‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’: The Magic Just Isn’t There

fantastic beastsImage via Warner Bros

Harry Potter was more than a book series or a series of films.  Harry Potter was life.  Every summer, it seemed like either a new book or movie was released, and there was always something to look forward to and be excited about.  Then, I graduated high school, and my view on the world has become more and more nihilistic, but the lack of new Harry Potter – related media is only a part of it.

I get excited for movies that I want to see.  Batman? Yes.  Captain America? Yes.  The return of the Joker to the big screen? Yes.  But why am I not exited at all for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?  

First of all, this movie is really flying under the radar.  It makes sense. Between closing out last year with The Force Awakens and leading into another Star Wars movie this year, Batman and Superman going at it, Captain America and Iron Man going at it, Dory coming back, and a new Joker, it is absolutely no surprise that this film is really quiet.

Every studio seems to want to cash in on every property they own right now- just look at all of the movies Disney is putting out.  But why revisit Harry Potter’s world?  There is a big problem with doing so.  Not only am I not excited about Fantastic Beasts, I do not think it will be a very good movie at all, despite all of JK Rowling’s involvement.

Like I said before, Harry Potter was basically my life growing up.  So why am I not excited for another movie about his world?  I am a big fan of revisiting characters and worlds when it feels appropriate- I almost crapped myself when I saw Han Solo on the big screen, and yes I knew he was going to be in it.

But Fantastic Beasts isn’t your typical money-grub.  While it is still set in the same world as Harry Potter, there just isn’t anything that really ties the two together.  What made Harry Potter great for an entire generation of fans was the fact that we could relate to it.  Even though he’s from England and goes to wizard school, he still faces a lot of the same problems that we faced growing up.  It was really a coming-of-age story that happened to be about wizards and magic rather than a story about wizards and magic that happened to have a coming-of-age story included in it.

It won’t have the same feel to Harry Potter because it won’t take place in the familiar setting of Hogwarts castle.  Plus, Ron Perlman and Jon Voight are going to be in it, which just feels wrong for anything related to Harry Potter.  

In short, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them just won’t feel as personal as Harry Potter, and that is why I am not excited to see it.  I grew up with the same timeline as the Harry Potter movies; the last one came out during my senior year of high school.  I just don’t know how I would receive a movie that on the surface is supposed to be like Harry Potter, but I know it won’t be because there won’t be that connection.  Anyways, these have been my thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

What are your thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 from the first half of 2016

Hard to believe that we are halfway through 2016 already.  In honor of this non-holiday, I’d like to rank my top 10 movies/tv shows/ etc. from the first half of 2016.  Let this also be a reminder that you should get started on those resolutions.  This is purely based off of what I have seen.

10.  House of Cards Season 4

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House of Cards season 4 premiered on Netflix in March.  The highly anticipated fourth season could not come at a more appropriate time, as the country is currently going through its own election.

Season four was definitely an improvement over season three.  There was a definite Sopranos influence this season.  Kevin Spacey delivered as always.  It will be interesting to see where they take the show and exactly how many more seasons it will last.

9.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Admittedly, this movie was a steaming pile of garbage.  Still, I felt it merited a place on my list.  Not so much a stand-alone movie as it was a trailer for Justice Leage, there is one reason that this earned a spot on my list: Wonder Woman.

Gal Gadot shined through the clutter that was in this film.  It was the live action debut of the character, and DC needed a solid performance in order to solidify the character’s silver screen status.  Gadot performed; she has to give some credit to the writers for pretty muc leaving her out of the convoluted mess that was the plot of this film and for the fact that she was give the chance to shine in the final battle.

By introducing viewers to the rest of the Justice League cast members, DC did a good job at building buzz for their next installments.  Personally, I’m extremely excited after Affleck’s promising performance of the Dark Knight, and very excited for his movie, not so much for the fact that he is directing but more so the fact that Zack Snyder isn’t.

8.  X-Men: Apocalypse

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Not the strongest X-Men film made, but it was good enough to earn a spot on my list.

Brian Singer was back at it with a new cast of actors playing familiar characters.  The characters themselves seem a bit tired, although the actors playing them were fantastic, especially Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler.

