Friday, 18 November 2016

List of Fantastic Beasts in the film


The following magical beasts and creatures are featured in the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:

Niffler
Rodent-like creatures that were attracted to shiny things, which made them wonderful for locating treasure. Nifflers were gentle by nature and could be affectionate towards their owners but they could wreak havoc if set loose outside.

 Swooping Evil
Large, blue-and-green winged magical creature that looks like a cross between a reptile and an extremely large butterfly. When it is not spreading its spiked wings in mid-flight, the Swooping Evil lives in a green spiny cocoon. It can be quite dangerous, as it can feed on people's brains (which it "sucks out"). It also secretes venom that, when properly diluted, can be used to erase bad memories.

Bowtruckle
Hand-sized, insect eating, tree dweller with long sharp fingers (two on each hand), brown eyes, and a general appearance of a flat-faced little stickman made of bark and twigs, which serves well as camouflage in its natural habitat. Serves as a tree guardian for its home tree, which is usually a tree whose wood is of wand quality. Useful for picking locks.

Billywig
Insect native to Australia that's around half an inch long with the colouring of a vivid sapphire blue. The speed of the Billywig means that it is rarely noticed by Muggles. Billywig's wings are attached to the top of its head, and the wings rotate extremely fast, spinning the Billywig so that it can fly.  Anyone stung by a Billywig will suffer giddiness, followed by levitation.

Occamy
Plumed, two-legged serpentine-bodied creature with wings that may reach up to fifteen feet in height. It's extremely aggressive to anyone who approaches it. Its eggs are made of pure and soft silver. Occamies can grow or shrink in order to fit available space.

Demiguise
Peaceful, herbivorous creature that can make itself invisible and tell the future, which makes it very hard to catch. It resembles an ape with large, black eyes and long, silky hair. Demiguise are highly sought after as the hair can be woven into Invisibility cloaks. Demiguises have precognitive sight, so that the only way to catch them is to do something completely unpredictable.

Thunderbird 
Large, avian creature native to Arizona. It can create storms as it flies, and can sense danger nearby. Thunderbirds possess multiple and powerful wings, with Frank the Thunderbird shown having six wings in total. Thunderbird feathers shimmer with cloud-like patterns, and the birds' flapping can create storms as they fly.

Murtlap
A marine beast resembling a rat with a growth on its back resembling a sea anemone.

Erumpent
Huge African magical beast resembling a rhinoceros. A powerful creature with a thick hide capable of repelling most curses and charms, a single long horn, and a thick tail. The Erumpent will not attack unless provoked, but the results are usually fatal. The horn can pierce skin and metal, and the horn contains a deadly fluid which causes whatever is injected with it to explode.

Nundu
Giant mammal similar to a leopard that is native to East Africa. It moves silently, despite its size, and is considered by some to be the most dangerous creature alive. The breath of the Nundu is toxic and filled with disease. Nundu is extremely hard to subdue, and has never been defeated by less than around one hundred wizards working together.

Doxy (Biting Fairy)
Small Fairy-like creature, sometimes mistaken for a Fairy. Doxies have shiny beetle-like wings, and a double row of sharp venomous teeth. If bitten, a wizard or witch should take an antidote immediately. Doxies bury their eggs underground, and Doxy Queens can lay up to five-hundred at once. The eggs generally hatch in two to three weeks.

Mooncalf
Shy creatures that only comes out of its burrow during a full moon. Mooncalves has smooth, pale grey skin, and four spindly legs that end in large flat feet. They also has bulging eyes (like an owl) that sit on the top of its head.

Diricawl
Plump, fluffy-feathered and flightless bird that has the ability to disappear and reappear elsewhere as a means of escaping danger. Muggles are aware of the existence of the Diricawl as a dodo (a large, extinct, flightless bird). However, since Muggles are not aware of its ability to vanish at will, they believe that they have hunted the dodo to extinction.

Graphorn
Dangerous and aggressive magical creature,  large and hump-backed, with greyish-purple skin tougher than that of dragons. It can repel most spells, has two golden horns, and walks on large four-thumbed feet. Newton Scamander had the last pair of breeding graphorns, along with a young graphorn.

