My thoughts on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Fantastic-Beasts-And-Where-to-Find-Them

Fantastic-Beasts-And-Where-to-Find-Them

I just saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here are a few brief NO SPOILERS impressions:

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It felt very much like a return to the world of Harry Potter, and that’s a good thing. I’m not as big into Potter as some people are, but I’m very fond of the movies and have watched each one multiple times.

Will I watch Fantastic Beasts again? I don’t know. Honestly, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping to. I didn’t DISlike it, but I thought the plot was too scattered, with too many characters that didn’t serve the story and that weren’t fleshed out at all. The main character, Newt, was quite likable but even he wasn’t fleshed out in any depth. Hints were dropped to set up his development for the next movie . . . and that just didn’t work for me. I wanted to, ahem, root for Newt in this movie, not the next.

The most likable character in the movie is Newt’s baker sidekick. The actor playing him does a great job, even if he’s a bit too on the nose at times. I felt that character could have used just a few rough edges to keep him from being overly syrupy, but he still comes off a winner.

Strangely, although the screenplay was written by JK Rowling herself, the women in the story aren’t made terribly interesting or compelling. No Hermione Grangers here. There is one that is quite likable, but even she is a bit too syrupy for my liking.

In short, I thought the plot was thin and scattered and the characters weren’t developed enough. The world didn’t feel quite as deep and interesting as it did in the Harry Potter movies. And the ending was a blatant set-up for Part Two. Which I would be okay with if they’d made Part One a bit more robust and intriguing.

I would certainly recommend all Potter-heads to go see it, and anyone that wants a light, fun, magical time at the movies, but don’t expect it to be the new Harry Potter.

Maybe the sequel will improve on the first. I hate to say it, but I kind of hope they bring in a new scriptwriter. JK is an amazing novelist, and I can’t wait to read her next book, but as a scriptwriter . . . well. Maybe she just needs practice.

But those are just my thoughts. What did you think?

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My NO SPOILERS thoughts on Suicide Squad

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Okay, so I just came back from seeing Suicide Squad. Here are my brief NO SPOILERS impressions.
The movie is . . . interesting. Deeply problematic, but interesting. Like all of the DC films so far, it’s a mixed bag, with some really good stuff intermingled with some not-so-good stuff. Take a look at that poster, for example. What are they trying to sell us on? The Joker, right? Well, the Joker has less than five minutes of screentime, if that.
 
I think there was an earlier version of the movie where he gets much more time, and sadly that time is on the editing room floor. This is a shame, because Jared Leto’s take on the character is awesome. It’s not going to replace Heath Ledger’s Joker, but it stands on its own just fine. So they’ve sold us on a movie that doesn’t exist. I can’t WAIT for the director’s cut, if there is one. I want to see the Joker as a prominent character in this film, as he was (mostly likely) originally intended to be. The reshoots probably really hurt this movie, and especially his character.
 
The heart of this movie is the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. Harley is the stand-out of the movie, hands down, and it should have focused on her and the Joker. It would have been the most twisted relationship ever given a big budget, but it would have been mesmerizing. Instead we get poorly developed side characters and clunky, nonsensical, even repetitive plot mechanics.
 
I know, it sounds like I’m being hard on the movie, and it really does have some huge, huge problems. On balance, though, I would recommend seeing it, unless you’ve developed a deep dislike of the DC movies (I’m wary but hopeful). Suicide Squad, when it’s working, has a lot of charm, and even some genuine pathos and heart.
 
Plus I LOVE villainous couples. From Drac and Mina to Chucky and his Bride, I love when lovers go bad, or when baddies fall in love. And even though this movie only gave us a hint of that, that hint was electric. So, if only for Harley and the Joker, I would say go see it. You may hate me afterward, though. I saw this movie with a group of people, and several of them truly despised the movie. So your mileage may vary.

POSTSCRIPT: In some ways, this movie is the opposite of the new Bourne movie. The Bourne movie was a bland but competently made “meh” of a film. Suicide Squad was a lovingly crafted, passionate mess.
 
If there’s a director’s cut, and it still doesn’t fix the movie, I might try to make a fan edit splicing together the two movies.

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