When I first saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald last week, I had some mixed feelings about it. The film had too many characters it was trying to follow and the whole thing felt like more of an in-between film whose sole purpose was to set up the following film instead of something that could stand on its own. Since that first viewing, I’ve read the published screenplay, listened to about two hours of the Audible documentary Makers, Mysteries, and Magic, and seen the film a second time. While I still have the same problems with the film I previously did, I liked it a whole lot more on my second viewing. I think it’s down to the fact that I’ve started to appreciate the film for what it is; it’s not trying to be a stand-alone movie, rather, it’s trying to, essentially, be part 2 of a five-part story. It’s chapter 2 of a five chapter book. The film isn’t really meant to be viewed on its own but in the context of that larger story. The problem that we as critics face is: how do we evaluate a story that is, by nature, not actually completed by the end of the film? I think the best thing to do is to examine what the film does have instead of what it doesn’t. (There will be full spoilers for the film ahead!)
I loved the first Fantastic Beasts movie. I thought it was one of the best, if not the best, movies in the Wizarding World franchise. It definitely helped that that movie wasn’t, strictly speaking, based on any preexisting story and could really be its own thing. It introduced a lot of new and interesting characters and opened the Wizarding World up in new and exciting ways. Plus it set up a pretty cool plotline for a series of films: the rise and fall of Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), the big, evil wizard before Voldemort was the big, evil wizard. So, naturally, I’ve been pretty excited for this film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, to come out. The big question is: could it live up to two years worth of hype and excitement? The answer is: yes, and no. (There will be mild spoilers for the film in this review.)
At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
Today was the Warner Brothers panel at Comic-Con and the first thing they did was debut a new trailer for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s our first look at the film since the teaser trailer was released back in March. This trailer is nearly double the length of the first one and features a whole lot of new footage and much better look at both the tone and content of the film. Written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It continues the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he is tasked by Dumbledore (Jude Law) to help track down and defeat wizard terrorist Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). It is due to be released on November 16, 2018, and also stars Katherine Waterstone as Tina Goldstein, Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, Ezra Miller Credence Barebone, Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange, Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, Brontis Jodorowsky as Nicolas Flamel, and Claudia Kim as a currently unnamed Maledictus.
At the end of the first film, the powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise wizards and witches up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
The Tony Awards aired this past weekend, and the internet is abuzz about the winner of the Best New Play award: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There’s been a bit of controversy as a result of its win, particularly from the Harry Potter fandom, so, I figured now is as good a time as any to mount a defense for the play. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play borne out of a collaboration between Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne, and director John Tiffany. It’s advertised as the official eighth chapter in the Harry Potter series and tells the story of Harry’s middle child, Albus Severus, and his experiences as he attends Hogwarts and fights to escape the shadows of his father’s past glories. The script for the show was initially published in July of 2016, and to say there was some controversy directly afterward would be an understatement. While the majority of critics in London adored the show and praised it for its script, acting, design elements, etc, fans were noticeably more divided, if not downright negative towards it. It’s been criticized as “bad fanfiction with a silly story”, “totally out of character”, “inconsistent with the books and the universe that Rowling wrote”, amongst others. I disagree with most of those points, and I’m gonna explain why. It’s worth noting that there will be total spoilers for the play throughout this. You’ve been warned. (more…)
Warner Brothers just released a trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and it’s all kinds of awesome. It’s been nearly five months since the reveal of the title of the film and that promotional image of the cast, so we’ve all been kind of starved for any real footage or news of the film and this trailer fully delivers. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and is written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates. It follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) as they travel to Paris in order to track down Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) under the request of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).
This trailer does everything a good teaser trailer should do: it teases us. It shows just enough to whet our appetites but not enough to actually ruin the film too much. I really like that the trailer didn’t rely solely on nostalgia. It opened with a nostalgic shot of Hogwarts and featured a lot of Dumbledore, but that was basically where the nostalgia ended. It was a nice way of reminding people who maybe weren’t totally on board with the previous film that this is still part of the Harry Potter universe (now rebranded as the Wizarding World). I also like how colorful this film looks in comparison to the last one. I loved the last movie, but man did it have a pretty bleak color palette. This one seems to have a much brighter and more colorful one, so that’s nice.
