Check out the TEASER TRAILER for BEN IS BACK – Hits Theaters December 7, 2018

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BEN IS BACK will have its World Premiere as a Special Presentation at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival

Written and Directed by Peter Hedges

Starring Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance and Kathryn Newton

19 year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his family’s suburban home on Christmas Eve morning. Ben’s mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son staying clean. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother’s undying love for her son is tested as she does everything in her power to keep him safe.  Ben is Back also stars Courtney B. Vance (The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird).

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ALPHA – Rated PG-13 – 1 hr. 36 mins.

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ALPHA – Rated PG-13 – 1 hr. 36 mins.

DIRECTOR:  Albert Hughes

WRITERS:   Albert Hughes, Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt 

STARRING:  Kodi Smit McPhee, Natassia Malthe, Leonor Valera and Johannes Haukur Johannesson

If you like wildlife, scenery, and closed caption (yes you have to read), this is the movie for you.  If you don’t like any of the three you will pick this movie apart. Alpha is set in Europe 20,000 years ago.  We meet a tribe with a coming of age boy Keda (Kodi-Smit-McPhee), who  is the son of the chief (Johannes Haukur Johannesson).

The chief is proud of his son and has chosen him to go on the hunt with the other men of the tribe.  They go on this hunt every year, where they hunt Bison.  Keda’s Mother is worried because Keda is more of a sensitive soul who leads with his heart, not with his strength like his father.

Alpha is rated PG-13, but this is mainly because of some of the intense hunting scenes, directed by Albert Hughes who in 2010 brought us the Book of Eli.  Hughes has a great eye when it comes to filming the landscapes, and some incredible CGI from the stampeding Bison to the scene where Keda goes under the Ice in a lake.

The one problem I had with Alpha is they try to make an emotional connection throughout the flick, but it never works.  I think if they wouldn’t have tried so hard it would have went smoother with the relationship between Keda and the Grey wolf.

Yes, there is a Wolf that Keda comes in contact with (I won’t explain how this happens, but I will let you know that it is a great scene).  The Wolf and Keda both learn from each other, heal, and keep each other alive throughout the Journey back to Keda’s tribes camp.

I grade Alpha a B- while I loved the story, and it is visually one of the best I have seen this year, there is too many plot points and things you can pick apart.

Brad Watts

On September 21, discover a place where magic lives. Watch the new trailer for THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS starring Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.

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THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS – In Theaters September 21

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In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment.  The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart.  But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.

Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural).  Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams, Lorenza Izzo and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.

Executive produced by William Sherak, Tracey Nyberg, Laeta Kalogridis and Mark McNair, The House with a Clock in Its Walls will be released by Universal Pictures.  www.housewithaclock.com

Genre: Adventure

Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic and Kyle MacLachlan

Directed by: Eli Roth

Writer: Eric Kripke

Based on the Novel by: John Bellairs

Produced by: Brad Fischer, James Vanderbilt, Eric Kripke

Executive Producers: William Sherak, Tracey Nyberg, Laeta Kalogridis, Mark McNair

Check out the NEW TEASER TRAILER for DISNEY’s DUMBO – Hits theaters March 2019

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Watch the teaser trailer for Tim Burton’s all-new live-action Dumbo, coming to theatres March 2019. From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/dumbo

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Kathy vs. TK’s view of A WRINKLE IN TIME

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A WRINKLE IN TIME – Rated PG – 1 hr. 49 mins. 

Director:  Ava DuVernay 

Starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, and Michael Pena 

Still trying to come to terms with the unexpected disappearance of her father, Mr. Murray (Chris Pine) over 4 years ago, Meg (Storm Reid), finds herself following little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and their friend Calvin (Levi Miller), into an imaginary world, filled with the women who rule our universe, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling).

