Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldI don’t know what happened with this movie. It looked great from the trailers, and looked like the story would make sense. The film itself, though, was a big beautiful mess. I’m not even sure what I saw.

I’m essentially a Harry Potter expert. I’ve read the books dozens of times, seen the movies even more, visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and traveled to places filmed on location in both London and Scotland. I belong to a Harry Potter Meetup group, and have different wizard outfits, cobbled together over the years. I’ve made wands. Blah blah blah. All this to make it clear when I say I don’t understand Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s a painful feeling.

It’s not even just me. I went with a fellow wizard friend, and he was disappointed and lost too. After the film, we tried to figure out what the movie was about, why the characters did the things they did, and were both just puzzled.

We saw the movie in IMAX at a select early screening with reserved tickets in a packed theater. Everyone there was a big HP fan, ready to have an exciting time. We started out applauding and cheering when different things occurred onscreen, like seeing Dumbledore, during the Hogwarts scene, when different creatures showed up, and when certain early secrets were revealed. However, as the movie wore on, the audience got more and more quiet. By the end, you could hear a pin drop. There was no final applause, which spoke volumes in its silence. People filed out with no fanfare or excitement. Basically, JK Rowling’s biggest fanbase seemed alienated.

I’ll probably see this a few more times in the theater — and it really is a pretty piece of work. I hope to figure out what the plot was about and why the characters did the things they did. I’m positive I’ll have better things to say about this film then. But in the meantime, I’ll say this: if I couldn’t follow the weird, convoluted, and very messy narrative told here, I doubt the casual fan will know what to make of it.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: I attended a premier showing before the film officially opened. (I had to drink my hoarded Felix Felicis Potion to get this ticket.) While this is great news for RunPee fans, I will admit this was the hardest movie ever for me to get Peetimes. The film moves at a breakneck pace, with too many characters — many of whom were brand new and didn’t make any sense in the film. I added 2 Peetimes, in any case. The 1st is better, at 39 minutes in. The 2nd, at 1:16 will also serve. Neither of these scenes have any interesting action or fantastic beasts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Quiz – Learn About Marvel Studio’s Great Stan Lee

We just heard (11/12/18) about the sad passing of legendary Marvel Comics superhero creator/movie co-producer Stan Lee, at the impressive age of 95.

Mr. Lee had so many influential superhero characters to his name: it’s impossible for anyone not to have been touched in some way by Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, the X-Men, or any of the other flawed, fascinating characters he created for the Marvel Universe. Whereas DC penned impossible paragon superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, Lee’s Marvel creations had real-world problems, handling mature themes about friendship, love, family, alienation, and sacrifice.

Take this quiz to learn more about this outgoing, imaginative superhero genius and his achievements:

Stan Lee

RunPee sends loving wishes to Stan Lee’s family and hopes they can feel peace through this trying time. Mr.  Lee leaves behind a legacy previously unheard of in cinema — making a linked series of 20+ award-winning blockbuster movies — not to mention a  lifetime of extraordinary comic book creation.  Thank you for being our Guardian of the Galaxy. Rest In Peace, somewhere in the universe.

 

RunPee Mom is our emotional bedrock. Without her, RunPee never would have lasted a decade as an app (which is since the dawn of time in internet years). She’s our biggest cheerleader and an unending source of unconditional love. She works cheerfully and tirelessly, seeing any movie we ask of her, writing interesting reviews, and being our…well…MOM. Her genres of choice: kiddie flicks, animated movies, emotional dramas, historical features, war films, diverse biographies, and even dense, diabolically plotted thrillers. She knows more about famous and infamous figures in history than said figures probably knew about themselves. She’s the Quiz Manager for the RunPee.com blog, and Assistant Facebook Manager for our social media efforts. If you’ve interacted with someone on our Facebook page, you’ve most likely been given a virtual hug by RunPee Mom.

Every Harry Potter Film, Ranked

harry-potter-movies-ranked
The trio, saving the world at a theater near you.

We haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald yet, but RunPee has an early showing next Tuesday, November 13th, three days before the film officially opens. I’ll be attending in full Hogwarts robes, with my cherished Elder Wand, getting early Peetimes. In any case, this is as good a time as any to rank the 9 movies thus far in the Wizarding World, from least good to the best. Remember, though, any of J.K. Rowling’s wizard movies are better and more consistent than just about any franchise out there, save the superhero flicks in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

NOTE: Spoilers for the entire Harry Potter series starts right here. Use a memory charm to forget what you’re about to read if you’re not up to date with the series.

