Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Continues the Magic

 

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Hi All, I’m the Tall One geeking out with my BFF

Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts….. Excuse me, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opens up with a familiar tune and then an explosion! Many of its audience returning to learn more about the Harry Potter world we’ve all loved and have adored for more than a decade now, some members might even be new to the magical world, but regardless of your familiarity with the Harry Potter world, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Fantastic Beasts delivers on fun, magic, and the same childish wonderment that the very first film, The Sorcerer’s Stone, instilled in both youths and adults. What is extra-wonderful about the film and this new extension of the beautiful universe that JK Rowling delivered to us nearly 20 years ago, is that it takes place long before Harry and his Parents. It begins in 1926 with a demolished building in New York, New York. Yes, that’s right, if you didn’t know, this first installment in the extended universe (which rumors claim their will be 5 story-lines through 19 years) takes place in America. And it is a breath of fresh air.

It is an easy claim, that there are Harry Potter lovers throughout the world, and to get a glimpse (glimpse being a full-length feature film!) of the magical universe in different parts of the world is well-deserved.

eddie

Our lead Newt

After the explosion we move into the classic moving headlines/picture format of what is going on in the American Wizarding World. Preparing us for the new information about the different culture that we (the audience) have been salivating for. After the opening credits, we land on Newt Scamander, a name many will recognize as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book that every wizarding family should own. A worthy endorsement by Albus Dumbledore.

Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is our first lead protagonist that came from House Hufflepuff (badger house), he is a kind soul who just wants to save all magical creatures out there, and “politely educate” his fellow magic folk, as he claims while explaining his reason for traveling state-side. Yes, that means that these magnificent, magical creatures are not just confined to the UK, and this also means that many (absolutely breath-taking) creatures are indigenous to certain areas, much like our no-maj animals. Oh what is “no-maj” you ask? It’s is American slang for non-magic folk. So its our term for muggles!

Fantastic Beasts

Some of the Fantastic Beasts, Nibbler is my favorite (second from the left). He’s adorable and he steals shiny things.

Eventually a few of Newt’s beautiful, scary, and chalk full of personality, beasts escape his magical suitcase. An American witch, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), tries to detain Newt for not registering his wand when he came through what I guess is customs in the ’20s? Anyways, they become these kind-of awkward partners in crime, but only after the poor no-maj, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), has a nasty bump in with one of Newt’s many creatures. Newt and Tina only eventually become allies because of Jacob’s innocent, yet beautiful mind set that Tina’s Legilimency (mind-reading) sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) feels towards Jacob. Jacob takes the role of audience in this film, learning about all of this new wonder and expressing it, he eventually becomes the glue between the sisters and rule-breaking Newt.

Eventually, the president of MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America), Seraphina Picquery is lead to believe that the chaos happening in New York is Newt’s fault (even though they were having problems before HE EVEN GOT THERE). Trying to keep this review spoiler free, we will leave the remainder of the plot for you to find out yourself. But know that there is more than just one plot line, and that there are many twists and turns along this amazing ride.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them provides another sweet, and succulent extension of JK Rowling’s incredible mind and Wizarding World. The story was written by Rowling herself, and the magic leaps of the screen and stays with you hours after you leave the theater. (Let’s be honest, probably days.) Currently, it can remain as a stand-alone film, but there are many names that we pot-heads will recognize through the film, and for the well-trained ear, you may even recognize some of the musical scores. Personally, this pot-head can’t wait for the next installment of the Wizarding World, and learn more about some twists that were delivered throughout the film.

This holiday, see what is truly, the best film of the year. Fantastic Beasts deserves your $10 and 2 hours of your time. Even if you aren’t a grade-A Potter fanatic.

PS on a fun fact, Actor Eddie Remayne was almost the young Voldemort in Chamber of Secrets! Let’s just say he makes a much better Newt.