As our Mrs.’s teach the children what our universe is really all about…it seems that an evil force is also amongst them, trying to engulf everything it can in its path to make our world a dark and dismal place…

When Meg realizes that this world of time and space ~ occupied by these terrestrial beings ~ holds the keys to finding her father…it’s up to her, Charles Wallace, and Calvin too, make it their lives mission to find Mr. Murray, and to bring him back home, so they can start their lives anew…

I give A WRINKLE IN TIME a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD OR NETFLIX!  I was hoping to be sending everyone to the theater this weekend to catch this much-anticipated children friendly sci-fi film, but sadly…it didn’t end up being at all what I was hoping it would be.  Although I think Storm Reid is awesome as young Meg, and it was great to see Oprah, Reese and Mindy playing on the big screen as the “bigger than life” terrestrial characters of this storyline, the film itself didn’t manage to muster up the WOW FACTOR I assumed it would, when it was all said and done.  Having never read the book, I can’t say for sure, but the film itself seems to be missing large, gaping holes in the storyline, which I’m not sure was an editing issue, or if we just didn’t take many parts in this storyline to full fruition.  The imagery of this film was also spectacular one minute, and just so-so the next, making it feel like Disney could have done so much more, but for some reason, decided to hold back in making this film the over-the-top spectacular it could have been.  It truly pains me to not give this film a “must see on the big screen” review, but it just fell short of the incredibly film it could have been, causing me to suggest that if you’ve been promising the kiddos a trip to a theater near you to view this film this weekend, then by all means, don’t disappoint them, But, if you are expecting to be blown away from another Disney film of incredible creativeness, then you might find yourself sadly unimpressed too, which is why I am suggesting you wait to catch A WRINKLE IN TIME on DVD or NETFLIX!

Kathy Kaiser


 

This humble opinion is brought to you by T. K. Edwards

A WRINKLE IN TIME

Director by:  Ava DuVernay

Cast:  Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine, Michael Pena, Levi Miller

After her father mysteriously disappears, Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace and her friend from school Calvin get sent on a quest to find him by three other worldly beings.

BELOW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS…CONTINUE READING AT OWN RISK

Let me start by saying, I have not read the book this movie is based on.  And if you haven’t read the book, then you’re going to have a hard time following this film because it feels like there are parts missing that only the book has.  It’s almost like you have to imagine how each scene in the movie is connected to one another and that’s not good storytelling…it’s confusing storytelling. This movie feels like a six year old is trying to tell you a story while the television is on behind you.  It’s cute and all…and while both are entertaining, you still have no idea what’s going on. A Wrinkle in Time does have some very memorable scenes scattered throughout it and it does keep your attention for the entire time you’re watching it, but you are just hopping from one scene to the next (like someone on a couch, channel flipping all your favorite shows and they don’t stay long enough on one channel to give you an understanding as to what the episode is about).

The acting in A Wrinkle in Time was fairly good.  Oprah was Oprah, only in weird costumes. Reese Witherspoon had a few moments that were entertaining.  Mindy Kaling broke out of her comedy shell a bit and showed us her drama side. Zach Galifianakis was up to his old comedy tricks again, which was pretty funny and Michael Pena was a pleasantly creepy surprise.  I think the problem with all of them was you didn’t buy their characters. When each of them was on the screen I was saying to myself, “Oprah is talking to Reese right now. And now Zach is speaking. Hey, there’s Michael Pena, I loved him in Ant-Man.”  In conclusion, my suggestion is that A Wrinkle in Time is one you should probably wait to watch at home or better yet, you could just read the book instead. Until next time, thanks for reading.

WONDERSTRUCK – Rated PG – 1 hr. 56 mins.

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“WONDERSTUCK is one of those endearing films that latches on, and doesn’t let go” – Kathy Kaiser – Matinee Chat 

WONDERSTRUCK – Rated PG – 1 hr. 56 mins. 

Starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Oakes Fegley, Millicent Simmonds, Jaden Michael and Tom Noonan

Based on the book, and subsequent screenplay by Writer/Actor Brian Selznick, we embark on an adventure many years ago, as deaf, yet adventurous Rose (Millicent Simmonds) seeks to find her actress mother Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore) amongst the excitement and streets of New York City…

At the same time, as we venture into the past with Rose, we also venture in the present, as we follow the life of young Ben (Oakes Fegley), who is trying to come to terms with his new existence, after the untimely death of his mother Elaine (Michelle Williams), and not really knowing who his father is…

As Rose seeks to find a path for herself amongst the streets of New York City, and with the help of her older brother Walter (Corey Michael Smith/Tom Noonan), Ben finds that he too must travel to the NYC, in hopes of finding out his father’s true identity…

With the help of his newfound friend Jamie (Jaden Michael), Ben finds himself in the midst of a MUSEUM OF WONDERS, still seeking to find his father, as his mother never fully disclosing this information, has left Ben with nothing but angst…and WONDER, as he seeks to find any speck of evidence that may lie before him, about his father’s true identity…