My  subjective list, from worst to best, including Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them:

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 – While there are some really good sections in this story (the Battle of the Seven Potters, the Gringotts Bank Heist, the flight of the dragon, the scenes at Malfoy Mansion, and the tear-jerking death of Dobby), most of the film feels like the boring sections of the Lord of the Rings: to wit, there is a lot of walking, camping, and doing nothing. Also, the locket acts a lot like the One Ring, which feels more derivative than like an homage. Also, there’s barely any humor, the tone is depressing, the characters are mostly silent, and some scenes are among the only big misfires in the entire series (ie – the wedding, the visit with Xenophilus Lovegood, the creepy trip to Godric’s Hallow).  So it’s really the only middling chapter in a long series of grade A films. Something has to come in last in a list, after all.

8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – I don’t like this one very much. I hate the spiders scene so much that I fast forward over the whole thing (I’m not an arachnophobe, but this is all still disturbing), Hagrid’s helpful presence is missing through most of it, and I didn’t enjoy his being blamed for opening the titular Chamber. The overall tone is more depressing than it should be, so early into the longer story arc. The Basilisk doesn’t make much sense: he’s too big to roam unseen in the crowded Hogwarts Halls, or to fit through that toilet exit. Also, I’n not a big fan of the climax in the the Chamber itself, or the reveal about Ginny Weasley. The good: the flight of the Ford Anglica, the trip to Diagon Alley, Kenneth Branagh’s amusing portrayal of Professor Gilderoy, and Hagrid’s apparent bit of talking to himself as he’s brought away by the Minister of Magic (“If I was looking for something, I’d follow the spiders.”) I’ve come to appreciate this movie more over the years, but it’s still the one I’m happiest to skip. Fortunately, things get a lot better very quickly in the next films.

7.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone (the title depends on which country you’re from) – This is lightweight, yet appealing fluff. It’s very truthful to the book, which I actually like, is adorably sweet, and ends on a low-stakes high note (Gryffindor winning the House Cup, a topic we never hear about again). The film does a good job introducing a large cast, which thankfully stays with us for the next ten years (Dumbledor’s actor aside, for unfortunate reasons of real-world death).  Alan Rickman’s Snape is better than the book version, and better than a kiddie-movie like this one deserves.  Most of the stage is set for the  ensuing chronicles, and the filmation is straightforward, yet deeply pretty.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 – I’d rate this finale higher if it was either more fun, or stood better alone. It picks up right after DH1, and maintains a  breakneck pace for its rather long runtime. The battle is competent, and everyone involved put in a good effort. The aftermath is rushed, and the coda sort of divided the fans (I liked it, though). The best scenes start right after Harry uses the Stone, sees his loved ones, walks to his death, and visits the train station at King’s Cross, London.  Heartfelt, mysterious, clearly spiritual, and nicely tear-jerking. Answers that are non-answers are provided, leaving the viewer to decide what actually happened to Harry, and how he was able to defeat Voldemort. Once you puzzle it out to your satisfaction (ie  – Harry is a horcrux), you’re all set to let the real Battle of Hogwarts begin.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  – I sometimes dislike this film, even though it’s really quite good and mostly book. It bothers me that Harry has a raging case of PTSD about the death of Cedric, and no one tries to help him emotionally. And I’m sad about Sirius  — he was my movie boyfriend, as far as I was concerned. I so wanted Harry to ditch the Dursleys and move in with his godfather. It disturbed me that Sirius spent the short remainder of his life in that hideous house that brought him nothing but pain…and it doesn’t help that it was Harry’s awful mistake  (and no small amount of teenage hubris) that led to his godfather’s death. I blame  Dumbledore too — so much pain could have been averted if he’s handled that year better. I also didn’t like that Kreacher’s backstory was mostly ignored. I love Kreacher’s journey in the book, and feel the movie lost a big chance to add a very poignant touch. Apparently, Rowling herself had to insist on ensuring Kreacher was included at all.  High points in the film: Dolores Umbridge. She’s the kind of villain you love to hate. I hate her with the force of a thousand suns; a testament to good acting and marvelous casting. I actually think Umbridge is worse than Voldemort. All the proclamations were good fun, and the Weasley twins’ exit, while not as good as how it went down in the book, was a definite highlight, as were the charming scenes where Harry taught Protection against the Dark Arts to Dumbledore’s Army.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Newt Scamander might seem an odd sort of fellow to base a five-part series around, but he’s odd in the good way; sweet, unassuming, yet very competent. He’s completely devoted to his creatures and their future survival…and in spite of being a bit socially awkward, attracts a nice trio of friends to help him save the world from evil wizards. I love Queenie and Jacob. I love the workshop and wildlife preserve in the suitcase. Newt’s an adult, unlike Potter and friends, and this makes for a tonal shift in the film. It’s less colorful and, well…”magical” — except when the fantastic beasts themselves come around. This is a film I like better and better upon every viewing. I’m truly excited to see how this series develops.

