Archive for the ‘David Yates’ Category

Magical Manhattan

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Faith Wood-Blagrove

J.K. Rowling made an absolute fortune out of the Harry Potter novels and now to capitalize on her continued success she attempts to write the screenplay for a spinoff series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The Legend of Tarzan director David Yates is pulled in to coerce all the elements of an ultimately bland screenplay into a presentable and visually impressive fantasy film.

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Yates who helmed the last three Harry Potter films, does an impressive job with Fantastic Beasts even though Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) maintains a continued perplexed expression on his face throughout this film as he plays the British wizard Newt Scamander who arrives in New York with a suitcase brimming with diabolically strange creatures.

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Redmayne is joined by British actresses Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs, Inherent Vice) as Tina Goldstein and Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (Minority Report, In America) as the cruel Mary Lou along with Colin Farrell as an American wizard Graves who is chief enforcer of Macusa or the Magical Congress of the United States of America.

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Dan Fogler plays the hapless wannabe baker Jacob Kowalski who effectively serves as a sidekick character to the infinitely cooler Newt Scamander.

Whilst Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is visually impressive and for once the filmmakers make effective use of the 3-D format and all the Beasts are both alluring and comical, the film itself suffers from a badly written script and an overdose of visual effects and a lack of critical editing.

Redmayne is far better in brilliant period films like My Week with Marilyn and The Theory of Everything and comes across throughout Fantastic Beasts with the impression of how the hell did I land up in a Harry Potter spin off franchise set in New York?

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Unfortunately the rest of the characters do not get sufficient back story including the talented Samantha Morton’s portrayal of a cruel orphanage mistress Mary Lou who constantly punishes the repressive Credence Barebone played by Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Suicide Squad).

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Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Crazy Heart) is suitably bland as Percival Graves but that is perhaps due to Rowling’s script not giving him much to work with.

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Whilst there is an inherent fan base, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not as dazzling as one expects although the visual effects are superb. Let’s hope the Fantastic Beasts sequels which Warner Bros intends making employs a better scriptwriter. No offense to Rowling but she does not possess a talent for snappy dialogue. Then again who needs brilliant dialogue when the audience is constantly overwhelmed by magical creatures roaming 1920’s Manhattan?

 

 

 

 

The Exotic and the Brave

The Legend of Tarzan

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Director: David Yates

Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Ben Chaplin, Jim Broadbent, Osy Ikhile, Antony Acheampong

British director David Yates who was responsible for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows returns to the director’s chair headlining a re-imagining of the mythical Tarzan, in the new visually astounding film, The Legend of Tarzan, featuring Swedish hunk Alexander Skarsgard in the titular role.

Tarzan, also known as Lord Greystoke, John Clayton is accompanied by his beautiful and vivacious wife Jane, wonderfully played by Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) and an American emissary George Washington Williams played against type by Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Kingsman: Secret Service). The villain in Legend of Tarzan is played by none other than Austrian Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Spectre, Django Unchained) who portrays the evil and repugnant Leon Rom. The year is 1884 and the colonization of Africa by European powers is gaining rapid and unparalleled momentum.

Set in the beautiful and vast Belgian Congo, when King Leopold was rapaciously raping the Congo of its mineral wealth, particularly diamonds using slave labour and devious means including turning warring local tribes against each other. One such tribe headed by Chief Mbonga muscularly played by Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) wants Tarzan’s head on a plate and makes an unlikely pact with the unscrupulous Rom, who will stop at nothing to complete his reigning monarch’s ambitious colonial plans.

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John and Jane Clayton are persuaded to leave the comforts of late Victorian England behind and head for the exotic and wild plains of the Belgian Congo, where they soon confront the evil Leon Rom and his multitude of force publique officers who are out to enslave and enforce the will of the Belgian monarch upon the unsuspecting locals.

What really makes The Legend of Tarzan worth seeing is the brilliant incorporation of superb visual effects using performance capture technology for a vivid portrayal of the wildlife featured in the film, mainly the gorillas, lions and hordes of wildebeest. The brilliantly featured gorillas are a highlight. These creatures of the wild, raised baby Tarzan as one of their own, teaching him the laws of the jungle and how important it is to respect the hierarchy of the Animal Kingdom.

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Whilst Skarsgard’s performance of the iconic Tarzan is not perfect, he certainly has the muscular and gorgeous body to pull off this particularly physical role. After all the success of casting a male actor as Tarzan depends entirely on his physique. The well chiselled Skarsgard is naturally born for this role.

Margot Robbie breathes new life into Jane, as a feisty independent American woman who has attitude and her best scenes ironically shine through when played opposite the scheming villain Rom. In terms of dialogue, the best scene is between Robbie and Waltz as they dine precariously together on a steamer travelling down the Congo River, in a visual reference to The Heart of Darkness.

The Legend of Tarzan is better than anticipated, with magnificent visual effects elevating the film out of cinematic parody. It’s a well plotted, action filled and entertaining film, a worthwhile trip to the cinema where audiences can delve into a real adventure story which features the exotic and the brave.

In this version, the shirtless Tarzan swinging in the proverbial jungle should keep many swooning for years to come.

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