I give WONDERSTRUCK a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN~ This incredible tale, which unfolds through exquisitely portrayed storylines of the past, and of present day, is one of those fascinating tales that each and every child and adult in this world must experience ON THE BIG SCREEN! Moore is incredible in her dual role this time around, in both the past, and the present, as is the young and very talented Millicent Simmonds, as she too leaves a very touching performance on the big screen, as we travel through the past with her, while simultaneously traveling in the present with the also very talented Oakes Fegley.   Director Todd Haynes (FAR FROM HEAVEN, CAROL) managed to not only bring out these exceptional performances from his entire cast, but he also somehow managed to totally bring to life Selznick’s exceptional tale of loss, longing and wonderment, as you too will experience amongst each and every frame of this exceptional film. WONDERSTRUCK is one of those astonishing films that not only excites the child in each of us, but harkens to awaken the movie-lover in all of us too, from its perfectly portrayed storyline, to the incredible images brought to life on screen…this is one film that after experiencing, you will definitely, never forget!!!

Kathy Kaiser

Check out the NEW TRAILER for Disney-Pixar’s CARS 3 – Driving into theaters June 16, 2017

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Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez, with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DisneyPixar

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCars/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pixarcars

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pixarcars/

“THE BOSS BABY” AND “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” RULE FANDANGO’S WEEKEND SALES AND FANTICIPATION MOVIE BUZZ INDEX

“THE BOSS BABY” AND “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” RULE

 FANDANGO’S WEEKEND SALES AND FANTICIPATION MOVIE BUZZ INDEX

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 LOS ANGELES – MARCH 30, 2017 – DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby” is taking over at the top of Fandango weekend ticket sales, scoring 86 out of 100 points on Fandango’s movie buzz indicator, Fanticipation, with “Beauty and the Beast” (in its third weekend of release) following close behind with 85 points.

“Families are always looking for something new at the movies, so in addition to repeat viewings of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Alec Baldwin as an animated baby is proving to be irresistible for moviegoers this weekend,” says Fandango Managing Editor Erik Davis. “With its strong advance ticket sales, ‘The Boss Baby’ looks to continue a great streak for family movies to start off the year.”

About Fanticipation       

Known for having its finger on the pulse of moviegoers, Fandango’s movie buzz indicator, Fanticipation, provides statistical insight into the movies fans are planning to see in a given weekend. Fanticipation scores (based on a 1 to 100-point scale) are calculated via an algorithm of Fandango’s advance ticket sales, website and mobile traffic, and social media engagement. Fanticipation is not intended as a forecast of the weekend box office; it is a snapshot of movie fan sentiment. Fandango is the ultimate digital network for all things movies, reaching more than 60 million unique visitors per month across its portfolio of digital properties, according to comScore.

 

THE BOSS BABY – Rated PG

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BOSS BABY – Rated PG – 1 hr. 37 min.

 Starring Alec Baldwin, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey McGuire, Jimmy Kimmel and Miles Christopher Bakshi

 Based on the book by the same name by Marla Frazee & Directed by the man who brought us all 3 MADAGASCAR Movies ~ Tom McGrath ~ we meet 7-year old Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi/Toby McGuire) going through life perfectly as AN ONLY CHILD…that is until a new little brother (Alec Baldwin) arrives. And how can I guy compete with someone who is not only cute and cuddly, but apparently a suit wearing, brief case carrying grown-up… but only when Mom (Lisa Kudrow) and Dad (Jimmy Kimmel) are no where to be found.

Destined to find out what the real story is with his new “little brother”, Tim finally captures his brother not only talking, but making plans with his fellow diaper-wearing cohorts in crime, who conveniently happen to be over for a “play date”…

As Tim tries to convince his parents that his baby brother isn’t at all A BABY, Tim finds himself thrown into shifting gears from outing this imposter, to helping his little bro stop the CEO of Puppy Co …before its too late, for all the BABIES OF THE WORLD!!!!