3.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Many people position this as the best of the series. It’s shot on location in the lush highlands of Scotland (places I visited to see the real deal in person, being a supergeek of all things Potter). Azkaban has a complicated, yet completely coherent story that other time travel movies should study. The direction is winningly stylish. We’re also introduced to Hogwart’s best teacher ever in Remus Lupin. This is where Sirius Black emerged, and began stealing my heart.  Our new Dumbledore was nothing like the previous one, but slid seamlessly into the role. The main trio puts in their first real acting performance — either the young actors finally settled into their characters, or the director led them there. Alfonso Cuaron completely knocks this one out of the park, and I wish he’d stuck around for the rest of the franchise. It’s simply glorious in direction, setting, and tone.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I’m a sucker for quest-type stories like this one. It’s got recognizable act breaks between the three tasks, introduces great new characters, provides a lot of humor, and is the first film where the kids enter fully into teenhood. The Hogwarts characters we know and love are no longer children, and the pains/pangs of love emerge. I love this movie more than it probably deserves, but it also offers an astounding ending that changes the series forever. Here’s where the darkness finally takes firm root over the rest of the saga.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – this holds a special place in my heart for being the funniest of the films, with a good mystery, a lot of Draco (always a plus), reveals much-needed backstory, is mostly self-contained, and provides the last calm before the storm of the war against Voldemort. Everyone’s on the top of their game in this one. (Yes, the book is far superior, but it’s also super long. This would have been a better choice to divide into two films, IMO).

If you’re a die-hard Potter fan, you’ll notice I didn’t include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in this ranking. This would be because the last time I was in London, the play had not yet been created. The screenplay in book-format is a bit underwhelming, but I’ll chalk that up to the medium: it’s meant to be performed to a live audience. People who’ve seen it have great reviews on the experience.  Next time I hit the UK, you can bet I’ll catch a performance. If you’ve seen it, please talk about what it was like in the comments below.

Next week, with FB 2 gracing our screen, I’ll have to shake up this list again.  The trailers look good, albeit quite grim. Here’s to hoping it lands in the top five! I’ll be at the premier in my Gryffindor robes. Lumos, babies!

Related, on RunPee:

Every Harry Potter article on RunPee.com

And some featured posts: 

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Crimes of Grindelwald Prequel Fan Film – The Greater Good

Comic Con Releases Grim but Exciting Trailer for Fantastic Beasts — The Crimes of Grindelwald

Notes on Final Trailer for Fantastic Beasts — The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Pixar Fast Fact Video – Easter Eggs in Incredibles 2

Incredibles is simply a great superhero film
Incredibles 2 is kinda incredible.

Be happy, Pixar fans, as the galaxy’s best animated superhero movie sequel is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

To remind  you how good Incredibles 2 is, I’m introducing you to a duo of video superheros themselves, the Super Carlin Brothers. These guys love Pixar, and came up with the mind-blowing, probably unlikely, but strangely fitting Pixar Theory, one that spans from the dawn of time (The Good Dinosaur) through to the far future (Wall-E). But this post isn’t about The Pixar Theory video (although you should see it). I’m just giving these dudes a call-out for their Incredibles 2 insights.

