Tag Archives: wizard

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 Cursed Child Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition Script)

 There are two types of people in the world: fans of Harry Potter and everyone else. Me, I’m a fan of Harry Potter. A part of my life ended back in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released and the series ended. But then J.K. Rowling announced that she would continue the story onstage in a play. She also realized that not everyone would be able to see the production so she released the script in book form as well, bless her soul. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition Script) was released on July 31, 2016 and the Harry Potter nerds suddenly had a new story to lose their shit over. 

I kind of slacked off and forgot to preorder a paper copy, but I bought the e-book version and read the entire thing on my iPhone in a couple of hours. It’s mostly dialogue with a little bit of stage direction so it’s a much faster read than the later books in the series. It was written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany and based on a story by J.K. Rowling. The story starts in the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows with an older Harry sending his sons James and Albus off to Hogwarts. I don’t want to say too much else. Spoilers aren’t fun. And you should be friending to read it for yourself so I won’t give anything major away. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are important characters, but the plot revolves around Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (Draco’s son). They are the next generation of wizards and they are trying to escape the shadow of their fathers. 

 We visit old charters. We meet new ones. And it feels good to be back in the wizarding world, I must say. The humor and charm are still there, as is the sense of dread that something wicked this way comes. It’s very satisfying. I wish it was longer. It’s always sad to reach the end of a great story, and this definitely seems like final chapter. I hope that J.K. Rowling has more in store for us, but this is a solid way to say goodbye to Harry Potter. Goodbye, Harry, old chum.

 Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Howl’s Moving Castle (film)

Hayao Miyazaki is like the Walt Disney of the Japanimation world. He makes amazing and timeless animated family films, and Howl’s Moving Castle is one of them. It’s based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones, but I never read the book, so I can’t really compare them. It’s a decent story, but the animation takes it to a new level. This is a fun fantasy film.

The movie is about a young hat maker named Sophie who makes hats. She’s kind of stuck in a rut and dreams of a better life. Instead she gets cursed by the Witch of the Waste, and Sophie gets transformed into an old woman. She can’t tell anyone about the curse, and so she leaves home to find a cure.

She helps out a scarecrow with a turnip for a head. The scarecrow is under a curse too, and even though Turnip Head can’t talk, he helps out Sophie as much as he can. Sophie eventually ends up in a moving castle, owned by a wizard named Howl. Howl has an apprentice named Merkl, and a fire demon named Calcifer (voiced by Billy Crystal).

Sophie’s country is about to enter war, and the king insists that all wizards be enlisted to help fight. Howl is a pacifist and doesn’t want to, and that kind of kicks off the larger plot. To help disrupt the war, he transforms into a bird-monster-thing, but each transformation makes it harder to return to human form. To complicate matters, a witch named Suliman is also after Howl, and a lot of stuff happens before shit gets resolved and you have your happy ending.

Miyazaki is a genius. He’s one of those filmmakers who creates a masterpiece and retires only to come out of retirement and make another amazing film. His attention to detail is impeccable. Every scene, shot, and frame is a piece of art. He makes the characters compelling and keeps the movie flowing at a good pace.

The castle is fantastic. You can sense the magic in the walls. It adds to the tone of the film and feels like another character, similar to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. In films about magic and wizards it is important to have the sets feel magical and impressive.

A lot of Japanimation films can get lost in translation. Spirited Away is great movie, but unless you know the significance of bathhouse spirits in Japanese culture, you aren’t getting the full picture. Howl’s Moving Castle is based on an English author’s book, so the culture clash isn’t as evident. It also helps getting well known actors to dub the English version. Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, and Lauren Bacall are among the celebrities to voice a character.

You either like Japanimation or you don’t. There is no in-between. If you don’t know if you like Japanimation, Miyazaki is a good start. He’s got a few good movies, this is one of them. Spirited Away is probably his best. This one’s not too shabby.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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