Tag Archives: Eddie Redmayne

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Review

The Trial of the Chicago 7

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Strong coarse language
Cast:
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Deale
Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman
Daniel Flaherty as John Froines
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Richard Schultz
Michael Keaton as Ramsey Clark
Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman
John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger
Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden
Noah Robbins as Lee Weiner
Mark Rylance as William Kunstler
Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis
Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin
Director: Aaron Sorkin

The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. The cast alone had my interest, with the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Eddie Redmayne and more involved. Then there’s the writer and director Aaron Sorkin, who’s the writer behind fantastic scripts for The Social Network and Steve Jobs. Not only that, but the event it’s based on has a lot of potential for a great movie, with it being quite significant and infamous. This film had been in development for quite some time, Sorkin wrote the script in 2007 and it had been passed around to other directors before finally he decided to direct it himself. The Trial of the Chicago 7 ended up being a really great movie and I loved watching it from beginning to end.

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One of the strongest parts of the film no surprise is Aaron Sorkin’s script. It has all the things you’d expect from his writing, snappy and captivating dialogue, a fast pace, and memorable moments. I was actively captivated throughout, Sorkin does very well at locking you in with what’s happening from beginning to end. Much of the movie is a courtroom drama, and this certainly ranks among the best courtroom dramas from recent years. There are some very strong parallels to current events with regard to protests, police brutality and the like (even when the story takes place in the late 60s), and there are many impactful moments. You can get quite frustrated with some of what happens during the trial, and this really showed the movie’s effectiveness. Some people have complained about Sorkin’s ‘Sorkinisms’ in this movie, with some of the dialogue choices and especially with how he chose to represent certain events on screen, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get some of the criticisms. There are definitely moments that didn’t happen like that in real life. The ending especially is such a feel good ending that might actually be too much for some people, it’s one of those scenes from biopics where you don’t even need to read up on the real life events to tell that it never happened. I would’ve liked to have seen a darker and more accurate representation of events for sure. Then again this is Sorkin, and we’ve come to expect this from him.

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There’s a massive ensemble cast for this movie, and everyone is great on their parts. I’ll start with my favourites from the film. Sacha Baron Cohen and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II were the scene-stealers for me. Yahya particularly had such a screen presence and does so much in his screentime, I just wish we got more scenes of him because he was truly fantastic. Another standout performance was from Mark Rylance, who is also great as the lawyer defending the Chicago 7. Eddie Redmayne plays really the lead of the movie, he’s the character who goes through the most development over the course of the movie. It’s certainly a different performance from him, but it’s a surprisingly effective performance, and particularly plays off Cohen very well. The rest of the Chicago 7 were acted well by actors like John Caroll Lynch and Jeremy Strong. Other performances were also great, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the federal prosecutor, Michael Keaton as an attorney general in an important role later in the story, as well as Frank Langella as the judge.

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As many people will say, Aaron Sorkin the writer is way better than Aaron Sorkin the director. I did like his first film Molly’s Game, but it showed that he still had a way to go as a filmmaker. His work on Trial of the Chicago 7 is definitely a step above his first movie. The strongest part of the movie on a technical level is the editing, which really works in favour of the script. This is particularly the case in the opening 10 minutes which efficiently sets up and explains so many things that happened prior to the event that sparked the trial. Additionally in the script there are many flashforward and flashback scenes, and while it could’ve been disorientating, Sorkin really pulled it off and made it effective. With all that being said, whenever Sorkin’s scripts are made into movies by top tier directors like David Fincher and Danny Boyle, they brought the scripts to another level to create fantastic films. If Trial of the Chicago 7 was given to someone of that caliber, it probably would’ve been even better. Still, I would say the direction was good. The score by Daniel Pemberton is also good, not amongst his all time best work, but it worked really well for this movie.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 is currently one of my favourite movies of the year. It felt like an inspiring courtroom thriller made in the 90s, and I mean that in the best way possible. The timely, entertaining and engaging story, the fantastic script and outstanding acting alone makes it really worth watching.

