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Movie Review: The Magic and Meandering of ‘Fantastic Beasts’

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Does Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them capture the magic of Harry Potter? Read our movie review to find out:

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the aspects that always bothered me about Harry Potter was how much of the focus was on the wizardry school of Hogwarts. No matter the dire situation or high amount of danger threatening the heroes, everything comes back to the school. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them finally takes the wands out of children in school and places them in the hands of adults in 1920s New York City. All the spells, elves and secret worlds are preserved with a stylish kick of an urban setting. In terms of atmosphere, it’s very much a movie in the Harry Potter universe. It’s what fills that space which makes the movie stumble.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander.

The characters occupying this story must literally fight their way into a movie that’s crowded with computer-generated creatures and magical set pieces. Eddie Redmayne plays visiting wizard Newt Scamander, an intelligently coy and passive man who specializes in preserving the endangered species of the magical world. Located within his suitcase is another dimension of all sorts of weird creatures, from puffer fish lions to lock-picking weeds. His inability to keep these creatures contained results in him causing trouble at a bank and landing in hot water with the American wizardary society that attempts to keep itself in secret.

After a creature bites the non-magic human Jacob, played by a portly and mystified Dan Fogler, Newt is hounded by the Magical Congress of the United States of America. Or at least he would be if they didn’t have an immediate concern of some unseen magical force ripping up buildings and killing muggles.

Related: Watch: Eddie Redmayne Defends Hufflepuff in Awesome PSA

Due to their focus on another case, it’s up to former magic-quelling enforcer Tina (Katherine Waterston) to bring him in with a little help from her perky and flirty mind reader sister Queenie (Alison Sudol). There’s a bit of a romance that develops between the relatable Jacob and the charming Queenie, but there’s not much time for that as the movie focuses more on Newt’s escaped creatures.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The flighty Newt gets a no-maj involved.

Most of his beasts are of creative design and stay true to that old Potter wonder, amplified by Jacob bringing a human element of awe to witnessing them. A platypus-looking beaver steals every coin he can out of a bank and every piece of jewelry from a department store. A snake-dragon changes shape to occupy an attic. A giant rhino-hippo with a magical horn breaks into a zoo and attempts to find a mate.

Most of these set pieces are amusing, but are more admirable from a technical standpoint as they eat up most of the running time and character development. There’s no time to get to know more about Newt’s history or Jacob’s take on the wizardary world – not when a rhino-hippo is about to mate with Jacob in Central Park.

While Tina attempts to wrangle Newt and his pets, Magical Congress’ Director Graves (Colin Farrell) continues his investigation of the magical killer running loose in the city. The killer creature is known for being an entity of festering magic from a frustrated wizard. At its most timid, it’s a blobby glob of black crud. At its most powerful, it’s a big particle effect storm of muddy gray smoke that rips up buildings. Considering how many fantastic beasts crowd the screen in this picture, it’s very underwhelming that the most dangerous of them all is a bland design, devoid of color and shape.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

An escaped creature raids a jewelry store.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling takes her first stab at screenwriting with Fantastic Beasts and it’s a rocky start to what is planned as a new series of movies. The two plots of Newt’s beasts and tracking down the unseen magical threat don’t have much overlap before they eventually converge. This leads to some clunky revelations that are more convenient plot twists than clever developments. There are plenty of moments when the story intends to surprise with the grand reveal of some dark wizard who is rarely spoke of or the true wizard that’s been killing people in New York. But with a smaller cast and little time to know them in comparison to the Harry Potter series, the twists hardly pack the same punch as who killed Dumbledore or Voldemort’s grand return.

Read more to get the rest of the movie review and watch the trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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