Oscar Isaac was good enough in his role; he has quickly become one of my favorite actors in the last couple of years and this performance wasn’t as strong as those he has given in the past.  Nevertheless, this was still an entertaining film, and it got #8 on my list.

7. Fuller House

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Fuller House accomplished what so many revivals fail to do.  Bringing back the nostalgia while having a good story and progressing the characters forward isn’t always an easy task (see: Dumb and Dumber To).  Fuller House, however, manages to do all of this, mainly due to the simplicity of the story and the openness of everyone from the original show’s schedule, except for the Oslen tiwns, who must think that they are better than everyone else.

Still, Fuller House modernized its story and placed enough nostalgia trips in to earn itself a second season.  I watched all 13 episodes the day they were released, and I could not have been happier with the show.  I was caught extremely off guard when they brought back Stephanie’s husband Harry, as well as a strange appearance from San Francisco Giant’s outfielder Hunter Pence.  It’s no Sopranos, but then again, neither was the original.

6.  Daredevil Season 2

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What really got me excited about season two of Daredevil is the inclusion of more characters.  Marvel finally started taking steps to make their Netflix series more like their cinematic universe (both of which share continuity).  The best of these new characters was far and away the Punisher.  The Punisher is a character that is seemingly made for Netflix.  Jon Bernthal was awesome in the role, portraying the character’s brutality as well as his damaged side equally well.

The show’s original characters, or one of them, however, definitely hurt the ranking of this on my list.  Foggy needs to go.  That is all there is to it.  He is as annoying as that kid in class who reminds the teacher to assign homework right before the bell rings.

Still, the action was fantastic, the plot was slightly confusing, but overall it was incredibly entertaining to see Daredevil take to the streets of Hell’s Kitchen for another season.  I cannot wait for The Defenders.

5.  Rogue One trailerrogue-one.jpgImage via Disney

I know what you’re thinking.  How can a trailer be on the list? When it is an extremely incredible trailer.  There isn’t much detail yet about Rogue One, the first of three Star Wars spin-offs currently planned.  However, this trailer set the internet ablaze with the new cast of characters, led by Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, who leads a mission to steal the Death Star plans intercepted by Luke in Star Wars.

Rogue One is a different kind of Star Wars movie; it is not about the typical light side vs. dark side battle.  John Williams isn’t scoring the movie either, however.  We get to see a different side of the Rebel alliance than we did in the original trilogy.  Plus, we know in a very vague sense what the results of this film are, so it will be interesting to see where Disney takes us.

4. Orange Is the New Black  Season 4

Orange_is_the_new_BlackImage via Netflix

If you couldn’t tell already, I watch a lot of Netflix.  My favorite Netflix show is Orange is the New Black.  Season 4 was simply amazing.  They dialed up the craziness in the prison to 11 this season.

What this show succeeds at is making their characters very human, which is something most dramas fail to do.  Every character on the show showcases every emotion, and none of them are one dimensional.  To see what else I have to say about the show, check out my first official review on it!

3. Captain America: Civil War

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Years from now we will look back and say that this set the bar for ‘standalone’ superhero movies.  I use the word ‘standalone’ in air quotes because while everyone ever is in this movie, it is still very much a Captain America movie.

The expectations were sky-high, and this lived up to every single one.  The action, namely from the airport scene was captivating.  The story was easy enough to understand if you were previously familiar with the other MCU and Captain America films.  The new additions of Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU were incredible.  This movie should have failed, if we learned anything from trying to over stuff a superhero movie from BvS :Dawn of Justice.  But it succeeded in everything it set up to do, including scattering the Avengers and leaving Earth’s mightiest heroes in disarray before numerous solo films and Infinity War.

2. Better Call Saul season 2

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This is the one show on television that everyone should be watching.  Nothing even comes close.  I haven’t seen one frame of this show that I didn’t love.  Do you remember how tightly scripted and written Breaking Bad was? This show is like that on steroids.

Led by Bob Odenkirk, the Breaking Bad prequel/spin-off is must see television every week.  Everyone thinks that Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece is Breaking Bad; I tell them that Breaking Bad was just practice for Better Call Saul.

