Category Archives: Family

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone
Samantha Morton as Mary Lou Barebone
Jon Voight as Henry Shaw Sr.
Carmen Ejogo as Seraphina Picquery
Colin Farrell as Percival Graves
Director: David Yates

The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

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After re-watching the Harry Potter movies, I was originally just going to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, not re-review it. It’s not like my Batman v Superman or Man of Steel retrospective reviews where I had as massive amount of things still left to say about it, or my Suicide Squad or Spectre retrospective reviews where my opinion had changed drastically from when I wrote the initial reviews. I still like Fantastic Beasts quite a bit, however I think I was a little too favourable towards the movie at the time of its release. Looking back at it now, there are some problems with it, mainly with the story trying to mix two different plotlines together (not entirely successfully). But it still has some good things to it.

J.K. Rowling this time round writes the script herself, and she did a good job. With that said, it could’ve been better. The story isn’t the most interesting but it has some good parts to it. I really liked the decision to be set in the 1920s and in America this time, it’s one of the best things in the movie as we get to see a different side to the wizarding world that we haven’t seen before. It adds some new concepts, creatures, different governments and rules and other related things to the universe, so it’s not just a re-tread of what we already know. On top of that, we get to see adult wizards using magic to their fullest potential, as for as spectacular some of the magic scenes were in the Harry Potter movies, for the most part we only got to see a certain level of magic, especially with our protagonists. Now for the biggest problem that Fantastic Beasts has: it feels like it’s trying to be a different kind of Harry Potter movie focussing on a different character in the wizarding world (Newt Scamander) and while trying to be its own thing while at the same time focussing on a mysterious destructive force (the Obscurial) while world building for sequels involving Grindelwald. The two don’t mix well, especially when one has a whimsical and light hearted tone and the other is a dark political thriller, it’s really jarring. Not only that, but you also have this really dark subplot involving Ezra Miller and child abuse, which doesn’t work at all with the Newt Scamander plot. As for the plots themselves, the Newt Scamander plot wasn’t the most interesting and is quite drawn out but it was fun at times. The other plot involving Grindelwald and the Obscurial is more interesting but it’s the secondary plot and so feels rather limited. I was more of a fan of the Grindelwald plotline anyway, but its clear that one of these plotlines should’ve taken the lead. I will say that although I liked watching it, the first Fantastic Beasts isn’t very memorable.

Eddie Redmayne is perfectly cast as Newt Scamander, his awkwardness and quirks really fits the character well. The rest of the main cast, Katherine Waterson and Alison Sudol as Tina and Queenie Goldstein as well as Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, the muggle, are also quite good (though Sudol gets the least to do as we learn the least about her characters out of the 4). I’m glad that we’ll be getting more of this cast in the sequels. Ezra Miller is good as his character but he’s not given enough to really do, Miller really does elevate his character through his performance though. I’m just glad that he’s in the sequel so he can do more. Jon Voight was fine in the movie but he does feel out of place and unneeded. I really like Colin Farrell and I liked his performance here as Percival Graves, being quite an effective villain. While some didn’t like it, I personally liked the twist with Graves secretly being Gellert Grindelwald. What I don’t like is the fact that Grindelwald would end up being played by Johnny Depp instead. Farrell had the right feel for Grindelwald, the way he carried himself, delivered his lines, all of it was perfect. And we go from a very solid and well tuned performance to one that was much sillier in comparison. In his 30 seconds of screentime, Depp either seemed like one of his characters or a generic cartoonish villain, neither is idea for the role. It doesn’t help that he looks like a Johnny Depp character, with the white hair, the moustache, he just looked really goofy. Even his line deliveries (all 2 of them) were that of a clichéd villain. So a lot of the shock of the twist is undercut by such a poor first impression by Johnny Depp, and ends up being one of the biggest downgrades in movie history. Only time will tell if Depp ends up surprising us all in the role.

David Yates’s direction of the movie is solid once again. The production design is solid, setting things right in the 1920s. The visual effects are great at times, however some of the CGI on the beasts weren’t always the best, even the CGI in some of the older Harry Potter movies looked better. Not only that, the Obscurial as a dark cloudy creature is a little too much of an over the top CGI creature and can look really messy, especially in the third act. The score by James Newton Howard is really effective.

I know that some people really don’t like Fantastic Beasts and I’m aware of its issues. I still like it (granted I’m a tad biased because I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan) but I don’t think it’s great. I think the biggest problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be, a different story following Newt Scamander trying to retrieve some lost creatures or being a political thriller involving an Obscurial and Grindelwald, and world building as well. Fantastic Beasts tries to integrate both of these plotlines and it doesn’t really work, especially when it comes to tone. While I am nervous about the next film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, it seems like the biggest issue in the first movie won’t be present here. From the trailers at least, it seems like it’s focussed up on what it really wants to do, with it leaning much more into the Grindelwald and Dumbledore stuff. I’m still worried about how they’ll get Newt Scamander involved with this plotline, and I’m still very sceptical about Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, but outside of that, I’m excited for the sequel.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) Review

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Griphook
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
John Hurt as Garrick Ollivander
Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley
Director: David Yates

Without the guidance and protection of their professors, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) begin a mission to destroy the Horcruxes, the sources of Voldemort’s immortality. Though they must rely on one another more than ever, dark forces threaten to tear them apart. Voldemort’s Death Eaters have seized control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and they are searching for Harry — even as he and his friends prepare for the ultimate showdown.

