The Crimes of Grindelwald

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the book, was not a property that I thought could be adapted. It had no plot after all. It sounded like someone was attempting to adapt Encyclopedia Britannica. But with JK Rowling herself writing the scipt and Harry Potter veteran David Yates at the helm, we got a surprisingly interesting romp through the magical streets of 1920s New York. Newt Scamander wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but together with the side characters the film had a good emotional core.

The mouthful of a sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), was in theory the much easier ask. The world is by now incredibly familiar to much of the movie-going population, and the new characters established. Hell, even the story itself was somewhat known. Grindelwald has been lurking in the background for over a decade, ever since we learnt about him in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There is a curiosity about his motivations and methods. That is what frustrates me most about the film. It has everything I could ever want in a Grindelwald story in theory, yet it whizzes about in a weird way, paying fan service not to the series we love, but to the one movie that was ok.

So, let me explain what should have been.

Spoilers below.

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Solo – A Star Wars Story

solo

Solo, a beverage and a man. A man who was given his iconic name not through simply being Han Solo, but because an Imperial bureaucrat lacked imagination. Solo, the delicious Norwegian soda, was famously the drink that only did one thing: satisfy your thirst. Solo, a Star Wars story, does not satisfy. Solo, the heist/adventure movie, manages a soft “meh.” This angered me more than I expected as I left the cinema. I’m usually not one to care that much. What struck me constantly during the film was how little I cared for anything. Let’s try to find out why, shall we?

Han Solo is the quintessential rogue character. What satisfies me about his character will not be the same thing that does it for you. My main concern is what can his origin story even be when the ending must birth the character we all hold so dear? The task seems impossible.

This review contains all the spoilers

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Assassin’s Creed Review 

assRebels, freedom fighters, revolutionaries, or resistance members. All have at times throughout history used questionable methods, even terrorism, assassinations etc. to further their goals. Who are the good guys when those opposed to oppression kill without discrimination? That question has been at the core of my fascination with the Assassin’s Creed videogame series. “Nothing is true… Everything is premitted” is the Creed. The Assassins make no excuses for their utter lack of morals. Their sworn enemies are the Templars, who while claiming the moral high ground are just as shady, and they want to rule the world.

The games are far from perfect, and some are even unplayable, but they all have a hint of that pure awesomeness found in the first game. I feel it most strongly when wandering through a crowd, approaching the target exactly as planned, before striking quickly and efficiently and then disappearing without a trace. It seemed almost impossible not to make a badass movie out of it, and yet somehow they managed to take everything bad from the games, and leave very little of the good stuff in.

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Boyhood

boyhood-posterWhen I was in my early teens, I saw Richard Linklater’s Waking Life. Today, it’s easy to look back and think the movie is more simplistic than it was, but I still have a strong nostalgia. It was a film that spoke about deep issues in an accessible way to teenagers. The same can be said for Skanner Darkly, my still favourite Linklater film. It’s weird and visually interesting, but not purposefully confusing. If I had not enjoyed his films at that impressionable age, I would probably never even try to enjoy films like Upstream Colour. Linklater was my gateway drug to all kinds of non-linear stories and alternative film concepts, and I will always be thankful for that. 

Boyhood, I knew, was not going to be another introduction course to alternative film, but according to the hype, it was very unique. Linklater has spent twelve years filming, using the same actors, who therefore age naturally. Ellar Coltrane, playing the 6-19 year old boy called Mason, said in his AMA on Reddit that every year filming was a bit like summer camp. The film also includes Linklater familiar Ethan Hawke as the father, and Patricia Arquette as the mother. 

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Divergent – One in the crowd

Divergent-posterYet another movie based on a bestselling young adult novel. Can this one set itself apart? I was willing to let a lot slide, considering the message in this film is fairly harmless. But after discussing the film with someone who had read the book, I realised this wasn’t just a case of poor adaptation.

The story’s concept is “what if the world worked according to this random rule”, peppered with characters and general melodrama. This type of story is something I see a lot of in fanfiction. They often sound lame and contrived, but it’s all in good fun, and is (when done well) an experiment to explore other aspects of the characters and relationships of existing franchises. When movies get made out of these “what if” scenarios, you’re almost always in for a long intro with a lot of reading and/or voice-over exposition. Divergent is no exception.

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Rise of the Sequel – 300: Rise of an Empire Review

300_rise_of_an_empire_2014-wideI reviewed this on the radio, as usual, but between then and now I have been trying my hardest to see if I shouldn’t change my final dice roll for this film. I have to stand by my convictions, however. Sure, maybe the movie will age well and I can see it again in two-three years and not feel the same. Until then, here is my rather mean rant about 300: Rise of an Empire. Not the actual review, but the scribbles I wrote down immediately after I left the theatre. I decided to do it this way to see if it helped people understand why I simply did not like the film, even though I had every reason to considering the premise, my personal tastes, and those involved.

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The Counselor

the-counselorQuick, take a gang of top-of-their-game actors, all playing slightly odd, violent, and fascinating characters. Have the film directed by a critically acclaimed director. Oh, and throw in a long opening credit sequence with ironically upbeat music, and a plot that’s twice as convoluted as its needs to be. And for the poster: have all the famous actors feature prominently with nothing else to indicate the plot. Which movie am I talking about? It seems to be a hit-or-miss trend, so will The Counselor, directed by Ridley Scott, convince or disappoint?

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