Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets (12A) **
“The best plan is no plan,” says a character at the start of Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets. “Or many overlapping planes,” adds another. They discuss how best to take on the partially clairvoyant Grindelwald, but they could easily discuss JK Rowling’s storylines for her five-part Harry Potter prequel saga, which got off to a good start with 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. before falling off an exploding cliff with 2018’s The Crimes of Grindelwald, a confusing mess of a film that sidelined most of the first film’s characters, took fans to Hogwarts, made the titular villain of Johnny Depp a proto-fascist, and kept changing his mind about the origin and purpose of Ezra Miller’s wizard orphan, Credence Barebone.
If the second episode suggested that Rowling’s novelistic instincts and world-building abilities weren’t interchangeable with the screenwriting skills needed to create a cohesive cinematic universe, the new film seems like a sly acknowledgment of that fact, dismissing – or at least rendering irrelevant – many of the narrative convolutions of part two. Co-written by regular Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves, this episode is “based on a script by JK Rowling” and features a slightly more streamlined plot that at least gives it a scene-to-scene momentum previously absent from the franchise. .
After parting ways with Depp during his tumultuous off-screen life, the film also kicks off in style by featuring Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald in a confrontation with Jude Law’s Dumbledore which outlines their romantic history and the ideological differences that brought them together. on radically different paths. There is no acknowledgment of the personnel change; Series director David Yates opts for a direct switch that works thanks to Mikkelson’s charisma and ability to instantly rely on his Bond villain gaze and Hannibal Lecter’s charm to create a suitably sinister villain. for a family movie.
He’s definitely the best thing about the film, which takes shape around Grindelwald’s insidious efforts to assume political control of the wizarding world, a course of action that forces Dumbledore to leave the Hogwarts sanctum and run bumbling magizoologist Newt. Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and a motley crew of witches, wizards, and weird no-majs to stop him. The ensemble cast – which includes Dan Fogler as no-maj baker Jacob Kowalski, Richard Coyle as Dumbledore’s brother and Jessica Williams as an American teacher of witchcraft and wizardry called Eulalie Hicks – gets little moments to shine amid heavy CGI backdrops. Meanwhile, Yates and his production designers travel to town to create elaborate sets that alternately capture the glittering allure of old New York and the totalitarian terror of 1930s Berlin.
Still, despite being lighter on its feet, the storytelling still feels a bit hit or miss as the film figures out what to do with Credence Barebone’s aforementioned storyline with two movies to come. Conceived as a sort of reverse Harry Potter, whose personal history of trauma turned him to the dark side, it originally seemed like Credence might be the key to the franchise, but earlier films – and perhaps Ezra Miller’s brooding performance – failed to make the character narratively interesting, even with a stunning second-part ending that hinted that Credence was really Dumbledore’s brother. That familial bond is clarified a bit more here, but there’s no big reveal moment, no sense of emotional catharsis. For all the entertaining spectacle on offer, this plays like a franchise that knows it’s running out of steam.
Cannes-winning Croatian drama Murine subverts the usual sun-drenched European coming-of-age tropes by focusing on a character whose idyllic abode is more prison than paradise. Living on the Adriatic coast with her chauvinistic father (Leon Lucev) and unhappy mother (Danica Curcic), gruff teenager Julija (Gracija Filipovic) doesn’t bask in the splendor that attracts vacationers and tourist boats. Instead, she is forced to go spearfishing with her bitter, earthy father to supplement their meager family income and begins to act more and more, perhaps out of fear of sharing the same fate as her mother, a local beauty who seems to have quit. herself to a difficult existence with a tyrant for husband.
Searching for underwater crevices in search of the titular moray eel – a local delicacy with a poisonous bite – becomes the unifying symbol first director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović uses to highlight her protagonist’s plight as Julija pinpoints her hopes for life. escape on Javier (Cliff Curtis), a wealthy friend of her parents whose obvious attraction for her mother she decides to cultivate without anticipating the consequences. What emerges is a bewildering drama that treats impending adulthood as a turbulent sea and adolescence as a sink or swim situation.
Starring Mark Rylance as a Saville Row-trained “cutter” who finds himself embroiled in the Chicago underworld of his Mafia clientele, The clothe may be full of carefully crafted reveals and inversions, but this 1950s bedroom piece from Graham Moore (Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game) feels like a play disguised as a movie. Overloaded with metaphorical soliloquies, none of it seems particularly lively on screen and although Rylance is pretty good, the period setting and stylized accents make the young actors – Johnny Flynn, Zoey Deutch, Dylan O’Brian – look like adults auditioning for a Bugsy Malone Revival.
All films in general release from April 8
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