The Aeronauts (2019) Review

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The Aeronauts

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Felicity Jones as Amelia
Eddie Redmayne as James Glaisher
Phoebe Fox as Antonia
Himesh Patel as John Trew
Vincent Perez as Pierre Rennes
Director: Tom Harper

In 1862 headstrong scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) and wealthy young widow Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) mount a balloon expedition to fly higher than anyone in history. As their perilous ascent reduces their chances of survival, the unlikely duo soon discover things about themselves — and each other — that help both of them find their place in the world.

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I heard about The Aeronauts for a little while, before going into it I knew it was Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones returning as an on screen duo 5 years after The Theory of Everything, and that it had something to do with floating in a balloon. There’s a lot here to like, but it’s held back by certain elements, and it could’ve been a lot better.

Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne star in The Aeronauts

Easily the weakest part of the movie is the script. It starts off very rough as it rushes towards the scene main characters leaving on the balloon, with no context or setup whatsoever as to what’s happening. Now the context is then provided through flashbacks, however that’s one of the biggest problems of the movie (if not the biggest), it’s so reliant on flashbacks. When we are on the balloon, The Aeronauts excels, but it comes to a halt every time it does a flashback for both of them back on land, and there’s a lot of them. There doesn’t even seem to be much point in having a narrative structure this way, the flashbacks don’t add anything to the movie. There’s even some scenes showing Felicity’s character being conflicted about whether she’ll even go on the trip, but there’s not even much point given we already know what she decides, not to mention she’s not even a real person, so you can’t put these scenes’ inclusions up to historical accuracy. That’s the other thing too, despite this being advertised as based on true events, don’t look too much into it for historical accuracy. While some parts are accurate like the fact that Eddie Redmayne’s character of James Glaisher did go up in a balloon with someone, that someone wasn’t Felicity Jones’s character of Amelia Wren, in fact she never existed in real life. Come to think of it, embracing it as an inspired but deviating take on the real life story would’ve helped the movie immensely. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long, which is a good enough length for this story, although the flashbacks did seem to make it feel longer. Outside of the flashbacks, the script and characters did feel fairly weak on their own, merely passable enough.

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The duo performances of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are good and work rather well for the movie. Felicity Jones is really the star of the show, one of the highlights of the whole movie. I like Eddie Redmayne, and I liked him here, but if you’re not a fan of his acting, you’re still not going to like him here because he does the similar acting style.

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The Aeronauts directed quite well by Tom Harper. I also saw Wild Rose, and while his work on that was decent, he gets to show off a lot more here. The period of 1860s England is really captured well here, the production design, costumes, etc, all of it really fitted the story and setting. The visuals are great too, and of course it’s mainly to do with the scenes up in the balloon. There are some tense and thrilling scenes during those segments too, and they were filmed very effectively. I can only imagine they were something to really watch on the big screen. The score by Steven Price is also quite good and fits with the movie quite well.

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The Aeronauts had potential and indeed they deliver on some of that, however the script unfortunately drags down the movie considerably, especially with the use of flashbacks that only hinder the film. With that said it has some good elements to it that might make it worth checking out, from the duo of Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, to the visuals and the direction. The movie is only 100 minutes long, so if you’ve got that much time to spare, The Aeronauts is a decent enough watch.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Review

Time: 134 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
Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange
Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander
Claudia Kim as Nagini
William Nadylam as Yusuf Kama
Kevin Guthrie as Abernathy
Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore
Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald
Director: David Yates

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s (Johnny Depp) plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided world.

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I was reasonably excited for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I liked the first movie, despite it being reasonably decent and not being quite as great as I thought it would be, and I was interested in how the 5 Fantastic Beasts movies will go. My only concerns was Johnny Depp as the character of Gellert Grindelwald and how Newt Scamander was going to be integrated into the story (which is pretty much going to be a Dumbledore vs Grindelwald story). Having seen the movie I can say that thankfully I didn’t have the two problems that I thought I would have. However, it does present some problems of it own, including feeling a bit too overstuffed with characters and plotlines. With that said, I still really liked the movie.

