Tag Archives: PG13

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016 Movie)

Heyday Films

My rating: 4 of 5

1926, New York City. Something magical is wrecking havoc, and the magical community is desperately trying to keep the whole thing under wraps and the muggles out of it all . . . which would be easier if there weren’t obsessive, outspoken muggles crying witchcraft from the street corners. Enter into the mix a bumbling young idealist from England carrying a suitcase (bigger on the inside, naturally) full of magical creatures just dying to get out and roam the city. Obviously, trouble is going to ensue, especially when said wizard manages to get himself and his (possibly illegal) creatures seen not just by a muggle but by a straitlaced ex-Auror as well.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a fun jaunt in the world Rowling’s creation. It’s clearly Rowling’s work, but on the other hand, it’s most definitely not Harry Potter, by any means. And it was odd to me that there was this big plot involving the entire local magical community and tying the story into the whole Harry Potter storyline . . . but that part of the story felt almost artificial or forced to me. Like it was there to tie everything together and to make Newt’s story bigger and more exciting, only I wasn’t really interested in that part of the story. But there were other parts of this movie that definitely made up for my not loving the big plot part. For one, the setting was really interesting–1920’s New York, with the added bonus of getting a peek into American wizardry, what’s not to love?! And all of the creatures . . . there’s a sense in which parts of the story almost feel like just a catalogue of magical creatures, but they’re so interesting/cute/wonderful that it’s totally okay. Even better (absolutely without a doubt my favorite part) are the main four characters and their interactions. Newt Scamander himself is the best. He’s a hearty helping of Eleven, a touch of Merlin (especially the sass and attitude), a bit shy and awkward, but thoroughly idealistic and devoted to his creatures and his mission to protect them and educate people about them. I don’t know; I just really enjoyed his personality and the unusual friendship he develops with the others. Jacob, Tina, and Queenie are also rich, well-developed characters who were cast brilliantly. I really loved that they weren’t your typical likeable protagonist types, none of the four were; they’re awkward or bristly or just unusual, and I loved them for it and for the friendships they formed. I would really love to see more of these characters. I think their small (but significant) personal story was what made this movie, and it is certainly what would make me recommend Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to anyone looking for a quirky, magical tale.

Written by J. K. Rowling/Directed by David Yates/Produced by David Heyman, J. K. Rowling, Steve Kloves, & Lionel Wigram/Music by James Newton Howard/Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, & Carmen Ejogo

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertallisimon vs the homo sapiens agenda

My rating: 5 of 5

Simon has met a boy . . . er, well, they haven’t actually met yet. But he and Blue found each other on their high school’s Tumblr, and they’ve been exchanging e-mails. And the more Simon gets to know Blue, the more he thinks he might really be in love with this guy, whoever he is in real life. Which is where things get sticky–because they go to the same high school and might actually know each other in real life, only neither knows the other’s true identity. Neither is openly out to the community at large, and Blue at least intends to keep it that way. That might not be so easy though, especially when Simon finds that Martin, one of this classmates, has gotten into his e-mail account, read his e-mails to Blue, and is now using them to blackmail him! Very sticky situation. Not that Simon doesn’t have enough other stuff to keep him occupied, what with friend problems, a big production coming up in drama club, and a family that wants to talk about everything.

I know, I know, everyone’s been telling me to read this book for like a year at least now. And yes, I really loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The writing style is excellent, fitting the YA genre well but in a way that would be interesting even for older readers. I really loved the transcribed e-mails and the way in which Simon and Blue’s relationship grew through them, the way they fell in love with each other without even knowing what the other person looked like or anything. Their relationship is really sweet and funny. I also loved that the story’s not just a romance or a coming out story, although it definitely is that–rather, it’s Simon’s whole life with all of it’s complexities and relationships. I love his family and the way their relationships work; it’s so nice to read a story with a supportive, functional family on occasion. (And is it just me, or did anyone else find Simon’s sister Nora to be fascinating? I really want to read her story now!) Also, I loved Simon himself–his personality feels authentic and complex, like the way he thinks he’s so profane and badass but everyone knows he’s just adorable, or the way he’s definitely a geek but not in any stereotypical way. Speaking of being a geek, there are tons of references thrown into this book, too. Anyway, I could fangirl about the positives of this book for basically forever . . . negatives? Well, yes, it is a bit profane, so just be aware it’s probably PG13 at least, but other than that, I can’t think of anything at all. I would say that Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is highly recommended.

