*NEW* FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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Is my love for the Harry Potter franchise wingardium levi-over? There’s only one way to find out.

The short answer, not one bit.

Here we join the adventures of writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

A fun riveting special effects extravaganza that compliments its predecessors BUT tops them? Not quite.

I’ll own up. I’m a fan of the books. A collection that played a huge part in my childhood. The movies on the other hand were a mixed bag. I won’t open that can of worms BUT to cut a long story short; I actually preferred the earlier efforts as they stayed more faithful in their adaptation. The less we say about the Deathly Hallows the better. Moving on . . .

I always loved the little extracts that HP would read about Newt Scamander’s fantastic beasts. Breaking up the main story line and adding to the ever expanding mythology created by the talented J.K. Rowling.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that HP spin-offs would rear their ugly heads after the unanimous success of the box office franchise and the recent Cursed Child craze.

BUT if they can keep this high level of energy, fun and creativity then I’m happy to keep watching. I felt a little more relieved when I discovered Rowling was penning the screenplay. I mean who better, right?

As soon as the credits rolled and that infamous twinkly John Williams score began, I couldn’t resist a little grin.

You couldn’t have picked a better actor than the Oscar winning Eddie Redmayne. He was perfect. I was a little weary about his interpretation at first. I was worried that Newt was going to come across a little simple. Especially how he mumbled out of the side of his mouth.

“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They’re currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet; humans”.

However once you got used to Newt’s manner and we delved a little more into his past, you soon realised this timid and socially awkward wizard was more in tune with his creatures in his TARDIS-esque suitcase than the Muggle world.

The special effects were fantastic (I know. Original). The 3D is definitely worth an investment with coins, creatures and God knows what else flying out of the screen at ya.

The creatures were excellent. The new additions varied from a jewellery pinching platypus (‘Niffler’), an invisible monkey (‘Demiguise’) to a bizarre looking rhino on heat.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the man (who won an Oscar for depicting one of the world’s greatest minds) flouncing about the place and making weird mating calls.

“Hey! Mr. English Guy! I think your egg is hatched”

egg

Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) was great as Kowalski. The Muggle unsuspectingly roped into the chaos. He stole the show with his one liners and puzzled expressions.

The thought of a prequel should have incensed the fan boy in me BUT setting it back in 1920s New York allowed Rowling to explore other aspects of the very wizarding universe she created. The jazz bar with gangster house elves and shots of Gigglewater being a particular highlight.

I loved the culture clash between the Brits and the Yanks. It was a nice touch. Right down to the slang and abbreviations. Muggle/No-Maj. Wizarding Senate/The Ministry of Magic.

It was fun and entertaining enough with Scamander and his rag tag team of misfits desperately trying to capture all the beasts. BUT it wasn’t all perfect.

Colin Farrell played the sinister Graves brilliantly. BUT there wasn’t enough of him.

I felt when the film deviated from Scamander, I lost interest. The story got bogged down too much with Ezra Miller’s (The Flash) Credence Barebone and the religious cult. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) played the abusive leader well. BUT it didn’t really go in the direction I expected.

The dark angle had potential and introduced a new menace with the infamous Grindelwald. Hardcore HP fans will already be familiar with that name. For others, the reference might be missed. And to be honest, the whole thing felt like another Voldemort (Sorry, you-know-who) retread.

The mystery Obscura (a dark force harvested within magical folk) certainly freaked me out BUT also flagged a number of questions.

I found Katharine Waterston’s (Inherent Vice) character quite irritating and her delivery was a little flat. BUT once she got caught up in the chaos with Newt and co, she soon grew on me. Her quirky mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), on the other hand, made more of an impression

queenie-goldstein

What?

Jon Voight (Deliverance) was completely unnecessary in his role. Anyone could have played him. In all fairness, there were a lot of faces that popped up in this that were nothing more than flashy cameos.

God knows how they are going to make another FOUR movies?! (That’s right!). It’s best to ignore that little fact before viewing this and take it as a solo effort for now.

BUT as long as they don’t get too bogged down by the dark stuff, I’m happy to take another journey with Newt Scamander and his fantastic beasts.

3.5/5

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*NEW* STEVE JOBS REVIEW *NEW*

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Steve Jobzzzz

Sorkin. Boyle. Fassbender. Winslet. Rogen. This had all the ingredients for a perfect biopic. BUT it failed to impress on so many levels.

Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint a portrait of the man at its epicentre. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

From the director of Trainspotting and penned by the man who brought you The West Wing. Maybe I went with too high an expectation. The meandering opener with Arthur C. Clarke predicting the inevitable invasion of personal computers and their insertion into everyday lives didn’t really get things going for me. It was certainly haunting. Especially as I was writing notes on my iPhone while watching the thing.

Michael Fassbender was superb. He delivered a stellar performance BUT a fitting one? Well, that’s another story. We join the technical genius during the 1984 Mackintosh fair. It was typical Sorkin which, for the first 30 minutes, ticked all the boxes. Fast talking, quick witted, highly quotable (“The orchestra play their instruments and I play the orchestra”). And, of course, the hallway walking. Oh, the hallway walking.

We watch Jobs have a fit over the Mac’s interface as it crashes before the big moment. I understand that films always dramatize and exaggerate BUT Sorkin and Boyle really go out of their way to make Jobs appear to be such a ruthless and egotistical manipulator. I mean normally nine times out of ten, most of these “geniuses” or “historical figures” have a screw loose. BUT it’s convenient that the film was made after Job’s death.

It certainly changed perceptions BUT after his passing, you got a sense of the techno wizard. And then to see him torn to pieces and portrayed as a callous liar, it was a little tough to swallow. BUT at the same breath, it spiced up what was quite a dull affair.

The techno babble did tragically go over my head. BUT I was able to gather that Jobs was streaming things that weren’t part of the package or technically didn’t even exist. He exploited and stole components from any one he could. Even his own friend Steve Wozniak.

It was good to see Seth Rogen do some semi-serious acting for a change. He didn’t do a bad turn as Wozniak. Loitering around the conferences like a bad smell. Merely wanting acknowledgment for Job’s plagiarism. Nothing more. Or was he?

Kate Winslet worked well with Fassbender and delivered a reasonable turn as Job’s long suffering assistant Joanna Hoffman. The pair zinged off each other and really made Sorkin’s lines snap. BUT my main issue was her accent. Hoffman was Polish American. It felt like halfway through the film, Winslet suddenly remembered this and tried to thicken the accent to Borat levels. Well, maybe not that bad but it was pretty noticeable.

As much as Boyle and Sorkin may have created a monster in Jobs, it was all rather mediocre and repetitive. They literally did the same thing in three different conferences with the same result. Jobs would bellow at techies, deny that he had a daughter, ignore Hoffman’s advice and then still be trusted with shed loads of money.

Jobs’ estranged relationship with his daughter Lisa certainly made things a little more interesting. He developed an algorithm to argue against the court ruling declaring him as the father. 94.1% was inconclusive, apparently. BUT what infuriated me was that it was brought in very early adding to the drama. Then nothing. Just more fast talking and walking. The subplot was only really brought back into the mix at the end. Shame.

I respected that Sorkin did eventually question the moral ambivalence of everyone. The intentions of Chrisann (Katherine Waterston – Inherent Vice), Jobs’ ex soon changed your loyalties. What appeared to be a genuine concern for her daughter’s welfare soon became a cash cow.

The flashbacks were a little disappointing. I expected  a little more depth into Jobs’ personal background (Apparently he doesn’t have one). Not a regurgitation of what we’ve already been told or gathered. Only a little more shouty. There was a clever use of juxtaposition that meshed two different arguments between John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and Jobs. The wrong doer ironically having the role reversed.

I wasn’t aware how disappointing a campaign Mac had after developing one of the most iconic adverts in history. There were some interesting stats being thrown around. Apple’s control of the market hitting an all time low. Factories closing. Projected sales turnovers of a million computers only reaching 35,000!

Jobs was a mastermind. BUT not in the admirable way (Is there one?). During his exile from Apple, he established a new company that was flogging a product that had nothing new to justify the incredibly steep price. Nothing but an expensive game of chess between the Apple execs. He knew they were after the tech that he was developing and would have to buy it from him.

It was watchable BUT I feel I’m making it more interesting than it was (Or not?). It was far too talky and too serious. I’m not sure whether it was out of desperation BUT Sorkin threw in odd quirks that didn’t make any sense. A scene in which Jobs cleans his feet in a toilet bowl struck me as odd and irrelevant.

I feel Sorkin pushed this into The Newsroom territory. A show I never really enjoyed. The grandiose and sanctimonious speeches over such petty and uninteresting things. There just wasn’t enough drama for my liking. Not enough exploration into Jobs’ past. I mean if these were the best moments of Job’s life, then yikes!

A mixed bag for me. Quick witted and brilliantly acted. BUT repetitive, heavy handed and dull. Maybe some stories shouldn’t be told.

2.5/5