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 

The Lost City (2022)

The Lost City is a 2022 American action-adventure film directed by The Nee Brothers and starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Brad Pitt. 

Loretta Sage is a moody middle-aged author who writes romance-adventure novels centered around a fictional hero named Dash McMahon, who is played by cover model Alan Caprison. Her publisher, Beth, insists that she must go on a book tour with Alan as an effort to soften Loretta of her secludedness. 

After a messy start, mostly because of the popularity of Alan’s Dash image, Loretta is met by the outlandish billionaire Abigail Fairfax. Fairfax realizes that Loretta has based her books on actual historic research she did with her dead archaeologist husband. Fairfax has found a lost city on a remote island and is convinced that this is the location of ‘The Crown of Fire,’ a priceless treasure. When Loretta refuses to help decode an ancient map to the treasure, Fairfax who is scared the location will be destroyed by an an active valcano, kidnaps Loretta and takes her to the island. Alan, who is secretly crushing on Loretta, witnesses her kidnapping. He gets Jack Trainer, an ex-Navy SEAL turned CIA operative, to meet him at the island and map out a rescue mission. Beth finds out about Loretta’s abduction and also goes to the island to try to save her. 

This is not just an action-adventure film, it is also a screwball romantic-comedy film. It doesn’t shine like so many classic treasure hunting or comedy movies, but the cast makes it very entertaining. Not once is this film boring. Lots of the humor is cheesy and awkward, but that just makes this movie more enjoyable. You find yourself laughing out loud at many times throughout the production. 

You have an all-star cast, but this is far from their best work, which is probably one of the points of the movie and that does make it more humorous. It does prove that they are versatile actors and can do both serious and comedic roles. The acting is great. The storyline is beyond silly, but that’s the main point of the film. The soundtrack is perfect, except for Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night,” which is about questioning how strong a relationship is, but some people don’t care about song meanings. The scenery of the Domenican Republic is absoutely breathtaking. 

Some scenes can be hard to hard to watch for those with claustrophobia and there is a bit of violence and foul language, but nothing over the top. The plot of of this film is a lot like Romancing the Stone, but worse, in fact, it’s more like a parody of the movie. It won’t be winning any awards Lost City, but it is wildly entertaining. It’s not a movie that I was dying to see, but it is worth a watch for the cast, humor and scenery. 

Overall, a very funny movie and I like the story with a story type plot. The film could’ve been less cheesy and awkward and less time could’ve been spent on trying to decipher the map’s code. In general, this is a very enjoyable film. It’s not awful, but far from being fantastic. It’s a good movie to see on a date or with friends. Would I watch it again? Probably not, unless it came on TV and there was nothing else on. 13+ 3.5/5 

Classic of the Week: Weird Science (1985)

Weird Science is a 1985 American teen science fiction Comedy film written and directed by John Hughes and stars Anthony Michael Hall, Mitchell Smith and Kelly LeBrock. The title is take from a pre-Comics Code Authority 1950s EC Comics magazine of the same name.

The film is about nerds and social outcasts Gary Wallace and Wyatt Donnelly who use a computer program to create the perfect woman, she turns the lives topsy turvy. Both Wyatt and Gary are bullied by senior jocks for drooling aver their cheerleader girlfriends. Turned down and disappointed at their lives and wanting more, Gary tells Wyatt they need shove in popularity in order to get their crushes away from the bullying jocks. Alone for the weekend, Gary is inspired by the 1930 film Frankenstein to create a virtual woman using Wyatt’s computer, making her with everything they can imagine to make the lady of their dreams. After attaching electrodes to a doll and hacking into a government computer system for more power, a power surge constructs Lisa, a gorgeous and smart woman with unlimited magical powers.

Weird Science is not only weird but it is filled with vulgar and tasteless humor. John Hughes wrote and directed a story that seems like the two actors and maybe a high school drama produced. Only teens (boys mostly) will really enjoy this this disaster of a film. It is a film that teen boys will likely want to masturbate to, since there are lady’s undergarments and full frontal nudity shown. Once a teen (boy mainly) reaches adulthood, they are likely to either stop liking the film, forget about it, or only find it to be an okay movie.