 

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Much Ado About Nothing

Bellwether Pictures

Directed by Joss Whedon/Produced by Joss Whedon & Kai Cole/Music by Joss Whedon/Based on the Play by William Shakespeare/Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, & Jillian Morgese

I find it probable that you have heard the tale of Beatrice and Benedick, sharp of wit and sharper of tongue, ever eager to turn the both against each other. You’ve likely heard of Beatrice’s fair and sweet cousin Hero and her love, the valiant (but too quick to jump to conclusions) Claudio. Mayhap you even know of the clever tricks that were turned against Beatrice and Benedick to soften their hearts and of the cruel tricks that were played against Hero and Claudio’s love. But I daresay you’ve never heard their tale told in quite such a manner as this. . . .

Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was a treat from start to finish. It sticks largely with the plot–and even the wording–of the original (so yes, Shakespearean English). But he sticks the classic plot in a contemporary setting, somehow bringing the story into the present day (sort of) without verbally alluding to it at all. People are beckoned to listen to music . . . on an MP3 player. The watch manages to lock themselves out of their car. A lot of the story is carried non-verbally, while still somehow remaining true to the spirit and intent of the original. It helps that Whedon collected an amazing cast for this, most (if not all) of the major actors having worked with him before on other shows. (And may I just say, it was refreshing to see Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker get a happy ending for once!) The music chosen also set the mood excellently. And–one of the most refreshingly surprising aspects in my mind–the entire movie was in black and white! I love it!!! I will note that this is a PG-13 movie–and personally I wouldn’t share it with anyone under 16 because of a few bedroom scenes–but for adult viewers, I thing Much Ado About Nothing is an exceptional movie that I recommend highly.

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Stardust

Paramount Pictures

Directed by Matthew Vaughn/Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Dreyer, Neil Gaiman, & Matthew Vaughn/Screenplay by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn/Music by Ilan Eshkeri/Narrated by Ian McKellen/Starring Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro & Michelle Pfeiffer/Based on the book by Neil Gaiman

Once upon a time, there was a Wall dividing a small, quiet village on one side from the magical kingdom of Stormhold on the other. Completely unaware of his own origins in Stormhold, young Tristan Thorn forces his way across the Wall to retrieve a fallen star to bring to his “love” and prove himself worthy of her. Naturally, upon reaching the star, he finds himself with a bit more than he bargained for–the star is actually a young woman by the name of Yvaine, the country is in turmoil as the deceased king’s sons strive for the throne, a trio of ancient witches seek Yvaine’s heart, and generally everything seems set against Tristan’s getting safely back home with the star. Of course, as time goes by and he experiences more of the world beyond his village, it becomes questionable whether he could be content with success. . . .

The novel Stardust was the first Neil Gaiman book I ever read–and the first glimpse of how much I would love his writing. I admit, I was a bit nervous about watching the movie adaptation, but I was actually quite favorably impressed. Although the movie is certainly lighter in tone than the book–more prone to humorous moments and such–I think it preserves the essence and storyline well. The characters are well played and the world well imagined and beautifully executed. The balance of wondrous fantasy, dark adventure, unexpected romance, and odd humor is deftly maintained throughout. And the ending is just as unexpected yet perfectly fitting–largely because all the important details that lead up to it are retained in the movie. So, for those who enjoy a good fantasy adventure/romance movie with a heavy dose of humor, I would definitely recommend Stardust (and of course, check out the book as well; it’s fantastic!).

Note: Do be aware, Stardust is PG13 and includes some crude humor and such. I think it’s totally appropriate for teen and up audience, though.

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