There is something I wanted to get out of the way, I noticed a lot of people are complaining about how Fantastic Beasts isn’t as magical as Harry Potter. That never really bothered me, Fantastic Beasts is more adult based than the Harry Potter story, so while it does feature quite a bit of magic, I don’t really have a problem with the film not feeling as magical. Whereas the Harry Potter movies have younger characters experiencing the magical world for the first time, these films follow adults who are quite familiar with it. That is the case with The Crimes of Grindelwald, which also goes to darker places than probably the other Harry Potter movies (which is saying a lot). The first scene where Grindelwald escapes establishes the tone of the entire movie. While I was interested in what was happening in the plot from start to finish and on the whole was fine with what happened, there are some problems with the way that The Crimes of Grindelwald tells its story. The odd thing is that while the overall plot is more tied together, with it surrounding both Credence and Grindelwald (unlike Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them where it tried to be a movie focussing on Newt Scamander finding his beasts, an obscurus and Grindelwald, very different things all at once), it is way more complicated. I appreciate the movie going a more complex route, but it is a little too complicated for its own good. It does have some moments where it throws exposition at the audience and it can be really hard to follow what is going on, I think it will really require a second viewing. However, it’s not necessarily in a ‘this movie has a lot going on and there’s a lot to process’ compliment way, because some of the difficulty understanding comes from how the story is told. Part of it is because so many characters’ goals are related to similar things but they have their own subplots. That’s another thing, there are way too many characters here. With the first movie, along with the 4 main characters, there were a few supporting characters and that’s it. In The Crimes of Grindelwald however, along with the 4 main characters, it has like 12 supporting characters. Yes, I know that some of them have like 2/3 scenes at most and don’t all have subplots, but it doesn’t feel any less jarring. To give an idea about how many characters are in the movie, there is a poster for The Crimes of Grindelwald with the caption “Who Will Change The Future?” with a lot of characters on the poster. I suggest looking up that poster, because it pretty much shows how many prominent characters there are in this movie, and aside from a few of them, most of them have their own individual subplots. It’s exhausting to even think about. Overall, it’s like some of the characters they introduces here should’ve been introduced later, or have some of the characters’ subplots done later in the other movies, because having them all here makes it hard to follow.

J.K Rowling is the one writing the stories, so plotwise, all the problems fall on her. I have a feeling I know why the issues are here, Rowling probably structured the 5 movie story arc in the structure of books and so as an individual movie, it feels really jarring. I feel like it probably would’ve been better for her to have written the stories as books first before being adapted to the big screen. Another thing that will be a point of criticism are some really odd decisions that happen with regard to the direction of the plot. The first Fantastic Beasts introduces some new aspects to the Wizarding World such as the Obscurus but nothing really that conflicted with pre-existing Harry Potter history. Without saying too much, some fans are not going to like what is done here. It’s a bit of a difficult situation criticising the decisions of the creator of the series, it’s like arguing with George Lucas about the Star Wars prequels, no one knows the world quite like him (this is pre Disney Star Wars but you get what I’m meaning), and that’s the same with J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter. While initially I wasn’t sure why we needed 5 movies instead of 3 to tell this story, after the way things ended in The Crimes of Grindelwald, we are going to need as much time as possible to explain things. On the whole though, I was actually fine with the twists in the movie… with the exception with the last one. There is a twist at the end which is so insane that I’m actually wondering if I’m actually misinterpreting what it’s meaning and taking it at face value when really it’s different from what I think it is. I myself have problems even processing this decision, I can’t even dislike it because of how strange it is, I’m more confused than anything. It is difficult judging some of the decisions because so many of them are setup for the next movies, and we won’t know how well they are executed until we actually watch the later movies. As for the last twist though, Rowling is going to have to work extra hard to pull it off if it really is how it looks. In terms of things that I will blast Rowling for, there is an appearance of a well known character from the Harry Potter movies/books, this movie takes place in 1927 and this character hasn’t been born yet, yet somehow is making an appearance in 1935. I’m not sure how J.K. Rowling of all people could get one of her characters existing yet or not. Not a major plot issue but its extremely noticeable and stands out.

