Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

There’s strange things going on all over the city. People behind this are not like you and me. There’s a hidden society, it goes back centuries.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Harry Potter spin off. Directed by David Yates, starring Eddie Redmayne, Collin Farrell, Katherine Waterson and Dan Fogler.

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Newt Scamander enters the city of New York with a briefcase filled with magical creatures, but when several creatures got loose, they are blamed for the attacks on the nomag (muggles). On the run from New York’s secret society of witch and wizardry, Newt is on the quest to prove his creatures’ innocence and to discover the sinister truth behind the attacks.


The Good

One of the highlights of this movie are it’s beasts and they are indeed fantastic. The creatures are fun to watch whenever they’re in the screen and for majority of the creatures they look great.

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One character stood out from the cast and that is Dan Fogler, the nomag. He provides most of the humour which this movie definitely needed.


The Bad

Unfortunately the movie suffers from a lot of problems as the expectations from the previous Harry Potter movies aren’t met in this spin-off. One major flaw of this film is it’s tone. The film struggles to decide whether it wants to be lighthearted or dark as the the movie switches scenes from one tone to another without warning.

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Another flaw are it’s characters, apart from Kowalski (Dan Fogler) the rest of the characters are dull. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) lacks the charm to make us root for his character and it doesn’t help that he portrayed the character with an odd mannerism that’s difficult to relate to. Ezra Miller felt wasted as he is reduced to a one dimensional role that difficult to care about.


Rating

Overall Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them doesn’t quite hit the magical stride that the Harry Potter movies had. The bipolar tone affected this movie in a negative way and it didn’t help that it’s main character is boring.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Though the creatures themselves are fascinating, it is not enough to enjoy the movie to it’s fullest. In a movie that’s meant to be about the beasts, the movie’s convoluted plot derailed the little enjoyments that the beasts brought to the screen.

The film has numerous easter eggs that refers to the previous movies and fans of the series will definitely identify them with glee, however for the casual audience this feels like your run of the mill blockbuster movie that’s all flash and no substance.

Good Bad 2.8/5
  • The Beasts
  • Dull Characters
  • Bipolar Tone
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Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Stephen Strange, might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.

Doctor Strange is the 13th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton.

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Doctor Stephen Strange a brilliant yet arrogant neurosurgeon has everything a man could ever dream of. However after one horrific car accident he loses stability in his hands and desperate to work again he searched everywhere for a cure. His search led him to Kathmandu where he learned the ways of the Mystic Arts.


The Good

One of the major aspect that this movie promised are the visuals and boy did it deliver. This is one of the most visually impressive film this year and it’s safe to say the visuals are spellbinding (no pun intended… of course it was pun intended). Though we’ve seen similar effects in Inception. Doctor Strange did it in a grander scale and it’s fascinating, you never get tired of it and it keeps getting better as it went along. It’s a MC Esher painting brought to life.

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Another great aspect of the film is Benedict Cumberbatch himself. Marvel has found their Doctor Strange and Benedict is Doctor Strange as much as Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man. It was perfect casting in Marvel’s part and Benedict delivered. The movie is surprisingly humorous, it knows that it’s a comic-book movie and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.


The Bad

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Unfortunately like most Marvel villains, the villain in this movie is as dull as the others. Mads Mikkelsen, as terrific as he is felt wasted in his role, having very little presence in the film. Another wasted actor is Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo. His one dimensional take on the character dragged this movie down a bit. He played the role a bit too serious with very little relatability, unfortunately didn’t work too well on the screen.


Rating

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Overall Doctor Strange is a solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It truly is one of their unique properties theĀ mind-bending visuals and a strong lead complimented the movie really well. The action-sequences were incredibly fun to watch but in the end it’s still an origin story and it follows the same beats of previous origin stories in the MCU. Nonetheless Doctor Strange is definitely worth checking out especially in 3D IMAX.

Good Bad 4.5/5
  • Incredible Visuals
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Strange
  • Unique Action Sequences
  • Uninteresting Villain
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo

Movie Review: Now You See Me 2

Your Move

Now You See Me 2 is the sequel to the 2013 film with the same title. This time with bigger illusions, out of this world magicĀ tricks and ridiculous heists. With majority of the cast returning, is Now You See Me 2 able to capture the same excitement and intrigue as the first one did?

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Under the watchful gaze of a secret organization called The Eye, The Four Horsemen are reunited for another heist disguised as an illusion. But when things go south and the act sabotaged, it’s up to The Horsemen to figure out who’s playing the tricks on them.