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I’m aware that Deathly Hallows Part 1 gets a bit of a bad rap but I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s a part 1 of a story, and is really seen as just setup for the second half. However this might be one of the best films in the long running series. Director David Yates once again does a great job, he takes advantage of having the story in two parts, utilising it well, adding some character development to the main characters. It does drag a bit especially in the second act but most of it really works.

The movie is quite dark, definitely the darkest of the movie series (though it doesn’t have as many depressing moments like in Half-Blood Prince) and you really feel the stakes throughout. There are little spots of brightness, just enough so that the movie isn’t overwhelmingly dark but not too much that you forget what’s at stake in the wizarding world. Splitting the books up into two really was a wise decision, it’s not the longest book in the series but it is a very big story and a whole lot happens, and so the more screentime given to the story, the better. It also allows David Yates and everyone else working on the movie to take their time with telling the story, you couldn’t do the entire Deathly Hallows book in one 4 hour long movie, and if one was to do that it wouldn’t be as good as what they have done here. Splitting the movie into two parts also gives more time to these characters and we get to know them a lot more and see them go through a lot of change. Deathly Hallows Part 1 really does feel like a Part 1 of a story and a setup for a big climax, however it’s not like other YA movies that have their last book split into two parts, it doesn’t feel like it’s padding out time. Yes, the second act does drag a little bit, especially when they are in the forest and not really doing anything, but it doesn’t drag too much, and as I said these moments are often used for character moments. The third act is done really well, very dark and tense and ending it on a pretty good note that sets it up for the last instalment in the franchise. Again, book changes are apparent, most of them don’t bother me. The movie does a good job at simplifying some of the things that happen and cutting out some of the unnecessary bits. With that said, Deathly Hallows Part 1 does have the singularly most obnoxious book to movie change, it’s to do with how Wormtail (Timothy Spall) is dealt with at the end, if you’ve read the books you know exactly what I’m talking about. Had they changed it to how the book did it, it would’ve taken up a minute at most and would’ve been a very dark and impactful scene. However they instead used that moment as a joke. It’s not movie-breaking but it’s nonetheless really irksome. Also a tad glaring is a bit involving a mirror, in the books its established in Order of the Phoenix, but here in the movie it just comes out of nowhere with no explanation for what it is and how it got there.

The acting once again was great. The dynamic between Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) was great and they give some of the best performances of their characters in the series. Since the movie is just them focussing on hunting down the Horcruxes we get to see them very prominently throughout the movie; we see them come together and get into conflicts as they struggle to complete this seemingly impossible task. A lot of the side characters are pushed to the background (because of how many they are and the fact that most of the movie is just focussed on the main 3) but they all do great, whether that be Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange or Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy. One casting decision which wasn’t that great was Rhys Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood. Ifans is a good actor but he feels a little too over the top, even if he’s only in a couple scenes. Also while it’s a decent casting decision, Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour (the new Minister of Magic) is really only in a couple scenes here (having about the same screentime as in the book). He was introduced in the Half-Blood Prince book and they should have done the same as with the movie (this is more of a criticism with Half Blood Prince than Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Direction by David Yates really works once again for the Harry Potter movies. The cinematography is a little brighter than in Half-Blood Prince so you can actually easily see anything, however is dark enough that it fits with the tone of the story. The production design, CGI and other technical aspects are greatly handled as well. There is a storytelling scene close to the third act that is done really well with the visual style and animation. One scene that had some issues with its direction was a chase scene in the forest scene, it was really shaky and it was hard to see what was going on. I know I brought it up in other Harry Potter reviews but it is absolutely jarring how different the time period is, because some of the locations are rather modern looking at times. Not a huge problem but definitely something that stands out. The score for the movie is done by Alexandre Desplat this time and it was truly fantastic, adding a lot to the movie.

I actually really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, it’s a lot better than I remember it being. It is quite bleak at times, and drags in some moments but ultimately it does achieve what it sets out to do, and makes for one of the best movies in the Harry Potter series. The story being in two parts may not be something that a lot of people like, but I think that overall ended up improving the films.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) Review

Time: 153 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

As Death Eaters wreak havoc in both Muggle and Wizard worlds, Hogwarts is no longer a safe haven for students. Though Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) suspects there are new dangers lurking within the castle walls, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is more intent than ever on preparing the young wizard for the final battle with Voldemort. Meanwhile, teenage hormones run rampant through Hogwarts, presenting a different sort of danger. Love may be in the air, but tragedy looms, and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

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After The Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros was dead set on director David Yates doing the rest of the Harry Potter series. Having seen the next movies, I’d say that this was a very good call. The Half Blood Prince is a well balanced, dark and effective movie, and for sure one of the best movies in the series.