The performances all around were good, it’s just that some of the way the characters and their subplots were handled wasn’t the best. There were really 5 characters that worked the best compared to the others. Eddie Redmayne is still a fantastic choice for Newt Scamander, he’s awkward and likable and I like that he’s different enough compared to Harry Potter as a protagonist. While I wasn’t sure about him getting involved with the war against Grindelwald (because it just doesn’t seem like him), he is given an arc through the movie which really works for him that makes him relevant to the later movies, and I liked that. Dan Fogler returns as the muggle Jacob Kowalski and is just as likable as in the first movie, they do appropriately lessen his role as the comedic relief. He comes out better compared to the other supporting characters because he’s pretty much along with Newt for most of the movie. A surprise was Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange. She has a dark and mysterious backstory which plays into the main story, it was one of the most interesting parts of the movie. Kravitz is also great in the role. Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore was also a highlight, you can definitely buy Law as a younger Dumbledore. With that said, don’t expect to see a ton of Dumbledore, he’s definitely a part of the movie but isn’t as prominent as you’d think. However, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of him in the next few movies. A lot of people had problems with the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, both with him as an actor with his most recent performances and career choices, and with him as a person. While I still wish that someone else was in the role (because of Depp as a person), acting wise he surprised me, this is his best performance since Black Mass. Unlike most of his performances where he can be rather over the top, Depp is refreshingly subtle and restrained, yet totally committed to the role. The only thing goofy about Grindelwald is his look, although its distinct, it may have been a little over the top. They really made Grindelwald distinct enough from Voldemort, being a much more public figure, and you can see why so many people would follow him. I wouldn’t say he’s great just yet, cos we haven’t really gotten to know Grindelwald yet as a character or seen his backstory, we’ll just have to see how the next 3 movies go.

The rest of the characters are played well enough but they weren’t handled the best. Katherine Waterston’s Tina Goldstein doesn’t really get much to do, she’s tracking down Credence and that’s really all there is to her, that aren’t really enough scenes with her outside of that. The most we really get is the potential romance between her and Newt, but even that doesn’t really amount to much by the end. There are particularly some things in the third act that don’t really have enough of Tina (hard to explain in a non spoiler review). Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein was the weaker link out of the main 4 characters in the first movie, not because of the acting but there wasn’t a ton of things for her to do. Here she has a bit of an interesting arc which is great on paper, but the way they execute it isn’t the best. She’s like completely separate from the other characters and has her own subplot but you see her like every once every 30 minutes. It’s like there were more scenes of her development that are missing, so her changes are jarring and out of place. Having more scenes would’ve benefited her arc and really fleshed it out. While it is an interesting place she’s been taken by the end of the second movie, I’m sure they could’ve executed it better. There is another plotline following William Nadylam as Yusuf Kama, a wizard tracking down Credence. While he does work within the movie and ties in with the story, it really adds another complicated element into the movie, and the plot is already pretty complicated. Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, an aurora and Newt’s brother, is decent enough but don’t add a ton. As much as I bag on the way that the characters are used in this movie, I can’t complain much about him here. You do understand though why he is here and he’s used in enough scenes. That’s more than I can say then Claudia Kim as Nagini, Kim does a fine job playing her but plotwise Nagini really didn’t need to be there and doesn’t add much outside of some nice snake transformation scenes. Maybe it’s establishing her for later sequels but it better be something significant, otherwise it just feels like J.K. Rowling is trying to establish and include literally every character that existed before Harry Potter. Thankfully Nagini doesn’t have her own subplot to take up even more time, she is paired with Credence, played by Ezra Miller. Speaking of Credence, despite the movie basically surrounding him, it doesn’t exactly handle him the best. He was actually a standout in the first movie, mostly due to Miller’s performance. The Crimes of Grindelwald really needed more of him and really explore him but however that’s not what happens. Despite his whole ‘arc’ being about him trying to find out who he is, he feels more like a plot device and not a character at all, going through the motions because that’s what the plot requires. Definitely the most disappointing of the characters in this movie.