Obscurus
Note: Obscurus is not a beast or creature
An unstable, uncontrollable dark force that takes the form of a flying, storm-like, violent torrent of darkness. It was created by young wizards to suppress their magic due to constant physical and psychological abuses in their childhood because of their powers. An Obscurial is the host of an Obscurus. When an Obscurial reaches their emotional and mental breaking point, the Obscurus appears and attacks whatever is the source of their distress. If they lose control of the Obscurus completely, the Obscurial can physically transform into it and destroy everything in their path. Usually, a child possessed by the Obscurus dies around their 10th birthday, but there are exceptional cases where a wizard with tremendous powers can survive longer. When the child dies, the Obscurus vanishes along with them, though Newt Scamander successfully kept one alive when its host died by encasing it in a magical bubble.




Friday, 28 October 2016

Movie Review: Doctor Strange



First of all, I have to admit, the latest 14th entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like its predecessors, feels overly familiar and formulaic at times. It's a typical basic comic book origin story with a three-act structure that we've seen plenty of times before in the superhero genre. Fortunately, it's also incredibly well made with great visuals and its inclusion of magic, the existence of the Marvel's expansive Multiverse, infinite dimensions and realities, made it quite different from what has come before.


Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular arrogant, sarcastic yet brilliant neurosurgeon, Doctor Stephen Strange, who found that his hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored after a near death experience, effectively ending his career. With no medical procedure able to help him, the doctor travels to Nepal to learn the mystical art of magic, in hopes to find a cure. He encounters a powerful sorcerer, Mordo (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), which leads him to the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton), also known as the Sorcerer Supreme, who opens and widens his perspective of the world that we live in. Sooner, he finds himself caught in the middle of a war between The Ancient One and Kaecilius (Ancient One's former student, played by Mads Mikkelsen).


From a visual standpoint, the spectacular effects of Doctor Strange is unlike anything audiences have ever seen. Many have noted that the mirror dimension portrayed in the film bears striking similarities of the dreamscapes in Christopher Nolan's Inception, as buildings, roads, city structures were folding into themselves due to reality manipulation by the sorcerers. Although true to some extent, there are some notable differences in the shifting and bending of structures, scenes with things reversing backwards, forwards or freezes in time, magical seals used to conjure weapons or interdimensional travel by the sorcerers and the Cloak of Levitation (not Cloak of Invisibility in the Harry Potter films, mind you) were nothing short of amazing and sufficient enough to make it stand out among others to provide a refreshing take to the genre.


The film's focus on its titular character throughout the film managed to create a well-developed character arc, providing a satisfying viewing experience for the audience. Although the first arc of the film did felt a little rushed, the frequent humour and fast-paced fun managed to sustain the interest of its audience. However, this comes at an expense of the other interesting supporting characters such as Mordo, fellow doctor/love interest Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams) and to a lesser extent, The Ancient One. The development of these characters' arcs are sidelined and not properly fleshed out like they should be. There should be more master-student interaction between Strange and the Ancient One. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams did made use of the little screen time they had to perform what is required of them, but it's not enough. Aside from that, the romance between Strange and Palmer is not properly developed.


Moreover, Marvel has two persistent issues with their films: long list of underwhelming, underdeveloped and forgettable one-time villains with unconvincing motives and the creativity of the way the story is told. We've been given a backstory or expository explanations of the villains, Kaecilius and Dormammu, but nothing in-depth. They're just some villains pitted against our hero to fight with. Marvel has always been playing safe and never dares to take any risk to change their repetitive working formula...the story always unfolds in a simple, straightforward manner or linear timeline, the same can be said for Doctor Strange as well (despite the fact that time is a major thematic element in the film).


Although it's hard to shake off the feeling that we've seen all of this before, I do believe that this film can be rewatched many times with enjoyment. The greatest achievement that this film has made is that it successfully expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe, enhancing the world even further for many stories to come.


Note: It's very important not to miss the two mid and post credit scenes, a commonality with all Marvel cinematic movies.


