Sunday, 11 December 2016

23 November (forgot to publish)

I'm not good at this noting down movies thing but here we go, let's try to carry on. I've watched dozens and dozens of films since last post so these will be really short.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016)

This was a really fun movie. I love the idea of continuing the Harry Potter universe without any connection to the original story as the universe is vast and interesting but any attempt at revisiting the original characters would likely feel forced and unnecessary. I really hope they keep it that way as the Harry Potter easter eggs were one of the more disappointing parts of the movie. There were several really obvious moments where you could just feel the characters nudging you as they mention a person or situation mentioned in the earlier movies (luckily they could not do this too badly as most of the Harry Potter characters are not alive at this point - although they do try their hardest).

The main cast create a bunch of very fun characters. Eddie Redmayne is wonderful as you would expect and Dan Fogler is a lot of fun as a non-magical character that is picked up along the way - although one criticism I would have is that he is often used rather lazily as an excuse for Eddie Redmayne's character to explain plot points directly to the audience. Topping out our team of protagonists we have Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol who both bring their own quirky energy to the mix. The supporting roles beyond these all feel a bit weak, the main antagonist (who I will not name in the interest of spoilers - although everyone watching will have guessed it anyway) is very one dimensional far too predictable. Beyond them, supporting characters all felt disappointingly like plot devices, with no small parts standing out in the slightest.

One really great thing I did keep noticing about the acting is the choreography, even in the simplest situations. The way everybody stands and holds themselves seems to have been thought out really well. This then translates into any sequences where magic is involved as everyone seems to have their own style. This is a small thing but it gives each character a really unique feel.

As for the actual plot, it gets somewhat stuck between two competing movies. Where the movie opens up and focuses on our protagonist magi-zoologist finding or interacting with his creatures we get some truly magical scenes with such originality and wonder. Unfortunately, at times throughout the movie and more particularly ramping up towards the third act JK Rowling decides that there isn't enough of a movie in this so we need a generic story with an evil wizard and dark forces. This feels very tacked on as if it was saying "oh yeah by the way here is the story that goes with the actual fun movie". Just about every development could be guessed a mile before it happens because it has all been done before.

On a more technical level, this is directed by David Yates who made the final four Harry Potter films. Because of this you have a pretty good idea of how this movie will look and feel coming in. The set pieces and costumes are brilliantly designed - as was the case in the Harry Potter films. So too were the visual effects. I cannot stress enough how magical some of the creature scenes were - everything looked and felt absolutely exquisite. Topping this off, it was shot in a very non-intrusive way and had a familiar (because of the 8 similar films that came before) but lovely soundtrack. 

All in all it is worth the watch. Eddie Redmayne makes for a fantastic protagonist and the main characters all make for a team (even if the rest of the supporting cast are a little weak). It looks and sounds great and there is true magic when we are watching the movie that its title suggests we are getting. I really hope that the sequels build on the best elements of this and do not feel stale.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The 70s were a great time for musicals. They got inventive with them and ended up making just about any genre they wanted into musicals. We seem to have lost our touch with this in the 21st century so it is always a delight to go back and visit the greats. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory really is one of the greats.

The feel of the film is simply perfect, it does not feel like it has aged a day in the nearly 50 years since it was released. The look of the film is crisp/ interesting and the sarcastic wit sprinkled throughout gives the film an instantly endearing quality. This is, of course, helped a lot by the near perfect casting of the late Gene Wilder, who recently passed away. The rest of the cast are great too, as is the music and nearly every line of dialogue. I absolutely adore this movie if by some miracle there are those who have not seen it, they really should.

Pete's Dragon (2016)

Pete's dragon is wonderful. Its not terribly inventive or original but very delightful. The CGI is pretty decent (although the dragon's face could do with redesigning). Every character and situation feels very familiar but it doesn't feel too repetitive. Its also looks and sounds very good. Its by no means the best movie I have seen but it is a good distraction.

The Light Between Oceans (2016)

I found this to be relatively disappointing. Alicia Vikander, who I usually absolutely adore, needed to be seriously toned down - every expression, stance and movement seemed to have been thought through so much that it was overdone and ceased to be believable. Michael Fasbender on the other hand was fine, although the accents in general were all over the place. On a positive note, it looks very pretty (despite the occasional bad shaky cam) and has a wonderful score. Also the overall story is something that could very easily catch my attention, unfortunately the pacing was quite uneven leaving some parts feeling like they were stretched paper thin. There is plenty to like here and there are often hints of a very good movie poking through the cracks but the acting needs to be toned down and it feels like more time was needed in the editing room.