REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Carmen Ejogo, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol

Written by Fiona Underhill

Unfortunately, before you can start talking about this film, there is so much that has to be discussed.

Firstly: Johnny Depp. I wrestled with even going to see this film, knowing that Depp would be in it. I’m pretty disgusted at the attitude of JK Rowling, The Davids – Heyman and Yates and Warner Brothers over Depp and I HATE that he casts a pall over what is probably my favourite film franchise. It is especially frustrating that in a world with polyjuice potions and metamorphmagus and setting the precedent of both Colin Farrell and Jamie Campbell Bower playing versions of the character, Depp could have been easily replaced and still could be. I would love to see the filmmakers finally do the right thing here. It is only because I am SO invested in this world that I went ahead and watched this film anyway. I struggled with this decision, I’m not proud of it and I fully understand people boycotting this film because of Depp. When watching and reviewing, I have tried to focus on the film around him and ignore him as much as possible.

Secondly: Rowling’s revisionism and queer-baiting. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fangirl but I and many of my fellow Potterheads are sick of Rowling coming out and saying “oh, by the way, Dumbledore was gay” or “Hermione could have been black” and trying to get points for diversity which were not apparent in the books or first films. The Cursed Child featured two teenage boys who were clearly in love with one another, but Rowling has rightly come under fire for queer-baiting because she won’t go the whole hog and make it explicit. Now that the Fantastic Beasts films have chosen to focus on young Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald, Rowling should be forced to follow through with the statements she has been teasing. The extent to which The Crimes of Grindelwald does this, I will explore later in this review.

So, onto the film. I’m one of the few people who loved the first Fantastic Beasts film. Yes, it was packed with far too much plot, but the setting of 1920s New York was to die for, it had a really strong cast and stunning costume and production design (I still think about Colin Farrell’s haircut and coat all the time). One of the strongest aspects of the first film was Ezra Miller as Credence (a really compelling role and one which could be seen as a metaphor for being LGBTQ while growing up in a religious home and also for trying to live with and hide a mental illness). Credence’s scenes with Colin Farrell were electric, as Graves/Grindy took advantage of this broken, vulnerable young man who was desperate for love and a sense of belonging and set about grooming and manipulating him. I had been skeptical about Farrell’s casting beforehand, but he blew me away (yet another reason to be so angry about Depp). Samantha Morton was also reliably amazing. The world-building of Fantastic Beasts was so good, with Newt’s suitcase being the highlight. I’m not particularly a fan of Eddie Redmayne (especially when he seems to have filled his performance of Newt with tics left over from playing Stephen Hawking) or Katherine Waterston, but the supporting characters of Jacob and Queenie were amiable enough to provide enough hope for the sequels. I do like that Newt’s character is so sympathetic and caring to those who most of the world view as monsters, freaks or aliens and see them to be feared and controlled. When I heard that Miller would be returning for The Crimes of Grindelwald and that Jude Law would be young Dumbledore, I allowed myself to get excited. Add in Zoe Kravitz and Callum Turner and the cast just got extremely hot. I was just hoping that Depp would not overshadow all of the positive aspects.

The Crimes of Grindelwald moves from New York to Paris and continues the trend of being visually breath-taking. Even in ‘normal’ apartments, the attention to detail in the production design is astounding – there is just so much to take in from every corner of the frame. Even something as simple as Credence and Nagini entering an apartment via a corridor is shot and framed and designed so beautifully – the corridor lined with windows and the apartment hung with lace. The bigger set-pieces, such as the circus scene brought tears to my eyes – the thought of a magic circus, filled with fantastic beasts in the Potter universe is just so tantalising (a bit like the speakeasy nightclub scene in the first Fantastic Beasts). The costumes again are so appealing, with Kravitz’s Leta Lestrange purple outfit and Queenie’s pink shoes being particular highlights. The design of the ministries – in New York, London and Paris each have their own flavour – I never tire of seeing the green ‘London Underground’ style tiles in the British ministry. The use of a green copper statue which comes to life and shows the way into the magical world of Paris is ingenious. Being basked in the Potter universe and submerged in the sumptuous visuals is so enjoyable (for me, anyway), it makes up for a lot.

