Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – Movie Review

TL;DR – While there are some moments where it excels, the overall story never clicked with me, leading to many frustrations.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Review

When it comes to films that have had been waylaid by the behind the scenes issues, I can think none have been so publicly shown like this since maybe Justice League. Its main star was fired and replaced after one day of shooting. Another was arrested a week out from release, all while the series creator dug themselves deeper into the hole one Tweet after another. It is such a debacle that many of my colleagues are not covering the film, which I respect. But given that we are looking at the movie today, I have to say that now I have seen it, our official opinion is … eh.

So to set the scene, at the end of the last film, Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) managed to make his case against the muggles and move a lot of Wizards and Witches to his side. One of these was Jacob Kowalski’s (Dan Fogler) love interest Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol). Now while Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald can’t move against each other, they still make plans. One of which was sending Newt (Eddie Redmayne) out to help a sacred magical animal. However, Credence (Ezra Miller) kills the mother and steals the child, dramatically improving Grindelwald’s position. Unless, of course, there happens to be a pair of twins.

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Shadow and Bone: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a messy series at times, yet also oddly compelling, and had me watching through all the way.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this episode.

Shadow and Bone. Image Credit: Netflix.

Shadow and Bone Review

As I mentioned in my A Wheel of Time review, I have been struggling to avoid slipping into despair recently and aimlessly scrolling through things on streaming, trying to find something. However, instead of this spiralling behaviour, I decided to focus on something, which was catching up on the Fantasy TV shows I missed from 2021. The next cab off the rack is from another books series I have been meaning to look at but have not had the time.

So to set the scene, a long time ago, the nation of Ravka was a single whole. However, with the manifestations of a powerful Shadow Summoner, a great veil of evil called the Fold now splits the nation in two. One can cross it, but it is dangerous, and many get lost to the things that hide in the dark. In the current day, Ravka is at war and needs all the skilled warriors they can get, including childhood friends Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), who is an assistant cartographer, and Malyen “Mal” Oretsev (Archie Renaux), who works as a tracker. When Mal is chosen to accompany a group through the Fold, Alina manipulates the situation so she can come along too. However, when the convoy is attacked, Alina accidentally reveals that she is a Sun Summoner, the only Sun Summoner. Meanwhile, across the ocean in Ketterdam, there is a contract going for one million kruge, and The Crows, made up of Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), are trying to outmanoeuvre the competition. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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The Wheel of Time: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a show that looks amazing but always feels like it is just about to click together but does not quite get there

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

The Wheel of Time. Image Credit: Amazon Prime.

The Wheel of Time Review

I have been at a bit of a loss for a while now, leading to me spending nights just binge-watching Alone, which is not a good headspace when you live alone in the middle of a global pandemic. Realising that it was probably not good for me to continue down that road, I decided to focus those energies elsewhere and catch up on some of the Fantasy shows that I missed last year. The first of the three is Amazon Prime’s dive into the 14-book world of Rober Jordan.

So to set the scene, 3000 years before the start of the series, there was a battle to lock The Dark One (Fares Fares) away for good, only it backfired. The Dragon was tainted and, as legend stated, ‘broke the world’. This legacy is felt to this day as men still can’t channel the One Power without being driven insane eventually. However, prophecy has stated that the Dragon will be reborn again and will heal the world or break it apart again. This is the mission that Aes Sedai Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) and her ward al’Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) are on as they race to find the Dragon before others of her sect, or even the Dark One finds them. As fate would have it, five people fit the bill for the Dragon, Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins), the Wisdom of Emond’s Field, her apprentice Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden). Egwene’s love interest Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), and his best friends Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris). However, before Moiraine could tell which of the five could be the Dragon, an army of Trollocs attacked the village. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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The Green Knight – Movie Review

TL;DR – Visually visceral, narratively interesting, and almost entirely engaging. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this movie.

The Green Knight. Image Credit: Amazon Prime.

The Green Knight Review

Everyone has a narrative style that they are just a sucker for, it could be road trip movies or WW2 war films, or like me, it is taking myths from the old and reinterpreting in a modern context. This can be the bombasticness of Greek Legend, the sharpness of Norse Legend, or, as we get today, the weirdness of Arthurian Mythology.

So to set the scene, we start the film with a bucket of water in the face as Gawain (Dev Patel) is woken up in a brothel by his lover Essel (Alicia Vikander). Gawain might be hungover, but it is Christmas morning, and Gawain has duties to attend to. While his Mother (Sarita Choudhury) stays at home, Gawain heads to the keep to the feast of King Arthur (Sean Harris) and Queen Guinevere (Kate Dickie). However, a stranger on horseback arrived during the feast, a man made of bark and leaves, the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson). Walking up to the King, he lays out a challenge, and Gawain is the only one to take up the charge.

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Monster Hunter – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a film dipped its toes into the weirdness, and I wished it had done a bomb dive of the highest platform into the weirdness instead    

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Warning – There is extensive use of strobe lighting effects

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Monster Hunter. Image Credit: Sony.

Monster Hunter Review

Alas, another video game adaptation bites the dust. I wish this were something I didn’t have to keep saying, but time after time we see that adapting a video game to the big screen is a difficult job and very few films can pull it off. In today’s entry into the list, we have a film that should get credit for adding elements of the gameplay into the film and then frame it around one of the most generic action films imaginable.

So to set the scene, in some desert on Earth (there are actual GPS location coordinates but I was not quick enough to jot them down, if you got them, please let me know) a military expedition is out exploring trying to discover what happened to another of their teams. The United Nations team is led by US Army Ranger Captain Natalie Artemis (Milla Jovovich), and they find the last position of Bravo Team just as a large sandstorm appears out of nowhere. As Alpha Team tries to outrun the storm, markers on the side of the road start flashing, and then the world falls out from underneath them. They wake up on some sand dunes that look nothing like where they left, which is about the point where Alpha Team comes under attack from things that lurk beneath.    