While not as obviously paced as some other television shows, the action is more subtle and requires more thinking on the part of the viewer; this , along with the stellar quality of the show, make Better Call Saul the most rewarding television experience currently on the air.

1.Deadpool

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Ryan Reynolds didn’t have his mouth sewn shut, machetes put into his forearms and play Green Lantern not to become number one with Deadpool on my list.  There has never been a more entertaining superhero movie ever made.  It is really rare that a studio nails the correct amount of language, violence, and sex to put into a movie- but Fox gave the fans what we wanted and made the film representative of the comics.

Deadpool broke down barriers for comic books; more and more R-rated superhero movies are slated to come out now (including the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Special Edition and Wolverine 3).  It could go down as the most influential superhero movie since Iron Man initiated a shared universe throughout the medium of film.


That wraps up the list.  See something that you thought should be on the list but isn’t ? Disagree with me completely? Let me know in the comments.

Marvel changes tune of Captain America’s Hydra agent status

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Remember back a few weeks when Marvel revealed that Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, had been a Hydra agent the entire time?  Looks like they may be changing their thinking about this.

As revealed in Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, Captain America, who according to issue one of the series has been working for Hydra the entire time, Captain America has been under mind control, which explains his Hydra loyalties.  Who is behind the brain-washing? None other than Cap’s arch-nemesis, Red Skull.  That is pretty much the gist of what happens.

Personally, I thought the twist that Captain America is a Hydra agent was genius.  Capitalizing on the popularity of Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s attempt at reviving interest in the comic book version of Captain America seemed out of left field, and it was attention grabbing and got the internet buzzing.  This whole ‘mind-control’ thing seems a little bit like a half-baked idea to me.

Of course, Marvel, as well as their rival DC Comics, have seemed to always live by a mantra of “nothing is ever set in stone”, which usually applied to characters deaths.  I could understand if they had waited a while to reveal that Captain America had been under the control of Red Skull, but the quick reveal to me is just a little bit lazy.  In my opinion, they should have revealed that at the end of this run.  Just my opinion, however.  The issue itself comes out June 29.

What do you think of the new twist in this Captain America story?  Drop a comment and we can discuss this.

My Top 10 Superhero Movies

This post is entitled “my top 10” because it is my opinion.  If you disagree, feel free to let me know- I’d love to discuss it with you.  Every now and again I’ll come up with top 10 lists covering pretty much everything.  Let’s begin.

10. The Amazing Spider Man 214144741574_8190a62d79_cImage courtesy of Sony

I know this isn’t the most popular superhero film ever made.  I just don’t get why people didn’t like this movie.  OK, I understand some of the criticisms of this movie (like three villains and an overstuffed plot- you’d thought they had learned their lesson, right? And again with more villains in Spider Man: Homecoming? They must really like to forget the past).  However, this movie was fun.  I am a big fan of Andrew Garfield’s Spider Man, more so than the Tobey Maguire one.  Neither were as good as Tom Holland, though.  The Amazing Spider Man 2 had plenty of bright spots, including Jamie Foxx as Electro.Having Emma Stone in your movie doesn’t hurt either.  Not the best movie, but certainly good enough in my opinion to crack the top 10.

9. The Dark Knight Risesdownload.jpgImage courtesy of Warner Bros.

The conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy clocks in at number nine.  I remember seeing this in theaters after a long four year wait after The Dark Knight.  This entire trilogy was weird.  I like to think of it in these terms: the Dark Knight trilogy films aren’t superhero movies, they are Christopher Nolan movies that happen to be about Batman.  With most of the cast of Inception many other trademark Nolan-isms, this film was certainly good.  I, for one, was extremely satisfied at the conclusion of this movie, and with the trilogy as a whole.  Plus, Tom Hardy as Bane was one of the better casting choices that has ever happened in a superhero film.

