Wednesday, 30 November 2016

lego jurassic park

By now we're all pretty used to the idea that the Jurassic Park franchise is back in full force. Spinning off of the legendary Steven Spielberg series, 2015's Jurassic World was about as strong a revival as any studio could have hoped for. The movie delighted critics and audiences, raking in $1.6 billion worldwide at box offices. Naturally there's a sequel on the way, and for all we know we could be on the cusp of a sprawling new branch of the franchise.

Even before Jurassic World reached theaters, we were seeing something of a rebirth of Jurassic Park-related entertainment through the gaming industry. Back in 2011, Telltale Games produced Jurassic Park: The Game, a few years before the studio really exploded onto the console scene to become a recognized pioneer in narrative gaming. Looking back, it feels like a trial run for Telltale as it was criticized for not living up to the film, but also noted by other critics as being more of a cinematic experience than a playable one. For the most part, people seemed to enjoy the game as a somewhat random and unexpected homage to the original movie, but as little more than that. Telltale took a few more years to strike a balance between gameplay and narrative exhibition. Nevertheless, it was fun to see a Jurassic Park game of any kind pop up in 2011.

Another somewhat surprising Jurassic Park tribute game that appeared before Jurassic World ever materialized was an online slot arcade designed with approval from Universal. Listed among the game offerings from numerous prolific casino platforms, the Jurassic Park game employs imagery and music from the original film (including John Williams' iconic theme) to make a traditional slot reel a little bit more interesting. It's not a unique game in that there are many others like it that make use of popular movies or shows, but it still felt a little like a random tribute to Jurassic Park. It was further evidence that even before Jurassic World, people were still holding onto the franchise.

In 2012, we also saw the emergence of Jurassic Park Builder, a mobile game described as a thrilling interactive journey where players could design their own parks. The game took advantage of a few common formats in mobile gaming like city building and creature capture to create a full-fledged Jurassic Park construction and management experience. While somewhat simple from a graphics standpoint, it may have been the most immersive Jurassic Park gaming experience we'd seen by that point.

Then we reached 2015, and along with the release of Jurassic World several new games came out based on the new movie while building on the ideas of the previous titles. Jurassic World: The Game is a mobile experience not unlike Jurassic Park Builder, and LEGO Jurassic World—which we wrote about before—was a large-scale, playful adventure that follows the plot lines of all four Jurassic Park movies.

Add it all up and that's five games since 2011—three of which came out before the reboot was even on people's radar! Given that the film series doesn't seem like it's dying out any time soon, we can probably expect more games like these in the coming years. In the meantime, it's cool to look back and realize that the Jurassic Park revival actually started before Hollywood got involved.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016


From AMC Studios FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is the suspenseful and thrilling second season to one of the most highly anticipated and acclaimed TV series of recent years.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Star Wars rebels An Inside Man

Seeking information on a new Imperial weapon, Ezra and Kanan infiltrate the Imperial factory on Lothal, but they must trust an unlikely ally to escape a lock down of the building.

Catch an all-new episode of “Star Wars Rebels” this SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3 (8:30 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD**.



Star Wars rebels An Inside Man

Star Wars rebels An Inside Man


Star Wars rebels An Inside Man

Star Wars rebels An Inside Man

Star Wars rebels An Inside Man

Star Wars rebels An Inside Man





Follow @StarWars for the latest news on #StarWarsRebelsand check out StarWars.com for more exciting news on the series. 
May the Force be with you, always.

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Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy

One of the biggest movie producers of all time, Frank Marshall was recently interviewed by News.com.au and gave some insight to working on some of the most popular movies.  Below are some of his memories working on Steven Spielberg movies.

HOOK:
They built some huge props for the 1991 movie starring Robin Williams as Peter Pan, but one of them in particular was a little too big.
“We built the [pirate] ship on the stage and when we went to film the ship Steven [Spielberg] wanted the entire ship to be in the frame,” Marshall said.
“But there had been a small error made in looking at the perspective so we had to open the door of the stage and put the camera outside to get all of the ship inside the frame.”

BACK TO THE FUTURE:
“That’s one of my favourite movies,” Marshall said about the 1985 classic.
“If you were in a script writing class I would just give you that script and say this is a perfect script.”
Marshall is particularly proud of how quickly they made the movie after they decided to replace Eric Stoltz with Michael J. Fox in the lead role.
“We recast Marty McFly and that cut six weeks off our post-production schedule,” he said.
“We finished the film in nine weeks which was like a world record in those days but we really wanted to keep to our release date so everyone put in a Herculean effort to deliver the movie. The traditional time in those days was 20 to 24 weeks and we did it in nine.”

