Tag: Hogwarts

The fatal flaw in Crimes of Grindelwald

The fatal flaw in Crimes of Grindelwald

With Screen Actors Guild and Visual Effects Society voting for academy awards approaching, my family has been spending the last few days watching a lot of movie screeners we’ve been accruing. Hence my (not so) little review of Aquaman last night and my intent to do some more 2018 movie discussions this weekend.

Today we watched two movies with interesting points I wanted to talk about, but Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald wound up being a much more impassioned subject than I expected. So I think I’ll save Green Book for later.

Gotta split up my writing a little bit, get some mileage for my daily writings.

I’ll be focusing more on one specific point that I feel did this film and the themes it creates a huge disservice, so the post as a whole won’t be as much of a general ‘go see or don’t see’ review. Those elements will be there, but I’ll be a bit more open with spoilers and such.

So if that concerns you, you’ve been warned.

There’s no reason to hide the fact that I’ve always been a big Harry Potter fan. Grew up reading all the books with my Mom, and we’ve seen the movies together too.

I’m not exactly that super-fan who remembers each detail about the series, as that’s a kind of person I’ve met and felt pretty inadequate next to. But I am a huge fan all the same, and I’ve been excited to see Crimes of Grindelwald.

A lot of that excitement actually stems from the fact that I quite enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie in its own right.

It had a very fun energy to examining wizards in America, rather than Britain, in the 1920’s. But that along wouldn’t have carried the movie quite as well without Eddie Redmayne taking the helm as Newt Scamander.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s always something charming about the copacetic magic of Daniel Radcliffe and his friends evolving from innocent school kids to warriors in a world-changing duel against wizard Hitler.

But after eight movies following those kids, it was pretty refreshing to watch someone new, and Redmayne was definitely something new and refreshing.

I actually don’t think I fully understood what was so nice about his character until I watched this video by the Pop Culture Detective about the actor’s more nontraditional take on a usually hyper-masculine hero archetype and how it goes to enrich the movie’s themes.

I’d highly recommend watching that, because it puts some nice perspective into what made Newt’s hijinx-filled journey through New York so fun.

Crimes of Grindelwald takes things in a vastly different direction than the original Fantastic Beasts. From the first few moments Newt is present, it’s revealed that the fun adventure in Fantastic Beasts was all in service of a young Albus Dumbledore (played fairly well by Jude Law) trying to get the protagonist involved in a fight against Johnny Depp’s older wizard Hitler, Grindelwald.

The second movie takes on a far darker tone and digs way deeper into the lore of the universe (much like the later Harry Potter stories), and this tonal shift colors the first with an interesting bit of hindsight.

Depp’s character perfectly highlights the weird and uncomfortable air this change creates. He’s sometimes doing a goofy Jack Sparrow-esque routine of glancing into windows wide-eyed, but those moments happen concurrently with scenes where he and his people are slaughtering families.

I wasn’t sure I liked the dichotomy being played out until later scenes came up that showed how his almost goofier, more relatable side makes him an enticing figure in the wizarding world, the kind of leader people will follow no matter how monstrous his means to an end are.

It plays well into the rise of fascism undercurrent to the movie (which conveniently takes place before World War II and uses the impending war as a plot device), and in the end I loved the way every character’s story weaved in.

… Except for one of them, which became such a problem for me that I’d almost say it ruined a significant chunk of the movie.

Ezra Miller’s Credence was a huge part of the first movie, as it was revealed the boy who essentially housed a demonic creature was being conditioned by Grindelwald to help destroy the government. As the Pop Culture Detective lays out in his video, part of the tragedy that made Fantastic Beasts so compelling comes when Newt cannot save Credence before he’s torn apart by magic attacks.

It was a really powerful scene…

Until you get to this movie and find out he’s somehow still alive?

Unless I missed something, there’s no explanation as to how or why Credence survived. Just that fact that Newt won’t help the government try to kill him again.

As a result of this early reveal, most of the plot lines for main characters are extremely reiterative of the first movie. They’re searching for Credence before he can be used by Grindelwald for evil.