Half Blood Prince has a rather dark story and so had a dark tone, this is established in the first scene of the movie. It’s evident throughout. With that said, the movie is not devoid of lighter and humorous moments. A big part of this movie is the characters growing up, with teenage romance all about and more. While on paper it sounds like it could turn out really poorly (especially with it being based on a YA novel), it all feels really natural here. Goblet of Fire delved slightly into that but it came across as being a little annoying, Half Blood Prince handled it much better and it was actually fun to watch. There are some things cut from the movie, but that’s come to be expected with the movie series. What matters is whether the movie still works on its own as a story. Although I will admit that I would’ve liked to have seen more glimpses at Tom Riddle’s past and backstory, as we only see 2/3 moments of that in flashbacks. It would’ve been interesting to see and learn more about Riddle, however it’s wasn’t necessary for the story. Half Blood Prince does have however feature a sequence that wasn’t in the movie, that being the Death Eater’s attack on The Burrow. While it isn’t necessary and the story could’ve worked without it, it did remind us once again about the danger that’s very apparent in the Wizarding World, the movie is better with it. This is a pretty long movie, at about 2 hours and a half long but all around it’s actually really well paced and never really drags.

Acting is all around in this movie is good. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are played well once again. I feel like Harry doesn’t really get much to do here compared to some of the previous movies, though he does have some great acting moments, especially in the third act. The romance between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is very out of place and just comes out of nowhere. It’s like we missed a storyline with them in between movies, and we are only seeing it for the first time, and it just comes across as being really awkward. I almost feel like Grint and Watson got more chance to shine, a lot of the aforementioned coming of age elements are especially present with them and they have great chemistry. Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy gets to do more here than in any of the other Harry Potter movies, with him receiving a task to kill Dumbledore. We see more sides to him and he’s shown to be more than just one of the more dislikeable characters in the Harry Potter series, and he’s shown to be much more complex. Michael Gambon gives his best performance as Albus Dumbledore, he seems close to the end of his lifespan and he’s particularly focussed on for this story. Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn, the new potions teacher who is integral to the story, was played well and was perfectly cast.

David Yates does yet another great job with his direction of the movie. This movie has some great cinematography. One criticism about it however is that its so dark looking (borderline black and white at times) and washed out, that at certain moments its hard to see what’s going on and I can definitely see it. It’s really the only Harry Potter movie that I have problems with regarding the colour and the lighting. I know the movie is supposed to be quite dark but even the next films in the series don’t have a colour pallet as dark as this. Most of the time it’s fine, at times it can be a little distracting. It does well however at giving an off-putting feeling, and in that it does it very well. And the cinematography is among the best in the entire series to be fair. The visual effects are done really well, as to be expected they get better with every film. There is a segment in the third act in particular which was done very well. The score by Nicholas Hooper is once again great and adds a lot to the movie.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince surprised me, it was actually pretty great and one of the best in the series. While there are some additional things I would’ve liked to have seen in the movie and some of the colour pallet is a little too washed out and distracting, almost everything in this movie works greatly. I’m so glad that Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates, it really paid off.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and fantasy horror.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.

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After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the next film in the series would have yet another different director, that being David Yates, who would of course go on to direct all the future Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Order of the Phoenix does suffer by having a lot of cuts to the story and not having enough of the story from the book, but the movie is nonetheless very solid and rather underrated (at least to me). It’s has some truly great moments, and it does successfully pull off adapting the longest book into one of the shortest movies.

Tonally, this film does feel brighter than the past two movies but it does signify that some things are in the process of changing in the world. Now I hadn’t read Order in the Phoenix for a long time but it’s well known that it’s the longest book in the series, and so there’s no doubt a ton of things that were cut, and you can really feel it watching the movie. It does have one of the problems that Goblet of Fire has, that being that some story points, character depth and development is seemingly not in the movie, and it would’ve really improved this film. There are also some parts which are only shown briefly which it would’ve been nice to go into a little more. The biggest example is that Harry training Dumbledore’s Army is like shown in 2 montages, they are effective in the movie and get the point across, but nonetheless it would’ve been nice to explore it a little more. With that said, the movie does have some effective scenes, an example being the scenes between Harry and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), which are among the best scenes of the film. Compared to most of the Harry Potter movies, it’s not as long, so another 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) might’ve added to the story a bit. Order of the Phoenix would’ve always had this problem as a movie though, with it being the longest story in the book series, really the only way to encapsulate the stories from the books is to make it a tv series, so credit to the directors is due for trying their best. Thankfully though, unlike Goblet of Fire, the movie doesn’t extend or add a bunch of pointless things to the movie (or at the very least I didn’t notice it). The opening moments of Order of the Phoenix is a little clunky, with it being quite possibly having the worst opening scenes of the movies. The Dursleys are more the top than usual, the dementors had a jarring downgrade in design, it introduces characters that don’t get any development whatsoever, and is just really rushed. After the first 15-20 minutes, things improve from there though. The movie is just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, making it the second shortest of the Harry Potter movies and while I did wish it was a little longer so that we could’ve gotten more of the plot and characters, it never felt overlong and the pace was always consistent (even if it did at times rush through some things).

Acting is quite good all around. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are great and all get to do stuff in the movie. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry is particularly great, delivering his strongest performance in the series up to this point, Harry goes through some character development so Radcliffe gets a lot to do here. The returning cast are great as well. Gary Oldman is once again fantastic as Sirius Black, he and Radcliffe share some great scenes together. Though some characters like Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) are a little underutilised, they are still good in their roles. Michael Gambon with Order of the Phoenix starts to really fully settle into the role of Dumbledore, still different from Richard Harris’s but works nonetheless. Ralph Fiennes as usual is great as Voldemort, he’s not in the movie a lot (mostly just in the third act) but he’s a constant screen presence from start to finish, even when he’s not on screen. There are some good additions to the movie, I liked the casting choices, but some got to do more than others. Out of all the scene stealers in this movie, the most prominent one is Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, the character was even more hated than Voldemort and Staunton absolutely kills this role, bringing this loathed character to the big screen. She’s essentially the main villain for most of the movie, she is such a big screen presence and invokes such a response from audiences. Pretty much everything about her character in this movie they nailed. Also a new great addition was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who throws herself completely into her insane role. You mostly just see her in the third act, but she makes a great impression.