8. Marvel’s The AvengersmaxresdefaultPhoto courtesy of Marvel

Is it the best superhero movie? In my opinion, not by a longshot.  What this movie succeeds at is showing what is capable from a superhero movie.  Never before had we seen a team of superheroes team up to face extremely vague and confusingly motivated evil before.  This film isn’t without its flaws; Captain America’s spangly outfit and Coulson dying and then coming back to life on Agents of Shield.  This film was groundbreaking however; every MCU addition after this including bigger rosters of superheroes, and they even have their rival studio Warner Bros. attempting to copy their strategy, however unsuccessfully they may be attempting to do see (see: Martha).  While not the best superhero movie, it is one of the most entertaining and pushed the limits of the genre in a good way, not the Batman and Robin way of pushing the limits of the genre.

7. X-Men: Days of Future Past

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This film was Brian Singer’s triumphant return to the X-Men franchise.  This movie is easily the best-paced and action-packed X-Men movie.  Having two time lines in one movie allowed Singer to explore more than if he had picked a different story from the comic books, like for example the Apocalypse story line.  Having  both young and old Magneto and Professor X takes the story to new places.  Having the common timeline denominator of Wolverine allows the story here to flow smoothly.  Although I’ll admit it is a  bit confusing with the whole time-travel-but-different thing.  When all is said and done, this is to date the best movie in the X-Men series because it erases the events of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

6.  Ant Man 

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For a founding member of the Avengers, Marvel certainly needs to put some respeck on it.  It took seven years into the shared universe known as the MCU to give him his own movie.  Bet they wish they put Ant-Man into the MCU earlier.  This movie feels different than a lot of other MCU movies; Ant-Man’s powers aren’t as punch-y as the other heroes he shares a universe with, and of course Paul Rudd brings the character to life.  Of all the films on my list, Ant-Man is the most entertaining.  Paul Rudd could be the centerpiece for the next phase of MCU movies after Iron Man himself leaves.  If you need evidence, he was a scene-stealer in Captain America: Civil War that included a fight that had both Black Panther and Spider-Man.

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

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I have a theory that the first film in any series that is planned to be more than one movie is not the best.  That is because the filmmakers do not have to waste time with a backstory the audience knows better than their family members (e.g., Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murders or “with great power comes great responsibility”).  Winter Soldier is a prime example.  Armed with a new spangly outfit and the luxuries of the 21st century, Captain America is back and he’s ready to save the world again.  This movie has a distinct realist feel to it that other MCU movies just don’t.  The Russo brothers really hit the nail on the head on this one.  The action sequences are the best of any MCU up to date, and this film exemplifies how to make a movie while still setting up the future of the franchise.

4. Iron Man

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The MCU movie that kicked it all off.  Not only did it bring Robert Downey Jr.’s career back to life, it ushered in a new way of thinking about superhero movies.  Iron Man wasn’t a character that audiences had seen anything of, and it was a fantastic place to start a franchise.  The action in this movie is great.  The casting was spot on.  This movie kicked off a multi- billion dollar franchise for Marvel.  Not much else I can say about this one.

3. Captain America: Civil War

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Too big to fail? That is a DC Universe attitude.  You have Batman vs. Superman in  a meaningless fight stopped by the strange coincidence that their mothers have the same name? Wrong.  In this movie, there is an all out fight that is the most entertaining action scene in any superhero movie, thanks to Tom Holland and Paul Rudd.  While not only having the brawl of the decade, we also got to see Black Panther before his stand-alone film in 2018.  This movie should have failed.  There is no way that they could have accomplished all of their ambitions.  However, the Russo brothers did it again.  Infinity War is in good hands.

2. Deadpool

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Fox has made some serious mistakes with the superhero movies over the years.  Their treatment of Deadpool could be considered the worst one if it wasn’t for their repeated butchering of the Fantastic Four.  However, when a second chance comes, you should take it… which is exactly what Fox did here.  By having Deadpool actually be Deadpool and not a sewn-mouth, hand-sword thing fans finally got what they wanted: and R-rated superhero.  The plot isn’t really important in this film.  What is important is that Deadpool finally got the treatment he desrves.  It was almost good enough to top this list…

1.The Dark Knight

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Did you really expect anything else?

Well, that does it for the first list, look out for more in the future!