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK:
“A little known fact is that one of the things I try to do at all the wrap parties as a present to the crew was to do a magic show,” Marshall revealed.
“The one in Tunisia [at the end of filming Raiders of the Lost Ark] was the best show I’ve ever done.”
Marshall performed under the stage name Dr Fantasy but sadly he’s since retired the character.
“Nowadays I’m DJ Master Frank,” he said.

Read more at news.com.au for more movie insights from Frank Marshall

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ewok t-shirt damn right we're cute

A young Warwick Davis with a stuffed Ewok.  Check out that t-shirt.  A gun wielding Ewok takes down a bunch of Stormtroopers while saying 'Damn right we're cute!'  That is a t-shirt I would wear.  Explains a lot about the Ewoks and how they took down the Empire.

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Christopher Reeve with his stand in Donald Standen


Christopher Reeve with his stand in Donald Standen on the set of Superman IV

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melissa mathison steven spielberg

If you're a fan of Steven Spielberg then you will know how talented Melissa Mathison was having written E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and returning three decades later to write the script for Spielberg's latest, The BFG.  Steven Spielberg pays tribute to the talented writer:

“Even though I only really worked with Melissa couple of times, mainly on ‘E.T.’, to bookend our relationship with two stories deeply from the heart of mostly Mathison, you know… ‘E.T.’ might have been my story, but the depth of that story and the way that story was told, came from Melissa’s heart as did ‘The BFG’.”

Melissa Mathison died 4 November 2015 following a battle with cancer.



Read more at Yahoo Movies

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20 years starwars.com

This will make you feel old.  StarWars.com is celebrating 20 years on the Internet.  November 26th will see the official website celebrating two decades of delivering high quality content from blog posts to official news.

It turns out that the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas had a huge hand in bringing the website to life.  Over on the official site there is an article discussing the twenty years and the the contributors throughout it's history.  Lynne Hale who is director of publicity tells us about the director:

George has always been very conscious about the fans. He sent [advertising publicity supervisor] Charlie Lippincott to fan conventions before A New Hope came out, because he was the one that understood, intrinsically, the relationship with the fans — even before they were fans. George was very interested in having a direct communication with the fans.

“I just think that George was always three steps ahead of everybody. Whether it was the tech department, in education, or on the website. He believed in digital technology and knew it was the future,” Lynne Hale, director of publicity, said.

Congratulations StarWars.com and here's to another twenty years.  The Force is most definitely with you.

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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Creating the Kaiju for "Pacific Rim"

Although "Pacific Rim" begins more than a decade into the battle with the city-destroying Kaiju, in this video the visual effects team at Industrial Light & Magic will discuss the process of creating the incredible race of alien monsters from the earliest stages of concept and design. Enjoy the video!



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Friday, 25 November 2016

Code Name Magic Roundabout

This is a little musical film inspired by the stories of the original makers of the Millennium Falcon spaceship for the film The Empire Strikes Back. The credit sequence features unseen photographs of the build. This was a self funded community film project but we are hoping to find funding to develop the project. A huge thank you to the wonderfully hilarious original crew and the people of Pembroke Dock...

‘In spring 1979, Marcon Fabrications, a heavy engineering firm that served the UK's petrochemical and oil industries, was hired to build a movable full-scale external model capable of "moving as if it were about to take off."

Built in secrecy under the project code name Magic Roundabout,the company leased the 1930s Western Sunderland Flying Boat hangar in Pembroke Dock, West Wales. The model, which took three months to construct, weighed over 25 tons, measured 65 feet in diameter and 20 feet high, and used compressed air hover pads for up to 1.5 inches of hover-height movement around the set. It was then disassembled and shipped to Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, for filming’


Code Name Magic Roundabout from curious ostrich on Vimeo.

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

star wars thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends. Don't eat too much.

george lucas standalone movie

It seems that George Lucas had been working on Star Wars after the Prequels and actually had written down three or four ideas for standalone movies according to Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly Kennedy said "George talked to me about doing [standalone films] when I first came aboard [in 2012]. He had often thought about doing it and he had actually written down three or four thoughts and ideas, directions you could go."  Ultimately Disney didn't like the ideas and went in a different direction.

“We talked a lot about the Jedi and the foundational ideas that George had thought about when he created the mythology. It was sort of spit-balling ideas.”

"Obviously inside the mythology there were lots of opportunities. So that was the first conversation I had." said Kennedy.  She also talked about the future of Star Wars with a slight hint that they could just do standalone movies and leave trilogies alone.

"That's a conversation going on right now, too. I have to honestly tell you, could we [do nothing but stand-alones]? Sure. But I don't know. We are looking at all of that."

Read more at Entertainment Weekly

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016


It may be late November and Rogue One is only 21 days away but there’s plenty of great news happening right now. In our 54th episode we’re joined by a galaxy of stars. From the 5th Annual Rancho Obi-Wan Gala in Petaluma we have Dave Filoni, Pablo Hidalgo, AJ, Leland Chee and from Rebel Force Radio the one and only Jimmy Mac. Meanwhile, the November edition of MCM Expo at the NEC in Birmingham saw Mark and James interview Garrick Hagon from A New Hope and Paul Warren from The Force Awakens while Matt Booker from Take Cover and James attended the launches of the world’s largest LEGO store on Leicester Square and Propel at Madam Tussauds. You can contact us on Skype at JediNewsNetwork with your comments, views and opinions and be a part of the show.






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MOANA
Starring the voices of Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, 
Nicole Scherzinger, Jermaine Clement and Alan Tudyk
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker

Reviewed by Patrick Gibbs

 
 Out of Four



This year has been nothing short of incredible for Disney, and I'm not even counting two successful Marvel movies and the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Before the summer even came, we'd already had two tremendous family blockbusters in Zootopia and The Jungle Book, and they were followed by The BFG and Finding Dory (regardless of box office, The BFG was a great family film that I believe will only grow in popularity and esteem with its video release. and frankly, these others did well enough to make up for the monetary loss.). Disney is now ending the year on a major high note with Moana, which is almost certain to be a big hit.


Set on a mystic Polynesian Island on Motunui, Moana tells the story of the strong willed
daughter of a tribal chief named Tui Waialiki. From a young age, Moana is drawn to the ocean, and the ocean is quite literally drawn to her, parting for her as she walks into the shallows and playing with her in the form of a decidedly James Cameronesque water tentacle. The child's grandmother, Gramma Tala feels that the girl's destiny may lie in the ocean, but for reasons Moana doesn't understand her father doesn't want her going near it. He teaches her that she is needed elsewhere, and he grooms her to be the Chief one day.  But Moana senses there is more, and even sings the requisite "I Want" song about it.

When danger comes to the village, our 16-year old heroine is chosen by the ocean itself to return a mystical artifact, the Heart of Te Fiti, to its rightful place. In order to do this, she must seek out the assistance of the demigod Maui. Sounds simple enough, right? But Maui (Johnson) isn't all that he has been made out to be.


This is very much a formula, '90's Disney animated musical, and that's not a bad thing at all. While some of the plotting feels a little clumsy at times, the spirit is most definitely there, What's more, it's almost impossible not to praise the movie when they are willing to shakef things up by giving us a Disney "Princess" who doesn't want to be called Princess and who not only has no love interest, but while her father is eager for her to be a good Chief to her people, her parents never even bring up the issue of marrying her off.  That's right: Moana has to take an inner journey and decide whether to be true to herself, but at no point is the idea even broached that to do so requires a man. That's pretty incredible, and not to beat a dead horse, but a movie that uses such unabashed feminism in such a subtle way isn't just welcome right now, it's an absolute necessity, especially for American audiences. Moana may be the most success "feminist"

The songs, by Hamilton sensation Lin-Manuel Maranda, Oeptaia Foa'i (of the South Pacific music group Te Vaka) and Mark Mancina, are beautiful and rousing, to the point that I'm becoming addicted to the soundtrack (especially Moana's solos and the group Polynesian songs.). I must admit that a few of the songs (in particular "Shiny", sung by Jermaine Clement) took a little getting used to for a Disney fan who is used to Alan Mencken, but so did Elton John the first time around.  Miranda is extremely talented, and I love his ability to write clever and and ambitious lyrics that seems to roll of the tongue when they could just as easily be causing it to sprain, but the Eminem of Broadway is occasionally so caught up in this that the melody is in danger of getting lost. Listening to his music is sometimes suspenseful, but most of the time he manages to pull it off.

Auli'i Cravalho literally could not be better as Moana, and she is ably supported by Dwayne Johnson who (pun intended) really rocks his one solo song. No, he's not a truly great singer (as opposed to Cravalho, who has a magnificent set of pipes) but he performs it with an infectious enthusiasms and hits the notes. As strange as it may seem for a star who is mainly known for his body, Johnson is a natural for animation because he has a license to be a cartoon character, and he's so comfortable and charismatic here that even his harshest detractors will have a hard time finding fault. Rachel House is very endearing as Gramma Tala, though you may find yourself wondering through the whole movie "Is that the voice of Edna Mode from The Incredibles?"( No, it isn't.). 

Veteran Disney directors Clements and Musker (who gave us The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, The Princess and the Frog and Treasure Planet) are among the best at what they do, and they inject the movie with with plenty of action and excitement. They have always had a knack for the Indiana Jones swashbuckler feel, and in this case they seem to have been a little bit influenced by the Kevin Reynolds films Waterworld and Rapa Nui (which isn't the insult it sounds like. It has all of the visual strengths of those films without any of the weaknesses.). 

This movie has all of the elements needed to entertain and even to inspire, and it's easily going to be one of the highlights of the holiday season. Disney's batting average is ridiculously high right now (even after the misfire of The Good Dinosaur), and I'm very excited to see what other magic the House of Mouse brings us over the next couple of years.





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Tuesday, 22 November 2016


Riz Ahmed, June Ambrose, Steve Aoki, Camilla Belle, Gareth Edwards, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Olivia Munn, Kelly Slater, and Brittany Snow Support UNICEF KID POWER Through Unique T-shirt Collection

‘Force 4 Fashion’ Line to be Sold Exclusively at Target from November 27

view images of the t-shirt collection here

As fans count down to the premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney, Target and Star Wars: Force for Change are launching a new fashion-meets-fundraising initiative inspired by the themes of rebellion from the new movie. Ten influential names across film, music, fashion and sports have come together to support UNICEF Kid Power by creating a line of “Force 4 Fashion” T-shirts available exclusively in the U.S. at Target beginning November 27.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will introduce fans to a group of rebels who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves. Each of the T-shirt designs celebrates this theme using a powerful slogan to represent the importance of standing up for what you believe in. 

Five dollars from the sale of each shirt will be donated to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF Kid Power. Through this unique initiative, kids can complete physical activities and interactive challenges to earn points—which ultimately are used to provide life-saving packets of food for severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move, the more points they earn, the more kids they help.

“This campaign is about raising funds and awareness for UNICEF Kid Power’s mission to improve the lives of children everywhere,” said Paul Southern, senior vice president of licensing for Lucasfilm at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “Everyone connected to this initiative has been a Force for Change in different ways, and we hope their stories will inspire others to get involved.”

The Force 4 Fashion line was designed with support from Riz Ahmed, June Ambrose, Steve Aoki, Camilla Belle, Gareth Edwards, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Olivia Munn, Kelly Slater, and Brittany Snow, who’ve all been active in supporting different causes through their careers. In addition to purchasing the special T-shirts, fans can join the rebellion by sharing their own inspiring stories and posting on social channels how they are a #ForceForChange on “Giving Tuesday,” November 29.

"I love Star Wars and I'm passionate about giving back,” said Steve Aoki. “The opportunity to partner with Lucasfilm and Target to design a shirt that benefits UNICEF is something I've enjoyed being a part of and I hope my fans love it as much as I do."

“Investing in our children means a brighter future for all, and this holiday season, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is thrilled Star Wars: Force for Change and this “Force 4 Fashion” initiative are supporting UNICEF Kid Power,” said Caryl M. Stern, President & CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “UNICEF Kid Power helps us to stand and give every child hope. With every step, kids get active and save lives, moving the world closer towards ending global malnutrition.” 

Since the UNICEF Kid Power program launch in 2014, more than 190,000 UNICEF Kid Power Team Members have become active, earning more than 12.5 million Kid Power Points and unlocking more than 5.1 million packets of lifesaving therapeutic food for severely malnourished children. Star Wars: Force for Change announced its collaboration with UNICEF Kid Power in May 2015 and continues to be a presenting sponsor of the initiative program.

To learn more about the “Force 4 Fashion” shirts, visit Target.com and to learn more about being a #ForceForChange, visit ForceForChange.com.

