70 Years Later: “Singin’ in the Rain” — Keith & the Movies

(CLICK HERE to read my full piece in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) In their heyday studio musicals brought with them an entirely new philosophy of moviemaking as colorful and vibrant music-driven set-pieces often trumped more dramatic storytelling. While these light and frothy concoctions did little to showcase what the burgeoning medium would soon become, they did […]

70 Years Later: “Singin’ in the Rain” — Keith & the Movies

Elvis (2022)

Elvis is a 2022 epic biographical musical drama film directed by Baz Luhrmann. It stars Austin Butler as Elvis Presley with Tom Hanks, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Olivia DeJonge, Luke Bracey, Natash Bassett, David Wenham, Keven Harrison Jr. and Kodi Smit-McPhee in supporting roles. 

In 1997, Elvis Presley’s manager, Coloner Tom Parker is on his deathbed looking back at how he met the future King of Rock and Roll. In the early days Elvis has bettled a poverty-stricken childhood with his parents Vernon and Gladys. He finds music to be his redemption, even though he his picked on by his friends because of his love for African American music od Memhis’ Beale Street. Parker is a carnival peddler who calls himself a modern day PT Barnum. 

Although Parker is already managing country singer Hank Snow, as soon as he hears Elivs on the radio, he is impressed by what he hears and has dreams of becoming his manager. He eventually meets and coaxes Elvis to let him take control of his career. However, not all of the public is impressed with the young performer. Many parents believe that his ruining their children and racist politicians also attack him. After a violent incident at a concert, Elvis is faced with a possible jail term. However, Parker persuades the government to draft Elvis into the US Army as a way of avoiding anymore legal compications. During his time in the service, Elvis suffers the sadness of his mother dreaking herself to death. 

While stationed in Germany, Elvis meets Priscilla Beaulieu, and upon his discharge, he resumes his career making concert tours and movies while Parker’s control of his life grows stronger. After Parker locks him into a long contract at a Las Vegas hotel, Elvis starts to grow tired of his deceitful manager and tried to fire him, only to be sued by Parker for a substantial amount that will leave him broke and he will lose everything from his house, to his cars, to all his Elvis merchandise. A brutal argument develops, where Elvis has to admit that he has no choice but to keep Parker, although they grow apart and rarely see each other afterwards. Elvis’ life eventually goes downhill as Priscilla takes their daughter Lisa Marie and leaves him over his prescription drug addiction, which grows even more after she is gone. 

When I saw a preview for this film for the first time. I couldn’t see Austin Butler as Presley, but after watching it, I do see it one-hundred percent. The fact that he acts, sings, dances and plays the music is amazing. He brings the King of Rock and Roll back to life and you learn so much about Elvis’ life. The Elvis voice, singing, music playing and dancing done by Butler is spot on. He does the bouncy voice, the shaking and gyrating so perfectly, you forget you’re watching an actor and you feel like you have stepped back in time with the real Elvis. 

Oliva DeJonge does an outstanding job as Priscilla Presley. She looks the part perfectly and you’d never believe she’s actually Australian. Tom Hanks does a great job as Colone Tom Parker, though his accent does get pretty annoying and makes you wonder if Parker actually talked like that (if you didn’t already know). Helen Thomson does a great job too as Elvis’ mother Gladys Presley. Richard Roxburgh does a fine job as his father Vernon Presley. Luke Bracey is really good as talent manager Jerry Schilling. 

The story, acting, costumes and makeup and scenery and props are all spot on, period perfect. This film introduces young(er) generations to Elvis’ music and other music of the 50’s to 70’s. You learn so many things about the life of Mr. Presley, his childhood, his music, his relationships, fandom and addictions. The movie is really long at a nearly three hour runtime and could have been quite a bit shorter, as some scenes are really drawn out. You do wonder if the film is ever going to end, but other than that, it is extremely entertaining and makes you love Elvis’ music, either for the first time or all over again. 