Director David Yates takes over as the next Harry Potter director, and he was a good pick. So much so that he was given pretty much the rest of the Harry Potter movies and the entirety of the Fantastic Beasts series to direct. The movie does have a good look to it, the production design, the visuals and the whole look of the world is really good. You do get to see quite a lot more magic in this story and it was done really well. This is the first Harry Potter movie where we really get to see Wizard Duels in all of their glory, and it was shown very well. The third act particularly has a ton of magic and battles (Dumbledore vs Voldemort was especially a highlight) and it’s really great to see. One minor thing that stands out is the look of the Dementors early in the movie, who look like skeletons with a bit of cloth and aren’t as effective as the Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban and look rather goofy instead. Granted they are on screen for less than a minute. The score by Nicholas Hooper is also pretty good.

Order of the Phoenix starts off quite clunky but it really does improve over time and is overall a solid Harry Potter movie. It’s biggest issue is that it is missing some things from the book that would’ve improved the plot had they been included them. With that said, it’s also got a lot of great things, with wizard duels, not feeling overlong and having some really great scenes. I also feel like with Order of the Phoenix, the series got the right setup, tone and portrayal of the world right, which is probably why Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates to direct all the Harry Potter/Wizarding World movies.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) Review

Time: 157 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium fantasy violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Director: Mike Newell

The fourth movie in the Harry Potter franchise sees Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returning for his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). There is an upcoming tournament between the three major schools of magic, with one participant selected from each school by the Goblet of Fire. When Harry’s name is drawn, even though he is not eligible and is a fourth player, he must compete in the dangerous contest.

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After Prisoner of Azkaban, the Harry Potter series would continue with Goblet of Fire, this time directed by Mike Newell. I think this movie is generally liked but I’m not sure what the general consensus by the general audience is on it. To me, Goblet of Fire is very solid and has some truly great moments but it also has some moments which don’t work that well, like some of the cheesiness, the at times slower pace and longer length. Overall though, the pros more than outweigh the cons.

Goblet of Fire adopts a significantly darker tone and it was appropriate for the story, the film really does nail its darker moments. The humour a lot of the time works but at other times it’s a little too silly and cheesy for my taste. Something that was very evident to me at least was that the movie is quite over the top at times, with how certain things are portrayed, the way the actors play their roles, everything was over the top. At times it works, at other times it doesn’t work as well and comes across as a little too silly. While it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, I feel like there’s a bunch of things missing from the movie. It feels like the movie has added in unnecessary things and removed some necessary story points. It’s not a problem if you are familiar with the books but if you aren’t, there are some things that are unresolved or unexplained that I think would really stand out to you. The rest of the movies do a good enough job familiarising the audience with new ideas and things relating to the world, but Goblet of Fire does have some problems with this. Also, some of the side characters that were featured a little more in the book don’t get as much screentime in the movie. This movie is long again, at about 2 hours and 40 minutes long and you really do feel the length. Despite it being as long as Chamber of Secrets, that film had significantly better pacing. While Goblet of Fire has some exciting and captivating moments, and can really drag at times, especially the yule ball segment (the preparation of the ball and also the ball itself in particular). The Yule Ball segment does make the story and everything come to a huge halt, especially among Harry having to complete all these trials. While I guess it does a good job at showing teenagers acting like teenagers and what it’s like, there are times where it does linger on it too much. The third act is pretty much perfect in my eyes and is really effective and impactful… well it’s almost perfect, the ending concludes the story way too quickly and on such a jarringly light note, especially considering the dark things that were happening 10 minutes beforehand.

Most of the cast do well but something that I noticed was that a lot of the acting can be over the top. As I said previously also, some of the side characters that were featured a little more in the book don’t get as much screentime and so some actors aren’t utilised to quite their fullest potential. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are once again good in their roles. You can definitely tell that these characters (and the other characters their age) are maturing more than in the previous movies. These characters are acting more angsty and more like teenagers and while they did a good job at it, they succeeded a little too well. And I know the justification about teenagers acting like teenagers can be used for Ron Weasley in this movie but he really comes across as unlikable and annoying in this movie, particularly when he and Harry stop being friends for a period of time. Granted this was in the book but it doesn’t make him any less annoying. Robert Pattinson (yes, pre-Twilight) is also quite good as Cedric Diggory. Some of the over the top performances work for the roles and the movie. Brendan Gleeson’s Mad Eye Moody (as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher) is over the top and scene stealing (and there’s a reasonable enough explanation at the end of the movie for how crazy he acts). Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter isn’t in a ton of scenes but she is solid in the role and suitably over the top. David Tennant is also really over the top but it works well enough for the role. Some other over the top performances however are a little too much and are just distracting, like Roger Lloyd Pack as Barty Crouch Sr. However the most criticised performance was Michael Gambon’s Albus Dumbledore. There are many times when he’s quite loud and over the top here. Particularly the infamous moment when he goes beserk and delivers the line “Harry did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?” when in the book he is meant to be doing it ‘calmly’. It’s not just his really loud moments however, a lot of his line deliveries and the way he acted didn’t fit Dumbledore at all. Thankfully his performance as Dumbledore improved significantly after this movie, and he does have some okay moments during Goblet of Fire. A lot of the returning cast members like Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy are great once again. Ralph Fiennes plays Voldemort and he does a great job in his small screentime in the third act. It is a larger than life and is an over the top villain performance, but like Fiennes once said, there’s no way else you could play this role. He put everything into this performance and played it excellently.