It made me feel like the first movie mattered far less, and Miller’s portrayal of a far more darkly-influenced Credence was a less compelling compelling subject to save than the scared child of Fantastic Beasts.

My problem wasn’t that his character has developed, it’s that his character should have been dead.

Without that, it felt like so much of the world and it’s characters took too many steps back from their developments.

That was enough of a problem for me that no matter how much I enjoyed the slowly-converging plot threads, the lovely European backdrops and the beasts that made the first movie so fantastic, the overall package felt much more empty.

… Oh, and for some reason all of the advertising focuses a lot on the Deathly Hallows imagery, but I don’t believe any of that showed up in the movie. Just saying.

That’s just my opinion on what really hurt an otherwise great movie, though. But if you have a different take on the issue, feel free to let me know!

I’m always up to opening a den of discussion.

Movie Magic, ladies and germs

Movie Magic, ladies and germs

Ever since my dad shifted careers to start working for the movie ticket broker Fandango, we’ve had the chance to enjoy a number of benefits.

Up to this point those benefits have been rather specifically movie ticket related (for obvious reasons). However, today we got to take advantage of benefits related to the company’s attachment with NBC Universal:

img_7916
That’s right, we went to Universal Studios, y’all.

I had a blast spending the day with my family — pictured above in the featured image if it wasn’t clear to everyone — and just wanted to take a little bit of time to debrief myself from the trip and publish a couple of the pictures. Who knows, maybe that can serve an auxiliary purpose of showing some people the theme park/studio lot who can’t get there.

He says as if there aren’t plenty of outlets for that already.

But I digress. The day began, funnily enough, with work. I still work with the Gladeo League, and every two weeks (more or less) we have meetings over Google Hangouts. Naturally I forgot that today was the day I had a meeting at the same time as we needed to drive up.

Luckily it took plenty of time to get up to Universal.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 9.08.44 PM

Check out that fancy map

I would like to take this chance to apologize to Michelle and everyone else again for having to deal with my jostling around in the car during our meeting. If any of you happen to be reading this.

That said, even if you guys are reading this, I’m sure neither you nor the rest of the audience is interested in the logistics of driving to a theme park.

img_7914

It’s all about the parking, after all.

Yeah we parked in the Frankenstein Lot. Also yeah, I got my sister to pose like everyone’s favorite amalgamate Universal monster. Also also yeah, my dad photobombed the picture.

But do I care?

Nah. It’s a great shot.

But hey, let’s jump into the park shall we?

img_7915

Just kidding, got you! First I wanted to talk about this.

Look at these trees with me. These are trees outfitted with mist sprinklers. Sprinkler trees. I don’t know who came up with this idea or where they are now, but wherever they may be they should be happy I’m not there. Because I’m not sure whether to smack them for being so silly or hug them for being a genius.

It’s just so perfectly weird in all the best ways. I’m still trying to sort through my thoughts and we caught these walking into the park at 10 a.m. or so.

Okay. Now let’s get into the park. Seriously this time.

The first thing we did was wander the length of the main level to check out the different facets made available to us. Eventually we settled on the Studio Tour as our first stop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not included in my photo slideshow above is the interactive portions of the Tour, most notably.

The ‘ride,’ if you’re interested in calling it such, features two 3D virtual experiences. They both took place inside dark rooms with imposingly large screens surrounding the trams, which sat on rocking bases to simulate motion. One was based on King Kong and the other was based on Fast and the Furious.

There were also a number of examples of soundstage tricks throughout the time strolling around the studio lot, all capped off with a fun, snarky tour guide. Who started off the journey making fake airhorn noises.

Fun stuff.

Also in case you were curious, the Fast and the Furious portion of the Tour was just as ridiculous as the movies. Somehow they managed to pack two-and-a-half hours worth of insanity into about five minutes. Great stuff, honestly.

After finishing the Studio Tour, we moved over to check out the Simpsons region of the park.

The wait for the Simpson’s Ride was a little rich for our blood, so we decided to go straight from there to the Lower Lot.