Rating comparisons with other Marvel Cinematic Universe films:
Iron Man
2008
8/10
The Incredible Hulk
2008
7/10
Iron Man 2
2010
7/10
Thor
2011
7/10
Captain America: The First Avenger
2011
8/10
The Avengers
2012
9/10
Iron Man 3
2013
8.5/10
Thor: The Dark World
2013
8/10
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2014
8.5/10
Guardians of the Galaxy
2014
7.5/10
Avengers: Age of Ultron
2015
8/10
Ant-Man
2015
7.5/10
Captain America: Civil War
2016
8.5/10
Doctor Strange
2016
8.5/10



Little Things you should know/remember before watching Marvel films:



"You're a man looking at the world through a key hole and you've spent your whole life trying to widen that key hole to see more, to know more and now upon hearing that it can be widened in ways you can't imagine you reject the possibility." - The Ancient One

"Dr. Strange, you think you know how the world works. You think this material universe is all there is. What if I told you the reality you know is one of many?"
"This doesn't make any sense."

"Not everything does. Not everything has to."

"You want to know what I see in your future? Possibility."



Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Movie Review: The Accountant



Based on an original screenplay by Bill Dubuque, The Accountant is a refreshingly unique, weird but intriguing entry in the crime-drama action thriller genre. The film starts slow and takes its time to build its main character, and as the story progresses, things become more interesting with some unexpected twists along the way. It's an understatement to say that Ben Affleck (who starred the new Batman in Batman v Superman) anchors this film masterfully by delivering a subtle, but feels weirdly authentic performance as the autistic titular character who secretly handles the books for dangerous criminal organisations.


The film gives its main character a great backstory, giving the audience some glimpses of his troubled childhood, tough upbringing and experiences due to his autistic condition through a series of non-linear flashbacks, which resulted in him with a set of formidable hand-to-hand and armed combat skills. However, his intelligence comes with a price. He's unable to socialise with others well and his inability to emotionally connect with people prevents him from forging close relationships with others around him, much to the amusement of the audience.


Affleck also managed to bring a surprising amount of humour to the role. Wolff's (Affleck's character) character mannerisms and peculiarities - bluntness in conversation or action often lead to some funny moments. It's rather amusing to sit through and watch Affleck's character as he awkwardly interacts with Anna Kendrick or even when he unexpectedly taking out bad guys. The flashbacks allow the audience to be fully invested into the character as they need to slowly 'piece' together the identity of Christian Wolff by picking up the crumbs through flashbacks and present key scenes in the film. The film doesn't reveal everything about its protagonist to the audience immediately which keeps the film highly compelling and interesting along the way.


However, the film requires a lot of attention from the audience to keep up with the plot and character revelations. It's quite disappointing to see that Kendrick's role in the film is smaller than expected and the romance between them is paper-thin and not fully developed (the girl tried to approach him many times to initiate conversation for Pete's sake...but he takes it literally due to his autistic condition) J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Robinson did a decent job as a pair of Treasury agents who are working on to uncover the Accountant's identity.


This film is not your average action thriller with a simple plot and over-the-top action scenes. Despite the unappealing nature of its poster, it's highly recommended for those who prefer a less conventional type of thriller to watch. Don't judge a film by its poster.



Rating: 8.5/10





Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Movie Review: Me Before You



Me Before You, adapted from the bestselling Jojo Moyes book of the same name, with the screenplay written by Jojo Moyes herself as well, is an enjoyable, deeply emotional, affecting and charming film that chooses to focus on the bonds that are shared between the characters despite a simple plot. The story starts off with Sam Claflin as Will Traynor, a wealthy and successful young banker turned into a cynical quadriplegic after an accident. On the other hand, Emilia Clarke stars as Louisa Clark, a cheerful, expressive and easy-going middle class girl who's just lost her job and is desperate to get a new one due to her family's poor financial situation. Soon, she stumbles upon a unique job as a caretaker for Will Traynor without the need of any qualifications. As expected, they soon fall in love.