Remember, Pixar uses a winning combination of top notch animation; flawed, yet big-hearted characters; great ensemble chemistry; a quest structure; engaging pathos; and legit humor that may go right over kid’s heads, but adults will most certainly enjoy. Incredibles 2 even takes charming their adult audience a step further, showing  animated characters drinking beer, something unseen on the big screen before, and normally reserved for someone like Homer on The Simpsons. (I don’t know why I’m so impressed with Mr. Incredible drinking beer. I suppose it’s fun to see heroes being less idealized and more human. I doubt Captain America drinks ale, but we’ve seen Iron Man sipping whiskey, and I’ll bet Thor loves himself a good mug of mead.)

Here’s the roughly 8 minute video about Pixar and Incredibles 2 for your enjoyment:

While you’re here, this 10 minute companion video argues that the Incredible family moved into Syndrome’s House in the sequel (the big bad from Incredibles 1, if you recall):

Here’s our catalog of Incredibles Movie Reviews and Articles on RunPee.com: 

All Incredibles Related Posts (click this link).

Just highlighting a few below:

Movie Rewatch – The First Incredibles

Incredibles 2 & the Success of Animated Movie Sequels

WTF: Pixar’s Bao Short Before Incredibles 2

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

He's still a mean one.
He’s still a mean one.

With the newest incarnation of The Grinch arriving under our trees (albeit a bit early) this season, we thought it was time to take a look at the history of this mean green creature, who is both dastardly and oddly sympathetic.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas  (1957) – The original kid’s book by Dr. Seuss is beloved, and for very good reasons. It started it all, showing us a grumpy Gus who hates the holiday (shades of A Christmas Carol). He steals, he lies, he abuses his dog Max, and breaks Cindy Lou Who’s trust…but eventually hears the joyous music and comes through in the end. This is an allegory for humanity, in a real way. We can be mean, we can hurt others to hide our own miserable loneliness…but if we open ourselves — just a crack — to others…well, we might learn to belong after all. Who hasn’t known this kind of profound alienation? Who doesn’t secretly dream of being accepted despite the petty crimes we’ve committed? The message hits us right in the feels. Dr. Seuss knew it. This is among the three top stories he gifted to generations of children. (Along with The Lorax and The Cat in The Hat. Can’t argue with those.)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas –  A faithful and rousing rendition of the Dr. Seuss book, the animated 26-minute special from 1966 is definitely something…yes, special. Growing up with this, it was a traditional treat to rewatch it every year, as a child. I still watch it now to herald the holiday season. Good animation, great songs (I can still sing the refrain), and a story to make your heart grow three sizes in the end. A+ work.

The Grinch (2000) – The live action version with Jim Carrey dropped on the scene to a mostly poor reception. (It seems Carrey doesn’t always have the magic touch.) I recently watched this for the first time (um, as in today, to get ready for the upcoming rebooted animated Grinch), and thought it was…lacking. Middling, dank, arbitrary, and a bit sour. Ron Howard himself directed, and usually produces great films. What happened to the color, the joy, the fun? Not everyone panned it, however. The Wikipedia reports, “Despite mixed reviews that often compared the film unfavorably to the 1966 special, it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Art Directionand Best Costume Design.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – Did we need ANOTHER Grinch? Why reboot this one; it’s been done enough, surely? In spite of my fears, every time I saw the new animated trailer in theaters I smiled and giggled in spite of myself. It looks a world of better than the live action version. I think they might get it right! I’m not the kind of critic who wants to see the same darn themes rebooted every few years, but agree Pixar knows how to craft a film. The trailer looks charming and fun: I’m all over it. If it doesn’t suck, it might put this story to bed, finally. NOTE, after seeing the 2018 movie: it didn’t. Here’s my Grinch-like review.

Watch The Grinch Trailers, to get you in the proper mood for the Mean One this Christmas: 

The Final Grinch Trailer:  

Movie Review – The Grinch

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Once More, with Ant Man. Why him, and why now?

ant man in the quantum realm
Wait. What? Where did everybody go?

With Ant Man & The Wasp now released on DVD and Blu-Ray, people are struck again with how this movie might tie in with the greater Marvel oeuvre, and wonder anew why the light-weight Ant Man 2 arrived so closely after the heavy ending of Infinity War.

— Spoilers ahead for Avengers Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp —

Here’s a roundup of some intriguing articles addressing Ant Man, the Quantum Realm, and some conjecture about how to undo The Snap:

Do you have any thoughts on how things could wrap up for Avengers 4, coming out next summer? At least we’ve got time to puzzle, conjecture, and, yes,  re-watch the 20 previous movies for scraps of clues. Feel free to comment below with your ideas. I promise to respond.

