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Harry Potter

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Nov 17 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220497:42908:0[/embed] Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemDirector: David YayesRelease Date: November 18, 2016Rating: PG-13  In 1920s New York City, muggles are called "nomags," a shortening of "no magic." I mentioned this to a friend, who said that sounded more offensive than "muggle." I disagreed. I think we're desensitized to the word muggle, but it sounds pretty mean to me. (Not mudblood level, obviously (that one's awful).)  In 1920s New York City, the President of America's magic society is a woman, which means that this fanciful version of 1920s America is more progressive than actual 2016 America (though this wasn't 2016 New York City's fault). In fact, there are a lot of females in power in 1920s magic world. To some degree, it feels like the least realistic thing about the entire film. But that's neither here nor there. In 1920s New York City, Newt Scamander (a very socially awkward Eddie Redmayne) causes mayhem. He carries with him a suitcase. In the suitcase is a whole host of fantastic beasts. Unfortunately, some of them escape. He has to find them. Ultimately, that isn't what the movie is about. It's simply a way to get him entangled with the other zany characters, primarily two of them: Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a nomag who doesn't get Men In Black mind-zapped and so is forced along on a wild adventure featuring magic and things, and Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson), an ex-Auror who brings in Mr. Scamander for causing problems (mostly by not Men In Black mind-zapping Mr. Kowalski). Some others are involved in various forms.  Also, there's Colin Farrell AKA Percival Graves AKA a guy who can do magic with just his hand. Someone told me Voldemort could also do that (I know house elves can), but I don't remember that. I just remember him using his wand. Then again, Graves also uses his wand. And I have some questions. - Why can he magic without a wand, and why does no one seem impressed by that ability?- Why does he use a wand sometimes even though he doesn't need one?- Is it because he's dueling, and he can only deflect magic with a wand? - Someone just shouted "Take away his wand." Why? Would that impact him in any meaningful way? I have come to believe (in large part thanks to Film Crit Hulk) that if you only question something after the fact, then it doesn't ultimately matter. Many great films fall apart under close inspection, but in the moment, you're too caught up to notice or care. And so the movie is successful. On the other hand, if you think about the problems, that mean the film has failed to either keep my interest enough for me to not think about it, hide it well enough behind some sort of pseudo-logic that can keep me going for two hours, or both. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a little bit of both. I was constantly asking questions throughout the film (in my head, I'm not a monster), and precisely none of them were answered. I'm not going to list them all here for you, but many of them boil down to, "Wait, so how does that work?" Nowhere is this more problematic than with the film's actual conflict: An Obscurious (sp?) is wreaking havoc on the city. Who is it? How can they stop it? New Scamander might know the latter but no one knows the former. It's probably related to the creepy anti-witch cult that the film keeps cutting back to, because that's the only reason we would be spending so much time with them. Anyways, once things are revealed and we see the Obscurious at work, the whole thing kind of falls apart. Someone might be able to explain this using overly technical language that will confuse me into thinking maybe it made sense, and others will say that it doesn't matter, this is for children, and I should stop being such a spoilsport... but really, I have so many questions relating to literally everything about it, and none of the answers I come up with are satisfying. The Harry Potter books have issues, but they're satisfying. They scratch an itch and do what you want them to do. Much of the time, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does too. Jacob Kowalski, for example, is a great character, and pretty much every scene with him in it was at least good if not great. I dunno why I liked him so much, but he's probably my favorite character in any Harry Potter story. Maybe it's because he's a Nomag and I liked seeing how a non-magical person really reacts to all of the craziness? I dunno. He's great. The actors in general are quite good. No more weird, wooden performances from children who were chosen before anyone knew if they could actually act. The dialogue, written by J.K. Rowling herself, is also fine. Many of my friends who did read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child complained that the dialogue was clearly not written by Rowling, so I expect they will enjoy this more. The pacing is off, and the movie is about 20 minutes too long, but those 20 minutes of meh are scattered throughout and not in one big, boring chunk. And though some moments may drag, some genuinely excite. There are a couple of thrilling action sequences (even if they're a bit contrived), and there are some genuinely inventive things, like some of the weirder Fantastic Beasts. I liked seeing the expansion of Harry Potter. I'm glad that this isn't another Harry Potter story. I like the idea of a series of spin-offs for the same reason I'm excited about all of the Star Wars Stories that aren't numbered episodes. And for all of my issues with this first installment, there are definitely things to like, and the good outweighs the bad. If you can see past the massive gaps in logic and just say "The wizard did it" and be content with that, you may very well love Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you thought Harry Potter was dumb, this sure as hell won't change your mind. But if you're a fan (even a lapsed one), you should most certainly check it out.
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I have some questions
On my right wrist is a scar given to me by the seventh Harry Potter book. I was abroad at the time, at a language school. The book had just launched, and my Turkish roomate (not my French or Croatian ones) got a copy. I asked...

