REVIEW: ‘Beasts’ sequel isn’t all that fantastic

It’s safe to say that the magic is gone.

For the uninitiated, “Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series, which is a spinoff of the “Harry Potter” movies. The series is set decades before the “Harry Potter” events and follows a wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who’s an expert when it comes to dealing with various creatures.

In this installment, Scamander is tasked by a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to keep track of a situation in France that’s related to the fearsome antagonist of the series, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Like its predecessor from 2016, “Crimes” has Newt team up with his friends from New York, Jacob (Dan Fogler), Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol).

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REVIEW: Black and Blanchett elevate otherwise forgettable ‘House with Clocks’

I can’t say that I ever expected Jack Black and Cate Blanchett to make a good onscreen duo, but here we are.

The two performers appear on the big screen in this fantasy film, directed by Eli Roth. While they headline the picture, though, the main character of the picture is Lewis, played by Owen Vaccaro. The film’s opening finds Lewis moving to Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan (Black) after the death of his parents. Not long after Lewis moves in, he soon finds out that both his uncle and his uncle’s friend Florence (Blanchett) are warlocks.

As he begins to learn about the world of magic, Lewis not only finds out that sorcery exists, but that the house he’s living in contains an evil clock with nefarious designs.

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REVIEW: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Offers Some Excitement But Not Much Else

After seven books and eight movies, the “Harry Potter” franchise seemingly came to a close in 2011. The door to that universe was reopened last weekend, though, with the prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

However, this flick didn’t quite capture the passion, wonder and most of all storytelling ability that its predecessors did.

The film follows the character Newt (Eddie Redmayne) a researcher and writer who travels the world studying and protecting various beasts of the magical world. The movie picks up as his travels bring him to the United States.

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Victor Frankenstein review

Director:
Paul McGuigan
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe
Jessica Brown Findlay
Bronson Webb
James McAvoy
Rated: PG-13

While “Victor Frankenstein” references the famous mad scientist, this retelling actually takes place from Igor’s (Radcliffe) perspective. The movie begins with Igor working as a clown and amateur doctor at the circus. His whole life changes, though, when he meets Victor (McAvoy), who sees his medical techniques.

After the two meet, Frankenstein decides to bring Igor with him to help with scientific experiments to reanimate dead tissue.

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The Last Witch Hunter review

Director:
Breck Eisner
Cast:
Vin Diesel
Rose Leslie
Elijah Wood
Michael Caine
Rated: PG-13

Vin Diesel is Kaulder (though it sounds more like Colder), a witch hunter working for a branch of the Church called the Axe and Cross.

After killing the Witch Queen hundreds of years ago, Kaulder was cursed with immortality. He’s used this ability to keep the world safe, but things start to get dangerous when rumors of the Witch Queen’s return begin to come out.

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REVIEW: ‘Pan’

Director:
Joe Wright
Cast:
Hugh Jackman
Levi Miller
Garrett Hedlund
Rooney Mara
Rated: PG

In the latest adaption of the story featuring a boy who never grows up, Levi Miller is tasked with playing the legendary character Peter Pan. In “Pan,” Peter starts off his journey growing up in an orphanage with less than stellar conditions making up his surroundings.

It all changes, though, when he is whisked away by a group of pirates who are kidnapping orphans.

The pirates, who operate massive flying ships, bring Peter to Neverland and that’s where he comes to meet Blackbeard (Jackman), the leader of the bandits who is using kidnapped orphans to dig for the precious commodity, crystallized fairy dust. Peter decides to get away from the whole situation and does so with the help of a young man named Hook (Hedlund).

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REVIEW: ‘Cinderella’

Director:
Kenneth Branagh
Cast:
Cate Blanchett
Lily James
Richard Madden
Helena Bonham Carter
Rated: PG

If you’ve seen the original animated “Cinderella,” or any of the other adaptions of the fairy tale, this will be very familiar territory. This live action version starts off with Cinderella(James) as a young girl and the movie introduces the audience to both her mother and father.

The film goes into the upbringing of Cinderella and shows how her mother died, how her father found a new wife and how life was like after her father passed away. From there, it works like the other adaptions, Stepmother (Blanchett) comes into the picture, forces Cinderella to do work, a ball comes up and the two stepsisters are brats.

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Exodus Gods and Kings review

Director:
Ridley Scott
Cast:
Christian Bale
Joel Edgerton
Aaron Paul
Ben Kingsley
Isaac Andrews
Rated: PG-13

Director Ridley Scott takes on the epic biblical tale of Moses in “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”

The story stays relatively true to the text, all of the plagues are there as well as the Hebrew slaves. What is a bit different is that Moses is portrayed as much more of an “action hero” type, having the skills of a warrior.

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The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies review

Director:
Peter Jackson
Cast:
Martin Freeman
Ian McKellen
Richard Armitage
Rated: PG-13

“The Hobbit” saga comes to a close in “Battle of the Five Armies,” directed by Peter Jackson. The film starts moments after the end of the second film, “The Desolation of Smaug.” The dwarves, led by Thorin, played by Richard Armitage, have regained their kingdom containing endless piles of gold and the evil dragon Smaug has been set free.

After leaving the mountain kingdom, Smaug begins destroying the nearby lake city. The fact that Smaug has now left the gold in the dwarf kingdom, though, has been spread by word of mouth and it sets in motion the events of the final installment as a number of armies descend on the location.

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Dracula Untold review

Director:
Gary Shore
Cast:
Luke Evans
Sarah Gadon
Dominic Cooper
Charles Dance
Rated: PG-13

“Dracula Untold” of course tells the tale of the world’s most famous vampire, but this time, instead of going down the Bram Stoker route, this film goes for what feels almost like a super hero origin story.

The movie picks up with the main character, Vlad, the ruler of Transylvania, a few years after fighting in multiple wars where he became known as one of the most fearsome warriors in the region. Retired from his life as a soldier, Vlad rules his kingdom and spends time with his family, and things seem good.

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