This film is not even okay, it is tasteless and seems like a horny teenaged boy wrote the screenplay. It screams drooling adolescent males that have just discovered how to self pleasure and seeing a naked female for the first time. Only a few times did I actually laugh. I really don’t understand the cult status of this movie, as it’s really not very good. It is a tad entertaining, yes only a little bit. It is not one that I can watch over and over again. It is a once or twice and never again type.

From such a great director and the cult classic-ness of this film, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular (judging by the plot), but something at least good. This is John Hughes’s worst film. A piece of trash that should remain in a garbage can or burned. Normally I don’t give such awful reviews for movies, but this one definitely deserves it. There really isn’t much I enjoy about this movie, maybe how gorgeous Kelly LeBrock was and how she was the best actor in the entire production.

Weak, typical bad teen film, unoriginal plot from a renowned director and too much vulgarity. I’ll be sticking to his Brat Pack and other better films from now on. Did he use a computer and turn himself back into a teenager to produce this? Sure seems like it. 14+ 1.5/5

Soul (2020)

Soul is a 2020 American computer animated fantasy comedy drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers. The film stars the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alicia Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove and Angela Bassett. The movie follows the story of middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who tries to reconnect his soul and his body after they are accidentally separated, just before his start as a jazz musician.

This is definitely one of Disney’s darkest and deepest films. The main themes of this movie are death, afterlife, finding purpose and the meaning of life. These themes were executed well, though far from perfect. Too much time is spent in the “Great Beyond” and “Great Before” (AKA Heaven) with the soul creatures, a lot of mature themes, is quite slow much of the time and just really depressing until the end. I like the message of finding purpose, but the rest are heartbreaking and almost sacrilegious.

The animation is phenomenal, as well as the soundtrack that both Jamie Foxx and Trent Reznor composed. I found myself both bored, a bit offended and appalled at times and not really entertained by this film at all. Being a Disney and Pixar fan I was hoping to really like this movie like majority of critics and viewers, but I really didn’t. The story seemed push religion, philosophy and psychology, to the brink at times to offensiveness. With an all-star cast and production companies, you’d expect an outstanding motion picture, though like I said I didn’t care much this one.

I’m all for a black lead character, but this film seemed to do like so many films and do black against white, like when 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), an unborn white girl switches body with Joe (Jamie Foxx), it just feels really uncomfortable and a tad racist by some of the remarks made the two lead characters. There’s lots of adult humor, talk about death, souls and the meaning of life and finding your spark. Young children will not understand this movie at all. Just the fact Joe is killed within the first 10 minutes, is not the message you want to send to kids. Yes, kids do need to learn about death and all, but not like this.

You can do a film about death and the meaning of life, without it being so dark and not going quite so deep into these subjects. Even a family movie can use these themes and not confuse and/or frighten children. I’m sorry but Disney took this one too far. The best scenes to me aren’t in the “Great Beyond,” which the most of the movie’s setting, but when Joe’s playing music. I’m just dumbfounded that this story ever got green lit. Yes, Disney has a percentage of darkness in all it’s films, but it’s usually not for the majority of the movies’ runtime.

I wish the movie had focused more Joe’s own life rather than his adventures with 22. More about his childhood, education and things like that would’ve made it more fascinating. Overall, this film had me scratching my head as how this ever got made and why people love it so much. A movie that is pretty blasphemous and heavy-hitting and very sad. I guess you can call this Disney’s “Anti-Disney” film. Whether you believe in afterlife and heaven or not, it’s blatantly obvious what they were going for here. I’m all for pushing the boundaries and a little controversy, but don’t sell it for kids.

Overall, the animation is spectacular, so is the soundtrack, but I really didn’t enjoy this film much at all, it was lacking far too much and kept me scratching my head. While I normally cry at Disney movies, this one didn’t do that to me, like it did the others I watched it with. Conservative Christians may or may not like this movie. At the same time for older children, it will give grown-ups an opportunity to talk about God, Death, help them find their “spark.” Younger viewers will be bored and confused, as this movie is very complex in the themes and there are two different settings.

Do I hate this film? No. But do I like it? A little bit. Maybe Pixar’s next film will be more exciting and not offensive. Nice try guys, but you struck out on this one. 10+ 2.5/5