It’s no easy task to create a film in a universe as deep as Harry Potter’s, and while Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them vehemently succeeds in generating a unique, magical world, it fails in many other crucial areas that ultimately drag it down for all except the utmost fans of the franchise. Although Redmayne plays the titular character well enough, the rest of the secondary cast of actors don’t bode well with the film. For the most part, their roles feel forced into specific stereotypes or cliques, while others (such as Farrell) transmit their distaste or lack of interest for the Harry Potter universe through their dispirited acting. A point of positivity: some of the supporting actors, after having the time to develop their roles, accomplish the stance that the film wants to portray of them, and in the end manage to mesh in the film’s plot. Even so, David Lynch’s work is inconsistent and somewhat incoherent, jumping from plot to plot with little cohesion between each part, and trying to do too many things at once (a long, unnecessary romantic arc, problems between classes, problems between light and darkness, problems between humankind and nature, etc.). Sadly, the world he created, although intricate and deep, feels out of place in the Harry Potter universe, and strays too much from what Rowling created and the previous pictures tries to represent. Alas, the message left to audiences is a welcoming (but dark) one, the fact that these apparently dangerous beasts are “surrounded by the most vicious creatures on the planet: humans”.
From the same director that helmed “Sicario” comes 2016’s best science fiction film: Arrival. A movie that, although extremely distanced from real events (an alien apparition on earth), delves into what human cooperation and teamwork means for the sake of development and humanity itself. And after a tumultuous 2016 that highlighted racism, segregation, hate, and zealousness, Arrival becomes a small message that resonates for filmgoers. Pertaining to its cast, Arrival hits the spot in almost all the right areas, with only Forest Whitaker failing to transmit the same level of energy as the rest of the cast (his absence helps the film more than his presence). Even so, the duo of Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner is likeable and manages to impress throughout the entirety of Denis Villeneuve’s direction. A point of emphasis is made on the use of a non-linear narrative progression utilized to perfection that achieves the single objective of making audiences think with a predetermined mindset, judging the main character because of it, and in the end realizing the main message that the film wanted to transmit.
After his success film animating the comic book series “Tintin”, Spielberg used the knowledge he acquired to tackle a bigger challenge in adapting Roald Dahl’s The Big Friendly Giant. The world is as engrossing as always, mixing digital and live action in an unobtrusive way that adds to the general ambience. In a way, he manages to tell a fairytale story that feels just right, neither too real nor too fictitious, and 3D viewing is a must, as the movie breathes and deepens with every puddle of water, street corner, alley and house. The added profundity from 3D means that viewers can almost peer inside the little intricacies of Spielberg’s universe in what can almost be considered a microcosm. Unfortunately, the child actor isn’t up to the task of transmitting or expressing emotions that feel authentic, and the plot becomes dull after the second half of the film. Sadly, this isn’t because of the movie per-se, but only because the BFG has a plot that doesn’t bode well in its transition from printed media to theatre.
Director Matt Ross has created a film that will be loved and hated, critiqued for its direct use of social commentary yet praised for trying something “out of the mold:”. His selection of mostly unknown yet promising up and coming actors means that Viggo Mortensen’s role highlights his acting prowess, and he does one of his best roles yet. The rest of the cast doesn’t disappoint, with child and teen actors that might’ve been helped with such a daunting role for their career futures. The setting, endearing and captivating, expresses the direct connection between nature and peace, tranquility; yet ultimately tells audiences of an imaginary and impossible dream that the main character lives in and in which he refuses to recognize the society around him. For the most part, the film has great composition and camerawork, exemplifying the dissonance between a family that behaves almost like a cult, awkwardly confronting the established norm. It is an interesting experiment on what would happen if someone decided to live a life like the one represented in the movie, and questions what is “normal” and what path should be taken by every individual, commenting on consumerism, society, obesity, and education. Even so, Ross decides to end his film on a less idealistic note, bringing his character to the stark realization that human beings cannot forgo the civilization they have forged through the years, symbolically represented by Mortensen’s beard and the moment he decides he must shave it.
It’s hard to keep track of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the vast array of films that have been released in recent years. Coupled with this, the intertwining nature of said universe means that for everyone except die-hard fans, each story is separate from the rest. In Dr.Strange, this separation seems ever so present as Benedict Cumberbatch embraces the main character with a very entertaining act that manages to keep viewers invested in the movie. Alas, the same story has already been told in the past, where the millionaire playboy wants to save the planet and acquires a new persona in order to do so (Iron Man, Batman, etc.). But the incorporation of mystical elements makes the story feel somewhat fresh, and incredible visual effects bring said story to life. Unfortunately, little character progression for the Dr. means that in the end, the film feels repetitive of other Marvel titles and never manages to release from its mold.
The year of 2016 has seen the rise of “buddy comedies” with several big budget lists entering the fray. Amongst them, Shane Black’s “Nice Guys” starring Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe in opposite yet complementary roles. The film itself isn’t particularly memorable, apart from its definitive 70’s vibe and color palette, and the very weak plot leaves much to be desired – with a ridiculous premise that doesn’t quite catch viewers attentions. Even so, it manages to become a momentarily funny film that takes advantage of good performances by its main cast: a plus point given to very good dialogue moments throughout. In the end, it might be worth a watch, albeit in a halfhearted way.
War Dogs is an American comedy drama film made by the same director of the three Hangover films. Starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as two arms dealers, it subtracts the same “feel-good” sentiment of his previous trilogy, also found in other titles such as “21” or “Ocean’s Eleven”; where an illicit activity is hyped and placed under a stylish spotlight where the protagonists are considered heroes – even though the actual people are horrid (the film fails to show this in any way). Funny and entertaining, War Dogs manages to lure viewers through the buddy-like performances of Hill and Teller, who portray the search for friendship, money, power and fame which can only be achieved through arms dealing (or so the movie says). Sadly, it epitomizes the Hollywood value of amusing an audience above anything else, and while audiences laugh away, millions of damaged individuals are left forgotten amidst the ongoing arms trade.