Fantastic Beasts photo

Now that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a little over a month away expect to see more and more of it leading into its November release. When you see the trailer, these are probably your immediate thoughts: 1. "Fan...

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Warner Bros. rumored to adapt Harry Potter and the Cursed Child into a film trilogy


Harry Potter and the Unnecessary Trilogy
Sep 01
// Geoff Henao
Warner Bros. sure loves its film franchises doesn't it? After all, when you own the rights to some of the largest film properties, it only makes sense that they'd want to milk that cash cow for as long as possible. After Harr...
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Watch Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them San Diego Comic-Con trailer


Stupify! New Harry Potter, muggles!
Jul 24
// Rick Lash
With lesser Potter works seemingly growing on trees of late (plays, illustrated editions of the existing books, Daniel Radcliffe as some kind of magic zombie with a boner) we were due for something more serious from a franchi...

Fantastic Beasts Trailer photo
Colin Farrell is a wizard
We're currently in the midst of a new wave of Harry Potter mania. With its Universal Studios park finally opening, J.K Rowling releasing a written version of the newest stage play (which is book eight for all intents and purp...

Warner Bros releases photo
Warner Bros releases

Sluggish Batman v Superman may lead to fewer Warner Bros releases, more franchises


More sequels, spin-offs, etc. for WB
Apr 06
// Hubert Vigilla
Even though Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has crossed the $700 million mark worldwide, analysts have suggested that the film could be a box office disappointment regardless. The movie's budget and marketing costs mean th...

RIP Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

Jan 14 // Hubert Vigilla
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One of the greats
UK stage and screen actor Alan Rickman has passed away after a fight against cancer. He was 69 years old. Rickman was one of the most admired actors working today, and not just for playing Professor Snape in the Harry Potter ...

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Accio better teaser
Now that the Young Adult dystopia phase is winding down, it's time for the Harry Potter universe to take back its crown. Based on a super thin book (which is more of a tiny encyclopedia of magical animals) with a film script ...

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Eddie Redmayne will star in Harry Potter spin-off trilogy


He's gonna magic it up in 1920s NYC
Jun 02
// Matt Liparota
Eddie Redmayne is trading in his big Stephen Hawking brain for a wizarding wand. Warner Bros. has announced that the Oscar winner will star in the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find The...
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Severus Snape and the recut of the Harry Potter movies


You have your mother's eyes
Feb 16
// Jackson Tyler
I love fan edits. I'm a strong believer in the idea that a work of art does not become rigid and untouchable when released, but remains alive and malleable for as long as we allow it to be. They're always messy, and often in...
Mudbloods Trailer photo
Mudbloods Trailer

Trailer for Mudbloods makes Quidditch awesome


Aug 08
// Nick Valdez
Harry Potter has a huge, huge fandom. Spanning seven books, eight movies (possibly more soon), theme parks, and now a real sport based on the fantasy sport Quidditch. While I never liked the Quidditch sections of the story (...

J.K. Rowling writing screenplay for Harry Potter spin-off

Sep 12 // Matthew Razak
Here's what she had to say: Warner Bros. announced on 12th September 2013 that J.K. Rowling would be making her screenwriting debut with 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', the first in a new film series which is part of their expanded creative partnership with J.K. Rowling. The films will be inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbook of the same name, and will feature the book’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander.“It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of 'Fantastic Beasts', realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.I particularly want to thank Kevin Tsujihara of Warner Bros. for his support in this project, which would not have happened without him. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.”
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Based on the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling have just announced, via Rowling's Facebook page, that Rowling has signed on to return the world of Harry Potter to the big screen. Rowling is writing the screenplay for a film based off the Pott...

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Actor Richard Grifftiths dead at 65


No post on Sundays. Hah!
Mar 29
// Logan Otremba
British theatrical, television, and film actor Richard Griffiths has died at the age of 65 this past Thursday. This was due to unfortunate complications following his heart surgery. Griffiths has had a colorful career spannin...
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Ridiculously expensive Harry Potter books chronicle films


Nov 27
// Matthew Razak
We're all set to assume that for some Harry Potter fans $1,000 is chump change for a limited edition set of eight books that chronicle the characters move from the written word to the big screen. There are definitely people ...
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Bond breaks UK box office record beating Harry Potter


Nov 02
// Matthew Razak
It's a tough fight these days between James Bond and Harry Potter for most beloved pop culture character, but Bond has stuck another blow against the young wizard. Skyfall has just broken the UK record for best opening w...
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Daniel Radcliffe is interested in a role for Frankenstein


Sep 28
// Thor Latham
Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that we were watching a prepubescent Harry Potter thwart evil while causing a little mischief on the side? I'm sighing wistfully, in case you were wondering. I was actually worried about Da...
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Warner Bros. has started their Oscar campaign for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2, and you can watch one of their new ads for it above. If you couldn't tell from my headline, I am opinionated about it. WB is prob...