This movie is as shocking as it is entertaining and Butler, DeJonge and Hanks all deserve awards for roles. Fantastic film from begining to end! 18+ 4.5/5 

Adam Sandler has the #1 movie on Netflix and critics are raving about it — BGR

At this point, it’s no exaggeration to note that Adam Sandler — the star of Netflix’s new original movie Hustle — basically has whatever the Hollywood equivalent is of the Midas touch. The pattern is quite familiar by now. He releases a new Netflix movie, for example, and it shoots right to the top of […]

Adam Sandler has the #1 movie on Netflix and critics are raving about it — BGR

tick…tick…Boom! (2021)

Tick…Tick…Boom! is a 2021 American biographical musical drama film directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and is written by Steven Levenson, based on the stage musical of the same name by Jonathan Larson, it is a semi-autobiographical film story about Larson writing a musical to try to enter into the theater industry. The film stars Andrew Garfield as Larson, alongside Vanessa Hudgens, Robin de Jesus, Alexandra Shipp, Joshua Henry and Judith Light. 

In 1992, Jonathan Larson performs his rock monologue Tick…Tick…Boom! at New Theater Workshop with his friends Roger and Karessa. He describes an annoying ticking sound he hears in his head and begins to tell his story. An unseen narrator explains the films is the true story of Larson, “except the parts Jonathan made up.” 

In early 1990, Jonathan balances work at the Moondance Diner in SoHo with getting ready for a workshop for his musical Superbia. He feels pressure to be successful before he turns 30: with his birthday just over a week away, he sees the workshop as his last chance. He has a party at his apartment with his friends, including his former roommate Michael and his girlfriend Susan. Susan tells Jonathan about a teaching job at Jacob’s Pillow and asks him to come. Michael, who recently left theater for a mediocre advertising career, sees Susan’s offer as a chance for Jonathan to consider a serious future and invites him to join an advertising focus group at his company. Jonathan’s producer asks him to write a new song for Superbia because the story needs it. This depresses him, as his idol Stephen Sondheim told him the same thing at a composong workshop several years prior, but can’t come up with anything and he only has a week. 

Jonathan finds himself unable to concentrate on getting ready for the workshop as he thinks about Michael and Susan’s offers. His worries grow when he learns from Carolyn (friend from the diner) that Freddy (also works at the diner), is HIV-positive, has been hospitalized. Susan angry at Jonathan’s hesitance to make a decision and obsession with his career, breaks up with him. 

To get money for a full band for the workshop, Jonathan attends the advertising focus group. However, he purposefully ruins it, making Michael mad, who feels Jonathan is wasting the chance to have a life with the person he loves on an unstable theater career, something Michael can’t do as a homosexual man in the AIDS crisis. After getting a promising call from his agent Rosa, Jonathan tries to write the new song, but his power get cut off. He goes to a swimming pool to rant his frustrations over his personal life and the workshop, before coming up with the new song at last. At the workshop are friends, family, industry professionals, including Sondheim. Jonathan recieves praise but no offers to produce Superbia. Discouraged, Jonathan begs Michael for a job in his company, but Michael changes his mind after seeing the workshop and urges Jonathan to continue with his theater career, revealing that he is HIV-positive. 

Though I haven’t seen Tick…Tick..Boom! on stage, I did enjoy Larson’s Rent on stage and the film version, though it was not as good as the stage production. Rent is a wonderful story filled with wonderful music. I thought it was terribly cheesy and depressing at first, but once I saw both the movie one and the stage one, I fell in love with it and I now wish this musical could continue on stages forever just like other greats like Chicago and Fiddler on the Roof. 

Andrew Garfield does an outstanding job as Jonathan Larson, giving him a perfect New York accent, as well as acting, singing and playing the piano and keyboard himself. Most of the songs are super cheesy, but that’s musical theater for you and Garfield performs the songs with the perfect cheese factor with song and in several scenes with dancing too. Most of the songs, besides being corny, don’t sound like a mature adult wrote them and since the movie is filled with those kind of songs, it does get a bit annoying and makes the film almost unenjoyable at times. 

Alexandra Shipp is great as Susan Wilson, based on the real life Janet Charleston, Jonathan’s girlfriend, a former dancer. Robin de Jesus does a fine job as Michael, Jonathan’s best friend, based on the real life Matt O’ Grady, who left theater to work in advertising. Vanessa Hudgens is also great as Karessa Johnson, although she has very little dialogue and mostly sings and dances. Joshua Henry is very good as Roger Bart, Jonathan’s friend and performer in Superbia and Tick…Tick…Boom! Bradley Whitford is superb as Stephen Sondheim. 