Director Mike Newell as expected of in the other movies with different directors, he added his own style and direction to the next Harry Potter movie. The visual effects improved a little over the last movie and the magic looks quite different from the previous movies, with very distinct colours (like red and green) being used. Some sequences are fantastic, such as the challenges which involves Harry on a broomstick being chased by a dragon, Harry swimming underwater and Harry in a magical maze. Also the third act with the confrontation with Voldemort, all of that was directed well. This is the first Harry Potter to not have their score done by John Williams, this time it’s done by Patrick Doyle, who does a pretty good job, it fitted for a Harry Potter movie, especially for this story and the tone they were going for. I know it’s a weird thing to focus on, but it’s really jarring when all the main characters suddenly have long hair, particularly Harry and Ron. Not really a problem, just sort of distracting. That’s the least of the movie’s problems anyway.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has some really good things and some very apparent flaws all at once. The darker tone was done very effectively and there are some truly great segments (particularly the challenges segments and the third act). At the same time the movie feels overlong and drawn out, with the pacing not being particularly good. Also, some of the over the top scenes work but some of the other over the top aspects end up backfiring significantly. Still I think Goblet of Fire is a solid movie, just not one of the better movies in the series.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Scary scenes and mild language.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) third year at Hogwarts starts off badly when he learns deranged killer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison and is bent on murdering the teenage wizard. While Hermione’s (Emma Watson) cat torments Ron’s (Rupert Grint) sickly rat, causing a rift among the trio, a swarm of nasty Dementors is sent to protect the school from Black. A mysterious new teacher helps Harry learn to defend himself, but what is his secret tie to Sirius Black?

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Interestingly, Prisoner of Azkaban for most of the general audience is the best Harry Potter movie. I knew though that a lot of die hard Harry Potter fans had some mixed feelings about the movie. As I hadn’t watched the movie recently and in a while, I was curious to see what my opinion of the movie would be. I’m glad to say that I lean on the side that considers Prisoner of Azkaban to be one of the best Harry Potter movies, with Alfonso Cuarón’s direction playing a big part in this.

If I had to guess one of the main reasons why this movie stuck particularly with the general audience more than the other Harry Potter movies, it might have to do with the fact that the story is much more personal for Harry and didn’t clearly feel like it was setting up for later movies. It’s like the only Harry Potter film to not have Voldemort to deal directly with the plot (outside of maybe Half Blood Prince). There are some differences from the books, most of them didn’t bother me too much and worked okay enough for a movie (such as Harry learning the spell Expecto Patronium really quickly) as opposed to the book where it took a long time. Some of the differences, particularly with how the spells work, are a little distracting. For example, Expecto Patronium here is not quite like it was in the book, and Expelliarmus here seemed to be used as both a disarming spell and a stunning spell. There are also some bits from the book that would’ve been nice to see in the movie. The humour in this movie worked really well, while the previous movies had some hit or miss humour, all of it works here. Prisoner of Azkaban is shorter than the previous two Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 20 minutes long and is really paced well, even better paced than Philosopher’s Stone. You never feel bored, and you can’t pick out really a scene that could’ve or should’ve been removed for time or for the benefit of the story. Almost everything in here is needed.

There isn’t really any problems with the younger cast acting from this point forward with the films. Once again the friendship between Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) is even stronger. Radcliffe particularly gets a lot to do, especially in the second half. I mentioned in my Chamber of Secrets review that Ron Weasley comes across as being a little useless and underused at times, and the same goes for Prisoner of Azkaban, particularly in the third act (then again it was in the novel as well). The rest of the returning is once again good as well, particularly Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and Maggie Smith and Minerva McGonagall. Most of the new additions really worked. David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (the best in Harry’s period at Hogwarts), was a perfect casting decision, I can’t see anyone else in the role (I’m so glad Thewlis got this role instead of Professor Quirrell in Philosopher’s Stone). Gary Oldman works really well as Sirius Black, once again he transforms completely into his role. Conveying a lot of craziness, yet also completely convincing as the true character that’s revealed later on, Oldman is absolutely fantastic as usual. Timothy Spall was also perfect for his role that’s revealed later in the movie. One new cast addition was for the role of Albus Dumbledore, as Richard Harris died between the second and third films. Michael Gambon takes on the role now and while I’m aware there are mixed feelings about him, I think he’s fine here. He’s not quite fitted into the role of Dumbledore yet but he works fine, even if he does feel like he’s trying to act like Richard Harris. At least he fares better here than he does in Goblet of Fire. Other additions like Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawny were good as well.