I give BOSS BABY a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN: Get ready everyone, because if you were intrigued at all by the trailer for this latest DreamWorks Animated film, that trailer doesn’t scratch the surface of this little tale…as this very touching and greatly expanded storyline (it’s not all in the trailer this time – YEAH!!!), mixed with the truly loveable characters throughout each and every frame of this animated masterpiece, make it truly something the whole family MUST experience. A. BALWIN is legendary as the smooth talking, wise cracking, #1 Baby on the block. It’s as if they shrunk his character from 30 ROCK, and that’s all right by me! McGuire and Bakshi are perfect too, playing the older and younger version of big brother Tim throughout the film. And rounding out the perfectly cast voice-overs this time around are Kudrow, Kimmel and Steve Buscemi too…making this film hilariously heartwarming the entire way through. I haven’t seen an animated featuring this perfect since last year’s Academy Award winning film ZOOTOPIA…bringing me to suggest that you gather your family, both the young and the not-so-young and head out to catch BOSS BABY at a theater near you!! It is definitely one film your whole family HAS TO EXPERIENCE on THE BIG SCREEN together, bringing joy to not only the kiddos this time around, but it will put a big smile of the faces of all the parents out there too!!!

Kathy Kaiser

BEAUTY and the BEAST – Rated PG

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BEAUTY and THE BEAST – Rated PG – 2 hrs. 9 mins.

Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan and Stanley Tucci

From Director Bill Condon, the man who brought us movies like GODS & MONSTERS, DREAMGIRLS and the TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, Parts 1 & 2, comes Disney’s REAL LIFE remake of their classic animated tale, so sit back, relax and get ready to take in all that is…Beauty and the Beast!

As we meet the sweet and kind Belle (Emma Watson), she is living out her mundane life within her village, with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) and all the other people who apparently don’t understand either of them…

When the suave and debonair Capt. Gaston (Luke Evans) returns, with his comrade Lefou (Josh Gad) by his side, it seems that there is only one girl within this town suitable to marry ~ the beauty Belle~ but as luck would have it, she wants nothing to do with him…

When her father disappears into the wilderness, Belle must go in search of him, only to find that her father is being held prisoner by this hideous beast (Dan Stevens)! Knowing that her father is too frail and sick to stay locked up for too long, Belle trades places with him, allowing herself to be imprisoned within the walls of this horrifically cold and dismal place…

As Belle soon finds, her new abode is quite enchanted, filled with objects that not only talk, but also dance and sing – including Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellan), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and her son Chip (Nathan Mack). As Belle tries to find some peace in this place so far from home, it seems that the servants have hatched a far-fetched plan to break the spell they are all under. All they need to do is make sure that Belle falls in love with the terrible Beast who has imprisoned her within the walls of his castle…as he really is a handsome prince with a big heart, under all his beastly imperfections…

I give BEAUTY AND THE BEAST a rating of MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and in IMAX or 3D: This film is absolutely breathtaking from its first frame to its last, and as it seemed we had to wait forever for its release to arrive, it was truly worth the wait. The casting throughout was exceptional; starting with Watson as the witty, charming and beautiful Belle. Stevens is good too as the Beast, but I wish we could have experienced him more in real life, than the mostly CGI’d version of him throughout most of the film. And all of the other castings were perfection as well, as they truly tried to cast individuals who not only “looked the part of those animated characters from the original”, but actors that could sing and dance their way perfectly through all those wonderful scenes throughout the storyline too. I was also excited to see how this movie affected everyone around me ~ from the youngest to the oldest that joined me to catch the advanced screening, you could see the true joy and amusement on their faces, as they viewed this film. There was just one tweak I would have loved to have made to adjust in the transformation of this remake, and it would have been to bring everyone into a 3-dimensional character – in order to not CGI so many of this films characters. I mean, Disney does own Jim Henson’s MUPPETS, and I just wish they would have secured those services to make all the characters from the candelabra, to the clock, to the teapot and cup, even using this for the Beast throughout the film, thus exuding a truly real-life dimension to this film, allowing for the CGI element to go bye-bye. But, even with that being said, I still loved seeing BEAUTY and the BEAST brought to life! This is one film that you have to take your entire family to enjoy this weekend, as it is not only very reminiscent of the original, but its a very nice reprieve from all scary, depressing and downright BAD films that have been hitting the big screen over the last few months. Take my word for it…YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT!!!

Kathy Kaiser

ROCK DOG – Rated PG

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ROCK DOG – Rated PG – 1 hr. 20 mins.

“Chase your dreams, watch your tail”

Starring the voices of Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, JK Simmons, Matt Dillon, Sam Elliott and many, many more!