This film does a splendid job telling of Larson’s journey to become the next great musical theater sensation, even though it is a bit of a cheeseball at times. The songs, choreography, and acting are all eqaully fantastic. This is drama filled, song filled movie that will have you tapping your feet at times, getting angry at moments and also crying at times too. It teaches you to never give up on your dreams and that the great things you do will live on forever after you die. 

There is song and dance, drama, heart and passion in this film that make it such an entertaining watch. There is fighting, sex, rejection, drinking, smoking, disease, cursing and selfishness that make this movie inappropriate for really young viewers. Teenagers and adults will enjoy this one much more. Tremendous film!  13+ 4/5 

Men (2022)

Men is a 2022 folk horror film written and directed by Alex Garland. It follows the a widowed young woman (Jessie Buckley) who goes on holiday alone in the English countryside but gets disturbed by the men in the town (all played by Rory Kinnear). 

Harper Marlowe decides to spend a holiday in the small village of Cotson following the suicide of her husband James. In flashbacks, it is revealed that Harper is fed up with James’ abuse and emotional outbursts, intending to divorce him, leading him to threaten her with killing himself and hitting her when she continues to reject him. Harper locks James out of their flat and sees him him fall from upstairs balcony to his death. 

Sometime later, Harper pulls up to the house she is renting, where she is met by its owner, Geoffrey. She goes for a walk in the woods and finds an old railroad tunnel. A mysterious figure appears at the end of the tunnel and start chasing her, but she gets away. Coming upon an open field, she takes a picture of it on her phone, capturing a naked man standing near an abandoned building. Later, as Harper is video chatting with her friend Riley, she notices the naked man in her yard, having followed her from the tunnel. She calls the police and he is arrested. She goes to a church and meets a young boy with a female cartoon character like mask and a vcar, who both  bear similarity to Geoffrey and the vicar tries to rationalize James hitting her.  At a pub in town, one of the policemen (who also looks like Geoffrey) tells Harper that the naked man was released as they had no legal evidence to keep him detained. 

Harper tells Riley this and she agrees to come in the morning, but as Harper tries to send her the address her service is interrupted. She sees the policeman in her yard, but as her lights flicker, he changes into the young boy, who chases her into the house. She defends herself with a knife and a window breaks in the kitchen. Geoffrey arrives and finds that the window breaking is do to a crow flying into it, which he then kills by breaking its neck. As Geoffrey goes into the yard, he is changed into the naked man, who chases her again. When he tries to reach her through the mail slot, she stabs him, but he manages to pull his arm free, the stuck knife ripping his arm in two. Both the boy and the vicar appear in the house, both of them correspondingly injured. The vicar tries to rape Harper but she stabs him and runs out of the house. 

A24 is known for extremely bizarre, disturbing and quite confusing movies. This film starts out really good, but takes a major nose dive, like much of A24’s motion pictures. It just gets stranger and stranger, stupider and stupider as the fillm reaches the climax and then just ends abruptly. The trailer for this movie makes it look like a great bizarre thriller, which, great it is not, bizarre it is and thrilling, pretty thrilling in lots of scenes. Most of the scenes towards the end, will have you saying “WTF?!” Because they are so weird, just plain stupid, they make no sense whatsoever. 

Alex Garland’s Ex Machina was an outstanding film, so I was expecting something just as good and this was a HUGE disappointment. I don’t understand how anyone could find this film even remotely good, as I found it just plain bad. It starts out good, but very slow and rather disturbing, being the scenes of domestic violence and suicide . The acting is great, the scenery is beauty, as is the music, but story is too strange and unsettling and at times, confusing. 

One male villain covered in blood, giving birth to another one and then that one and so on until Harper’s dead ex-husband is reborn is about as weird as it gets for a movie. It’s never explained how Geoffrey could turn into all those male characters and how he knew about her situation when she didn’t rent the house under her married name and he had never even met her before. The director has you guessing about so many things that never get answered and I’m sure that’s what he was going for, but that made it hard for me to watch. 