In all honesty, despite the simplicity of its plot, Me Before You is wonderfully elated by the genuinely endearing and enchanting performance of Emilia Clarke as Lou. Lou brought colour into Will's world by showing him the cheerful, genuine yet eccentric side of her while trying to encourage the man to start living again by organizing some outgoing events like watching horse races, going to the beach or a seemingly cheap concerto of Mozart's music. Clarke is further assisted by her wonderful co-star Sam Claflin. Their on-screen chemistry allows the moments in Me Before You to work remarkably and largely enjoyable to watch, slowly establishing rapport among themselves and let the romance to unfold in a touching and emotional manner while ignoring most of those chick flick clich├ęs. The film is surprisingly enjoyable and is chock full of witty dialogues that guarantees to make a few laughs here and there.


Claflin's quadriplegic role as Will Turner was quite challenging as he can only emote with his facial expressions throughout the film. Surprisingly, Claflin's expressions were well done without being too excessive and extravagant. However, the film do lack of worthy 'villains' or 'opponents' for the leads and most of its tensions and conflicts are mainly from human dramas. Moreover, the scenic shots of the British countryside was breathtaking and lovely as well. Another worthy mention is definitely the film's perfect choice of songs for the background music as it adds more flavour to certain scenes in the film.


Unfortunately, the film suffers a lot of criticisms from the disabled community due to the film's ending. Many easily view it as an encouragement for disabled people to kill themselves (despite the fact that Will is rich, handsome and very loved) instead of finding the courage and purpose to live on and continue to fight with hope alive. But, I don't think Me Before You does that. It doesn't glamourise the disabled or dwell deeply enough with the controversial issue that it raises. It doesn't provide a forced, pretentious happily ever after or a dubious ending. It focuses on the relationship between two main leads instead.


On a final note, go watch it and judge it yourself. Don't be dissuaded by the negative critical reviews or opinions from your peers.


Rating: 8/10




Favourite Quotes from the film:
Will: When I was a kid, this used to be my favorite place in the whole world.
Lou: I think this would still be my favorite spot.
Will: That's because you haven't been anywhere.
Lou: Oh, so where's better than this then?
Will: Paris, Place Dauphine, right by the Pont Neuf. If I shut my eyes now, I know exactly how it feels to be in that little square.
Lou: So let's go! We could get on the Eurostar right now.
Will: You don't get it, Clark. I want to be in Paris as me, the old me.

Will: You would have never let those breasts so near to me if I wasn't in a wheelchair.
Lou: Yeah, well, you never would have been looking at these breasts if you hadn't been in a wheelchair.
Will: What? Of course I would have.
Lou: No, you wouldn't. You would have been too busy looking at the leggy blondes, the ones you can smell an expense account at 40 pages and, anyway, I would have been over there serving the drinks, one of the invisibles. Am I right?
Will: Yes, but in my defense, I was an arse.
Lou: Yep!
Will: Do you know something, Clark? You are pretty much the only thing that makes me want to get up in the morning.
Lou: Then let's go somewhere, anywhere in the world just you and me. What do you say? Say yes, Will, come on.
Will: Okay.

Will: This is the kind of place people come to when they've got tired of actually living.
Lou: I'm happy here.
Will: Well, you shouldn't be. You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.


Will: Lose the scarf. If you're going to wear a dress like that, Clark, you have to wear it with confidence.
Lou: Only you, Will Traynor, would tell a woman how to wear a bloody dress.

Will: I don't want you to miss all the things someone else could give you.

Lou: I have become a whole new person because of you.

Lou: I can't just let this happen.
Bernard: You can't change who people are.
Lou: Then what can you do?
Bernard: You love them.





Friday, 6 May 2016

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War



Once again, Captain America: Civil War shows the best and worst of what Marvel movies can offer. As both a sequel to Captain America: The Winter Solider and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Civil War is indeed enjoyable, fun movie with great character dynamics. While the narrative isn't quite as suspenseful and gripping as The Winter Soldier, but it does improve on its handling of different characters than Age of Ultron. Throughout the years, Marvel has repeatedly provided movies that bring interesting character pairings to let the audience see how these superhero characters relate to each other and act when they're in disagreement or conflict. This film is no longer just about impressive individual character performances, but also character groupings which allow different characters to react differently for same issues at hand, to work with or against each other within the story.