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Independence Day 2: Resurgence

Independence Day (1996) is one of my all time favorite films. As I rewatched the film just last night, I realized, to be a girl is to have a crush on Mr. Charismatic, Will Smith, Captain Steve Hiller, to become a woman is to love Jeff Goldbulm’s David Levison. To be fair, I love both characters and have watched Independence Day at least once a year my entire life since 1996. Whoa… that’s at the bare minimum of 20 times. Needless to say, I was very excited for Independence Day 2: Resurgence to soar into theaters and got the chance to see it opening day on Friday.

id422ID4 2 delivers edge of the seat fun, 20 years after Levison and Captain Hiller defeat the aliens that came to pillage the earth for their own reasons that never really become clear until we get the sequel. It is very entertaining to watch almost all of our favorite characters come back to continue a story line that  we have all come to know and love, and most likely quote in regular day conversation and then not have other people understand, then you sigh and die a little inside, but know that there has to be someone out there who would have understood the reference. Then you smile a little. Because now you have another installment of one of your favorite story worlds. Continue reading

The Mad Max Trilogy

A little known Australian franchise began in 1979 that focused on an apocalyptic world where gangs ran the world and gas is a very fucking high commodity. The trilogy that was born in the desert with flames and explosions galore. Fast-forward 30 years later and the now widely-known Mad Max is being rebooted by its creator George Miller with a Hollywood treatment and a cool hundred million dollars. So before we cross the finish line with Mad Max: Fury Road, let’s gear up for the weekend by returning to the classic car-chases, consumptive waste land, and the desperate, deviant characters of the early 80s with a cumulative review of the original trilogy. 

mad maxMad Max of 1979 was a bit of a blur; cars exploding, gangs fucking shit up, and very little dialogue that was actually pretty difficult to follow without subtitles. The difficulty wasn’t just on me and my download though, apparently when the film hit theaters in America in ’81–as the sequel was coming out–they dubbed American speakers over the actual dialogue to help not confuse the audience about the film specifically taken place in Australia? The film follows Max (a young Mel Gibson) as a police “Interceptor” who tries to keep a handle on the rising crime and gang violence whom eventually takes a break from the force as his partner is badly tortured and eventually dies from a gang. So Max becomes the perfect husband and father while taking a long vacation with his doting wife and son (the son may have been playing with an actaul gun in the first seen we meet him…. CaRAZY!) Honestly, you could skip Mad Max if you wanted because the sad back-story of the Road Warrior (excluded here because of major spoilers) is reprised in a much more effective manner in the beginning of the sequel. 

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1981’s Road Warrior is another tough pill to swallow but somehow has, like, a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes? It’s a fun film, more fun then the first, but still makes the fatal mistake of being a very serious action movie. There are few moments of laughter at a clever script or perfectly placed explosion which is why I wouldn’t give it that high of a rating. It’s a bummer that I am watching the film this late in my life, within the heavily influenced world of bigger budgets and CGI, but the fact that these explosions really happened with real stunt people in them, that’s pretty fucking insanely cool. Max himself has very little dialogue in this installment and he is contracted to help out a gasoline-rich community out-run a nasty raiding gang. A gang that is into leather and some same sex loving! But, you know also a gang that Max did kind of lead straight to their door, so the least he could do is help the community out. So Max is the resentful Road Warrior, it takes him time to look out for anyone other than his dog and himself but eventually he becomes our resisting protagonist in this dark and dreary life.

thunderdomeBeyond Thunderdome-oh sweet sweet Thunderdome. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Thunderdome is by far my favorite of the trilogy because it finally stops taking itself so damn seriously. Miller Americanized it a bit, with a star as big as Tina Turner in it, it’s hard to think they kept it Australian. The characters in Beyond Thunderdome are the most colorful and least civilized of the franchise and they make the movie so much more enjoyable. The very beginning is a bit confusing, but I feel as though this is a running theme within Miller’s work at this point. But soon enough we meet the glorious, rampant Auntie (Turner) who runs her Barbertown under a strict rule. She strikes some sort of deal with Max who is new to the city, and soon we find him fighting a giant “George Milton” who is ruled by a very small “Lennie Small” in the Thunderdome. And the dome is pretty damn rad. Two men enter, one leaves, and I will leave the rest of the awesomeness for you to view on your own time (because I personally think it’s the best part of the film). Eventually, Max is annexed back into the deathly desert and finds himself as a savior of a “Lord of the Flies” scenario. Our once again reluctant hero finds himself slowly helping a rag-tag group of survivors. 

