Tag Archives: david yates

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016 was a great year for Potterheads, especially me. I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in April. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out during the summer. And then Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out in November. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a spinoff film and the first flick of a five film franchise. J.K. Rowling wrote a book with the same name for charity, but it was just an encyclopedia of imaginary creatures from the books. The film is a completely new story created for the big screen, which is awesome for real fans of Harry Potter.

Real fans of Harry Potter were never truly amazed by the films because we read the books before and knew what to expect. We already knew what was going to happen. We just debated what they were going to show, what they were going to skip, and speculate how they’d portray certain parts. I went into Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them without a clue of what was going to happen. It was awesome to meet new characters and creatures and to see a whole new side of the wizarding world as the plot unraveled in front of me. It was the most fun I’ve had at the movies since Deadpool. 

I won’t even talk about what actually happens in the movie. I want you to discover it for yourself. My girlfriend is not a Harry Potter fan (nobody is perfect) but she really liked it. That’s how I know it’s a good movie and I’m not just being biased. J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay. David Yates, the guy who directed the last Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and both parts of Deathly Hallows, is back in the director’s chair for this film. You get solid performances from the cast and there’s a mindfuck of a cameo at the end that leaves you anxious for the next installment. Damn, 2018 is a long time away.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young 

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (film)

David Yates directs Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe once again as the Harry Potter movie series reaches its epic conclusion. Harry, Ron, and Hermione track down the remaining Horcruxes and Harry and Voldemort face each other for the final time. And it’s all in mediocre 3D!

This movie marks the end of an era. You realize that you were spoiled by having eight awesome movies based on seven amazing books coming out over ten astounding years. You saw the kids grow up on screen, like British Olson Twins, but their careers didn’t end when they turned eighteen. With the 19 Years later epilogue at the end, you get to see them age into middle-aged adults. It’s cool to see how much those little tykes have grown.

Almost everything in the movie happens during one long day. Everything from the Gringott’s raid to Harry breaking and throwing away the Elder Wand happens pretty much within a 24 hour period. Harry’s day is way crazier than anything Jack Bauer ever had to deal with.

Harry’s quest to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes takes him back to Hogwarts. The Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s supporters all show up to take on Voldemort and the Death Eaters in one of the biggest and best battles in cinematic history. There are spells and creatures and death and destruction all jumping out of the screen and smacking you in the face. It wasn’t the best 3D movie, but it wasn’t the worst either.

Alan Rickman finally gets more than a few lines. Snape is the best character in the books, and Deathly Hallows is kind of his coming out party. His secret past is revealed at last. Harry exploring Snape’s memories in the Pensieve is one of the highlights of the film. It is brief but thorough.

I was a little nervous that Neville wouldn’t get to kill Nagini. In the book, Harry finds Neville and tells him to kill the snake. In the movie, Harry tells Ron and Hermione to kill the snake. Nagini was about to attack Ron and Hermione, but than Neville comes out of nowhere to decapitate the snake and relieve my fears. Neville is my favorite character. If he didn’t complete his story arc I would have written David Yates a strongly worded letter voicing my displeasure.

The movie was a pretty faithful adaptation for the most part. There are a few nitpicky things that would have improved the movie. They should have included Dumbledore’s backstory and not just hint at it. And Harry should have used the Elder Wand to fix his broken wand before he gets rid of it. Both the book and the movie screwed over Lupin and Tonks by killing them off-screen. I was hoping the movie would show how they bit the dust.

This is the only Potter movie to make over a billion dollars at the box office. Part 1 and 2 were made for $250 million, and took in $2,284,510,930 combined. That’s a spicy meatball. Take that Twilight.

I was sad when the movie ended. Harry Potter is over. No more books. No more movies. No more reason to live in this cruel world.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)

David Yates returns to direct his second film in the Potter Franchise, the second director to do so. This is the final film where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are students at Hogwarts, and they spend a lot of time doing school activities. A much slower film than the other ones, this is setting the foundation for the Deathly Hallows adaptation.