Alfonso Cuarón’s direction is jarringly different from Chris Columbus’s, however considering the massive tonal differences that the later stories would have and seeing how they have changed, I can say that the changes was worth it and I’m glad that it happened in this movie before it was too late in the series. His direction of the movie is probably why so many people love this movie so much over the others, and for good reason. The way everything looks, his storytelling, pretty much everything works excellently. His attention to detail was great, particularly with Hermione and her use of the time turner. The cinematography by Michael Seresin was fantastic, it really looks great. When it comes to visuals, this is probably the first of the Harry Potter’s to have effects that actually still do hold up really well. Certain magical things like the Marauder’s Map particularly looked really nice on screen. Of course there are some moments where you can tell would need a green screen or something to be completely created in CGI and then you can really identify the green screen and tell that the CGI/magical object isn’t actually there, but nothing more than that. The look of the Dementors are great, shadowy, dark and really effective, I’m not sure why their design changed in Order of the Phoenix. This film has some truly magical and wonderful sequences, such as the flight(s) of the hippogriff Buckbeak and Harry facing off against the dementors. There are some weird looking sequences though, like the Knight Bus moment, where they seemed to up the insanity for a little bit, I guess that’s what they were going for but it did feel out of place. The production design was once again really great. I will say however that with this movie following the previous two, I can’t tell what year this takes place in. In fact one of the biggest problems with the Harry Potter movies is the time period is never locked down. It’s a slight distraction but doesn’t negatively affect the movies too much. Also whereas the first two movies had the main character wearing robes pretty much all the time, here they start wearing more casual clothes and this would become more prevalent over time as the movies would continue, I think it works for the movie but again it can be a jarring difference. Every director also keeps changing what Hogwarts looks like and again, jarring but you get over it. The score by John Williams is also great, in fact some of the best themes in the Harry Potter movies were introduced/featured in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Before re-watching Prisoner of Azkaban recently, I wasn’t sure where I would rank it among the Harry Potter movies, but now I think it’s at the very least among the best in the movies. The great pacing, the storytelling, the acting but most of all Alfonso Cuarón’s excellent direction, makes this a really great film. I can definitely see now why so many people consider it to be the best film in the entire series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Review

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Frightening fantasy scenes and violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart
John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: Chris Columbus

It’s Year 2 at Hogwarts, and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are back learning, but their year doesn’t go past quietly. Members of the school are turning up petrified and bloody writing are appearing on the walls, revealing to everyone, that someone has opened the chamber of secrets. The attacks continue, bringing the possibility of the closure of Hogwarts. Harry and his friends are now forced to secretly uncover the truth about the chamber before the school closes or any lives are taken.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was a huge hit for audiences, for both Harry Potter readers and those who weren’t. The next year, Chris Columbus would release the next film in the series, Chamber of Secrets, which is also pretty good, a film which I would consider to be slightly better than the Philosopher’s Stone, despite it feeling a little too long and drawn out at many points in the film.

In my last Harry Potter review, I mentioned how surprised I was at the length of the Philosopher’s Stone, at 2 hours and a half long. I’m even more shocked at the runtime for Chamber of Secrets, at 2 hours and 40 minutes long. I will say though, you can definitely feel the running time this time, some scenes can drag and some scenes can be rushed, and it definitely feels like a long movie this time round. Chamber of Secrets is not complicated but it’s not as simple as Philosopher’s Stone, with much more going on at the same time, and as nice as it was to see a lot of these scenes in the movie, maybe some of them should’ve been cut. The third act however was paced and handled suitably well for the most part. A good thing about this movie is that you can tell that Chamber of Secrets was done by the same director but there is a suitably darker tone that is necessary for the story. This is about a giant creature that petrifies (and sometimes) kills children after all. This also means a lot less of the camp and cheesiness that was present in the first movie (however the ending of the movie can be very cheesy). The movie also sets up and establishes things (unknowingly to audience members) that would come into play for future movies, and that’s something that the Harry Potter series does very well. There are some bits which, as a Harry Potter fan, slightly irked me, and I don’t usually have issues with differences to the books. For example, the disarming spell Expelliarmus is used as a stunning spell, while they aren’t anything really major, that can be very distracting.

The acting from the child actors is still not great but it has noticeably improved over the child acting in Philosopher’s Stone (and also despite the fact it’s just been a year, they all look much older). Also, the chemistry and friend dynamic between the 3 main leads (Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger) is a lot better and more convincing. One issue I might bring up though is not an uncommon criticism, Ron is kind of a whiner and useless a lot of the time, particularly in this movie, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire. I know that some characters when adapted have to be simplified, but surely Ron could’ve come across as a little better than how he did here. Other returning actors, especially Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid and Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore). We also have some new additions to the series. Kenneth Branagh was a perfect casting choice for Gilderoy Lockhart, he is really cartoonish, useless, over the top and annoying but it’s pretty much a perfect representation of the character (fun fact, Hugh Grant nearly played the role and he would’ve been great as well). Another great new casting choice was Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s (Tom Felton) father. He plays the role with such menace and is pretty memorable despite only being in a few scenes in Chamber of Secrets (that voice is pretty great and suits his character well. Also good was another new character Dobby, voiced by Toby Jones, perfect casting.

