Browsed by
Month: January 2020

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

  • Score: 2/5
  • Genre: 3/5
  • Did I enjoy it: Moderately.
  • Did it move me: Teensy bit.
  • Rewatch:  Maybe once, after the trilogy (pentology?) is complete.
  • Art/Pop: Harry Potter only does pop.
  • Noteworthy/Significant: Nothing.

Like its predecessor, The Crimes of Grindelwald relies too much on special effects for drama and engagement. The character development and tension is in many ways worse than the first film, with the slight evolution in the characters and relationships feeling like a tacked-on afterthought to the set-piece wizarding action sequences that themselves feel like they are floating in space unconnected to anything, including the movie they are in.

That said, Eddie Redmayne manages to make the main character relatively interesting and sympathetic, even if he is somewhat one-note. But then, one-note pretty well describes the whole shebang. Unexpectedly, I actually liked Johnny Depp’s performance, which mostly avoids the cackling Mr. Burns bad guy stereotype as acted, even though they capture the look. 

It would have been interesting if Rowling had actually fully embraced the grayness and tried to forge a Grindelwald with a real sales pitch that might even have viewers second-guessing their allegiances. Such could have created a textured and complex plot and gripping character interactions. She seems to hesitantly dabble with this by making the top British magic cop an authoritarian hard ass, and giving Grindelwald a single sort-of interesting pitch at the end on how they are saving the world from itself, but the actions that follow immediately reveal it (and him) as disingenuous:  it seems she is unwilling or unable to commit to something subtler than a world of white and black cowboy hats.

Review Date: 07/15/2019

The Man From Snowy River (1982)

The Man From Snowy River (1982)

  • Score: 3/5
  • Genre: 3/5
  • Did I enjoy it: Mostly.
  • Did it move me: Not really.
  • Rewatch:  No plan to.
  • Art/Pop: goes the weasel (kookaburra?) .
  • Noteworthy/Significant: Nothing I can see.

There is almost a tiny sub-genre consisting of Australian Westerns, of which The Man From Snowy River would probably be considered one of the stars, but it is a very predictable and average film at best.

There is almost a tiny sub-genre consisting of Australian Westerns, of which The Man From Snowy River would probably be considered one of the stars, but it is a very predictable and average film at best.

There is no question that there some very pleasing interludes in the film, with broad classic-Western style cinematography of mountains and valleys, of cattle and horses running and fording rivers. 

Classic actor Kirk Douglas has a good time playing two brothers, bitter and divided over (what else but) a long lost love rivalry. Maybe it’s my age, as I grew up watching Michael Douglas in his glory days, but I always felt his son surpassed him. 

Sometimes, I think I may be too easy on actors, but I have known enough (albeit not big famous professionals) that I am more instinctively inclined to blame script and directing first. While there are scenes that border on homage-cheese to the classic American Westerns, which the entire film essentially is, there are a few nice character interactions, especially in the middle-end of the film. The opening is really stilted and almost awkward, and to be frank, I thought this review was going to be quite negative, but it settles into a bit of a rhythm as it gets going, and as I noted, the cinematography provides some pleasing distractions. There are one or two riding scenes showing some truly stunning stunt work.

The sound track just did not work for me most of the time, beginning with a sound cue in the first scene that was grating and reminiscent of cheap made-for-tv melodrama. One or two passages were nice in some of the later chase scenes, but overall I was not happy that I actually noticed it, as it is rare for me to negatively notice a sound track — I tend to find them either good or inoffensive. 

Unless you are hyped on exploring the touchstones of the Australian film industry, you will not miss skipping this one, but if you can make it through the first 30 minutes, it’s alright.

Review Date: 07/12/2019