I have heard a lot of grumbling about the characters in the two Fantastic Beasts films and that no one cares about them. Yes, Redmayne is annoying, but Newt is a worthy central character to hang this franchise on. His morality is very much in keeping with the original series, he is loyal and values his friends (even if others don’t – like Neville, Luna and in the case of Fantastic Beasts; Jacob) just like Harry did. He is a protector of the downtrodden, the outcasts and there is a lot to be said for that. The new additions in this film (ignoring Depp for a moment) were successful. Law absolutely nails Dumbledore (with just the subtlest hint of an Irish lilt, as a nod to Harris) and this film does not shy away from the fact that he is morally grey, manipulative and is definitely that bitch. Leta Lestrange gets an interesting backstory and character arc and is played by the beautiful Kravitz to perfection – her English accent is a treat for the ears. Callum Turner is perfectly cast as Theseus Scamander (his physical resemblance to Redmayne is uncanny), however, the decision to make the younger Turner Newt’s older brother is perhaps unnecessary – the rivalry between the brothers may have actually worked better if Theseus was younger. I look forward to seeing where his character goes in future films. Nagini (Claudia Kim) has been a controversial character (yet another revision by Rowling) but I liked her relationship with Credence and also that her character was perhaps on an unexpected side – again, I look forward to seeing where her arc goes in the future. Nicholas Flamel was a welcome and humorous addition and this provided my favourite cameo – Jessica Williams in one of Flamel’s books. Jacob and Queenie’s characters and relationship certainly go in an unexpected direction in this film, not everyone is going to be a fan of this, but I thought it was interesting and means both characters will have plenty to do in the subsequent films. They are both fully invested and involved in this war and will not just be the light-hearted or comedic sideshow act they were in the first film.

Now we come to the plot and writing, which as with the first film, are going to be the most flawed aspects. I sincerely wish that, as she did with The Cursed Child, Rowling would give the writing reigns over to someone else on this franchise. I have heard the complaint that this film has “no plot”, but the problem is actually the opposite – it has far too much going on, as did the first film. By far the most glaringly negative aspect of The Crimes of Grindelwald for me was that in the second half of the film, the editing goes absolutely haywire as it tries to keep up with the plot. In a world in which characters can already apparate to new places in a split second, the editing makes characters just suddenly appear in new locations with no coherence. However, although plot-holes abound (once you start examining events too closely), there is a lot to enjoy here. The events return to Hogwarts and if you don’t get emotional hearing that music during the establishing shots, you must have a heart of stone. Seeing Dumbledore in Lupin’s role of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, schooling students on patronuses using boggarts is wonderful. The actors who play young Newt and Leta are exceptional – Joshua Shea (young Newt) has obviously studied Redmayne’s mannerisms in detail, because his portrayal is completely convincing. There are several spectacular set-pieces; the afore-mentioned circus scene and a scene at the French ministry involving moving towers of records and black cat protectors were particular highlights. Newt’s basement takes over from his suitcase as a land of magic and wonders – the new beasts in this film are glorious – including a kelpie, a Chinese dragon and an expanded roster of Nifflers. This film did lean into Newt being in love with Tina a lot more than I was expecting, which was not really needed. I found the Newt, Theseus and Leta love-triangle more compelling, although it did echo the Snape, Lily and James one a bit uncomfortably.

As for Dumbledore and Grindelwald – this film did address their (ahem) ‘relationship’ more than I thought it would. There are many strong hints that they were in love – Dumbledore sees his young self with Grindelwald in The Mirror Of Erised, they share a blood bond, they were “closer than brothers” – however, all of this will prove meaningless and empty if it isn’t directly and explicitly addressed in future films. I and many others are getting increasingly angry and frustrated at all of these teases (as I said, they were there in The Cursed Child as well), in this day and age you should be able to show a homosexual relationship in any kind of film – even YA, fantasy, family and/or blockbuster films. These films do not shy away from showing heterosexual crushes amongst teens and using heterosexual love as major motivating factors for characters’ decisions. It is absolutely in keeping with the Potterverse that Dumbledore and Grindelwald loving one another would provide complications in their rivalry and it is good and interesting, but these half-hearted hints are not enough and not acceptable. Do better JK and Warner Brothers.

So, an extremely mixed bag, but for me, the good outweighed the bad. Two hours spent in the Potter universe is always going to be preferable to just about anything else I could be doing. The visuals are overwhelmingly stunning, so many of my personal boxes are ticked by setting Potter in the 1920s, it is always going to be a good time for me. I completely understand some people’s frustrations with these Fantastic Beasts films and I entirely appreciate why many people are done with Rowling. I understand people being against these films because of Depp or because of how sexuality is potentially being mishandled, however, for me, the plot and the characters, for the large part, are successful. I am invested enough in these characters (new and old) to want to see where it’s going. I desperately hope that certain decisions are made (recasting Depp, allowing Dumbledore and Grindelwald to be fully gay) to make me feel not so uncomfortable about defending these films. Rowling has certainly made many decisions that are indefensible and she deserves to be called out on them unreservedly. But I cannot help but be succumbed by the positive aspects eg. making Newt and Credence complex metaphors for much of what is going on in the world right now, which shows what Rowling can get right. And Law’s Dumbledore was SO good, I want to see him again. I just hope that this franchise goes in a positive direction.