Being a big fan of horror and art films and reading the rave reviews, I was really hoping to like this movie, but it was nothing more another typical A24 production. Now I don’t hate all of their films, I really like Ladybird and Moonlight, but it just seems that most of the motion pictures they put out are like Men and Herediary. Don’t waste your time with this stupid, disgusting, mess of a movie. 18+ 1.5/5 

Greatest Science Fiction Films of All Time

  1. Barbarella – 1968
  2. Nine Days – 2020
  3. Moon – 2009
  4. Westworld – 1073
  5. Silent Running – 1972
  6. Snowpiercer – 2013
  7. The Hidden – 1987
  8. Galaxy Quest – 1999
  9. Sleeper – 1973
  10. Alphaville – 1965
  11. The Vast of Night – 2019
  12. Independence Day – 1996
  13. Dark City – 1998
  14. A.I. Artificial Intelligence – 2001
  15. Ghost in the Shell – 1995
  16. Tron – 1982
  17. Looper – 2012
  18. The Man Who Fell to Earth – 1976
  19. Edge of Tomorrow – 2104
  20. Intersteller – 2014
  21. Minority Report – 2002
  22. Paprika – 2006
  23. Annihilation – 2018
  24. Men in Black – 1997
  25. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – 1984
  26. Arrival – 2016
  27. Planet of the Apes – 1968
  28. World on a Wire – 1973
  29. Seconds – 1966
  30. Forbidden Planet – 1956
  31. Total Recall – 1990
  32. The Thing – 1982
  33. Je t’aime, Je t’aime – 1968
  34. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial – 1982
  35. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004
  36. The Terminator – 1984
  37. Jurassic Park – 1993
  38. Wall – E – 2008
  39. Back to the Future – 1985-1990
  40. Robocop – 1987
  41. La Jetee – 1962
  42. Under the Skin – 2013
  43. Aliens – 1986
  44. Stalker – 1979
  45. The Matrix – 1999
  46. Terminator 2: Judgement Day – 1991
  47. Metropolis – 1927
  48. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – 1977
  49. Akira – 1988
  50. Fantastic Planet – 1973
  51. The Fifth Element – 1997
  52. Predator – 1987
  53. Blade Runner 2049 – 2017
  54. The Face of Another – 1966
  55. Avatar – 2009
  56. THX 1138 – 1971
  57. Re-Animator – 1985
  58. The Iron Giant – 1999
  59. Blade Runner – 1982
  60. Gravity – 2013
  61. The Bride of Frankenstein – 1935
  62. Frankenstein – 1931
  63. Ex Machina – 2014
  64. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – 1980
  65. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 2015
  66. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – 1977
  67. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 2017
  68. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 2016
  69. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – 1983
  70. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – 2005
  71. Star Trek III: THe Search For Spock – 1984
  72. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – 1986
  73. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – 1991
  74. Star Trk into the Darkness – 2013
  75. Star Trek Beyond – 2016
  76. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan – 1982
  77. Star Trek: First Contact – 1996
  78. Star Trek – 2009
  79. Them! – 1954
  80. The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951
  81. Inception – 2010
  82. Solaris – 1972
  83. Invasion of the Body Snatchers – 1956
  84. Children of Men – 2006
  85. The Last Starfighter – 1984
  86. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – 1989
  87. The Martian – 2015
  88. Melancholia – 2011
  89. Starman – 1984
  90. War of the Worlds – 2005
  91. The Andromeda Strain – 1971
  92. The Abyss – 1989
  93. Sunshine – 2007
  94. District 9 – 2009
  95. Invastion of the Body Snatchers – 1978
  96. 2001: A Space Odyssey – 1968
  97. Mad Max – 1979
  98. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior – 1981
  99. Metropolis – 2001
  100. Chronicle – 2012

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a 2022 American comedy film directed by Tom Gormican. The film stars Nicolas Cage as a fictionalized version of himself. It also stars Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris and Tiffany Haddish. 

Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage is struggling with his career after being passed over for several big movie roles and is constantly annoyed by “Nicky” who appears as his youunger and more successful self. His relationship with his ex-wife Olivia and daughter Addy is also ruined by years of emotional neglect. Following a humiliating event at Addy’s sixteenth birthday party and losing another big film role, Cage plans to retire from acting. He decides to accept a hazy offer of $1 million from his agent Richard Fink that involves going to Majorca to meet billionaire womanizer Javi Gutierrez and to be the guest of honor at his birthday. 

Upon meeting Javi, Cage is at first irritated by his neediness and insistance that they create an improv type movie based on a cript he wrote, but quickly inspired by Javi’s determination, and the two bond over their shared love the same movies. Shortly after, Cage is confronted by CIA agents Vivian and Martin. They suspect that Javi, who they claim made is fortune through dealing weapons, is behind the kidnapping of Maria the daughter of an anti-crime politician, with the hope that he will drop out of the upcoming election. Despite his insistance, Cage decides to help the CIA with the case. 

After successfully rigging the cameras on Javi’s compound, Cage goes to a party where he announces his work with Javi on a new movie, an excuse to stay on the compound long enough to find Maria. After a disaster involving LSD, Cage discovers that Javi has a shrine room dedicated to all his movies, including a wax figure of his character Caster Troy from his movie, Face/Off, complete with identical golden guns. Cage finds it hard to work with Javi, but Vivian convinces him to work the kidnapping into their screenplay so the he could actually reveal where Maria is. 

Cage explains tells his new idea to Javi, who believes that Cage is artistically bankrupt, and like has problems he needs to work out. Javi bring Olivia and Addy to his villa from Los Angeles; they are scared and angry over what is happening. Cage tries to make amends with them, but they reject his words and accuse of prioritizining his his film career over his family. Javi sneaks away and sees his cousin Lucas, who is revealed to be the real weapons dealer and the one who kidnapped Maria. Lucas warns him that Cage is working with the CIA and threatens him to kill cage, or else Lucas will kill Javi. Cage begins to rethink his friendship with Javi. 

After a stand-off between Javi and Cage, where neither can bering themselves to kill each other, Lucas sends men to after both of them, and the run back to the house and dscover that Addy has been kidnapped. 

This film has laugh out loud moments throughout. There are lots of references to other Cage films, which make this pretty enjoyable, but the one downfall is all the cheesiness and unoriginl part of the plot with the kidnapping and weapon dealing, which has been done to death. The entire thing about Cage, playing himself is just plain silly, but he does a very good job at it, making the film enjoyable, but still not great. Nothing against the acting, which is very good from all the main stars, but I couldn’t get past the terrible plot, also the beautiful scenery of Majorca, only helped much either. Being a Cage fan, I wanted to like this film more, but it was so hard to get past the negative aspects and I only enjoyed the film some, but not a lot. 

At a run time of nearly two hours, I could hardly wait for the film to end by about the second half it. It jumps from funny and cheesy scenes to action secens so much and so fast, it’s not as entertaining as it should be. It’s definitely not Nicolas Cage’s best or worst work and definitely won’t kill his career given the rave reviews and upcoming projects his has. This film has the Cage his fans love, which make it an pretty entertaining film, but that still doesn’t make it great. 

Yes this film is laugh out lod funny at times, but it is is also overly corny. It does however have a few heartwarming scenes, that make it a good bit better. This is not a movie that has to be seen in theater, in fact, it has the feel of a straight to streaming type. Would I watch it again? Maybe if it came on TV and there was nothing else on. Sorry plot, somewhat funny, but mostly dowdy humor and lots of action. 18+ 3/5 