MCU Trailer News: 

First Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops

Avengers 4 Trailer Hints and Rumors

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

Han shot first.
He’s got a really good feeling about this.

I don’t know why so many Star Wars fans have a problem with Solo. All I can think of is that it was released too close to The Last Jedi, which really incited the fan base. Otherwise, I can’t imagine why this excellent film was panned. I loved it, and I’m not sure yet where I’d rank Solo, but in the top four or five of the Star Wars films, at least. (Okay, I added my ranking on the link above. Feel free to disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, in the comments below.)

I recently re-watched Solo on the seat back of my cross country Delta flight, and I was delighted. It’s definitely better the second (or third, or fourth) time around, and what’s nice about the seat-back thing is that I could pause it and rewatch the little random and funny moments to my heart’s content. I paused it a lot: watching joyful references to previous Star Wars movies, and I laughed out loud several times (probably annoying my seatmates).

What was so great about Solo? It was a rousing adventure with several great villains, lovely set pieces, and a likable cast. We’re introduced to a young, wet-behind-the-ears Han, who’s still idealistic and dreams big. Over the course of the film we start to see his trademark cynicism kick in, culminating with Han definitively shooting first. But he’s so sweet and baby-faced here, and so willing to be a hero. It’s a nice contrast, and I can see why he both felt frustrated by and protective of the young Luke Skywalker — it reminded him of himself, back in the day.

The new Han actor is a special find, and I’m thrilled with his performance. Harrison Ford gushed over him (and Ford is a normally taciturn man), and told him — when Alden Ehrenreich was cast — to make Han his own. I think Ehrenreich walked a good line between an homage to “old Han” and a gentler, fresher version. It worked for me. Plus, he had great chemistry with the new Chewie, and most of the laughs came from their early friendship (the rest of the laughs came from Lando, but I’ll get to that in a moment). The scene where Han and Chewie shower together, especially, is really cute. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) Chewbacca has always been a grounding force for Han, operating as a sort of conscience for the experienced smuggler he becomes.

The ensemble sparkled, unlike the problems inherent in the characters of Rogue One (come on, admit it). Q’ira is a complex love interest, and adorable to boot. Her story arc is sensible, sad, and intriguing. Woody Harrelson’s Becket made for a great conflicted mentor, kind of like a less reliable version of his Hunger Games Heymitch character, if that’s even possible. Paul Bettany’s villain is outstanding, period — he’s amusing, personable, complicated, and very, very frightening.

Which brings me to Donald Glover’s Lando. Dear God, the perfection. He effortlessly stole every scene he was in. I could view an entire movie of Lando playing Sabaac, or trying on just capes, and be entertained. Can our next Star Wars Story feature him? Please?

Lastly, the Millennium Falcon was a big character in Solo. She’s always been a fast ship — when she worked — but that’s because of Han’s special modifications over the years. Here we see the Falcon as a brand-new, squeaky clean ship, with all the bells and whistles and wet bars and cape closets. It’s amazing to be presented with a white-walled interior after all the grungy years.

The ensemble absolutely clicked, and I’m left wondering, again, why people didn’t like this movie. Maybe it was the coaxial heist plot, which wasn’t all that exciting. Coaxium, hyperfuel, whatever: it’s just a MacGuffin to hang the narrative on. Solo is a small-stakes story, which is just fine after so many retread Death Star plots. It doesn’t always have to be about saving the universe to be a great movie.

Lastly, I wanted to make a note about the muchly-heralded escape from the Maw in 12 parsecs (nice correlation to the old Extended Universe novels, BTW). It’s not the most exciting element of the film, and doesn’t feature Han doing anything particularly skilled. As RunPee Dan said in his review, “It’s a group effort.” I have no issues with that, since Han said “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.” The ship. Not that he’s the big bad pilot that did it. His off hand comment allows for what actually happened, instead of being a misleading boast. Han has many flaws, but he’s never one to mislead others.