FIONA’S RATING:

3-5

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The Hunt For Grindelwald Is On In The Final ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Trailer

“Grindelwald has made a dramatic escape from MACUSA custody. The villainous Grindelwald has been busy gathering more followers to his cause – elevating wizards above all non-magical beings. The only one who might be able to stop him is the wizard he once called his dearest friend, Albus Dumbledore. But Dumbledore will need help from the wizard who had thwarted Grindelwald once before, his former student Newt Scamander. Newt will again be joined by Queenie and Tina Goldstein in the next film, as well as his No-Maj friend, Jacob Kowalski. However, the mission against Grindelwald will ‘test their loyalties’ as the wizarding world becomes more divided and dangerous.”

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Johnny Depp

Release Date: November 16th, 2018

Dumbledore And Newt Head To Paris In First ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Teaser Trailer

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Johnny Depp

Release Date: November 16th, 2018

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Early Man

Year: 2018
Directed by: Nick Park
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall.

Written by Sarah Buddery

Any film from beloved stop-motion animation studio, Aardman, will be met with great anticipation. Their films feel so intrinsically part of British culture, and after previous feature-length efforts such as ‘Chicken Run’, ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, and ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ delighted audiences almost as much as their fabled ‘Wallace & Gromit’ shorts did, the hope was that their latest offering, ‘Early Man’, would do the same.

Boasting an impressive British voice cast, including Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams, and Timothy Spall, to name but a few, the thumbprints of Aardman are all over this film…in more ways than one! It is impossible not to be charmed by this film, even when the story is perhaps a little sub-par compared to some of their previous offerings. Hapless hero Dug (Redmayne) and his quest to save his valley from the tyrannous Lord Nooth (Hiddleston) by defeating his all-star team in a football match, is a classic underdog story and one which is in the safest of hands with Aardman and director Nick Park.

It follows many of the same beats as other sporting underdog stories, but coupling this tried-and-tested movie blueprint with the quintessential laughs and lovingly crafted characters and sets that Aardman are known for, offers something a little different to the similar sporting movies that have come before.

Its football focus opens up a number of opportunities for great visual gags, and wry humour towards British sports fans in particular. It is an odd combination, and one which perhaps doesn’t always work, but there is a certain charm to it, and the characters make it an easy film to like. Towards the end, it starts to drag a little, and when the conclusion seems pretty inevitable in a film such as this, it does make parts of it feel a little tiresome.

However, the laughs come thick and fast, and every time your attention wanes there’ll be a top-notch visual gag or a wonderfully British double-entendre to bring you right back into it. As with all Aardman films, it is the sort of film that demands a second viewing because there are just so many little background touches and jokes that will be easily missed the first time around.

On the whole, ‘Early Man’ is far from Aardman’s best, but is not without merit and its another “fun for all the family” film to add to their impressive canon. It also features the best (and perhaps only) visual gag involving a giant duck that you will see all year. Charming as always, and full of laughs, ‘Early Man’ just about wins this match.

SARAH’S RATING: 7.5/10

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It’s The Dawn Of A New Age In The First ‘Early Man’ Trailer

‘Early Man’ tells the story of courageous caveman hero Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his best friend Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City to save their home. 

Directed By: Nick Park
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie William, Richard Ayoade, Johnny Vegas, Timoth Spall
Realease Date: January 26th 2018

 

Jude Law Cast As Young Albus Dumbledore In Fantastic Beast Sequel

It was only a matter of time before we expected to hear who’d bagged the role, but today it has been announced that Jude Law has officially been cast in the role of young Albus Dumbledore in the sequel to ‘Fantastic Beasts’. 

Dumbledore was mentioned a few times during the first ‘Fantastic Beasts’, mainly in the context of his relationship with the film’s protagonist, Newt Scamander, but many fans had hoped the sequels will explore Dumbledore’s epic duel with former friend turned dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, whose true identity was revealed in the first film. Dumbledore, who at this point in his life is a Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts, argued against Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts and we will hopefully get to see the two interact and see their relationship explored. 

David Yates will be returning to direct the sequel, due to hit cinemas in November 2018. Yates has saidJude Law is a phenomenally talented actor whose work I have long admired, and I’m looking forward to finally having the opportunity to work with him” and continued to say “I know he will brilliantly capture all the unexpected facets of Albus Dumbledore as J.K. Rowling reveals this very different time in his life.

J.K Rowling has previously confirmed there are 5 films for the franchise planned. 

Are you excited to see Law make his debut in the wizarding world as young Dumbledore?