The Good

With this being a sequel it’s expected for this to have bigger spectacles and crazier magic tricks and we get that here. The tricks were impressive and as ridiculous as they were, they’re incredible to watch. A certain scene involved a card being passed around in a room and it’s easily the best scene in the movie. Woody Harrelson has a bigger role this time around and he’s great in some scenes. His subplot is not very interesting and can be considered cliched but his over the top performance is a breath of fresh air.

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The Bad

Sad to say this movie suffers from what many call sequelitis. The tricks and spectacles are bigger however story-wise it’s filled with plot holes and inconsistencies. The plot is extremely convoluted and there’s a lot of sub plots to keep track off.

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The movie takes itself way seriously than it should as the magicians themselves are seemingly able to fight armed men with tricks and illusions. And as ridiculous as it looks it takes away the fun that a magic/heist movie should have. Another issue with the movie is it relied too much on a certain “move” to forward the plot. The “move” itself is so unbelievable to the point where it could have been a superpower.


Rating

Even with the addition of Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan and the extremely talented Jay Chou the movie is mediocre at best. Jessie Eisenberg himself seems very uninterested in his role though Morgan Freeman works with what material he’s got. Daniel Radcliffe did bring a little bit of an excitement but all of it fades away as he becomes your typical one dimensional British villain.

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Overall Now You See Me 2, could have been a smarter movie, especially with it’s underlying message about surveillance and privacy. Unfortunately it’s another case of style over substance as it’s convoluted plot drags the movie down tremendously resulting into nothing but a magical mess.

Good Bad 2.3/5
  • Impressive Magic Tricks
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Convoluted Plot
  • Plot Holes & Inconsistencies
  • Too Serious / Unfunny

Book Review: Spook’s The Dark Army by Joseph Delaney

Spook’s The Dark Army is the second book in the Starblade Chronicles Trilogy. It’s been 3 years since the first book went out and with it having a cliffhanger ending, I was itching to read the follow up.

Tom Ward died in his battle against an assassin at the ending of A New Darkness. Though upon his burial, a mysterious creature appeared resurrecting Tom from his death. Grimalkin, on the other hand took this opportunity to use Tom as a beacon of hope in fighting The Dark Army.

As a person who loved the initial series, The Wardstone Chronicles, I was looking forward to this new series. Unfortunately this my least favorite book out of all the books. The story is all over the place, our main protagonist, Tom Ward really doesn’t do anything, he’s mainly being used as a puppet and he has no authority whatsoever, which makes it difficult to root for, this time around.

Grimalkin is extremely one-dimensional and even the newcomer Jenny Calder has nothing to contribute to helping their cause. Some older characters return and even they don’t have major to contribute maybe except for one. It felt as if the author ran out of ideas for the story of this book and just added every old character in the mix because he can do so. This, unfortunately is the book’s major flaw.

As a book trying to separate itself from the amazing initial series, this book referenced a lot of events and characters from the older books making it feel as if you’ve missed so much. For a fan, this might not be a problem at all, however for people who are reading for the first time or who haven’t read the Wardstone Chronicles Series, that might be problematic.

There are some exciting moments in the book, during the second act there is a huge battle sequence which ultimately felt like a third act despite it being in the middle was still fun to read. The third act however goes into a screeching halt as it slows down tremendously and leaves for an extremely unsatisfying climax.

Overall this is the weakest book out of all The Spook’s book. For older fans they can follow through this book without giving much thought however, I highly doubt newer readers would be invested in this story.

Rating 2.2/5

Book Review: A Dance of Ghost by David Dalglish

“I will leave you with a graveyard of fire and death before I let you pretend to be it’s god”

-A Dance of Ghost, David Dalglish

David Dalglish is back with the 5th book in The Shadowdance Series. Unsurprisingly, for the umpteenth time, Veldaren, is once again under siege. The Thief Guilds are dead, with the exception of the Ash Guild, and only one Guild rules all over the city, The Sun Guild, led by Muzien The Darkhand. This time, neither Thren Felhorn and The Watcher are there to suppress the occupation but rather the duo are out on a road trip in hopes to learn more about Karak’s Dark Paladins. With only Alyssa Gemcroft, Lord Victor Kane and The King to deal with the Darkhand’s occupation, how will they handle Muzien’s plans for the city?