Overall, Mad Max is a bit of a scramble, we have a few good characters that we only get for half the film (Fifi, Max’s Chief of  Police Department and his partner Jim Goose), some sweet ass car chases, but really the film doesn’t age well as it takes itself much too serious for an action revenge film. 1981’s Road Warrior has twice the amount of action, as sequels usually do, a better climax and a silly Feral Kid (calling Short Round?) at Max’s side after he unfortunately looses his dog to a gang member (that’s twice now!!!). For me, it wasn’t the best of the three, but definitely a fun ride to take. 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is personally my favorite and I believe it to be the best out of the Mad Max trilogy, even though it rated lower than both its’ predecessors on Rotten Tomatoes. But the whole trilogy rates over an 80% for critics which is god damned impressive for a franchise that started nearly 40 years ago. The plot for Thunderdome is easier to follow and it has enough action to hold you over, but maybe some people find it not as entertaining as the first two because there isn’t as much car chasing because we have the actual Thunderdome instead, along with some covert affairs going on too.

One thing is for sure, I can see why Hollywood wants to revamp the franchise for a new audience as the first three were successful and looked back on fondly as an exhilarating ride. But as a first time viewer, 30 some years later, and as a viewer who is actually younger than the latest film, it makes sense to make another installment for a fresh-faced audience.

Phantoms (1998)

Phantoms Poster

Phantoms Poster

Phantoms is a horror, sci-fi, thriller set in a ski town of Colorado that is very much dated by the decade of the 90’s; if not by just the cast but the special effects alone. The movie is based off of a novel by horror writer Dean Koontz who also happened to pen the screenplay. The movie is a bit of a cross-over between The Thing (1982) and Scream (1996); it’s pretty much a small group of 90’s arch-type characters being picked-off one by one by creatures from another world that they can’t really identify. It even casts Rose McGowan as the classic whore, a Skeet Ulrich look-a-like Ben Affleck, and a young Liev Schreiber; so as you can tell, they are trying hella hard to replicate the success of Craven’s Scream. 

Overall the film is lack-luster with time. It did not age well in the last 17 years; the scares are dismissive, the creature are un-realistic and poorly construed, the cast only called in on half the days, and the story holds no real sense of believable urgency. It’s a bummer as my boyfriend highly recommended the film as a fun, campy 90’s classic; for me it missed the mark, which is disappointing as I am a very big fan of Koontz’ Odd Thomas which is also on Netflix as of May, 2015.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

The crew of Galaxy Quest

The crew of Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest is a sci-fi comedy, considered to be part of the Star Trek franchise, which is beyond brilliant and relevant to the series still 15 years later. One of the best casting decisions was pulling alien guru Sigourney Weaver on deck and having Tim Allen as the misogynistic Captain Kirk archetype slowly sinking into desperation and the sad realization that he’s a laughing stock? I mean come on, that’s Buzz Lightyear man. To make the cast even more perfect,  Alan Rickman plays our Spock surrogate who never removes his head piece (even while at home gossiping on the phone) and we have Sam Rockwell (Moon and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) as a classic Red-Shirt team member, constantly aware and afraid of being killed off before the first commercial! And these are just a few of the glorious jems in the film that create the perfect realm.

If you have no idea on what the movie is about, shame on you, but here is a pretty simple synopsis taken from IMDb.com to explain a rather difficult summary: “The alumni cast of a space opera television series have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help.” ….. And that’s really as the best as it gets.

If you’re a fan of science fiction and haven’t watched Galaxy Quest yet, you need to, even if you’re not a hard core Trekkie, it’s still a great time and delivers the laughs and a general euphoria of happiness whole watching. Making any fandom hope, and maybe even believe that their favorite show could be real. Because who wouldn’t want the Doctor, Captain Kirk, Han Solo,  Rose Tyler, Gamora, Leia, or Ellen Ripley to be real? At least in some alternate universe, they have to exist, right?