Greatest Fantasy Films of All Time

  1. Highlander – 1986
  2. Labyrinth – 1986
  3. Nanny McPhee – 2005
  4. The City of Lost Children – 1995
  5. Big Fish – 2003
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – 2005
  7. Stardust – 2007
  8. The Spiderwick Chronicles – 2008
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – 2001
  10. Jason and the Argonauts – 1963
  11. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – 1971
  12. Life of Pi – 2012
  13. The BFG – 2016
  14. Matilda – 1996
  15. Pinocchio – 2019
  16. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec – 2010
  17. Where the Wild Things Are – 2009
  18. The Dark Crystal – 1982
  19. Nanny McPhee Returns – 2010
  20. Sleepy Hollow – 1999
  21. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 2013
  22. Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – 2003
  23. Edward Scissorhands – 1990
  24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 2009
  25. The Witches – 1990
  26. The Adventures of Baron Muchausen – 1988
  27. The Spirit of the Beehive – 1973
  28. Beauty and the Beast – 2017
  29. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 2004
  30. Enchanted – 2007
  31. Mary Poppins – 1964
  32. Pete’s Dragon – 2016
  33. The Princess Bride – 1987
  34. A Monster Calls – 2016
  35. The Wizard of Oz – 1939
  36. Ugetsu – 1953
  37. Mary Poppins Returns – 2018
  38. The Thief of Bagdad – 1924
  39. Orpheus – 1950
  40. Blancanieves – 2012
  41. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 2016
  42. Time Bandits – 1981
  43. Bridge to Tarabithia – 2007
  44. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 2002
  45. Tale of Tales – 2015
  46. The Holy Mountain – 1973
  47. Excalibur – 1981
  48. The Neverending Story – 1984
  49. The Hobbit: An Expected Journey – 2012
  50. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 2007
  51. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I – 2010
  52. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 2005
  53. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – 2011
  54. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – 2001
  55. Who Framed Roger Rabbit – 1988
  56. The Thief of Bagdad – 1940
  57. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – 2003
  58. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – 2002
  59. Pan’s Labyrinth – 2006
  60. Enter the Void – 2009
  61. A Ghost Story – 2017
  62. The Purple Rose of Cairo – 1985
  63. Coraline – 2009
  64. Jumanji – 1995
  65. Aladdin – 1992
  66. Princess Mononoke – 1997
  67. King Kong – 2005
  68. Big – 1988
  69. The Red Shoes – 1948
  70. My Neighbor Totoro – 1988
  71. Spirited Away – 2001
  72. Fantasia – 1940
  73. The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993
  74. Beauty and the Beast – 1991
  75. Hugo – 2011
  76. Wings of Desire – 1987
  77. Shrek – 2001
  78. Toy Story – 1995-2019
  79. Alice in Wonderland – 1951
  80. The Taste of Tea – 2004
  81. It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946
  82. Orlando – 1996
  83. Pinocchio – 1940
  84. King Kong – 1933
  85. The Exterminating Angel – 1962
  86. The Secret of Kells – 2009
  87. Kwaidan – 1964
  88. Russian Ark – 2002
  89. Frozen – 2013
  90. Coco – 2017
  91. Juliet of the Spirits – 1965
  92. Blood of a Poet – 1932
  93. Field of Dreams – 1989
  94. Celine and Julie Go Boating – 1974
  95. Tigers Are Not Afraid – 2017
  96. Cabin in the Sky – 1943
  97. Howl’s Moving Castle – 2004
  98. Luca – 2021
  99. The Little Mermaid – 1989
  100. Beetlejuice – 1988

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a 2022 fantasy film directed by David Yates from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves. It is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts film series, and the eleventh overall in the Wizarding World franchise. It stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston and Mads Mikkelsen. Set several years after the events of its predecessor, the film follows Albus Dumbledore giving Newt Scamander and allies a mission that transports them to Dark Wizard Gillert Grindelwald’s army. 

In Bhutan 1932, Newt Scamander helps a Qilin – a magical creature that can see into one’s soul and future – give birth. Gellert Grindelwald’s acolytes , led by Credence Barebone, attack and kill the mother, and kidnap the newborn. Grindelwald subsequently kills the creature to control its ability of precognition. However, unknown to them, the Qilin has given birth to twins, the younger of which Newt is able to save. 

Unable to fight against Grindelwald, due to a blood pact, Albus Dumbledore enlists Newt, his brother Theseus, Ilvermony Charms professor Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, Senegalese-French wizard Yusuf Kama and American No-Maj Jacob Kowalkski to defeat Grindelwald’s plan for world domination. Yusuf is marked as a spy in Grindelwald’s inner circle while the rest of the grouo is sent to Berlin, Germany. There, they witness Grindelwald being acquitted of crimes by the International Confederation of Wizards (ICW) and running for the office of Supreme Mugwump. The ICW believes arresting Grindelwald could get him more support, but beating him in an authorized election will lose him support. 