As I said before, you can tell that Chris Columbus directed Chamber of Secrets but it also has a darker tone to it, and this also extends to the direction. While there are lots of moments with brightness, the colour pallet also uses a lot of darker colours, the entire third act is dark and dark green. The production design is really great once again, the attention to detail was fantastic, especially the Chamber of Secrets. The visual effects are slightly better, it does have some weaker spots but there are a lot of things that still look pretty solid today. John William’s score is once again excellent, and his new additions to the Harry Potter soundtrack really pay off (the Fawkes theme being a standout).

I don’t know what the general reception that Chamber of Secrets has but I think I like it slightly more than Philosopher’s Stone (probably because of the darker story and tone). With that said, it does have some issues, with it feeling overlong and dragging at times. One of the weaker movies in the series but it’s still rather solid.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) Review

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains supernatural theme
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore
Ian Hart as Quirinus Quirrell
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: Chris Columbus

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is an average bespectacled 11 year old boy who has lived with the Dursley family ever since his parents died in a car crash. For some reason the family has always mistreated him. On his 11th birthday a giant man named Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) hands him a letter telling him that he has been accepted as a student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry learns that his parents were wizards and were killed by an evil wizard Voldemort, a truth that was hidden from him all these years. He embarks for his new life as a student, gathering two good friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) along the way. They soon learn that something very valuable is hidden somewhere inside the school and Voldemort is very anxious to lay his hands on it.

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With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald releasing towards the end of the year, I decided to have a look through all of the Harry Potter movies in the lead up to its release. The books were very popular and in the late 90s, Warner Bros were looking to adapt this acclaimed and beloved series (which was still going on) to the big screen. In 2001, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (no it’s not titled the Sorcerer’s Stone here in New Zealand) was released to much love from readers and non readers alike. I grew up with these movies with my family, so no matter some of the flaws that some of them have, I can’t help but love them. As for the Philosopher’s stone, it’s not one of the better movies in the series but I still like it, and watching it more recently, its actually impressive how well it started off the series for both those familiar with the Harry Potter books and those that weren’t.

Out of all the movies, Philosopher’s Stone is the most accurate to the book (you don’t get everything from the book in here though, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s only so much you can put into one movie). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s automatically a better movie than the rest. Seeing it again recently, Philosopher’s Stone actually does some very impressive things that I didn’t notice before. What actually surprised me the most was the length of the movie, it was 2 hours and 30 minutes because it felt so much shorter. Director Chris Columbus really keeps the movie at a pretty good pace, it never feels like it lingers on things too much and it never feels rushed. Another great thing is when it comes to establishing the world of Harry Potter. When it comes to adapting fantasy or sci fi source material to the big screen, one of the biggest challenges is establishing the fictional world in a strong way to the audience, so that they are immersed and perfectly understand what kind of world they are in. With the Philosopher’s Stone, it’s done greatly, the story is simple but effective enough that you are willing to accept all the crazy magical things that this movie is establishing to you. The movie is very light hearted, especially in contrast with the rest of the series, however it really was the best way to start off the series. The book anyway has a mostly light tone, so the movie brought it to the big screen very well. Though I won’t lie this movie can feel really dated and a little too goofy and over the top at times (too many instances to list).

Almost all of the Harry Potter characters were perfectly cast. The main 3 actors with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (who play Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger respectively) do have some missteps but they all do good jobs. The child actors in the early films aren’t all the best and are a little rocky (especially with the line delivery), but they do improve over the years. The adult actors are all around well cast. Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore (who does a good job as Dumbledore in his two film appearances for their respective stories), Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape (absolutely perfect and much better than the book version of Snape), Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, all do excellent jobs. Even some of the one scene actors do quite well, like John Hurt as Ollivander the wandmaker. The only casting choice/character who doesn’t work quite as well is Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell. While not bad or anything, he really wasn’t anything special, was a little over the top and it’s pretty clear the moment he’s on screen that he’s secretly shady (for lack of a better non spoilerish term).

Yes, as you’ll probably get from my thoughts on the later Harry Potter films, I do prefer the darker movies but for what Chris Columbus was going for in the first two Harry Potter movies, it works rather well. It’s also a perfect way to bring the audience, whether they are fans of the books or not, into the world. Chris Columbus does a great job at establishing the Harry Potter world. The production design is really great, especially in Hogwarts, it really does make you feel like you’re in a magical school. The visuals aren’t as impressive as those in the later movies but for its time it worked very well. Some visual effects haven’t aged well (especially the green screen), but you can accept it as it’s a movie from 2001. John Williams’s score as always is iconic and very memorable, adding a lot of ‘magic’ into a movie with already so much magic. It is a little on the nose in a couple scenes when Voldemort is brought up and the score drops to an over the top ominous sound, but otherwise it’s quite good.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is still good, and as I said a perfect adaptation of the book. Even if you think it’s on a significantly lower level compared to the rest of the movies, I think it’s worth acknowledging a lot of the impressive things it did with establishing the world and keeping the long running movie at a pretty fast pace. It’s not my favourite of the Harry Potter movies, it does feel quite dated but it nonetheless did a good job at starting off the series.

Wonder (2017) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse Language
Cast
Julia Roberts as Isabel Pullman
Owen Wilson as Nate Pullman
Jacob Tremblay as August “Auggie” Pullman
Izabela Vidovic as Olivia “Via” Pullman
Noah Jupe as Jack Will
Mandy Patinkin as Mr. Tushman
Daveed Diggs as Mr. Browne
Director: Stephen Chbosky

Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.

