Movie reviews: Fantastic Beasts, The Girl with all the Gifts, Blood Father
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston
Director: David Yates
Rating: 4 out of 5
Seventy years before Harry Potter captured the imagination of wizards, witches, squibs and muggles, magizoologist Newt Scamander (Redmayne), the author of Hogwarts’ standard textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” had to battle a no-maj (nonmagical humans) society that threatens to expose the secret world of wizards and witches in New York.
Newt’s woes begin when a treasure-hunting niffler escapes from his suitcase, which houses magical creatures. Things take a turn for the worse when cannery worker Jacob Kowalski (Fogler) carries off Newt’s suitcase by mistake. Newt is then arrested by auror Tina Goldstein (Waterston) for being an unregistered wizard.
More trouble ensues when Newt and Jacob cross paths with mysterious auror Percival Graves (Farrell), troubled Credence Barebone (Miller), goblin gangster Gnarlack (Ron Perlman) and dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (portrayed by a shape-shifting superstar).
Yates conjures up magic, mischief and mayhem as he cogently brings the film’s disparate narrative strands together. The movie, which is darker than the usual Potter fare, is a slow starter, but it gets better when its pace picks up and accelerates.
The movie is entertaining but lacks consolidating focus, so it gets occasionally confusing. But if you want to further explore the ever-expanding mythology of Harry Potter’s wizarding world, you’ll likely leave the theater mesmerized. —Rito Asilo
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
Starring: Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close
Director: Colm McCarthy
Rating: 4 out of 5
If you haven’t had your fill of films about zombies, you don’t want to miss McCarthy’s inventive take on the zombie apocalypse, based on M.R. Carey’s Edgar Award-winning story. It tells a bleak tale about a post-apocalyptic future where most of humanity has been wiped out by a fungal infection that turns the infected into ravenous and agile flesh-eaters called Hungries.
In this dystopian world, mankind’s only hope is to extract a cure from hybrid children, firmly restrained in wheelchairs, who have retained the ability to think and feel—when they’re not craving for the flesh of healthy humans!
When Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Close) is done subjecting them to experiments, they’re being tutored by Helen Justineau (Arterton), who forges a special bond with Melanie (Nanua), the smartest girl in the bunch. But when an accident breaks out, can the humans turn to Melanie for help—or will she only be too happy to eat them alive?
The film, which turns the horror genre on its head, plays out like a terrifying coming-of-age horror story that plays well to the strengths of its likable actors. —Rito Asilo
Starring: Mel Gibson, Diego Luna, Erin Moriarty
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Rating: 3 out of 5
Ex-con and former alcoholic John Link (Gibson) reunites with his estranged runaway teen daughter, Lydia (Moriarty), who is fleeing from members of a drug cartel and her murderous boyfriend (Luna).
The clichéd actioner mostly focuses on John and Lydia’s father-daughter rapport. As a toughened tattoo artist and dad, Gibson makes wise use of his greying, grizzled looks.
The role is a good fit for the veteran actor, who makes his character sympathetic enough that one may start seeing parallels with his real-life troubles and attempts at redemption. Though iffy in some parts, Moriarty works quite well as John’s similarly troubled and rebellious daughter.
Based on the book by screenwriter Peter Craig, the movie is pretty average—it’s expletive-heavy, violent and gritty. It gets downright predictable at times, but it utilizes Gibson’s strengths as an actor well. —Oliver Pulumbarit