Being the 5th book in the series, A Dance of Ghost serves as the calm before the storm. Not that it’s a still and quiet book but rather compared to previous books. It has a solemn feel to it. Muzien’s take over of Veldaren is calculated and done in such a masterful way compared to previous take over. It has moments of bloodshed however there are no soldiers and thieves running amok and less fire on the streets of Veldaren. David Dalglish created an intimidating and unforgettable villain in the form of Muzien. He is calm, and mostly unmoved by any threats that comes his way. Even Thren Felhorn is shadowed by Muzien’s presence.

Unfortunately Muzien is possibly the best thing on this book. Ghost makes a return but this point, all interest goes to Muzien. Ghost’s arc mostly feels like an “Ok let’s just get this over with” moment. It was an uninteresting return but it did serve a a purpose. As Delysia and Hearn’s relationship is put to the test thanks to Ghost. A big improvement in this book is the way the female characters were written, specially Delysia. She is written in a much stronger way physically and emotionally, she proved numerous times that she can handle herself in a fight. Also Zusa shows some emotions in the most shocking way possible likewise Alyssa Gemcroft still proves to be a woman of strong will and would not any man undermine her authority, in fact most of the time Lord Victor Kane is at her mercy.

Thren is still very unpredictable and also greatly improved as he transitions to a villain to a likeable anti hero. That said we’re still not forgetting the despicable things he has done in previous books. Ultimately the most disappointing aspect of the book is the lack of Deathmask and his guild. You really miss their presence as they were such a bad ass in the last book. It will make you wonder, “Where the hell are they during Muzien’s occupation of the city?”. Hopefully they will have a huge part to play on the 6th book but this time, Deathmask fans will without a doubt be disappointed.

All in all A Dance of Ghost is a mediocre book at best, that said it does set up the big finale in terms of the 6th book. It is the calm before the storm but it’s a readable calm and it will definitely make the reader look forward to the next book.

Rating: 3/5

image courtesy of ddalglish.com

Graphic Novel Review: Witch Doctor, Under the Knife by Brandon Seifert

Once in a while I manage to find a graphic novel that really blows me out of the water and make me say “what the F#@$” several times. Now that’s not essentially a bad thing but when I do say it, it means I am enjoying this graphic novel. Meet Vincent Morrow, now you have probably see couple reviews here in there saying this is House meets Fringe. Well I agree on the House part however I would say that Vincent is somewhat a combination of House and Stephen Strange, he is after all a witch doctor.

Under the Knife opens with an exorcism scene, and as cliched as you might think that went, for me, it started off strong. We have three characters that were introduced to, Vincent Morrow, The Witch Doctor, Eric Gast a paramedic and Penny Dreadful which is someone who we don’t know much off except the fact that she can kick ass. Straight from the bat you can sense the camaraderie between these three and that is enough to like all three characters. Each show a personality that is quite appealing to the reader. Now as much as our main guy Vincent looks sadistic on the cover, he is written in a very charming way and the dialogue complements him and the other two characters.

The artwork here is exceptional, the monsters were creatively done, from demon babies, to demon fish man to all sorts of abominations. This world that this graphic novel creates is very much absorbing and without a doubt would leave you wanting for more. The only thing that’s stopping me giving this a perfect 5 stars is the story. It’s good but not great. That said, it is still a fun read and anyone who loves horror, gore and a bit of humor will surely enjoy Witch Doctor.

Graphic Novel Review: Cairo by G. Willow Wilson

I read Cairo, at around 2am in the morning in hopes to make me fall asleep as I read through. To my surprise, I wasn’t able to drop the book all thanks to it’s engaging story telling. From start to finish, Cairo never had a dull moment. Cairo starts off with one of its protagonist, Ashraf, seemingly talking to the readers, sort of breaking the fourth wall. He proceeds and tell “Today I hit one of those stoned camels with my truck”. The next panel shows exactly this and Ashraf was being literal when he said he hit a stoned camel with his truck and by stoned he meant high. He then proceeds to explain how camels get stoned, and from there onwards I knew this was gonna be a fun read.

Alongside Ashraf, he is also joined by four other people. Of course none of them know each other at beginning of the novel, but they do get together through magical circumstances. All characters are well written, and for the few pages that you spend with each of them, the author manages to make you care for them. The novel does have a magical side as it contains, genies, demons and other supernatural entities. All of it are handled really well and almost makes you want to get into the mythology of it.

The illustrations are amazing and are drawn beautifully however the whole novel is in black in white so it may bother some readers. That said, with a creative story such as this it shouldn’t be in issue at all. To top it off, Cairo is an enjoyable read from start to finish, it is humorous, magical and a gem of a graphic novel and undoubtedly will keep you wanting more.