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Avada Kedavra! ’THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD’ Kills Harry Potter Spin-Off Series Before It’s Even Started

The crimes of Grindelwald are apparently many but the crimes of The Crimes of Grindelwald are doubly so. This dreary snooze-fest puckers up to give the once-beloved franchise the Dementor’s Kiss, bewitching the audience with an irresistible urge to shutter their eyelids and be whisked off to that warm and welcoming valley of sleep – wherein they would miss little that couldn’t be summed up in a few throwaway sentences of recap. In two-plus-hours of screen time, this sequel to the somewhat mildly-received Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them manages little more than to draw battle lines in the sand, introducing a few new bland characters and then shuffling the deck for the inevitable, and presumably more-engaging, skirmishes to come.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM’

A pleasant but slight distraction from the wickedness of 2016, J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them turns back the clocks on the Harry Potter Universe to 1928 where the pesky Newt Scamander and his suitcase full of fantastic beasts have just entered New York City. Beasts earns points distinguishing itself from its predecessor by taking on a new time period, centering on an older (if still largely charming) cast and moving the action to America where new rules, regulations and verbiage (“muggles” are no more, “no-maj” being the US equivalent) prevail.  There’s hints of magic peppered throughout – James Newton Howard’s electrifying score, sharp visual tricks up the sleeve, Eddie Redmayne’s recklessly crooked smile – but as a standalone installment, Fantastic Beasts certainly stops short living up to its titular adjective. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE LEGEND OF TARZAN’

An unmitigated, excitement-bereft disaster, The Legend of Tarzan marries the very worst tenets of spectacle-based blockbuster entertainment to a wholly abominable ringer of a script in this haphazard attempt to jump-start a franchise whose existence should never have made it past the very first boardroom meeting. Unconvincing characterization and stupendously dull scene work are overwhelmed by eye-pestering CGI with no conviction to call its own that assaults the viewer, who is turn is already forced to reckon with a dramatically barren, entirely overblown, infuriatingly retread plot. The result is a vine-swinging affront to adventure cinema that fails to even once justify why it was made and who it was made for. Read More