Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the return of Newt Scamander in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald,” the political doings of “The Front Runner” and the arthouse heist of “Widows.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the continuing saga of magizoologist Newt Scamander in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald,” the political intrigue of “The Front Runner” and the arthouse heist of “Widows.”
If you already know what a ‘magizoologist’ is you’re likely a fan of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. If not, you’ve got some catching up to do before buying ticket to the second instalment of the Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald.”
When we last saw magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) he temporarily put aside his study of magical creatures to travel to New York City and help MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) bring the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) to justice.
The story picks up as Grindelwald escapes. Like all good villains he craves world dominance, but only on his own terms. He believes in wizarding superiority and sets in motion a plan to lead a new Wizarding Order of pure-blood wizards who will rule over all non-magical beings.
Enter Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and an influential member of the British Ministry of Magic. To stop Grindelwald’s diabolical plot Dumbledore contacts Scamander, a confidante and former student.
The film based on the second original screenplay from J.K. Rowling is more fantastical than magical. There are all manner of creatures and wizard’s tricks that could only have sprung from her fertile imagination but there is very little actual cinema magic. Sure Potter fans will love seeing Hogwarts and a glimpse of Quidditch again but that is nostalgia, and Alison Sudol’s Judy Holliday impression is as winning as it was the first time out but overall “The Crimes Of Grindelwald” feels like a placeholder for the films yet to come.
Non-Potter-heads will likely be confused by the barrage of names, the myriad of subplots and a deadly scene about the family tree of Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) that gives the word convoluted a whole new meaning. Part of the joy of the Rowling’s story weaving in the Potter series was its depth and complexity. Here it feels as though she’s being paid not by the word but by the character.
When director David Yates isn’t bathing the screen with blue digital flames and the like there are things to admire. The set and costume design are spectacular, appropriate for both the 1920s setting and the otherworldly characters. Also interesting are the messages, both timeless—the search for identity—and timely—unity, fear mongering and freedom through force—provide subtext that is more interesting than the actual story.
Ultimately “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald,” despite its grand face, feels thin, over written and under dramatic.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit” and the culinary road trip of “The Trip to Spain.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit.”
A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit.”
Richard sits in with CKTB morning show host Tim Denis to discuss the weekend’s flickers including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit.”
The eight “Dark Tower” novels by Stephen King make up an award winning fantasy series that has spawned a comic, a videogame and now a movie starring Idris Elba. Spread over 4,000-plus-pages King wove the story of Roland Deschain, gunslinger and relation of Arthur Eld, an alternative universe King Arthur.
The film, directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, sidesteps King’s series, presenting instead a sequel to the book series. Fans, he says, will recognize the world and the characters while newcomers will have no trouble figuring out the story.
As the film begins we meet teenage Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor). Troubled by disturbing apocalyptic dreams—are they dreams orr are they omens?—he can’t sleep and is getting into trouble at school. Concerned, his mom (Katheryn Winnick) makes arrangements for him to be sent to a psychiatric facility for tests. Before he can be taken away he makes a run for it and discovers a creepy old New York City mansion, abandoned, its covered in graffiti that reads, “all hail the Crimson King.” It also contains a portal into Roland’s world. He jumps through the glittering gateway only to find himself stranded in a desolate New World. He walks, talking to himself. “It’s good.” he says, “It’s not real.” But it is real and dangerous. He’s in the universe he’s been dreaming about, Roland’s realm.
Deschain (Elba) is the last gunslinger, a 300-year-old descendant from a long line of peacekeepers and diplomats from the Mid-World land of Gilead. Decked out in head-to-toe leather, he’s a mysterious presence, a throwback to the Man with No Name. His nemesis is demonic sorcerer and emissary of the Crimson King, Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), a.k.a. the Man in Black a.k.a. Walter Padick. “His name is Walter?” Jake asks incredulously. Mortal enemies, Roland and Walter are at odds over the Dark Tower, the centre of all creation. It is a classic battle of good and evil with the fate of the universe in the balance. “All that matters to me is that I find and kill Walter,” says Walter. “That’s it.”
You can smell the wannabe franchise sauce all over “The Dark Tower” but something tells me there won’t be a “Darker Tower,” or whatever clever name they might come up with for a sequel.
Director Arcel, working from King’s template, creates a world with its own villains and nasty creatures. Unfortunately it’s not a very interesting world. It feels like it might have been better served by a multi-part television serial, a series that could fully explore the complicated world of the novels. Then take the references to “The Shining” and other Stephen King books plus an unexpected turn to comedy when the action moves to “Keystone Earth” and you’re left with just another end of the world story where elements from the books appear but feel distilled down to a thick syrupy mush that moves like molasses.
McConaughey has the film’s best lines—“Have a great apocalypse!”—and can kill just by uttering the words “stop breathing” but he hands in a disengaged yet campy performance. Also, and this is a small thing, but it was the small things—and some big things too—that took me out of the story, but it bugged me whenever he referred to his powers. “Roland has an annoying resistance to my magics.” Plural. Not magic. Magics. It’s annoyings.
Taylor is an appealing enough juvenile lead but he’s held back by some strange story decisions. Why allow the villain to mostly work remotely—from his evil headquarters—and showcase a hero who means well but is largely hobbled by an injury? These two should be mano-a-mano 24-7 instead of sporadically throughout the film. By the time their inevitable bullet ballet comes—Roland is a gunslinger after all—it’s too little too late.
Aside from being dull “The Dark Tower” feels like a missed opportunity. The books are rich source material but have been let down by a film that feels like it was once an ambitious project but was neutered in the editing room.