It also puts to bed the problem with parsecs being a measurement of space and not time. It worked for me, mostly…but I won’t lie and say the Kessel Run sequence doesn’t make for a great Peetime. The Maw’s effects weren’t up to the standards of Star Wars, and the space dwelling monster was just plain atrocious. I prefer the asteroid-based space slug from Empire, if we have to have an impossible creature feature. 😉

While there were a lot of super fun nods to the original trilogy, I have to say my favorite was Han saying, “I have a good feeling about this.” I found it cute, and it made me smile. I think I need to make a list of every character in the rest of the series intoning, “I have a bad feeling about this.” (UPDATE: I DID IT HERE.) Which, yeah, bad things happened indeed, but it was a pleasure to see a Star Wars film where people were kind of having fun, for once.

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

I have a bad feeling about this…

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

Movie Review – The Last Jedi

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Suspiria

Movie Review - SuspiriaAs Suspiria ended, for the first time in my career, I didn’t have a clue as to what I had just seen. Fortunately, there was a very pleasant young man seated near me who helped shed some light on this confusing piece of work. He referred back to the original, telling me that this movie was very different from the first. Wait! What? Suspiria had been done before? Why?

Typically, I don’t research a movie ’till after I’ve done my review, because I want to go in without any preconceived notions. This time, however, that little practice really backfired on me.

So, to be fair, in this review, I’ll address the mechanics of the film, and then I’ll address the content.

Dakota Johnson really did steal the show. During the course of the movie, we see her change from a demure Mennonite to basically an evil witch. The change is so gradual, that by the end, you’ll wonder how this came to be. Tilda Swinton really rocked her three separate roles, and — not to give away any spoilers — in one of her roles you’ll be absolutely gobsmacked at her performance. Mia Goth, from A Cure For Wellness, showed us, once again, that she’s worthy of high praise.

The setting was artistically done; there’s constant rain or snow, and it’s not until the end of the movie that we see any sunshine. Perfect for this genre. The pacing of Suspiria is hard to define; there are moments of frenetic activity, followed by too many scenes of mind-numbing nothingness.

The English subtitles were (even though necessary) distracting. The thick German accents made it all but impossible to follow, then they threw in the many scenes filmed in cavernous rooms, with echoes distorting the dialog…and you end up with a big audio mess.

I do give kudos to the director, Luca Guadagnino, for pulling some mind-blowing emotions out of the actors — something he did beautifully in Call Me By Your Name.

As for how I feel about the content of Suspiria? Confused covers it nicely. The dance numbers were a pure delight to watch, but the many scenes of outright butchery and slaughter overwhelmed my senses to the point of disgust. It was as if the special effects department went way out their way to show the audience how well they do ‘carnage’. In that case, job well done, special effects people, job well done.

I struggled with what grade to give Suspiria. As has been my practice for the last ten years, I’ll grade according to the target audience. So that begs the question; who is the target audience? My best guess is the people who’ve seen the original. The nice young man I spoke of at the beginning of this diatribe had seen the original, and explained that the movie bore little resemblance to the reboot — but nevertheless would give it a favorable grade. Another audience member who had seen the original, and knew what he was walking into, gave it a decisive ‘A’. With all this in mind, I give Suspiria a B-.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: This was an insane movie for finding Peetimes. There were subtitles, thick German accents, and cavernous rooms that made echoes. This is the first time I’ve found a 12 minute Peetime, and it’s got an “Alert” rating, because that protracted scene was the worst kind of carnage I’ve ever seen in a movie.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Suspiria. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

RunPee Mom is our emotional bedrock. Without her, RunPee never would have lasted a decade as an app (which is since the dawn of time in internet years). She’s our biggest cheerleader and an unending source of unconditional love. She works cheerfully and tirelessly, seeing any movie we ask of her, writing interesting reviews, and being our…well…MOM. Her genres of choice: kiddie flicks, animated movies, emotional dramas, historical features, war films, diverse biographies, and even dense, diabolically plotted thrillers. She knows more about famous and infamous figures in history than said figures probably knew about themselves. She’s the Quiz Manager for the RunPee.com blog, and Assistant Facebook Manager for our social media efforts. If you’ve interacted with someone on our Facebook page, you’ve most likely been given a virtual hug by RunPee Mom.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Live, in Concert

The-goblet-of-fire,live-symphony
Harry Potter Live- a movie and a symphony

I love attending movie showings at venues that set a live orchestra to movie soundtracks. I’ve attended a few of the Harry Potter ones, most recently Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (one of the best Harry Potter films. IMO). On August 5th of 2018, I got to enjoy the San Diego Symphony Orchestra play under the bright lights of downtown’s skyscrapers on one side, and the beautiful harbor on the other. It was, well…a magical experience.

