Review: FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

By Renee’ C.

Rating: 5 (Out of 5 Reels)

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). Nevertheless, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pureblood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead (Rotten Tomatoes). Read more »

Austin Film Festival 2018 Review: WIDOWS

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Director Steve McQueen, a filmmaker known for his bleak and powerful films Shame and Twelve Years A Slave, has a new film in theaters that shares his dark and cynical style, but still manages to be entertaining and empowering.  With Widows, McQueen takes on a heist film that offers incendiary action and a dark sense of humor.  This kind of flick is right at home during an era in America that feels riddled with selfishness, greed, and the hunger for power. As desolate and cold things currently are in the real world, McQueen’s latest offers a ray of hope, through its protagonists who refuse to take the world’s hate and uncaring lying down. Read more »

Review: INSTANT FAMILY

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Considering that this movie comes from the director of Daddy’s Home and Daddy’s Home 2, I went into this screening with low expectations.  I just could not find much entertainment value in these two previous films by Sean Anders.  Regarding his latest entry, Instant Family, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Though the attempts at humor don’t always work and often come across as heavy-handed, this film offers some genuinely heartfelt messages about foster parenting and the heartbreaking experiences that foster children often go through.  Sure the presentation isn’t superbly executed, but Sean Anders and his co-writer John Morris put some genuine love into this fictionalized adaptation of Anders’s real experiences as a foster parent.   Read more »

Review: FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

The Wizarding World saga continues with what is essentially its second chapter in the franchise.  This follow up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them picks up months after the events of the previous film and attempts to delve into darker and more mature territory with stronger and more obvious connections to the Harry Potter movies.  Though the movie does accomplish this, it also runs a little lengthy and heavy with exposition.  The movie may offer audiences a heavier chapter with greater stakes, but the filmmakers bog it down with explanations that often distract and detract from all the fun magical material. Read more »

Review: WIDOWS

By Renee’ C.

Rating: 3 (Out of 5 Reels)

Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women, Viola Davis as Veronica, Michelle Rodriguez as Linda, Elizabeth Debecki as Alice and Cynthia Erivo as Belle, with nothing in common accept a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms (IMDB).

The main characters in this film start out from a somewhat passive and meek point of view but circumstances force their hand. They really do not have a choice but to take action. I admired them in their endeavor because they are trying to save themselves. Read more »

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