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The final part of the Harry Potter film saga comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on November 11th, and you'll only have until December 29th to get it. Warner Bros. is putting all Harry Potter movies on moratorium just before year's end,...

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Trailer: When Harry Left Hogwarts


Oct 19
// Jenika Katz
Guys, Harry Potter is over. No, seriously. The books are done, the movies are finished, and there's nothing else to see. I mean, there's the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, but that was started before the franchi...
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Warner Bros. launching Harry Potter best picture campaign


Aug 04
// Maxwell Roahrig
This must be a wet dream for all the Potter-heads out there. An article in this week's Variety says that Warner Bros. is currently working on a Best Picture push for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Seriously. Nev...

Review: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II

Jul 15 // Xander Markham
Even if you believe that every movie should be judged on its own merits, no-one could deny the importance of history to this final Potter. As with the book, it's as much a look back at all the favourite moments and people left behind as it is a conclusion to an ongoing story. The Horcrux hunt, for one, is virtually a travelogue of locations from previous stories, bringing with it a sense of finality by tying together every last corner of this deep and detailed world. When the last, unexpected horcrux is revealed, it is an appropriate and fulfilling choice that brings past and present together. Elsewhere that indulgence might seem lazy, but the Potter series is at its heart a story about the power of beloved memories to inspire the growth of the future. At times, director David Yates stages the nostalgia a bit too obviously, unnaturally formulating images to remind us that this is the last Potter ever, but as a narrative being complemented by its central theme and vice-versa, it's a touching success. The inevitable flashback - and after ten years and eight movies that inspire so much devotion, it's forgiveable - recalls how young the three actors in the central roles were when first making their acquaintance, and how much they have grown both physically and as performers in the years since. Rupert Grint has had his gift for comedic delivery and timing from the beginning, but gained the ability to convey the bravery that has made Ron a valuable friend and ally as well as comic relief. Emma Watson was the most forced of the three in Philosopher's Stone (sorry, but I'm not using that patronising American title) but now seems far more at ease within herself and the character, to the extent of delivering a number of clunky lines in a more natural manner than they deserve. As an aside to the scriptwriters, it's already clear how strongly she respects and feels for Ron, so there's no need to have her be so repeatedly astonished ("brilliant!") when he devises a workable plan. As for Daniel Radcliffe, let's hope that he won't suffer from Mark Hamill syndrome and be too defined by his role as Harry to go on and achieve many things in his own right. He has turned into quite the remarkable actor, following ten years under the tutelage of the finest thesps this side of the pond has to offer. There's no need for the writers to put into words the weight that Harry is carrying on his shoulders because Radcliffe communicates it through every aspect of his performance. As with Emma Watson, he fights diligently through some difficult dialogue, but it's a shame that the single line he slightly fumbles is the vital one before Harry must go and face his destiny. Speaking of those great English thespians, Alan Rickman finally gets the chance to do something other than sneer and speak... verrrrry... slowwwwllllly in a sequence near the end when the sadness and isolation underpinning Snape's character become clear. His previous campness (and an early speech to the Hogwarts students really pushes those vocal exaggerations to the limit) end up working in the scene's favour, as it becomes all the more shocking to see him breaking the caricature and suffering under genuine emotion. There's no such dedicated showcase for the others, although most do get a tiny moment to shine: Gary Oldman cameos and delivers his one line with heart-wrenching simplicity, Maggie Smith gets to show Minerva McGonagall's humourous side, and Helena Bonham Carter's versatility shines in playing Hermione in Bellatrix's body (there's one for the fanboys). Whilst his cast are taking their final bow with grace, director Yates and his writers let the side down with some underwhelming work behind the camera. Key scenes never quite feel correctly paced, and a charge across the Hogwarts courtyard during a Death Eater assault (clearly supposed to evoke a wartime battle) falls flat, with the barrage of action and dreary soundtrack - the Potter theme tune is wastefully only played once, over the end credits - coming across as clichéd and confusing rather than harrowing. The overwhelming amount of CGI also robs key shots of their impact by them their evident artificiality. Although I saw the movie in the standard format, certain shots broke the movie's reality by being so evidently composed to make use of 3D. Even by the standards of previous Potters, there's an insane amount of stuff flying at the screen or whooshing and swirling through the air, little of it for justifiable reasons. The final showdown is also needlessly extended and with several crucial changes made to that of the book - how I wish I could do spoilers - which rob the coup de grâce of its power by losing the link between Harry, Voldemort and the Elder wand. (Consequently, the Deathly Hallows themselves are made near irrelevant). In the book, the moment feels tragic and exhilarating because it is driven by the characters and their respective moralities. In the movie, the changes are not only anticlimactic, and seemingly driven - again - by a desire to use a 3D effect, but even go against what Harry is supposed to stand for. It's aggravating that lessons haven't been learnt after similarly needless changes messed up Half-Blood Prince's big ending. Ultimately, as frustrating as those blunders are, they are quickly resigned to insignificance by the end-of-an-era feel that comes naturally at seeing these characters reach the conclusion of the story we've followed them along. I don't think the Potter movies ever reached their full potential - Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire came closest for me, but were still a way off true greatness - but have provided consistently solid entertainment and created enough of a bond with their audience that the big emotional scenes work on their own. It must also be said that keeping largely the same cast and crew together for a ten-year project is a remarkable achievement and no doubt a crucial factor in maintaining a sense of continuity and authenticity in how JK Rowling's world was represented on screen, rightly earning the love of a broad and passionate fanbase. Deathly Hallows Part II is far from perfect, but as an ending for the fans it is a satisfying one, and what it may inspire from them in the future is yet more exciting still. Jamie Stone: David Yates returns to direct his fourth and, thankfully, last Harry Potter film. I used to love Harry Potter films, but something about Yates' direction since he came on for Order of the Phoenix that tends to slow down the action to a worm's crawl and then speed it up to what I call "acceptable" just annoys the crap out of me. There were certain action scenes where I thought to myself "That could have been better" and at one point I even said it out loud... Certain parts of the movie were made to punctuate and be a crowd-pleaser, but I felt most of them weren't too realistic. The film is often too cerebral and just slow... Also, why doesn't the effing Harry Potter theme play more? What's the deal, Yates?!? What's this Enya crap? Beyond some niggling concerns, this is not a bad movie. I love the story, I love the characters and I can't help liking this film if just for the narrative itself... 78 – Good. Josh Parker: After eight movies, the Harry Potter series comes to an end with a finale so frenetic that you'll barely have a chance to take a breath during its two-hour runtime. It's easily the most action packed entry to the franchise, culminating in the final confrontation between The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Not Be Named that movie goers like myself that could never be bothered to read the books have been waiting ten years to see. You may find the final battle between Harry and Voldemort to be a bit jarring in contrast to the breakneck action seen in the rest of the film, but for me it was a welcome change of pace as the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga came to a close. The series has certainly not been perfect, and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is no exception, but it's still an incredibly satisfying conclusion to a series I've been more than happy to grow old with. Now it's time for me to finally get cracking on the damn books. 89 – Spectacular.
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It's actually not hyperbolic to say that the final entry in the Harry Potter series is one of the most important movies ever made. Not in terms of creativity or technical achievement, but for the many fans who have discovered...