Grindelwald’s acolytes; who have gone against the German Ministry of Magic, arrest Theseus and plan to assassinate one of Grindelwald’s enemies, the Brazilian candidate, Vicencia Santos. Dumbledore gives Newt and Lally their next assignments; to save Theseus and and ruin the assassination. While Newt rescues his brother from the secret German wizard jail,  Lally and Jacob foil the assassination attempt ; however Jacob is eventually framed and for attempting to kill Grindelwald, and he and Lally barely escape, giving Grindelwa;d an incentive to turn the wizarding world against the Muggle world. Meanwhile, Grindelwald has sent Credence to kill Dumbledore. Dumbledore quickly defeats Credence and he is revealed to be the illegitimate son of Dumbledore’s younger brother, Aberforth Dumbledore. Learning who his father is and being forgiven by Albus, Credence start to question his loyalty to Grindelwald. 

The leader of the wizarding world gather in Bhutan, where the new Supreme Mugwump is to be elected by the ancient tradition of being found worthy by a Qilin. who bows to those pure of heart. 

Out of the three Fantastic Beasts films so far, this one is better than the second one, but not as good as the first one. It has the magic of the wizarding world Potter fans love, but we learn only a little bit about Dumbledore’s secrets and more time is spent on trying to defeat Grindelwald and save the Qilins. We do learn of Albus’s brother Aberforth, Credence being Aberforth’s son, and Albus’s sexuality, which has been speculated since the early stories in the Harry Potter series, but once all that’s revealed, it’s right back to the Grindelwald Show. 

Changing Mads Mikkelsen as Grindelwald from Johnny Depp’s portrayal, was actually a good thing, not just for the deep water he is in right now, but also because Mads puts a less bizarre and more sinister spin on the character, unlike Depp. Johnny Depp will always be a great actor regardless, but Mads fits Rowling’s characteristics of the character far better. Depp is better at weird, but Mikkelsen is better at being frightening. 

Some parts of this film are slow, some are disturbing , some are shocking and some are thrilling. There a several laugh out moments and some very heartwarming moments too. The creatures in Newt’s suitcase are both fascinating and adorable, making you say in your head, “I want one” to them all. Newt’s love and knowledge of the creatures is both sweet and captivating. His quirks can be seen as both strange and cute. Some attribute his quirks to having high functioning autism, Asperger’s syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder. J.K. Rowling has stated she created Newt as neurodivergent and Eddie Redmayne has said he thinks Newt has Aspergers, but since the movies take place in the 20’s and 30’s, there was no diagnosis. But ASD or not, his behavioral habits just make him more likable. 

This film does tie-in with Harry Potter more than the other two Fantastic Beasts, being it about Dumbledore, but that doesn’t make it any more entertaining than the others. This one is far more slow and too much time is spent on Grindelwald and the Qilin. There is a big chunk of time spent on Dumbledore, but it takes a while before you learn his secrets. Still, not a completely boring film, just not as attention grabbing as the other two or any of the Harry Potter movies. With a run time just over two hours, it seemed this one was crammed with too many characters, too much plot and not enough magic. 

This film is supposed to be about Dumbledore and though, a good percentage of it is, the rest seems to be more about rigging Grindelwald’s election and the rare creatures. Still the movie does have some very cute and hilarious scenes that make this one enjoyable, but not nearly as entertaining as its predecessors. 

Some of the scenes seemed rushed, others seem too slow, but much of the movie doesn’t seem to flow. Many times the film jumps from one setting to another, never spending enough time in any place, making the story a bit confusing. The acting is superb, as well as the costuming, music and scenery, just like the other two, but at least those had more action and less jumping around. This is still a powerful, fantasy filled film that Potter fans will likely enjoy regardless. BTW: Dumbledore’s gay! 17+ 3/5 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is a 2018 fantasy film directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling. It is the second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series, and the tenth overall in the Wizarding World franchise and is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016). It stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Tuner, Claudia Kim, Kevin Guthrie, Jude Law and Johnny Depp. Set in 1927, it follows Newt Scamander and Albus Dumbledore as they try to take down the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald while facing new threats in an even more divided wizarding world. 