Written by Tom Sheffield

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Teaser

Well, well, well…if it isn’t Mr. Redmayne. Eddie Redmayne is quickly becoming the next big thing, and as much as it pains me to say it, he might just be the perfect fit for entering the Wizarding World. As much as I love this film series, I’m glad this trailer isn’t showing too much, seeing as it is more of an original story, rather than translating a novel, but I don’t know what to expect. There’s random bits of Colin Farrell, and a reported cast list of lots of talented actors who aren’t as well known (including Dan Fogler, Ron Perlman and Ezra Miller). Frankly, I know I am going to see this movie, and probably enjoy it very much, but these trailers aren’t really getting me pumped to go see it, and I think it’s because Harry Potter has been out of the limelight long enough for the “magic” of the universe to be diminished. I hope this is a good film, because any wizard movie from JK Rowling is always welcome to me.

‘Fantastic Beasts’ is set to hit UK cinemas on 18th November 2016

Oscars 2016: The Nominees

The second biggest awards show in the film calendar (after the JumpCut UK Film Awards, of course) is feeling a hell of a lot closer now, after the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced this week. 

Not surprisingly, ‘The Revenant’, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s critically-acclaimed follow-up to his Best Picture win of last year (Birdman), leads the way with 12 nominations. The Academy also pleased film fans everywhere with a surprising 10 nominations for everyone’s favourite action film, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.

As usual, there’s plenty of controversy and public outcry, with scripts from Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight) and Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) snubbed, and an apparent lack of diversity still plaguing the awards show. 

Will Leo finally win the Oscar? Can Iñárritu win back-to-back director gongs? Or will George Miller and his brainchild ‘Mad Max’ steal the show? Here’s all the nominees, plus a few predictions as to who might win on the night (although, if my earlier predictions of the Best Picture nominees are anything to go by, I wouldn’t pay much attention to my guesses).


BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant (our winner)
Room
Spotlight

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (our winner)
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room (our winner)
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (our winner)
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol (our winner)
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

DIRECTING
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road (our winner)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Anomalisa (our winner)
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

COSTUME DESIGN
Carol (our winner)
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Body Team
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

ORIGINAL SONG
“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3” – Youth
“Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

ANIMATED SHORT
Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow (our winner)

SOUND EDITING
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (our winner)
The Martian
The Revenant

FILM EDITING
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant (our winner)
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul (our winner)
Theeb
A War

ORIGINAL SCORE
Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario (our winner)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PRODUCTION DESIGN
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian (our winner)
The Revenant

VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (our winner)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian (our winner)
Room

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina (our winner)
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario (our winner)

Golden Globes 2016 Nominees Announced

The Oscars may be the biggest awards event of the year (after the JumpCut UK Film Awards of course), but The Golden Globes are pretty big too, and can often be used as an indicator of what films might be successful with The Academy. Earlier this week, the nominations for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards were announced, with Todd Haynes’ ‘Carol’ leading the way. You can see all the nominations here, and my attempts to predict the winners.

Best Motion Picture (drama): Carol, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
Prediction: Carol

Best Motion Picture (comedy/musical): The Big Short, Joy, The Martian, Spy, Trainwreck
Prediction: The Martian

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (drama): Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Rooney Mara (Carol), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Prediction: Brie Larson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (drama): Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Will Smith (Concussion)
Prediction: Leonardo DiCapro

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (comedy/musical): Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Melissa McCarthy (Spy), Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Maggie Smith (Lady In The Van), Lily Tomlin (Grandma)
Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (comedy/musical): Christian Bale (The Big Short), Mark Ruffalo (Infinitely Polar Bear), Steve Carell (The Big Short), Matt Damon (The Martian), Al Pacino (Danny Collins)
Prediction: Matt Damon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Jane Fonda (Youth), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Prediction: Alicia Vikander

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Idris Elba (Beasts Of No Nation), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies), Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
Prediction: Michael Shannon

Best Director: Todd Haynes (Carol), Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Ridley Scott (The Martian), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Prediction: Todd Haynes

Best Screenplay: Emma Donoghue (Room), Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer (Spotlight), Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs), Charles Randolph/Adam McKay (The Big Short), Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
Prediction: Aaron Sorkin

Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Anomalisa, Shaun The Sheep Movie, The Peanuts Movie
Prediction: Anomalisa

Best Foreign Language Film: The Club, The Fencer, Mustang, The Brand New Testament, Son Of Saul
Prediction: Son Of Saul

Best Original Score: Carol, The Revenant, Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight
Prediction: The Revenant

What are your thoughts on the nominations and my predictions? Let us know who you think the big winners will be at The Golden Globes in 2016. You don’t have to wait long to find out where the awards end up, with the ceremony taking place on January 10th 2016.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes