The Idiot Box

Reviews & Criticisms of all things Film related.


November 2016

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2016)

J.K Rowling’s first foray into the world of screenwriting holds many of the characteristics that made us fall in love with the magical world of wizards in Harry Potter. There is the same fun, intelligence, wit, and of course, a large amount of magic. What it lacks however, is the charm that Harry Potter held.

The story is set in the year 1926. Newt Scamander finds himself in trouble with the MACUSA in New York when his suitcase full of illegal magical beasts is accidentally stolen and some of the creatures within are released upon the city.

The film is based upon a textbook that Harry Potter had to study at Hogwarts, called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, written by Newt Scamander.

The differences compared to the British sector of the magical world are glaringly obvious and kind of shocking. Instead of the Ministry of Magic, there is the Magical Congress of the United States of America, a.k.a MACUSA. It doesn’t have the same kind of ring to it does it? It sounds like a pretty harsh name for something meant to be fantastical. Also, whenever I hear it, I keep mistaking it for the Yakuza.

Second shock, and it took me awhile to get what they were saying; non-magical people are not called muggles in America. They are called No-Maj, which doesn’t sound as cool as the word muggle. It sounds a lot more insulting.

Third shock, is how much more brutal the american wizarding community is towards everything. Rather than imprisonment, it seems they like to skip straight to execution. Whether this is because of the decade it is based in however, I am not sure.

Other things that I found odd or annoying, was the explanation for the main evil creature thing which was a little confusing, and does not really fit in with the whole ‘Fantastic Beast’ shtick. Also, the continual references to the evil wizard Grindewald seemed to be unnecessary until they weren’t, and it felt like it was just a set-up to another film rather than a part of this particular story. The third thing that bugged me, and this is the most important, was Ezra Miller’s haircut. Seriously, it creeped me the hell out every time I looked at it.

Despite this, the film does have many memorable moments, and the beasts are indeed, fantastic, especially Niffler and Picket. I just wish that they had more time to go into greater detail on what the beasts were and what they could do. One of my favourite moments was seeing the menagerie of beasts inside the suitcase. It is the most whimsical and magical part of the film. The character of Queenie, is delightfully quirky, and the No-Maj Jacob is lovable and cheeky. Both of which rounded out the film wonderfully.

Considering that this is J.K’s first screenplay, she has done a great job of telling a fun, humorous and often dark story. My hope is that the next installment holds more charm and whimsy that will make me obsess over the fantasy world like I did with the Harry Potter series.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5.




Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

What the hell was that shit?

That was my first thought after watching it the first time years ago. Yes I remember! Okay I don’t, that was a lie. In fact, I don’t remember my reaction at all, which is funny, because I couldn’t remember what the movie was about. I know I’ve seen it, so when it popped up on  my Netflix feed I was like “Oh yeah, I remember that movie! Do they have the first one? No, dammit fine I’ll watch this.”

Then after watching the movie, I promptly forgot it all over again. It is a really, really unremarkable film, and easily forgettable.

What the hell is it about? Well, it’s a sequel to the 2007 film Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage. That’s all I remember.  For real, after watching the film, which I literally just finished watching half an hour ago, I had to go and IMDB it to remember the plot.

Apparently, Johnny Blaze, a.k.a Ghost Rider, is in Europe for unknown reasons. Whilst there, some people ask for his help to stop the devil (that villain from the first movie) who is trying to take on a human form.

I did not get that at all.

  1. The devil is already in human form. He was in the first one too, so…huh?
  2. I vaguely recall thinking that the kid was possessed or the son of the devil or something as equally as stupid as that.

Does anyone else have the same problem trying to remember this movie? It is such a shame that is so forgettable, because the first one was pretty awesome. Johnny was like the new Evil Knievel, there was cool motorbike stunts, selling his soul to save his dad, he drove up buildings and on the archways of bridges whilst on fire. It was a pretty entertaining thing to watch. With the sequel, I feel as if there was no motivation in making the film at all, except to try and squeeze as much money at the box office as possible. Which admittedly, that is what most films are made for these days (cough*batmanvssuperman* end cough).

I do somewhat remember one thing that was annoying; the intermittent anime bits. Why the hell were they in there? It was such an unnecessary device to use for telling some side-story or for having flashbacks. Were they trying to mimic the comic books? Or were they trying to pay a homage to Kill Bill? (I’m sure Kill Bill also took the idea from something else, like everything else in the film did, but I don’t care enough right now to look into it).

Seriously, what the hell was with this film? I can’t even really remember when the Ghost Rider went all fire-y just to beat the crap out of someone. There was nothing of substance at all, even in the action scenes!

God this film sucked balls.

Has anyone seen Ghost Rider in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? I’ve only seen bits and pieces through ads and whatnot so I can’t tell if the new version is any good or not. God I hope it’s a better interpretation.

I give this movie a 1.5 out of 5. Wait, why am I doing that? It doesn’t deserve the half point!

I give this movie a 1 out of 5, and only because Nicolas Cage is in it, and the one thing I remember with clarity in the film was Nic doing that weird over-acting crazy guy thing that only he seems to be able to do.

Or am I getting confused with the first one?…..Screw it.

1 out of 5!!!


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