After numerous disastrous events: the alien invasion attacks on New York City, the revelation that SHIELD is compromised and destruction of multiple heli-carriers, the fight against Ultron in Sokovia which caused tremendous deal of collateral damage and millions of innocents killed, including the recent mission in Africa which caused more damage, world leaders demanded oversight and accountability over the Avengers by signing the 'Sokovia Accords' - a treaty to force The Avengers to work under the command of the United Nations that determine when and where the team should go into action. Some of the team members began to experience profound sense of guilt after what happened in New York and Sokovia, especially Tony/Iron Man. Tony supports the oversight as he thinks that Avengers is responsible for the deaths and destruction and should be monitored or controlled. On the other hand, Steve/Cap America remains distrustful of governmental agendas after what happened to SHIELD and prefers the Avengers to remain free to act on their own. This created a rift between the team members and triggered the 'Civil War'.


Despite its wealth of characters, this is still considered to be the Captain's movie. He's the good man who needs to make the tough choices, to do what he believes is right even the world thinks otherwise. He tries to find and protect his friend, Bucky/Winter Soldier, who is to be hunted down and killed on sight after a deadly explosive attack happened at the United Nations conference. On the other hand, for such a carefree, fun, charming billionaire, Tony is rather down this time around, even more than Iron Man 3 and Age of Ultron (aside from the guilt he felt for being responsible for the lives of innocent deaths in Sokovia, he also has relationship issues with Pepper Potts, which is briefly mentioned). The conflict between Tony and Steve is compelling enough as the movie shows both sides do have something to show that neither was wrong.


Most of the superheroes are given sufficient screen time and introductions (for Black Panther and Spider-Man of course). Surprisingly, Spider-Man steals the show, his appearance is the best thing that happened in the film. Black Panther's fight scenes are cool as well. However, do take note that the inclusion of Spidey is also expendable to the story, including Ant-Man and Black Panther. They could be cut out from the movie without making any difference to the plot, as if they're there to advertise their individual spin-offs. Another worthy mention is Civil War's airport battle scene which is considered to be the best superhero ensemble fight ever depicted on the big screen, with every character getting a moment to show their abilities in battle. It's fun, entertaining and enjoyable. However, it does getting quite unrealistic at times and certain scenes are quite chaotic with fight scenes keep on jumping here and there with different characters.


Now comes the worst part of the movie...its main villain. Marvel greatest problem has always been its handling of the villains. It seems that Marvel just not interested in developing their villains other than Loki, putting the emphasis on their superheroes' conflicts with each other instead. It's rather unfortunate that the main villain is just some random guy who tries to take revenge this time around. As the bad guy, Daniel Bruhl's Zemo could be the most underwhelming, forgettable villain in the Marvel cinematic universe so far. His schemes rely on far too many coincidences. There's no character development, so when his motives are revealed to the audience, it feels weak.


Aside from that, there's also a brief moment between Captain America and Sharon Carter that feels unearned, forced and inappropriate given when it happens in the story. In addition, its final dramatic act lacks the necessary energy to bring the movie to a satisfying conclusion and it feels rather forced just to add more conflict between Cap and Tony. Civil War shares similar themes with the recently released Batman v Superman, addressing the issues of collateral damage, the consequences of having superheroes in our world while didn't take itself too seriously. Any fans of the Marvel cinematic universe would be delighted to watch this.



Note: Remember to stay for the mid-credit scene and post-credit scene.



Rating comparisons with other Marvel Cinematic Universe films:
Iron Man
2008
8/10
The Incredible Hulk
2008
7/10
Iron Man 2
2010
7/10
Thor
2011
7/10
Captain America: The First Avenger
2011
8/10
The Avengers
2012
9/10
Iron Man 3
2013
8.5/10
Thor: The Dark World
2013
8/10
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2014
8.5/10
Guardians of the Galaxy
2014
7.5/10
Avengers: Age of Ultron
2015
8/10
Ant-Man
2015
7.5/10
Captain America: Civil War
2016
8.5/10


"Compromise where you can. Where you can't, don't. Doesn't matter what the press, politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. We stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and look them in the eye, and say, 'No, you move.'."