The movie making fun of the franchise making fun of the show. Trek-ception?

The movie making fun of the franchise making fun of the show.
Trek-ception?

Galaxy Quest is currently available on Netflix as of May 2015, I would suggest watching it while also reading the trivia about.

Stitches (2012)

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A Clown with a Killer Attitude

Stitches is a a fun clever horror movie that delivers on so many damn levels it’s hard to believe that is took my this long to watch it. The comedy, horror was recently added to Netflix this year, and had been in my queue for a hot minute. The film begins brilliantly, with a clown fucking his mistress in full get-up, to only be disrupted with an alarm reminding him of a bastard’s party he has to entertain at. And even though Stitches, our clown (Ross Noble), isn’t the best entertainer, the kids at the party are just the worst! While the kids razz both Stitches, his jokes, and his tricks, they decide to play a mean joke on him and knock him over after one of the ass hole kids tie up his over-sized shoelaces.

Poor, poor Stitches, (*spoilers*) he falls on face first on a butcher knife that was poorly placed in a dishwasher that was never closed, like, at ALL!

So Stitches isn’t really about a killer clown, as I once thought from just the poster artwork available on Netflix. Stitches is about a dead clown coming back from the grave to wreak revenge on the shitty little Hellians who are having one hell of a rager about 10 years after they accidentally kill them.

The movie has some really gruesome kills in it, but oh my god! They are fun! Even the teenagers, I can’t help but like them too! I was pretty bummed when a few of the certain characters we murdered. But damn, the cats from across the pond really know how to get their gore on. The kills are creative, I’m like 80% sure each kid represented a deadly sin, but I can’t find anything online to corroborate that; the cinematography was done perfectly, almost in a satirical, comedic take of Quentin Tarantino’s films; and the overall pace of the movie builds perfectly, yet moves at an enjoyable pace.

Stitches is a great comedy horror and I highly recommend you take a shot at this clever take on a clown with a killer attitude.

The Quiet Ones (2014)

"INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS"

“INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS”

The Quiet Ones is a supernatural, demonic horror film with a slow build and a fizzle of a climax. It is yet another “inspired by actual events” story of a young girl possessed by an inexpiable personality. It takes place during the 70s (typical) and follows a professor (Jared Harris), two of this doting students (Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne), and a young camera-man (Sam Claflin) looking to gain some experience and a bit of knowledge about a young, disturbed girl (Olivia Cooke, Emma of Bates Hotel) and her “medical treatment.”

The Quiet Ones has a decent enough plot that drives enough interest to keep you watching, but the scares are few and far between to really consider is a decent horror film, even if you decide it to be categorized more as a psychological horror film. The movie unfortunately doesn’t get good until about ten minutes before the climax, when things really start to get good. The final scenes are the best though, so does that make up for the movement of a snail? Perhaps. If you have an interest in demonic movies, go ahead, give this movie a shot, currently available on Netflix.

Left Behind (2014)

Left Behind poster work

The end is nigh…. For Nic Cage’s career

So we all know that Nic Cage has made a few poor decisions in the past ten years when is comes to casting choices. From Ghost Rider to The Wicker Manour boy Nicolas has been drawing the short stick for decent movies. And the case of bad roles doesn’t break with Left Behinda story about the people “left behind” after the rapture happens. Nic is the father of one of the skeptics of God that loses her younger brother and crazy, punch drinking mother in a naked daze (as all that is left behind of the raptured are their clothes).

Left Behind is a slow moving catastrophe that arrives without a pulse. I checked it out on Netflix in the hopes that it would be so bad that it would be fun, but boy, was I wrong. Left Behind will be of no interest to anybody outside the tight bible belt as these slow characters come to realize that they missed their chance at God’s gift.

Even if bored at the end of the night, I’d steer clear of this dud of a movie.

