Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This is a great spin-off. Fantastic Beasts builds on the Harry Potter world, but doesn't rely on it. That is, we are fully in the world of wizards and muggles (or Nomags, as the Americans refer to them) but if you have not even heard of the Harry Potter series, but are just a fan of fantasy this film makes sense. Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, one of those european wizards who is on his first visit to the US. As he enters New York, he stumbles upon some wizarding troubles, and exposes the true purpose of his visit, while making friends with likeminded odd wizards and muggles. Redmayne is excellent as the diminutive, scholarly wizard who just loves his creatures and, like many good wizards, diminutive generally means deceptively powerful and sneaky. There are some great actions scenes and some laughter, but not much thinking. I suppose you can decide if that makes for a good fantasy film or an excellent one. I will rank this good.
4 stars (out of 5)

Run Fatboy Run

Pleasant Simon Pegg romantic comedy. Pegg left his pregnant fiancé at the altar 5 years ago. Today he regrets the decision, and needs to come to terms with this every time he goes to pick up his son. It doesn't help that the new boyfriend is a total ass. In some testosterone battle, Pegg decides that running a marathon will show he has changed, and is a better man. So of course, this plot line is ridiculous. It is a set up for soundbite jokes and gags. But when watching a cheesy romantic comedy, who really cares. I did laugh at the jokes and gags, and I did find myself repeating lines in my head as they were quite funny. Not quite good enough for me to remember any of them out of context. But enjoyable none-the-less.
3 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Wire (Serial)

Season 2

This second season sets up with the task force reassigned all over the place in some pretty petty positions (evidence locker, foot beat, harbor patrol). When a body is fished out of the harbor and it turns out to be tied to a group of 13 other women who died in a container ship, the wheels are set in motion to get the team together again. However, this season takes 5 or 6 episodes to set the stage. I feel like the writers did not take advantage of the prior season, and while yes, they did have to introduce an entire new community in the dock workers, they did nearly lose me in the process. But once the team is together, and chasing money and phones, they again make connections that lead to arrests. And I think that they get the agreement to make the task force permanent as a major crimes detail. Stay tuned.
4 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Dr Strange

Another marvel superhero. I didn't have any background on this guy, so it was very similar to Deadpool, or the first Iron Man. The hero in this case is a super arrogant neurosurgeon who sees himself as God's gift to humanity. When his arrogance threatens his career, he seeks out help from a group of (what we learn later to be) sorcerers. He gets in touch with his ability to draw energy from parallel universes, and of course, since he is so smart and so good at everything, he is also very good at this. Dr Strange becomes the guy who is smart and good enough to save the world from annihilation. Relatively fun, with some inception like CG and some crazy self-actualization a la Wanted. But I must say that being able to tap into energy from a parallel universe and being able to reverse time to fix anything that you missed the first time puts you in a different league than all the other guys. As a stand alone movie, pretty good. As part of a larger universe, is there room for anyone else?
3 stars (out of 5)