David Yates directs The Crimes of Grindelwald, and once again he does a good job. There’s nothing really wrong with his direction but it would be nice to have some new person taking over, with a more fresh direction. He’s directed all the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts movies since Order of the Phoenix and I think Yates may have relaxed a little too much into his direction of these movies. Again though, nothing really wrong direction-wise. The only direction that was out of place was in Newt’s first scene which for some reason used a lot of POV shots for him and I don’t know why, it was a little distracting. It’s not a dealbreaker, just out of place. The production design and costumes are once again fantastic, the scenes at Hogwarts are particularly a highlight and it feels great to revisit it, even if we aren’t there for long or very often. The CGI on the whole was great, slightly improved over the first movie. The magical sequences are really great to watch, the highlights being the opening scene and the third act. Despite the movie being more Grindelwald focussed, we still get to see a lot of magical creatures through Newt and once again they are great. James Newton Howard’s score as in the first movie was fantastic, it really fits in well with this series.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is really unexpected in many ways. It has some really good performances, a plot that keeps you invested throughout (at least it did for me) and some really great sequences. At the same time, it is overstuffed with too many characters, too many subplots and has some very questionable decisions. As it stands at the moment, I think I like The Crimes of Grindelwald a little more than the first movie because of what the story is about and some of the moments of the movie, even though the first is considerably less messy. Honestly, I can’t tell what you’ll think about the movie. I’d say that if you’re not a die hard Harry Potter fan you might not enjoy it as much, but I already can tell that this movie is going to divide the fandom, it’s going to be pretty much the Alien Covenant for the Harry Potter series. If you like Harry Potter, watch it and see for yourself, because I can’t tell whether you’ll like it or not. I’m still on board for the 3 remaining movies but I really do hope that J.K. Rowling pulls it off, because The Crimes of Grindelwald does make me a little concerned about whether she’ll be able to do that.

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.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Review

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Time: 132 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston as Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Colin Farrell as Percival Graves
Carmen Ejogo as Seraphina Picquery
Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone
Samantha Morton as Mary Lou Barebone
Ron Perlman as Gnarlack
Jon Voight as Henry Shaw Sr.
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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Fantastic Beasts was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. I love the Harry Potter books and movies, so naturally I was interested in seeing what these new films would hold. Despite this, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this prequel, it’s exploring a new side to the Wizarding World, with new characters and I didn’t know what direction it would go in. However, after seeing it, I can say that I absolutely love Fantastic Beasts. It had me interested in the plot from start to finish, the world is interesting, the acting was great, the effects were fantastic and it fits perfectly into the Harry Potter universe.

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There have been many cases where great writers fail at writing a good screenplay (The Counsellor). That’s not the case with JK Rowling, who writes the script to Fantastic Beasts, the script is fantastic. I was invested in this movie from start to finish. One of the best parts of this movie is how, even though it’s establishing the world and setting up for future movies, it stands on its own. The tone was handled really well, it is light at times, but it would also get quite dark in others, overall it was well balanced. I will say that I was more invested in the story involving Ezra Miller’s and Colin Farrell’s characters more than the main plot with Newt Scamander trying to find his creatures, but it may just be a personal preference thing.

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Eddie Redmayne in a scene from, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." (Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. via AP)

The cast is very talented and the film makes use of each actor quite well. Eddie Redmayne is really good as Newt Scamander, his quirkiness really worked in this role. Katherine Waterson and Alison Sudol were also great in the movie. Out of the main four stars however, Dan Fogler stood out most to me, he was fantastic in this movie. It would be so easy for this character to feel like a drag and annoying as he really is the exposition character, he’s the character that the other characters speak to in order to inform the audience what’s going on. However, he was just so likable and fun to watch. He and two other actors stole the show, one of these other actors is Ezra Miller, without spoiling anything about his role I have to say that he is absolutely excellent in this movie. The other showstealer is Colin Farrell, again no spoilers, but he was so great in this movie, I do wish that he was in the movie more but he really made an impression in the scenes he had.

(L-r) COLIN FARRELL as Graves and EZRA MILLER as Credence in a scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. HANDOUT Photo by Jaap Buitendijk, Warner Bros. [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

David Yates has directed some of my favourite films of the Harry Potter series and returned to direct this movie, and he didn’t disappoint. The special effects are naturally great. The magical creatures themselves are so creative and done very well. The action scenes as to be expected are also done fantastically. The setting is very interesting and unique and the excellent production design reflected that. The soundtrack by James Newton Howard was also fantastic, and was well suited for the movie.

media1Fantastic Beasts is truly a great movie. Its talented cast was great, the world was so excellently portrayed by JK Rowling, and the direction was truly great. There’s not a whole lot of problems that I have with the movie. I do have some concerns about the sequels, as I’m not exactly sure how this storyline will be able to fit Newt Scamander into the story (without spoiling anything) but I’m sure it’ll be done well. JK Rowling knows what she’s doing, so I’m sure the next films will be great. Definitely check out this movie when you can.