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Nine clips from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2


Jul 07
// Josh Parker
Fresh off the heels of the two featurettes we brought to you last week, comes these nine(!) brand-spanking-new clips from the finale of the Harry Potter film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Thes...
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See how to rob a goblin in this Harry Potter featurette


Jun 30
// Josh Parker
You may have already seen the crash course featurette on the MacGuffin of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Voldemort's Horcruxes. Now from Entertainment Weekly comes this closer look at Harry and crew's efforts t...
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New Harry Potter featurette explains Horcruxes


Jun 30
// Josh Parker
The release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is just two weeks away, which means it's probably a good idea to get a bit of a refresher on what Harry and his pals were up to in Part 1 of the two part finale...
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Harry Potter infographic shows billion-dollar enterprise


Jun 24
// Liz Rugg
Do you know just how much money the Harry Potter franchise has made over the years or how far its influence has reached? Well, thanks to Fast Company and designer Mikey Burton, we now have an awesome infographic that details ...
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I need to change my pants now. July 15th. [Via Apple]

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Trailer: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Apr 27
// Maxwell Roahrig
"Come on Tom, let's finish this like we started it. Together!" Holy crap guys, this movie looks amazing. While I've never been too fond of David Yeats' adaptations of the Potter books, Deathly Hallows Part 1 chan...
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The novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out back in 2007. If you calculate that in internet time (which is how I always address ideas), that's like an entire lifetime ago. As such, I've totally forgot almost every...

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Watch the opening of the final Harry Potter movie


Apr 18
// Alex Katz
[UPDATE: Welp, the WB pulled the clip. So much for that! Original story follows.] This is actually a feature from the Blu-ray release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt.1 giving a little taste of the opening of ...
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New Harry Potter poster about as gay as this header image


Mar 28
// Alex Katz
Badass, dude! The final Harry Potter film arrives in theaters in only a few short months. One of the moments we’ve all been waiting for, the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, is teased in this newly-relea...

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