Unfriended

Unfriended (2015)

Unfriended Poster

Poster

Unfriended is a new type of found footage supernatural horror movie from the mind of Nelson Greaves and Levan Gabriadze, two relatively unknown Hollywood players new to the playing field. The story follows a group of friends who possibly bullied a girl enough to commit suicide. A girl, Laura Barns, who was supposedly a friend of theirs. The poor thing had a nasty video posted online of her, I will exclude the details of said video, as the mystery is part of the fun for the film, but even though the video itself isn’t that terrible, the bullying that follows is. 

Unfreinded is a film that represents today’s young adults in a clever and jaunting manner. A certain genre of horror has always represented what today’s youth use on a regular basis. The horror manifests from the seemingly daily objects that have become a HUGE part of their daily lives. See Paranormal Activity, One Missed Call, The RingPoltergeist, and Christine as a reminder for nearly every decade. And for that reason alone, Unfriended, which takes place all in one take while on a group Skype call between high school friends, is a brilliant movie for teenagers. There’s a bit of sex, enough gore, and just enough social satire to wake up the youths of today about show shitty cyber-bulling can be….. And that the dead bullied will return from the dead to kill off her bullies in by far the most deserving manner.

Again, I want to avoid spoilers, but pay attention to the different props each friend has in their own frame. They make a point of using them for good reason because Laura Barns’ spirit uses them against themselves. And for this reason, I feel as though Unfriended could be the next Final Destination. There is a quick scene of our protagonist searching the internet for information on the dead communicating via the internet after their death. What I picture, for a sequel that is, something along the lines of Final Destination 3, where we have another group of friends talking about the suicide of a bullied friend and bring up the topic of Laura Burns. A death that happened a few towns over and then all of the girl’s friends off and kill themselves as well. They begin to research and weird things start happening with them. The same as the beginning of Unfriended. After one friend mysteriously kills themselves, we learn more about what happened during the first movie, and how the media responded to it. I think this is a great way to continue the story. Because honestly the best part of the movie, aside from the self-prophecy kills; is the mysterious supernatural aspect behind it and figuring out what the “Laura Barns Kill Yourself” video contained.

Overall, Unfriended delivers a decent horror movie based around today’s technology and a real social issue that many young kids are dealing with on a regular basis. For that reason I recommend the film, but it would also be a much better movie (and scare) if watched at home… alone… in the dark…. with only the soft glow of your laptop.

IT FOLLOWS (2015)

It Follows Poster

It Follows Poster

It Followsdirected and written by David Robert Mitchell, is an urban legend gone wrong, by actually happening to poor Jay (Maika Monroe). Our protagonist Jay (possible short for Jamie *cough, Jamie Lee Curtis, cough*) is followed by what could be cleverly called a Sexually Transmitted Demon, after sleeping with Hugh (Jake Weary), a guy she presumably thought she knew. Jay and her family believes that Hugh (real name Jeff) just fucked with her mind, telling her that this shape-shifting supernatural being that was walking slowly towards Jay while Hugh had her drugged and tied to a wheelchair, would come after her and kill her. If it killed her it would come back after him and it will never stop walking towards its’ next victim. It’s slow, but never put yourself in a room with just one door, because it will get ya! But Hugh/Jeff wasn’t just fucking with Jay, Jay was about to learn quickly that this demon that only she and other infected’s could see was very real. 

It Follows works so well, and is legitimately “one of the most striking American horror films in years” because of the cinematography choices and musical score. You remember how you felt the first time you watched John Carpenter‘s Halloween? How you were looking for “the shape” in the background of every scene? How the music put you on edge and made you fear for the lives of the babysitters on screen? How just the right influx of music made you shiver at the pure thought of this thing getting closer to you? That’s what It Follows does, and it does it spectacularly. It also makes me nervous about sleeping around with people I hardly know. Luckily I am in a stable relationship and don’t have to worry about this demon that can look like anyone I know popping up in my life anytime soon. Because It Follows is spectacularly spooky.