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A dedicated Star Trek fan has put together this rather funny video showing every occurrence of the phrase "some kind of..." in Star Trek Voyager.  You will soon realise how much effort Youtuber, Jogwheel must have put in to this compilation because there are quite a few instances of the phrase throughout the seven seasons of the Star Trek series.



Oh!  You might be wondering why Star Trek is on this site?  Well, we could make the link with Trek and ILM doing some of the work on the movies (who could forget that Genesis computer animation in Star Trek II?  That was ILM.)  Lets not forget their impressive work on the TV series Star Trek The Next Generation.  Also, some would argue that there would be no Star Wars without Star Trek and subsequently no further Star Trek thanks to Star Wars.  Anyway, I'm a huge Trekker so posting on here makes me happy.  What do you think?  Are you happy with me posting Trek related material?

Rob
@thebeardedtrio


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"The Wynkahthu job"

New Video and Images Available for "The Wynkahthu job" – the next episode of Star Wars Rebels on November 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Disney XD!

The rebels team with a pair of unscrupulous pirates to salvage a freighter full of weapons the rebellion needs, but find the mission is far more dangerous than anticipated.

Catch an all-new episode of “Star Wars Rebels” this SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26 (8:30 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD**.



"The Wynkahthu job"

"The Wynkahthu job"

"The Wynkahthu job"

"The Wynkahthu job"



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Monday, 21 November 2016

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson

Full interview of 'The Adventures of Tintin' director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson by THR's executive editor, features Stephen Galloway.



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Sunday, 20 November 2016


In keeping with tradition, a sneak preview of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, "The Return of Doctor Mysterio," aired during the BBC's Children In Need charity fundraiser. The full clip has been made available online, and you can watch it right here!


The Doctor meets the Superhero Christmas Day on BBC One and BBC America. 

Find out more about Doctor Who here.


The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.

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Contact Lisa at lisad@coffeewithkenobi.com

Saturday, 19 November 2016


LucasArts made some of the best and funniest games in the 1990s spanning Adventure, FPS, Simulation and Star Wars games! Here are some of the big box PC games Youtuber 'MetalJesusRocks' has in their collection from that iconic gaming company!



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Friday, 18 November 2016

Jedi News Network: Take Cover Episode 11

Grab your bookmarks, it's time to Take Cover as we focus on the writings of the Star Wars galaxy. This month Brian, Matt and Mark are joined by James Burns of Star Wars Collectors Cast and the galaxy's biggest and best collector Steve Sansweet, right from Rancho Obi-Wan itself. Brian talks Galactic Atlas with Egmont's Emil Fortune and the team discuss the newly announced Darth Maul mini-series from Marvel. You can contact us on Skype at JediNewsNetwork with your comments, views and opinions and be a part of the show.




The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.

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In anticipation of Transformers: The Last Knight (executive produced by Steven Spielberg,) IMAX and Paramount have created a featurette celebrating a decade of technology and innovation that has been spurred by the Transformers franchise. The featurette includes never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage from the upcoming film, as well ascommentary from Director Michael Bay who has been a key partner to IMAX in providing creative guidance to push its technology further. This Transformers IMAX Featurette will play in front of IMAX showings of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!

Michael Bay has always been an IMAX innovator and the two have worked together to push the boundaries of IMAX’s technology to deliver thrilling and truly immersive movie-going experiences for fans. For example, in 2014, Michael Bay was the first Hollywood director to ever use IMAX’s new ultra-light-weight 3D digital camera. At less than half the weight of other 3D camera systems, the technology allowed Michael Bay to secure 3D shots never possible before (including car chases, helicopter shots and even sending the cameras down buildings). Michael Bay will be the first filmmaker to ever strap two of IMAX’s new ALEXA IMAX 2D digital cameras into a 3D rig on Transformers: The Last Knight.

EXPERIENCE IT IN IMAX® 3D JUNE 23, 2017 


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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrel
Written by J.K. Rowling 
Directed by David Yates

Reviewed by Paul & Patrick Gibbs

 Out of Four


If you're not aquainted with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, first of all, you're probably living in a cave in Borneo, second, you're depriving yourself of one of the great joys of modern popular culture, and third, you have little hope of understanding the new prequel/spin-off film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. After seven novels, eight films and one play, Rowling seems to have decided her world is well established enough that the new film can take it for granted that you know the basics (and perhaps more), and makes little to no attempt the make the film accessible to non-fans. This is probably just as well, because Fantastic Beasts is one of the most spectacularly fun movies of 2016, and we can only assume non-Potter fans are against fun, magic and happiness.