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I was curious about this movie ever since I heard that it was going to be made. I actually studied the original novel Wonder in English class in school, so I was interested. With director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and a talented cast, it definitely looked like it had potential to be quite good. I have to say that this is a really good movie and a great adaptation of the book, definitely a movie that everyone should watch.

I admit it’s been years since I read the original novel of Wonder but from what I can tell the movie is very faithful to the book. The novel is split up into different sections focussing on different characters and the film is partially that as well. Despite the movie being one hour and 50 minutes long, it did feel a little long at times, but that’s maybe that’s because I remember many of the events of the movie and I was waiting for them to occur. To everyone else I don’t think the length or the pacing will be a problem at all for them. Wonder is also very effective at having emotional moments, you really get invested in this movie and these characters, which is helped by the main characters being quite likable. It also showed well how much Auggie’s appearance has an impact on other people, on his sister, on her sister’s friend, on a boy at school, etc, which is part of why this movie stands out so much, you aren’t just purely focussed on August and what he’s going through. The sweet moments that happen also doesn’t feel forced at all, they all actually felt genuine. On the whole I had no issues with Wonder, it was just a really good movie which also had some good messages to it.

The acting is really great from everyone overall. Jacob Tremblay was great in the lead role of August Pullman. Tremblay was great in Room and he was also good here too, proving himself once again to be a really good actor and one of the best child actors working today. He had a lot of make up on (which was by the way great and effective) and he manages to act very well through it. Also there was good acting from the mother, father and sister played by Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Izabela Vidovic respectively, the chemistry and dynamic between them all was quite strong and they really did feel like a family. The rest of the supporting actors, including the child actors were also good and were very believable in their roles.

This movie was directed by Stephen Chbosky who also directed the great Perks of Being of a Wallflower and he did a great job here too. As previously stated, the makeup on Tremblay was great and made him look ‘different’ enough, yet it wasn’t too over the top and allowed Jacob to act with it.

Wonder was a really good adaptation of the novel and was a good movie in itself as well. The story was just wonderful, the acting was really good and it’s a really good movie that people of all ages can watch. In fact really everyone should watch Wonder, it’s a really good movie that also has some good messages to it. So I definitely recommend everyone watching it, I guarantee that the vast majority of people will like this movie.

Paddington 2 (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast
Hugh Bonneville as Henry Brown
Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown
Brendan Gleeson as Nuckles McGinty
Julie Walters as Mrs. Bird
Jim Broadbent as Samuel Gruber
Peter Capaldi as Mr. Curry
Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan
Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington Brown
Madeleine Harris as Judy Brown
Samuel Joslin as Jonathan Brown
Director: Paul King

Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and marmalade wherever he goes. One fine day, he spots a pop-up book in an antique shop — the perfect present for his beloved aunt’s 100th birthday. When a thief steals the prized book, Paddington embarks on an epic quest to unmask the culprit before Aunt Lucy’s big celebration.

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The first Paddington was surprisingly good, it was funny it was enjoyable, it was a really solid family movie. So I was naturally interested in a sequel and with the returning cast and crew involved with the sequel it seemed it would be good. I haven’t seen the original film in a few years but I can say that Paddington 2 is about as good as the original, with much of what make the first film work so well making a return here.

Like with the original, Paul King wrote the sequel and I’m glad that he has. Once again it balances everything incredibly well and from start to finish is very entertaining to watch. It pretty much has everything that a good family movie should have. Kids will love it and adults can enjoy this as well, it’s not just for kids. The humour is effective and will hit with everyone. It is also very sweet and whimsical but never feels cheesy or forced, it feels genuine. Paddington 2 is an hour and 43 minutes long and it’s a good length, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and is long enough that its satisfying. Also without spoiling anything, it has the perfect ending. Also, it’s worth staying around in the early credits, there is a fun little sequence that follows.

The returning cast were great. Ben Wishaw is still a perfect voice choice for Paddington, so likable and innocent. The Browns played by Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin were once again good here. The newer cast were also quite good. Hugh Grant was the villain here, here he plays a self obsessed and over the top actor and Grant was very into his role and was very entertaining. He’s not as threatening as Nicole Kidman’s villain from the previous Paddington, though he wasn’t meant to be, and for what Grant is doing he did a great job. Other supporting actors like Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Brendan Gleeson were also good, Gleeson in particular was a great addition.

Paul King, director of the original Paddington returns and once again did a great job. Visually this film is quite colourful and the direction is just right for the film. There are especially some great visual moments that are creative, one of them involves the camera moving into the pop up book with Paddington appearing inside the book. I really do think the direction deserves more credit because the way they execute certain sequences is actually quite genius. The animation on Paddington is still seamless, you know that he is not actually there and that the actors on screen are probably just interacting with a tennis ball but it never looks or seems fake.

Once again, its been a few years since I’ve seen the original Paddington so I can’t comment too much on how they compare but Paddington 2 is probably around the same level of quality. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s heartwarming, and it’s great for the whole family. If you liked the first film, I can’t see why you wouldn’t like the sequel. I’m actually on board with a Paddington 3, the first 2 were so good that I can’t see why a third movie wouldn’t be at the same level of quality.