Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Or as I originally typed Fantastic BEATS, which would have been a very different film…..

As always I turned to IMDb for a quick summary of the plot and they let me down:

The second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts series featuring the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander.

That is a prime example of the desire not to give anything away veering hard towards being wilfully obscure.

So basically the film starts with a lengthy escape sequence where Grindelwald gets out, as we all probably thought he would, and heads off to Paris to plot mayhem and havoc. The Ministry of Magic wants Newt to help them but he doesn’t want to work with their team despite the urging of his big brother. Dumbledore then persuades Newt to hunt down and help Credence (who has survived the first film) and in the process face Grindelwald because he (Dumbledore) can’t do so.

Then it all kicks off.

Everyone who survived the first film turns up in Paris and although the story does move things forward a fair bit we are clearly being set up for the next instalment.

The good stuff:

  • the creature design is stunning as always
  • Jude Law makes a dashing Dumbledore
  • I’m still very fond of Newt and I like his brother Theseus also

The meh stuff:

  • whatever you may think of the casting of Mr Depp, he is fine in the part I guess
  • maybe too many characters, several of whom did not have enough to do

The stuff I did not like:

  • oh boy, some Choices were definitely made, including one that doesn’t really make sense
  • Tina being sniffy
  • and the thing I HATED – Queenie is absolutely my favourite character and I am not at all happy with the direction they have sent her in. Not. At. All.

But despite my feelings veering towards this being a bit messy as a film, I will be watching the next instalment. Of course, I will. That is how they all make their money.

Dazzling details: directed by David Yates, FB: TCOG is 2hrs 11 long and rated 12A for moderate fantasy threat (and questionable plot developments IMHO)

Mary & the Witch’s Flower

mv5bndvkymfinmqtmjc3ni00yty5ltk0ntatzdc4yjzizju2yjnlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm4ntm5ndy@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,684,1000_al_It’s a tradition chez Bride to select a positive, feel-good film to watch on New Year’s Eve as a way of avoiding the often terrible TV coverage, though we always make sure to be done by the Bells when we will have a glass of whisky and some shortbread.

I’m Scottish, what can I say.

This year’s film was Mary & the Witch’s Flower, a Christmas gift from my brother to the Book God . Mary is the first film from Studio Ponoc, the successor to Studio Ghibli, and is based on the 1971 children’s book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart (or Mearî Suchuâtô as she is in Japanese.)

Mary is spending the summer at her great-aunt’s house waiting for her parents to return from a trip. She’s bored and spends her time investigating the local woods in the company of a black cat where she finds a beautiful blue flower and a broomstick. Temporarily possessed with magic powers, Mary finds herself at Endor College, a sort of proto-Hogwarts, where she makes a significant impression. But things are not at all what they seem.

This is a simply lovely film, full of beautiful imagery and excellent animation. Mary herself is a very engaging character. I hate the word feisty but I can’t think of an alternative just now to describe Mary, a child full of adventure and confidence.

There is darkness in the film, as the staff of Endor College (voiced by Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent) are obsessed with experiments in transformation which have a real Doctor Moreau feeling.

A number of the elements in the story are very familiar, and I would have liked to see more of Mary’s relationship with her great-aunt which has an important role in the later stages of the story in a way that felt a bit too convenient. But that doesn’t detract from a beautiful story which proved to be an ideal end to 2018.

Dazzling details: directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Meari to majo no hana (original title) is 103 minutes long and rated U – suitable for everyone as long as you don’t mind very mild threat.