Warner Bros. really dropped the ball with this installment. They pushed back its release date from November 2008 to July 2009, because the Dark Knight made a billion dollars and they didn’t need any more revenue in 2008. Not only did Potter fans have to wait an extra 8 months, but the studio heavily promoted Half-Blood Prince as being in IMAX 3D. The first twenty minutes were in 3D. The first twenty minutes only. You don’t even see Hogwarts in 3D. Lame, lame, lame…. Especially since Order of the Phoenix had such an amazing 3D climax. How can you do 3D so perfectly and than butcher it so drastically in the very next film?

There is a lot of emphasis of student life in this movie. There are the usual bits with Harry riding the Hogwarts Express with Ron and Hermione and stuff, but they also show the students lounging around in the dorm. They do more homework and classwork than in the last few films. Quidditch makes a glorious return. Hogwarts itself feels like another character.

This movie is more character driven than Potter 4 and 5. It feels more like Azkaban, but with less action. It is a dark story, but is lighter than the book. There are a few nitpicky criticisms that I have. Like why do they cut so much out but add totally made up events that have no impact on the story? There was no reason to have the Burrow attacked and burned down by the Death Eaters. There was no mention of it later on in the Deathly Hallows; it was just completely unnecessary. Even worse than adding unimportant events is adding unimportant characters. Sorry cute black Muggle coffee shop chick, but you suck and we could have used some Dobby time instead of you. How come Harry and Ginny barely kissed but Harry and Cho made out for about 35 minutes in Order of the Phoenix?

The whole movie is kind of a step in the wrong direction. It is really slow and some parts are down right boring. The book was kind of like that too, but they could have found some momentum in the story. Michael Gambon’s final few scenes as Dumbledore were performed well. Dumbledore looks so tired and weakened after the cave and inferi sequence, it is almost a relief to see him pass on. One of the weakest films in the franchise, but you are still going to watch it multiple times. A bad Harry Potter film is like a bad beer… it’s not really bad, its just there are way better ones out there.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)

David Yates steps in to direct, and he brings back the energy and joy of Prisoner of Azkaban. The fifth book was the longest, but the fifth movie was one of the shortest. Yates keeps the movie flowing and it is more energetic and fun than Goblet of Fire. Lots of things are left out of the movie, but they are alluded to. It captures the feel and tone of the fifth book, even though so much is left out. Even if you haven’t seen the other movies or read the books, this film is solid enough to stand alone.

This movie came out in July of 2007, the same month as the final book. It was a very good month for Potter fans. Not only did it also come out in IMAX, but the final twenty minutes were converted into 3D. Keep in mind that this was way before Avatar, and the whole movie was in 2D, but then when Harry and his friends jump on the Thestrals to save Sirius it becomes 3D. There were some great 3D moments as they explore the Department of Mysteries and get attacked by the Death Eaters, but nothing compares to Voldemort and Dumbledore’s fierce dual. Seriously some of the best use of 3D in film. It really added to the film, and because it was only 3D at the end, the 3D seemed more impressive. The dual is an amazing spectacle. Computer graphics can still make jaws drop if done correctly.

As per the trend, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson continue to grow up and improve as actors. Gary Oldman has only a few scenes as Sirius, but establishes a real connection between Harry and Sirius. Keep in mind that Sirius only had one scene in Goblet of Fire, so it was vital for the audience to relate to Sirius so that when he dies you feel sorry for Harry. There is a great moment in the midst of the Ministry battle where Sirius calls Harry “James” by accident. It is a really brief but subtle allusion to Harry seeing Sirius as a father, but Sirius sees Harry as his friend. It sums up their relationship perfectly.

Two great female villains are introduced in this movie. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Bellatrix Lestrange, and makes her very deranged and psychotic. You can tell she went to the Alan Rickman School of Hamming It Up and graduated at the top of her class. Imelda Staunton steals the show with her portrayal of the loathsome and evil Dolores Umbridge. If you didn’t like Umbridge in the book, you will hate her in the movie. When she gets dragged off by the centaurs at the end, I still get giddy. It takes a lot of talent to not only have everyone hate your character, but to enjoy hating your character.

There was a lot of stuff left out of the movie. But it flows better and feels more like its paperback companion than Goblet of Fire. Yates did a great job and got the franchise back on track. A lot of people are critical of this movie, but in time I think it will be remembered as one of the best movies in the series.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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