Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016, Heyday Films

J.K. Rowling spins off a new series cut from the same Harry Potter cloth. This overwrought yet competently produced fantasy introduces new, thankfully adult characters that populate a visually delicious 1920s New York City. Eddie Redmayne was practically born for the part of Newt Scamander; meanwhile, much was made of Johnny Depp's appearance, although it was mercifully brief. Notably, James Newton Howard contributed an absolutely wonderful score.

DKS 12/18/17


Almost Nice


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

2018, Heyday Films

What a sad turn of events. Cramming ten pounds of story into a five pound movie makes for a cluttered mess with no room for our emotional investment. This one has an endless parade of characters to keep track of, and enough exposition to fill a supertanker. If you watch the DVD in a language you don't understand, it has about the same emotional impact (I'm not kidding—I watched it in Portuguese just to see, and it worked). Plenty of splashy effects for the easily-amused, but not much to engage the rest of us. Johnny Depp's much-debated presence didn't keep it from earning more than three times its $200 million budget, which should be enough to assure a third installment, although J.K. Rowling has hinted she may pen five. [sarcasm] Can't wait. [/sarcasm]

DKS 7/3/20




Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

2022, Heyday Films

The franchise continues its steady decline with the entirely unengaging Secrets of Dumbdore (see what I did there?), in which J.K. Rowling is upstaged by Johnny Depp's much-debated absence. Here, the political machinations of her Wizarding World are so turgid and boring that I actually nodded off a few times. I could get into an analysis of the film's shortcomings, such as whose story is this, Newt's, Dumbdore's or Grindelwald's, because the narrative is decidedly unfocused—rather like Jessica Williams' wonky accent. But to be honest, it's not worth the bandwidth to discuss. Anyway, Rowling is beginning to show signs of what I refer to as the Lucas Effect. I must add that James Newton Howard provided nearly two hours of truly sublime music; indeed, if what's up on the screen matched the thrill of his score, the film would be a solid gold fart.

DKS 9/24/22




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