Speaking of Dumbledore, there’s a lot of him in the trailer and Jude Law is absolutely killing it as Dumbledore. It’s gonna take me a bit of time to fully get used to him in the role, but he’s doing a spectacular job. There’s a line he has towards the beginning of the trailer where he says something along the lines of “If you’ve ever had Newt in a class, you know he doesn’t take orders” and it was such a Dumbledore thing to say and it made me smile so much. Interestingly, there’s very little Grindelwald in the trailer. I wonder if it’s to avoid the controversy around Johnny Depp’s casting for a little bit considering how that blew up after he was so prominently featured in the promotional picture from November. There’s about one shot of him in the trailer and he’s nearly unrecognizable. Which is good. If Johnny Depp can stop being Johnny Depp for about three seconds, he could actually deliver an interesting performance. I’d have still preferred just have Colin Farrel as Grindelwald, but such is life.
Ultimately, I loved this trailer. It did its job in getting me super excited for the movie. It was well edited and structured, showed off how beautiful the film looks, teased just enough while withholding enough to still be mysterious, and overall just felt magical. It reminded me why I love the Wizarding World franchise so much. For all its hits and misses, it still brings me joy in the way it did when I was a kid. It’s not perfect and the filmmakers often make mistakes and questionable decisions, but I still love it. This trailer reminded me of the best things about the franchise and has successfully gotten me super excited for the next installment.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald lands in theaters on November 16, 2018.
Portkey Games and Warner Bros. recently released an early access/beta version of the upcoming mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Set in the decade before Harry Potter attended Hogwarts, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery allows players to create their own characters and experience life as a student at Hogwarts while living their own adventure – featuring a new story set in the universe of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World – and encountering familiar characters along the way, such as Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, and more. The game is the mobile game equivalent of a touch-and-click adventure where players tap various items on the screen to advance the story forward while collecting experience and other materials all under the confines of an energy meter system.
I’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. (more…)
We finally have a title for the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. That, alone, is a lot to unpack. But Warner Brothers marketing, never being one to skimp out on goodies for fans, also unveiled a new promo image for the film featuring our first look at the new and returning characters! And, oh boy, it’s a doozy. I wish WB had released a trailer today (it would have made smart marketing sense; Justice League, another WB film, releases in theaters this weekend and it would only make sense for WB to attach the trailer for next year’s blockbuster for the studio with this year’s blockbuster for the studio, but, alas, I do not head the marketing team). Either way, finally having a title and a first look at the cast is a really nice thing and I’m eager to break it all down. (more…)
The Silkworm is stronger than The Cuckoo’s Calling in nearly every way. This is the case for the book and it’s the case for BBC’s TV adaptation, as well. Based on the novel by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling), The Silkworm continues the story of Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and his assistant, Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) a number of months after the end of The Cuckoo’s Calling. Adapted by Tom Edge and directed by Kieron Hawkes, The Silkworm follows Cormoran and Robin as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of Owen Quine (Jeremy Swift) at the behest of his wife, Leonora (Monica Dolan). Owen is a provocative and somewhat famous author known for writing odd and often vulgar novels. At the time of his disappearance, Owen has just sent off the manuscript for his latest novel, Bombyx Mori, which features a “thinly veiled” slandering of many people he knows. When his body turns up dead and mutilated in exactly the same way the protagonist of Bombyx Mori’s protagonist’s death scene, the race is on to find out who, out of all those who have read Bombyx Mori, could have killed Owen Quine. (Mild Spoilers ahead) (more…)
Like the novel it’s based on, BBC’s adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling isn’t anything revolutionary, but it sure is a lot of fun. Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling is the first installment of BBC’s series of adaptations of Robert Galbraith’s (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike novels. Written by Ben Richards and directed by Michael Keillor, The Cuckoo’s Calling tells the story of Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin Ellacott’s (Holliday Grainger) investigation into the death of Lula Landry (Elarica Johnson). After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Comormoran Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow (Leo Bill) walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. (As always, spoilers follow) (more…)