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Onward – Movie Review

TL;DR –  It takes a straightforward premise and elevates it with a real heart.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards:

NominatedCreative Animation & Most Fun

Onward. Image Credit: Disney.

Onward Review

There has been a couple of attempts in recent times to do the ‘what if the fantasy realm that you know was set in modern times’ and well, on the whole, they have been bad. But as a concept, it is solid, so I have been wondering if anyone would be able to pull it off. Well if anyone can do it, it is Pixar, and boy did they.

So to set the scene, Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is just an average teenage elf, winning math awards, learning how to drive, avoiding his brother Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) and trying to find friends. He is trying to find his place in the world with his brother, who is a bit of a screw-up, and his mother Laurel Lightfoot (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who is trying her best with the chaos. On his 16th birthday, their mother surprises them with a gift from their late father Wilden Lightfoot (Kyle Bornheimer) which turns out to be a magic staff and a spell, one that can bring him back, but only for one day.

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Movie Review – Artemis Fowl

TL;DR – There is a lot of promise here that unfortunately falls flat at every turn.    

Score – 2 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Artemis Fowl. Image Credit: Disney.

Review – Some genres really excite me when I get to see them, and one of those is when you crash fantasy and science fiction together. It is a delicate balance to get right, but when you do, it is grand. So a story where all the tales of fairies and such are real and they still live, but in high-tech cities under the Earth, well you have me intrigued. But you need to do something more than just intrigue, which is where we fall flat from almost the start.     

So to set the scene, we open in on Fowl Manor in Ireland, who is currently under siege, by the press and police. As the police arrest a Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) and take him to a black site for integration, he speaks of magic as it is real, to the amusement of everyone. However, as he continues he lets everyone know, it is not Artemis Fowl Sr (Colin Farrell) they should be concerned with, but his son Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw). Artemis is just a kid, a brilliant kid, what threat could he be? Because isn’t it the father, the thief, that is the real threat, or is there something darker at play?    

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Movie Review – Sol Levante

TL;DR – An interesting vignette, but more focusing on the style than the substance   
   
Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards

Nominated: Creative Animation

Sol Levante. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I mentioned earlier this week with Familiar Strangers, that it was the shortest film that I had ever reviewed for the sight, well not three days later we are going to beat that record with Sol Levante. An animated short made in 4K HD that I don’t think anyone in the world is going to see at 4K at least not for the foreseeable future.

This is an interesting film to review because there is not a whole lot to it, but then it also feels like there is a bit more to it than first appears. There is not a story, bar a young woman fighting I want to say demons across a shifting landscape. There are quite a few of these set-piece moments that the fit into the three minutes run time that hint at things. It is a film that fits into the sort of nexus of fantasy, science fiction, and spiritual genres and is steeped in symbolism if nothing else.  

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TV Review – The Witcher: Season 1

TL;DR – Fun, brooding, entertaining

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

The Witcher. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review


As someone who generally enjoys fantasy, it is surprising that it took me this long to really get into The Witcher franchise. I had tried in the past with the video games, but by the time I was helping a miss-carried baby to get back into the grave it all got a bit too weird without the context, to add to this, the books seemed this large mountain of work that I didn’t know where to start with. Well with the new series starting I thought now was as good as time as any to dive into the world of the brooding Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill).  

So to set the scene, in a world of magic and monsters lives many feuding kingdoms and power structures in the land known as The Continent. We open in the kingdom of Cintra, ruled by its Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May). All is well until the day that the evil Nilfgaard set their sights on them burning their capital to the ground and killing all they find. Calanthe in her last act sends her granddaughter Cirilla “Ciri”(Freya Allan) away with one mission, to survive and find Geralt. Geralt himself is off in another kingdom stuck in a war between a powerful mage Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen) and a bandit/princess Renfri (Emma Appleton). Meanwhile, a girl with a deformed back works caring for the pigs of her father. But Yennefer of Vengerberg’s (Anya Chalotra) life is forever changed when the powerful sorceress Tissaia de Vries (MyAnna Buring) arrives and buys her for a couple of coins. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Exploring the Past – Stardust (2007)

TL;DR – A pure fun ride from start to finish, the kind that leaves a smile on your face for a time after you finish watching it.   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Stardust. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

There are some films out that that you can only watch once and then there are those that you can watch any time someone suggests it. Today we are looking at the latter, a film that is full of joy from start to finish.

So to set the scene, in the 1800s in Great Brittan there was a little town called Wall. It was a mostly unremarkable little hamlet bar for one odd feature an old wall that runs along its boundary that has an old man (David Kelly) guarding the only opening. Well, one day a young man from the village call Dunstan Thorn (Ben Barnes) decided to go see what was on the other side of the wall. Here he found a marketplace full of bizarre creatures for sale and also servant girl (Kate Magowan) enslaved to an evil witch Ditchwater Sal (Melanie Hill). It was almost a fever dream until nine months later when a baby arrived at Dunstan’s door. Eighteen years later and the young boy Tristan (Charlie Cox) is now grown up and trying to court Victoria (Sienna Miller) when he makes a suggestion that he chases down a falling star and brings it back as proof of his affections. The only problem is that the Star fell across the wall in Stormhold, the star is not an it but a she in Yvaine (Claire Danes), and also Stormhold’s king (Peter O’Toole) has just died and the remaining heirs are trying to track down the necklace that brought Yvaine crashing to the ground, and also also, there is a witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is very interested that a new star has fallen because she would very much like to cut out its heart and eat it.

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