I didn’t get a picture of the escalators down, but there were seriously at least seven. The lot is built into a crazy steep mountain.

At the bottom there are a few rides, but Aly and I did not tackle the Jurassic Park ride specifically. A few years ago I took the literal plunge with my dad when we weren’t expecting what it entailed, and the picture that was taken of us that day still graces out living room.

But that’s a story for another day.

Today our time in the Lower Lot consisted of two rides: Transformers and the Mummy.

img_7953

img_7952

The Transformers ride was okay, though I frankly don’t have much to say about it. It was a 3D experience similar to the two portions of the Studio Tour I described, except moving around rather than being stuck on a single panel.

It did manage to be just as ridiculous as the Fast and the Furious portion of that Tour, however. Though that is a given considering it was based on a Michael Bay experience.

I think my tweet from that time sums up my thoughts pretty succinctly.

Somehow the ride incorporated that mentality while also containing an arc where Optimus Prime died, then came back to help save the day. All within the span of about five minutes. Good stuff.

From there we moved into the Mummy, where a lot of the fun came from the lead-in. Mostly watching Aly freak out as we got closer to the front.

The ride itself actually wound up being way more intense than either of us expected. It accelerated ridiculously quickly — but of course the park planned things specifically to take photos right when those G-forces hit.

As a result, we got this gem.

UniStudiosMummy

I thought very hard about using this for the featured image.

But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to zoom in like this:

UniStudiosMummy_2

UniStudiosMummy_3

Talk about 100 percent pure magic.

After finishing in the Lower Lot, we moved up into the place my family was looking forward to most:

img_7962

Hewlett Packard land. Everyone’s favorite technology-driven world.

I jest of course, but we really were excited for the Harry Potter stuff.

There were a couple of awesome things about this part of the park specifically. First and foremost, Butterbeer:

img_7964

That stuff is real good. Enough said.

Then of course, the wands:

img_7968
So many wands, so little time.

My dad’s job includes a discount at all the stores in the park, so we were all able to get wands of our own. Personally, I snagged a Luna Lovegood wand because of how beautiful a shape it takes:

img_7985

It looks like a broom or an arrow, and it’s great. I also managed to get the last Snitch keychain on the rack and it’s just as beautiful. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it, since I’m not sure I want to actually stick it on my keys. Looks fragile, man.

My dad also got one of the special wands that interacted with parts of the park and he looked real cute walking around waving it at things.

img_7970

But anyway, the other great thing about Harry Potter was the fact that my friend Tiana just so happened to be coming to the park today as well, so we met up there and jumped on the big attraction.

img_7965
This statue was a little too suggestive for us to handle like reasonable adults…
img_7966
But otherwise the decor was amazing.

Honestly the line going into the ride was the best part. It had so many amazing facets to explore that were all recognizable rooms from the movie.

The ride itself was just okay, though. Fun but a little overwhelming when it rolls you totally upside down as your feet hang free.

I tapered off on photos around this part of the day. My phone had trickled down into single-digit percentages so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities to keep it alive. Basically we ate at Mel’s Diner, I had an obscenely complicated trip around the park attempting to find a bathroom and we wound up over at the Minion’s Ride. Based, of course, on Illumination’s Despicable Me.

I’ll be honest, that ride was probably the worst part of the day. It was cute, but very impersonal compared to the way a lot of the other rides were presented.

Also it reminded me a little too much of the mobile game my sister messed around with a few years back, honestly.

On the way out we hit a couple of stores.

Also here’s something we found in one of the stores that will stare into your soul for the next few nights.

img_7972

Terrifying.

From there we left the park, took that neat-o picture I used for my post’s featured image out by the big globe and went over to City Walk so Aly could drag us to Voodoo Donuts.

img_7975

That, in a not-so-concise nutshell, was my day at Universal Studios. From there we drove home, where I got in some more Don’t Starve on the oh-so-convenient Nintendo Switch:

Then I started working on this blog post.

Don’t think I have too much more to say without things getting weirdly meta and self-contemplative, so I’m going to leave off where I started. I had a great day with my family and I can’t wait to see where we wind up next.