Posts Tagged ‘Zoe Kravitz’

The French Ministry of Magic

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Director: David Yates

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Zoe Kravitz, Jude Law, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Kevin Guthrie (Dunkirk), Carmen Ejogo, Callum Turner (Assassin’s Creed, Victor Frankenstein), Alison Sudol, Poppy Corby-Teuch

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows director David Yates who was at the helm of the original stylish Oscar winning Fantastic Beasts film returns to direct the highly anticipated sequel Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald featuring a star studded cast including Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne who reprises his role of the magical creature loving Newt Scamander and Oscar nominee Jude Law as a young and decidedly flamboyant Dumbledore, who makes an audacious cameo.

This time Scamander has to contend with the malignant and mysterious wizard Grindelwald wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Johnny Depp who is determined to upset the delicate balance between the real and magical realms.

Katherine Waterston returns as the elusive Tina Goldstein as does Dan Fogler as Scamander’s faithful American sidekick Jacob Kowalski. Other regulars include Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange and Alison Sodol as Queenie Goldstein along with Ezra Miller as the troubled Credence Barebone who is on a quest to discover his parentage.

Whilst the plot of The Crimes of Grindelwald is as mystifying as Credence’s real identity, Fantastic Beasts 2 is visually impressive particularly in the second half of the film.

Some of the dialogue in the film was stilted, yet Fantastic Beasts like any Franchise film speaks mainly to its fans and those that have religiously followed all the Harry Potter films will be equally satisfied with this exotic sequel set mainly in Paris. The French Ministry of Magic sequence is spectacular and a cinematic highlight.

Whether Fantastic Beasts 2 will garner any attention in the 2019 awards season remains to be seen, although the production design is beautiful, I did find the first half of the film particularly dim or perhaps it was my limited understanding of this convoluted plot which made numerous references to the original Harry Potter films.

If viewers loved Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, then they will certainly cherish this magnificent sequel especially Johnny Depp as the villainous Grindelwald whose numerous crimes include recruiting Credence for more diabolical mischief…

For purely technical reasons, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

It’s a magical and visually dazzling fantasy film hinting at many sequels in the works. Highly recommending viewing for serious J. K. Rowling fans and those that loved the first Fantastic Beasts.

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, Zoe Kravitz,

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 Valhalla Highway

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoe Kravitz, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Riley Keough, Josh Helman

The much anticipated fourth instalment of the Mad Max series synonymous with industrial chic and post-apocalyptic desert car chase sequences arrives with a vengeance without Mel Gibson.

Thirty years from the last film, George Miller directs Mad Max: Fury Road with British actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) impressively taking over the role of Mad Max along with South African born Oscar Winner Charlize Theron (Monster) as the shaven head Imperator Furiosa, a determined woman who escapes the clutches of an evil desert war lord, Immortan Joe played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who ruthlessly guards the scarce resources of the planet’s water and food for his own anarchic empire, aptly titled the Citadel.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a brilliant energetic and subversive film, an allegorical road trip highlighting the scarcity of the earth’s resources including oil and water, but more significantly, the action and stunt sequences are truly phenomenal. As the diabolical Immortan Joe and his crazed band of war boys, white-faced and vicious chase Imperator across what is dubbed Valhalla’s Highway, a vast epic journey into the end of eternity.

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Shot in Namibia that beautiful desert African country, Mad Max: Fury Road does not disappoint especially with suitably savage and believable performances by Theron and Hardy, both whom have the enormous talent to make this film utterly believable, when even at times the stunts are so unbelievable.

In a clever plot twist, there are a bunch of supermodels and actresses cast in Mad Max: Fury Road including Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough along with Zoe Kravitz along with a frenetic Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) cast as Nux a renegade warboy who is desperate to break free from the tyranny, but gets consumed by the mayhem.

The sets, sound editing and stunts are truly amazing and should definitely be seen on the big screen especially the final chase sequence involving the war rig, a huge menacing oil tanker deftly driven by Imperator with the help of Mad Max as they desperately try to elude the menacing attempts at capture by Immortan Joe and his vicious gang of thugs.

The script is not particularly enlightening but then again this is Mad Max, but the construction of the film is impressive, like a desert opera in three acts, with each act more savage and gripping than the last, a crazed action chase film in a post-apocalyptic setting with no hints of redemption or salvation.

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Director George Miller does a fascinating job at re-imagining the Mad Max tropes for the 21st century audience, placing more emphasis on the value of scarce resources and on the fact that girls can also kick ass too, especially the formidable collective known as The Wives (Huntington-Whiteley, Kravitz and the gorgeous gang) subverting the traditional male orientated chase film and producing a more explicit and frenetic action film that will appeal to all audiences who enjoyed the original Mad Max trilogy.

Incidentally Valhalla in Viking mythology was where warriors go to die after fighting bravely in battle, in this case the chaotic Valhalla highway is paved with destructive intentions, cruelty, action and anarchy. See it to believe it! Highly recommended viewing for lovers of films like The Book of Eli and Max Payne.

 

 

 

 

Sixties take on Superheros

X-Men: First Class

Mutants Rule in the Sexy Sixties

James Mc Avoy (Wanted) and Michael Fassbender (Centurion) star as the young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr known as Magneto respectively in the prequel X-Men: First Class , director Matthew Vaughn’s stylish version of the origins of the mutants set in the early sixties and placed within the dramatic historical context of the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis, a homage to the earlier Bond films like Goldfinger and Dr No.

Complete with fabulous costumes and flitting between exotic locations from Vegas to Moscow to Argentina, X-Men: First Class is a superb reinvention of the X-Men franchise which was growing slightly weary after the 2009 film Wolverine. Featuring a varied and talented cast from Jennifer Lawrence, hot young star of Winters Bone, January Jones of the Mad Men series, Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Kevin Bacon as the irrepressibly stylish villain Sebastian Shaw who pits the Americans and Russians against each other in a bid to start another nuclear war.

The alliance and subsequent friendship of Charles and Erik is the basis for this X-Men story before they became arch enemies. Charles Xavier has had a privileged upbringing in England and studied genetic mutations at Oxford University while the down-trodden Lenshir was subjected to Nazi horrors in a Polish prisoner of War camp, where his powers over metallic objects catches the eye of the immortal mutant Shaw, who realizes that the are many more mutants on the planet, owing at least in this film to the vast amount of radiation used during World War II culminating in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Xavier has the power to read minds and soon with the assistance of a covert CIA unit is able to form a band of young and untrained mutants as they are employed along with Lensherr to stop Shaw from extracting more nuclear energy by starting another world war. January Jones recreating her Mad Men look plays a diamond mutant, Frost with elegance and grace a lethal sidekick to the evil Shaw, played with relish by Kevin Bacon who seems to be getting younger in every film.

X-Men: First Class is a designer sequel with a positively retro feel, made all the more spectacular by fast-paced action and breathtaking CGI. McAvoy and Fassbender compliment each other as Xavier and Magneto a younger version of the rivalry so beautifully created in the X-Men trilogy by veteran actors Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan, capturing a slight homoerotic love for each other which in a superhero universe can naturally never be fulfilled.

Watch out for a cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Rebecca Romjin as the older version of Raven, known in the earlier films as Mystique. There is no Cyclops or Storm, but younger and sexier mutants Angel played by Zoe Kravitz and Havok played by Lucas Till more than make up for their absence. If viewers enjoyed the X-Men trilogy then this will surely go down well as an original, stylish and very retro prequel explaining a lot about the origins of mutants and the passionate rivalry between Xavier and Magneto which is the crux of the earlier blockbusters.

 

 

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