellent, the new characters are all so memorable with Queenie and Jacob being such endearing people, the action is solid if not as great as it should have been, the world building and attention to detail are top-notch and they brought this time period and setting beautifully to life. The film is also rich in terms of storytelling with multiple storylines all well crafted, it is sometimes quite magical and heartwarming, the score is wonderful and it is overall such a satisfying first chapter in this new franchise which perfectly sets up its sequels, but can also stand on its own just fine.

My Rating – 4.5

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Top Five Male Performances of 2015

Top Five Male Performances of 2015

 

 Top Five Male Performances of 2015

2015 wasn’t such a good year for male roles as there weren’t that many actors that shined. But those who did delivered some truly powerful performances. So here is my list of the best male performances of the year.

Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight

5. Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight

I really enjoyed Ruffalo’s performance and he was without a doubt the best actor in Spotlight. He played such a different character than usual and he played the more physical attributes really well. But he delivered in dialogue as well with one truly emotional sequence. He was the best aspect in the entire film.

Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

4. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne is quickly becoming one of the best actors working today and his role in The Danish Girl is extremely difficult, but he delivered and truly became Lily which is so admirable and such a tough thing to do. His mannerisms and his way of speaking are very feminine here and he delivered in those more emotional sequences as well. He is such a good actor and I can’t wait to see him in Fantastic Beasts.

Ian McKellen for Mr. Holmes

3. Ian McKellen – Mr. Holmes

This is the most overlooked performance of the year unfortunately. Ian McKellen is absolutely fantastic in Mr. Holmes and he is the heart and soul of that movie. His subtle, elegant manner of speaking is perfect here and his character is so complex and moving and he played him wonderfully, definitely giving one of the finest and most underrated performances of the year.

Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs

2. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender is one of the finest actors today as he is excellent in almost everything he does. Here he plays Jobs and his role takes the most screen time and he is excellent from beginning to end. He became Jobs, he is so professional and this is one of the best performances I’ve seen in a biopic.

 

Jacob Tremblay for Room

1. Jacob Tremblay – Room

And the finest actor performance of the year goes to Jacob Tremblay who simply amazed me with his incredible work. His role in Room is so difficult, but he delivered with his spectacular performance. His facial expressions are excellent, he delivered in both more subtle and more emotional scenes and he even outshines Brie Larson which is really saying something. He really came out of nowhere and at just the age of nine gave not only the best performance of the year, but also the very best child acting performance of all time.

Honorable Mentions

Matt Damon – The Martian – This is a typical blockbuster comedic character, but Matt Damon is superb in it nonetheless as he is great in not only humorous, but also those more dramatic and heartbreaking moments.

Antonythasan Jesuthasan – Dheepan – This is such a strong movie on all grounds, but the acting in particular is superb with Jesuthasan being terrific in a hard, layered and relevant role.

Michael Shannon – 99 Homes – I have never been the biggest fan of this actor, but there is no denying his great work in 99 Homes. Andrew Garfield is also good in it, but Shannon is the one who is the most memorable.

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The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl Review

The Danish Girl is a 2015 biographical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. It is quite a good, tragic movie.

It tells the true tale of the first ever transsexual woman and it follows her coming out, her relationship with her wife and her eventual sex reassignment surgery, first ever of its kind. Now, first of all, I really liked this movie and even though it definitely has its evident flaws, I still think it’s quite good and even underrated. What are those flaws? Well, the film is about Lily, but tells her story from the point of view of the wife which is super frustrating to me as Lily should be the focus here. I liked the wife’s struggles and it was all well done, but I still wanted more of Lily. Also, the film is too traditional and despite incorporating full frontal nudity in it which was okay considering the subject matter, it is still too old-fashioned and at times quite dated with its views. It shows us the society of the twenties and of course back then there was not only a lot of prejudice, but also a lot of uncertainty over gender identity even with doctors themselves. That was all very realistically portrayed, but the film becomes like that itself at times with an inaccurate portrayal of trans people as it doesn’t quite shows us that Lily was always Lily inside, but somewhat became her later on which is not true and very problematic.

Now with that out of the way, there is a lot to like here. I loved the character development as Lily is so well realized and such a tragic figure. I loved that heartbreaking ending that really put me in a sad mood how tragic it was. It ended on a wonderfully poignant note. Gerda is also phenomenal and I loved the relationship between the two, first as a married couple, then as true friends. I also liked Hans as he was so likable and such a good person. But what I liked the most in The Danish Girl is how feminine and artistic it is. It truly shows us what it means to be a woman and everything it comes with it. The endless nods to femininity are wonderfully realized and the film is very artistic from time to time with some great technical aspects to it. I loved that it is very realistic in its portrayal of 1920s society and I loved the character interactions, relationships and it has a big heart.

The acting is fantastic. Eddie Redmayne gave one of the best performances of the year and he is absolutely amazing as both a man and a woman here. He became Lily and his devotion to the role is evident from his expressive facial expressions to his moves and talk. Such a terrific performance. However, Alicia Vikander gave as great a performance as Redmayne himself which is so commendable. She is absolutely fantastic and she sold every emotional scene she had here and delivered a strong, layered performance that is also one of the best female performances of the year. Matthias Schoenaerts is also really good. The acting really drives this movie.

The Danish Girl is a technically polished picture with solid direction from Tom Hooper and quite good pacing. But the costume design is exquisite, the film has some wonderfully artistic sensibilities and it has some superb imagery as it’s so well shot. The score is also quite good, but the tone is too melodramatic and some humor was needed to ease the tension. The film sometimes goes into overly maudlin territory. The dialogue I really liked as it was grounded in reality and perfectly believable. It moves at a good pace and is always moving and engaging to watch. This real life story was made for a film treatment and it received a good one. I really enjoyed this movie on multiple levels despite some of its evident shortcomings.

It received four Academy Award nominations, all of which highly deserved. The production design is excellent and the costumes in particular are fantastic and of the year’s best. As for its acting accolades, both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are definitely deserving as they are both superb, but the inclusion of her in the supporting category is ridiculous having in mind her immense screen time. That was odd. But overall the film deserved those nods and is a bit underrated in my opinion.

The Danish Girl does have its flaws including sometimes too traditional and a bit inaccurate approach and some too melodramatic moments, but the film is so well acted with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander both delivering powerhouse performances, it is also moving and mostly realistic, but above all it adapts its important real life story in a good way and with a lot of artistic flair to it.

My Rating – 4

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