Conducted by John Jenesky, and performed at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, it was beyond cool to see up close how a large symphony was coaxed into creating a wall of music.

I was fortunate enough to snag one of the tables up close by the orchestra, under the massive outdoor movie screen. Wine, good food, and tasty desserts were available. I can’t say everything was perfect: the lines at the PortaPotty “village” were long and stinky, and the parking was awful — you could pay absurd fees to park nearby, or  find a side street out of the area and schedule a long walk in. Also, the traffic once the event ended was just snarly, taking  almost an hour to exit the expensive parking garage; no joke. For all things downtown, I’ve learned it’s better to UBER in and out.

However, it’s very worthwhile to catch these kind of events if you can. Of course the movie was enjoyable alone, and got me more psyched for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And I went with my Harry Potter Meetup friends, dressed in my best Hogwarts robes (Gryffindor House, natch). We brought our wands and had ourselves a very merry evening.

There’s something special about having a live musical performance set to great movies with a note-perfect soundtrack. The music sounded exactly like the original track by Patrick Doyle and the great John Williams. (Which, really, one would expect in a big city’s orchestral group. We’re not talking about a high school marching band, after all.)

The Harry Potter series plays one movie a year for the season’s program of Bayside Summer Nights. In previous years, I got to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Askaban. I missed The Sorcerer’s Stone, but maybe it will come around again (in…um, six years — or longer if they include the Fantastic Beasts films).

I also recently watched Star Wars: A New Hope in this setting — also an outstanding experience. I’d happily shell out money for these geeky events whenever I find them, whether it’s for Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, the Star Wars oeuvre, Indiana Jones’ lineup, ET, Titanic…anything iconic, with a  strong, distinctive soundtrack. (Notice the prevalence of John Williams’ films. The man is a master.)

If you get a chance to view a great movie set to a live symphony, make it happen. Highly recommended.

Related, on RunPee —

The Movie Music of John Williams  — Concert Review

Star Wars A New Hope — Symphony and a Movie

Star Wars A New Hope — Movie Review

Solo: A Star Wars Party in San Diego

Fantastic Beasts 2 Trailer Released at Comic Con

Final Trailer for Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — Movie Review

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Movie Review - The Nutcracker and the Four RealmsI’m giving Nutcracker and the Four Realms an A. It was simply stunning; an absolutely gorgeous film the entire family will love. The only reason it’s not an A+ is because the Sugar Plum Fairy was really awkward to watch. She’s played by the normally fantastic Keira Knightly, who is completely unrecognizable here. I have no idea why the director had her act in so annoying a fashion. And not the cool kind of annoying; just irritating. She was the only real blight in this otherwise glorious adventure fantasy.

Special kudos goes to the girl who played Clara, and the charming fellow as the Nutcracker himself. They had honest chemistry; their scenes together were sweet, funny, and amiable.

Morgan Freeman played his somewhat patented role of the kindly, yet slightly mysterious elder, and it worked well for the part. Hellen Mirren was less fortunate; she wasn’t given much to work with, and I found the “transition” scene a bit unlikely. It was as abrupt as a similar scene with Sugar Plum.

Basically, this is an extremely likable film, and everyone who loves the Christmas season will get a real kick out of it. The magnificent dresses, elaborate hair styles, the lush set designs, and fantastical landscapes were worth the ticket price right there, and seeing this in 3D was absolutely the way to go. Take my advice and see this on the best screen you can find. It’s so darn pretty, in every way.

In another note, there are, of course, some ballet scenes — it’s based on the iconic Nutcracker Suite, and the music should be familiar to anyone with ears. I remember attending an actual Nutcracker performance, as a child in New York City. The show I saw featured Mikhail Baryshnikov… which was a real treat. But honestly, I enjoyed this movie more. A ballet performance can get weary to a youngster, but this film was a very accessible way to follow the story. Just a great holiday experience, where you can relax, let go of stress, and enjoy all the pretty flowing by. Don’t wait for the DVD — see it now.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I recommend using the 1st Peetime proactively if you can, since it’s a nice long one with nothing important happening for the plot. The other 2 Peetimes are perfectly acceptable, and you won’t miss the real action or plot development at all.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)