Loosely based on Rowling's 2001 faux textbook (one of the resources frequently turned to by Hermione Granger to dump exposition), Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1926, long before the birth even of Harry's parents, and is set in the U.S. rather than the U.K. Our new protagonist is magizoologust Newt Scamander  (Eddie Redmayne), an intrepid and socially awkward expert on magical creatures. Scamander has come to America for undisclosed reasons, carrying a suitcase full of the titular fantastic beasts (the suitcase is bigger on the inside, much like Mary Poppins' carpet bag or Doctor Who's TARDIS.). He has come to visit New York, just as newspapers the world over, but especially in America, are abuzz with hysteria over the threat posed by Gellart Grindlewald, an extremely dangerous Dark Wizard (if you're going into this rusty, at least brush up on who Grindlewald is. While the filmmakers do a good job of setting up his presence, you're missing out on some things if you're not familiar with the character.).

Meanwhile, a "No-Maj" (the American word for Muggle) named Jacob Kowalski is trying to follow his simple dream of opening a bakery, using his grandmother's recipes, but he has no collateral for a loan. But when a chance meeting with Mr. Scamander causes them to switch briefcases, his life suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. Furthering Scamander's difficulties is an investigator for MCUSA (The Magical Congress of The United States of America) named Porpentina Goldstein (Waterston), who hauls him in for questioning; a group of fanatics who call themselves the New Salemers, who believe that witches live among us and need to be stopped, and an intense MCUSA agent named Percival Graves (Farrell), who seems like he might be hiding a personal agenda.

To give away anything more would be unnecessary and unwelcome. Suffice it to say that this is one of the most rousing, entertaining blockbusters of the year, featuring memorable characters, intriguing twists, a good (and timely) message about tolerance, and . . .  well, fantastic beasts, obviously. Scamander's menagerie of magical creatures are both wonderful and awesome. Yes, they are C.G.I., but it's great C.G.I., and they feel like real animals because they have the distinct personalities of pets that you've grown to know and love. Rowling is famous for her possessive love of her characters, and in this movie that comes through as strongly in her titular creations (none of whom speak) as it does in any of the humans. Some of this should also be credited to Yates and the effects team, but it definitely begins with Rowling.

The cast is strong, ably led by Redmayne as the socially awkward Scamander. Redmayne is so committed to the awkwardness that the performance can get a little jarring at times (it's surprisingly jarring watching a film where the lead actor is working so hard to avoid eye contact with his fellow cast members.). But his goofy charm wins out, and  the character is decidedly endearing. Waterston and Sudol, as sisters "Teenie and Queenie", are delightful, and Rowling has clearly set out to give the story a secondary female lead as opposed to a love interest. Collin Farrell is quite compelling as Graves, supplying the necessary gravitas. But undoubtedly the breakout performance comes from Dan Fogler as Jacob. Funny, charismatic and lovable, Jacob's every-man provides the outsider's viewpoint to the proceedings, and transcends being the portly comic sidekick to be the emotional core of the film (he's the Phoneix feather that powers the wand, if you will.). We honestly think he should be looked at as a dark horse nominee for Best Supporting Actor at Oscar time.

By this point, director Yates has become a master of this material and this world, and his direction here is first-rate. With the help of virtuoso cinematographer Phillipe Rousselot, production designer Stuart Craig, costume designer Colleen Atwood and editor Mark Day, Yates has created a film where every frame is visually exquisite, and the only thing that isn't a joy to behold is Ezra Miller's haircut, and even that fits the character perfectly. And composer James Newton Howard has delivered one of the best scores of his career, which encompasses multiple styles and genres and includes themes you'll hum long after you walk out of the theater. Fantastic Beasts is the sort of grand, big-screen visual and sonic feast that takes you to another world at a time when many of us badly need to leave his one for a couple of hours.  A great cinematic adventure has never arrived at a better time.

Those going into the movie expecting kiddie fair should keep in mind how dark the later installments of the Potter series can get, however, and this features some characters and situations that could be disturbing to younger viewers (a plot element involving the abuse of children, and the potential subtexts to be read into it, is particularly heavy and may come as a shock to some.). It's definitely aimed at 11 and up, with the emphasis on "up." Still, it's a grand adventure for the family, you may just want to hire a sitter for the little ones.





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