The Danish Girl (2015) Review

Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe, in Tom Hooper’s THE DANISH GIRL, released by Focus Features. Credit: Focus Features

The Danish Girl

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Nudity and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener
Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener
Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil
Ben Whishaw as Henrik
Amber Heard as Ulla
Sebastian Koch as Dr. Warnekros
Director: Tom Hooper

After standing in as a female model for a painting by his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), Danish artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) becomes enamored with his feminine identity and begins living as a woman named Lili Elbe. Although their marriage becomes strained, Gerda stands by Lili as she explores her true self and eventually undergoes one of the world’s first gender-reassignment surgeries in the 1930s.

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Ever since the first image of Eddie Redmayne in this movie came out, I was intrigued. This sounded like an interesting movie, as well with Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander’s and Tom Hooper’s involvement. While it’s not great, I do think that The Danish Girl is worth seeing for its performances from its lead actors. The production design and direction of the scenes are still pretty good as well and the overall direction of the scenes from Hooper was decent. However its writing didn’t quite hold up, and unfortunately does bring down the movie a little bit from what it could’ve been.

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As I just mentioned, I felt that the writing was the weakest aspect of the movie. I don’t think it’s bad by any means and it gets the job done in moving the plot and characters along. I did hear that it was inaccurate from the original story but I don’t know of the original story. I will say that I thought that Redmayne’s change and how that affected his and Vikander’s relationship was handled well. But the writing did fall short of what it could’ve been. The movie despite being 2 hours long did feel like 2 hours and a half, I think it was stretched out a little too much. I also thought that the film really didn’t explore who these two characters actually were. After the seeing the movie I realised that apart from their place in the plot, I didn’t really know much of who they are. There was some emotional component that was missing from this movie, I can’t exactly determine what it is.

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Eddie Redmayne is again incredible and made up for his disastrous performance in Jupiter Ascending. I thought his transition and discovery was very believable, he manages to portray both Einar and ‘Lili’, and seemed totally different from one another, this must’ve been a very difficult role to pull off. The fact that when Eddie Redmayne is dressed up as a woman, actually looked like a woman helped, in fact he looked more out of place when he wasn’t dressed up as a woman, both physically and emotionally. Alicia Vikander is also great, she gets a lot to do in this movie as a wife seeing her husband slowly disappearing and coming to terms with his transformation. Although I felt that the characters didn’t have that much depth in terms of the writing, both Redmayne and Vikander made them seem like real people and elevated themselves above the material given.

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The production designs and value was great and I thought that it reflected the 1920s time period quite well. The soundtrack by Johann Johansson was also great. The scenes and the overall film were directed well by Tom Hooper, my problem is really not with his visual direction, it was the script that had the most problems.

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The Danish Girl isn’t that great of a movie and doesn’t hold up as well on its own. The writing could’ve been better, the pacing could’ve been handled better and the characters weren’t as well written as they should’ve. But it’s the performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander that make the film worth watching. Sure the movie on the whole could’ve been better, especially with the writing, but the performances are good enough for me to recommend this movie.

2016 Oscar Predictions

When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, movie awards really don’t matter. There are plenty of movies that should win but don’t, some of them don’t even get nominated, and there are some movies that don’t really deserve to win, but win anyway. So no matter what happens during the awards ceremony, it doesn’t really matter. But still, it’s fun to predict what movies will win and at the same time state what you think should win. Since everyone else is doing it, I decided to give my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards. I have watched most of the films in the major categories but occasionally there’s a movie like The Hateful Eight which I can’t or just haven’t seen, so just keep that in mind.