Taking what he learned working in the animation department at Disney/Pixar with TOY STORY & TOY STORY 2 back to the big screen – Writer and Director Ash Brannon animates an adorable dog to explain to us how important it is to always follow your passion in life, no matter what the cost…THIS IS ROCK DOG!

As we meet Bodi (Luke Wilson), he is longing to have music in his life, when lucky for him; a radio arrives, tumbling from the sky.

When Bodi experiences the ultra sonic tunes of Rock Star Legend Angus (Eddie Izzard)…all he knows is that he must leave his Tibetan home in search out this musical genius.

Once our wanna-be-musician arrives in the big city, lucky for him a sequence of orchestrated events leads him straight to the one, the only, Angus.

Wanting to learn as much as he can from THE MASTER, Bodi finds that maybe all the hoopla surrounding this musical genius is just that…as he contemplates the harsh reality that he might have been better off staying at home with his sheepish friends, and of course, his good ol’ dad Khampa (JK Simmons) too…

I give ROCK DOG a rating of wait and catch this film on DVD: As my 6 year old niece Kennadie was super pumped to catch this film with me, I was hoping that we were about to view something pretty awesome, but sadly, that just wasn’t in the cards. Even though the premise of this film is cute, and ALL of the voices throughout are perfectly cast, the animation this time around is just average, along with it’s storyline. I was even hoping for the some awesome music to end up playing throughout as our lead character learns to make some magic from within, but even that didn’t happen, making the title ROCK DOG, a little far fetching as well.  Kennadie shared with me that she liked it…but even with it only being 1 hr. and 20 mins. long, she was asking when it was going to be over, before it was all said and done.  So, we both thought it was okay…but is this film worth dropping the $$$ to take the whole family to see it at the theater? NO WAY…which is why I am suggesting you wait until ROCK DOG hits on DVD in just a few short weeks, and then your family can experience this average animated film in the comfort of your very own home, without having broke the bank to see it at the theater, for no reason at all.

Kathy Kaiser

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM -Rated PG-13 – Reviewed by Tony Mosello and Jerica Drago

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Tony from The Flick Fanatic here, filling-in this week for the one, the only, Kathy Kaiser!

This week brings us back to the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter…only 70 years before he attends Hogwarts. In honor of this special occasion, I decided to bring in my fiancé, Jerica, to share her feelings on the film as well. We have spent the last six years enjoying movies together and the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains one of our favorite things to share….

 Jerica: When I last journeyed through the Wizarding World, my companions were similar to myself: kids with big dreams, enchanted by the whimsical world that magic offered. It was escapism at its best, and as an adult feeling slightly less enchanted these days, I was eager to dive back in as a devoted fan. Oddly, I didn’t get exactly what I had bargained for with J.K. Rowling’s new creation, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” But fear not, Muggles, it’s not all bad news.

Tony: I couldn’t agree more! Harry Potter was a beautifully-designed “escape” from their own lives for readers and viewers and that was one of my hopes for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. Thankfully that is the case, though not in the way I was expecting. I found myself pleasantly surprised and enthralled in the new story; one that I can’t wait to uncover further.

Inspired by a textbook many young wizards thumb through as they make their way through Hogwarts –among other magical schools – “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” explores the many mystical creatures living side-by-side the wizards and the magical community. 70 years before we meet Harry Potter, we are introduced to Newt Scamander, a quirky and charming wizard traveling to America. Within hours of arriving, Mr. Scamander finds his beloved creatures are escaping and wreaking havoc on the No-Maj (American muggles). The plot becomes clear: we will travel with our delightful protagonist as he embarks on a Pokemon Go-style chase of the pesky beasts, though something sinister seems to be lurking about New York and it did not come from Mr. Scamander’s case…

Jerica: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” offers a delightful look at magic in an unsuspecting world, but rather than the non-magical community of Europe, this time we find ourselves at home in the US. With cultural characteristics Americans can relate to, the 1920s spin helps aid the escapist tendencies we’ve always loved about this alternate world. Never talking down to its audience, “Fantastic Beasts” showcases familiar swish and flick spells that will have die-hard’s experiencing a delightful sense of nostalgia.

Tony: The film’s setting fits the tone of the film perfectly. It’s hard to imagine a similar situation in today’s society where one would treat something to different with the kindness that our characters show in the story. I also enjoyed the backstory of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), America’s equivalent to the Ministry of Magic; something I hope we see further divulged in the future. I too found myself feeling nostalgic as memorable charms and spells are performed, and as a few familiar names are mentioned (Dumbledore perhaps??).