In 1927, the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA) moves the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald to Europe to stand trial, but he escapes. Three months later, London, Newt Scamander, visits the Ministry of Magic to appeal his international travel ban, and runs into Leta Lestrange, his Hogwarts classmate and the fiance of his older brother Theseus. The Ministry agrees to accept Newt’s request if he helps Theseus find Credence Barebone, who is still alive in Paris, but Newt declines after learning he must work with the cruel bounty hunter Gunnar Grimmson. Albus Dumbledore asks Newt to track down Credence, believing that he is Leta’s long-lost half-brother, Corvus Lestrange V. 

Newt is visited by American friends Queenie Goldstein and Jacob Kowalkski, a Muggle, who has regained his memories that were erased the previous year. Newt is disappointed to learn that Queenie’s sister Tina Goldstein is seeing someone after mistakenly believing Newt and Leta were engaged. After Newts lifts the spell, Jacob refuses to marry Queenie, fearing the consequences she would face. Queenie leaves to find Tina, who is looking for Tina in Paris, followed by Newt and Jacob. 

In Paris Credence escapes the Circus Arcanus with captive entertainer Nagini, a Maledictus cursed to turn into a snake permanently. Searching for Credence’s birth mother, the find half-elf servant Irma Dugard, who brought him to America for adoption. Grimmson revealed to be a follower of Grindelwald, kills Irma before she can tell who sent her. Tina meets Yusuf Kama, who is also looking for Credence. Newt and Jacob follow Yusuf to Tina, only to find her being held hostage. Yusuf imprisons them, telling them that he made an Unbreakable Vow to kill his half-brother, whom he believes is Credence. Unable to find Tina, an upset Queenie is brought to Grindelwald; knowing her abilities, he lets her leave while brainwashing her into joining him through her desire to marry Jacob. 

Newt and Tina invade the Ministry of Magic for documents to confirm Credence’s identity, but are found by Leta and Theseus. Tina and Newt make up after he explains that he was never engaged to Leta. Their search leads them to the Lestrange family tomb, where they find Yusuf confronting Credence and Nagini. Yusuf reveals that he is carrying out his father Mustafa’s wish to seek revenge towards his mother Laurena, who was kidnapped by Corvus Lestrange IV, using the Imperial Curse and died after giving birth to Leta. 

The group follow a crowd to a rally for Grindelwald’s followers, where Queenie is attending and Jacob is looking for her. Grindelwald shows a vision of a future global war, and rallies against laws that prohibit them preventing such a tragedy.

This film has the magic that Potter fans enjoy, but the story isn’t nearly as strong as the other ones. The movie has plenty of plot twists, action and fantasy, but feels a lot like one character chasing after another. It is entertaining, but it seems like there is more time spent battling between good and evil than telling the actual story. The special effects, costumes, scenery and music are great. The acting is superb, but the story goes from one thing to the next far too fast, and there isn’t much about the background of the characters. It seems there is more rescuing of other characters than just slowing down and telling of the story. 

At times the film seems rushed and some scenes are rather slow, but it is not boring by any means. It is still action packed, filled with thrills, fantasy, superb acting and a fantastic storyline. There are humorous, romantic, shocking and heartwarming scenes as well. Is it as good as the first Fantastic Beasts film or any in the Harry Potter series? No, but it’s not terrible. Perhaps if this movie relied less on its bizarre and wonderful creatures and more on giving audiences the feeling of being transported, it would have been a nearly perfect motion picture like its predecessors. 

You have many of the same beloved and hated characters from the first Fantastic Beasts film, but they don’t really change much it seems in this one. Newt is still a smart, quirky magizoologist, Jacob is still in love with Queenie and Grindelwald is still the second of the  “Most Dangerous Wizards of All Time.” 

All the special effects, action and period costuming and scenery, doesn’t make this film outstanding, but wildly entertaining it still is. 13+ 3.5/5