* – Haven’t seen yet

BEST PICTURE

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The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room*
Spotlight

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Carol

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Best Director

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Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room*
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Will Win – Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Should Win – George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Todd Haynes – Carol

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Should Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room*
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years*
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win – Brie Larson, Room
Should Win – Cate Blanchett, Carol
Should’ve Been Nominated – Rooney Mara, Carol (instead of being nominated for supporting)

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should’ve Been Nominated – Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight*
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Should Win – Rooney Mara, Carol

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room*

Will Win – The Big Short
Should Win – The Big Short
Should’ve Been Nominated – Steve Jobs

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina*
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton*

Will Win – Spotlight
Should Win – Spotlight
Should’ve Been Nominated – The Hateful Eight*

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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Anomalisa*
Boy and the World*
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie*
When Marnie Was There*

Will Win – Inside Out
Should Win – Inside Out

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BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Will Win – The Hateful Eight
Should Win – The Hateful Eight
Should’ve Been Nominated – Mad Max: Fury Road – Junkie XL

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BEST SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

=============================

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

=============================

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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Carol
The Hateful Eight*
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

=============================

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

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Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared*
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST FILM EDITING

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The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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So what are your thoughts, what do you think will win, what do you think should win and what do you think should’ve been nominated? Comment below and let me know your predictions for 2016.

Jupiter Ascending (2015) Review

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Jupiter Ascending

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones
Channing Tatum as Caine Wise
Sean Bean as Stinger Apini
Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax
Douglas Booth as Titus Abrasax
Tuppence Middleton as Kalique Abrasax
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Famulus
Director: The Wachowskis

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under signs that predicted future greatness, but her reality as a woman consists of cleaning other people’s houses and endless bad breaks. Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered hunter, arrives on Earth to locate her, making Jupiter finally aware of the great destiny that awaits her: Jupiter’s genetic signature marks her as the next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

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As directors, the Wachowskis haven’t found much success in big budget films since The Matrix and Jupiter Ascending goes down as one of their (debatably) biggest failures. Although the technical side with the special effects and soundtrack might be nice, its dialogue is bad, its story is predictable and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s times like this when I think that The Matrix was a fluke.

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The writing for this movie is all over the place and I didn’t really care about what was going on. A lot of the time it felt like the film was padding out the scenes more than it had to as there are lots of exposition scenes full of unnecessary and drawn out dialogue and it does nothing to drive the plot forward. Because of this I felt overall bored with what was going on. The film also has some weird concepts, for example Jupiter can control bees because they are genetically modified to recognise royalty. There is also a romance between Mila and Channing which was really forced, I never really bought the relationship, it comes straight out of nowhere and the film doesn’t seem to have a reason to have it. It doesn’t help that the romantic dialogue is very cheesy and terrible. There are also lots of unresolved plot holes and inconsistencies which really don’t work at all.

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Mila Kunis doesn’t seem that well suited in her role, however to be fair she doesn’t have much to work with. Jupiter isn’t given any character depth and doesn’t have an interesting personality. On top of that she doesn’t do much of anything and has to be saved so many times. She doesn’t need to shoot guns or anything but she should at least show leadership or develop by the end of the film. Channing Tatum is decent and does his best to act through his terrible make up. Sean Bean does as much as he can in this movie despite appearing for only 10 minutes. Eddie Redmayne plays the main villain and his performance is basically if you crossed an asthmatic Voldemort with Zod from Man of Steel. He whispers most of his dialogue but sometimes out of nowhere he starts screaming. He was one of the few entertaining aspects of the film for how crazy he was, however it is still a pretty bad performance from a great (and academy award winning) actor.

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Some of the designs of the aliens are fine but at times they are really distracting. It’s like the Wachowskis made these designs because they looked similar to other sci-fi designs that other better films used. The visual effects for the most part are nice to watch, even though you can tell that there’s a blue/green screens being used. The action scenes are also well filmed and they were the most entertaining parts of the film. The soundtrack is also quite good, I just wished it was used in a much better Sci-Fi movie.

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The best way to describe this film is that it’s like The Phantom Menace with better special effects. There’s a lot of exposition that they try to put in to make the film seem more epic than it really is and the action scenes are the best part of the movie. After many attempts at having a large blockbuster it’s clear that the Wachowskis should take a break from blockbusters.