Jerica: Unfortunately, it’s not all wonderment. As with all children, the audience that had its heart captured by J.K. Rowling is grown. We are out in the world navigating politics, worrying about livelihood and attempting to make it on our own. We seek success in the workplace and to please our parents in the process. As you will find, these are the same trials faced by many of our main characters. Also, don’t get me started on the obviously heavy religious undertones – our antagonists are borne from the lives of the New Salemers. Yes. New Salemers. Like the religious fanatics who burned suspected witches to death in the 1600s. Our New Salemers live in what clearly looks like an old church, so when it comes to what inspires their tirade against witches, you be the judge.

Tony: I found the New Salemers to be a rather dark plot point in the film, but, after thinking about it, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” does contain some pretty morose subject matter. As the obvious connections to today’s society are apparent, I found myself unbothered by them and fitting to the story. But what did we think of our other new characters?

Jerica: Mr. Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) enters New York with his rattling case of creatures in 1920, not long before the Great Depression. The city he finds is a bustling hub of Americans trying to capture the Dream. The first we meet is Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a No-Maj who is hoping to leave his drab canning job to open a bakery. In a time where industry is booming and machines can do many times the work of the average man, his dreams are squashed. Mr. Kowalski is an incredible addition to the film; his ignorance to the existence of magic is just what we would hope: he is enthralled and connected to the wizards around him, and he offers what we hope to find in those around us in our daily lives: passionate optimism and kindness. Next, we are introduced to Porpetina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her younger sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol). Tina and Queenie share an apartment in New York and live a charming life as wizarding orphans, reminiscent of our young Mr. Potter, doubled. Tina carries the responsible and cautious tone while Queenie is bold and charismatic, a delightful blend of Harry. As for the rest of the cast, I will leave it to you to watch the film. I am a true believer in revealing as little detail about the film as possible.

Tony: First of all, bravo to Eddie Redmayne! He was given the reigns in a very popular universe with a very large fan base, and the result is outstanding. His foolish charm fits Newt perfectly and he instantly becomes a favorite. Fogler, as the No-Maj sidekick, adds a tremendous amount of comic relief, but relief that fits the times and, of course, the universe. Waterston and Sudol’s characters do just enough to charm you, but, as my fiancé said, they are a “delightful blend of Harry”. While not revealing any more of the plot, I must also recognize Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller on their performances in the film; so dark and mysterious, the two do an excellent job!

Jerica: In summary, what I can tell you that as the frames unfolded before my eyes, I was torn between the sadness of realizing that the story we were seeing had matured just as we had. As children, we were vaguely aware of the struggles that would await us in the “real world,” and so were our young protagonists. The difference was that the beauty of their magical heritage offered a bit of enchantment. This film left me disillusioned. I might lay blame at the feet of our director David Yates. Any true Harry Potter fan knows that the films of the previous series took a noticeably dark and drab turn when Yates was handed the reigns. As he is at the helm of this new series, I expect we may find ourselves in the same predicament. Interestingly enough, for me the saving grace was the new story to be told. Harry Potter eventually had predictability. There were boxes we expected to have checked with each new chapter, novel and film. For “Fantastic Beasts,” we are left open to a brand new tale in the world we already love. While I was frustrated by the realism of this alternate reality, I was still entranced by the costuming, the charming nature and of course, the magic. I am excited to see what will come next, and I know all true Potter fans will be as well!

Tony: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is sure to divide the opinion of fans, but it undoubtedly works as a debut entry in what is sure to be the first of many. Thanks to Redmayne and company, the new batch of characters are lovable and fun, as are the fantastic magical beasts (though cute and eye-appealing, I did find them to become slightly tiresome after a while). The film’s effects and visuals are simply stunning as well! For those weary of the film, “Fantastic Beasts” does an excellent job of blending the new with the old (as discussed earlier with the spells, charms, etc.), but its biggest triumph is allowing you to uncover one of the biggest mysteries we were left with after the first series; how important was Gellert Grindelwald and who exactly was he? That, my friends, is going to be a major aspect of the “Fantastic Beasts” series and I certainly cannot wait to see where this goes next! Is the film perfect? No, but it is filled with endless entertainment and fun, reminding us all why we fell in love with this Wizarding World in the first place!

Do yourself a favor: go see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” this weekend!