Katherine Waterston

REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures and when some of them escape he has to find them before they get hurt. Unbeknownst to Newt, he’s chosen the worst time to come to New York as there’s strange things happening in the city and trouble is brewing as a group of No-Majs (non-magical people) stir up fear and hatred in the city.

This was the first time I rewatched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them since I saw it in the cinema two years ago and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it more than I remembered.

It’s interesting to be reintroduced to the magical world of Harry Potter but it’s different to what you know from the books and the film series. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in 1920’s New York, it follows adult characters and is about witches and wizards in America and how their rules, ideas, and terminology is different to what we’ve seen British witches and wizards know.

Newt is a wonderful character. He’s sweet and awkward and loves his creatures so much. He forms a friendship with No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) who gets pulled along for the ride and their friendship is quite lovely. Seeing the magical world through Jacob’s eyes reaffirms that awe-inspiring feeling magic and everything associated with it can bring. The other two main characters are sisters Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), both are witches and work in the magical law enforcement agency. These four all fit together nicely and their scenes together are sweet though they sometimes can wander into the realms of cheesiness – Queenie especially is a character that appears sugary sweet.

The titular fantastic beasts are indeed fantastic. They are all interesting and different and some of them are truly stunning. These creatures all have their own personalities and Newt’s relationship with them all is delightful.

A lot of the film shows off the magical creatures and the world. In fact it’s more like a sequence of animal rescues than a film with an overarching plot. There’s little hints and murmurings of things sprinkled throughout, Colin Farrell’s Auror Graves being a part of that. He is a great character and Farrell shines whenever he’s on screen, but it does mean the finale is rather sudden and rushed. That’s probably where Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them suffers, the pacing is inconsistent. There’s definitely some slower scenes that could’ve been tightened up and have more of a balance between the creatures and the mystery, however having such a likable main character in Newt makes some of the films faults easier to ignore.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has the beginnings of a great new franchise. It has interesting characters, a cool world and some fantastic creatures. 4/5.

REVIEW: Alien: Covenant (2017)

When the crew of a colony ship discover an uncharted world, fit for inhabitation, they are unprepared for the creatures they find there.

Alien: Covenant is a great looking film. The set design and costumes feel really lived in and real. The score often puts the hairs on the back of your neck up and all the effects, practical and computer generated, are a high quality. Alien: Covenant is also a well shot film, this is something that doesn’t really need saying when it’s directed by Ridley Scott but it is.

There are a lot of expendable characters in Alien: Covenant so you don’t really get to know a lot about them before they meet their (often gruesome) demise. Katherine Waterston give a brilliant performance as Daniels. She’s in pain but has a steely centre that helps ground others, she doesn’t lose her head in a crisis and this all makes Daniels a wonderful character. I was also pleasantly surprised by Danny McBride’s Tennessee. These two along with Michael Fassbender’s Walter are really the core of the film. All give great performances, with Fassbender proving once again how he’s one of the greatest actors of this generation.

Alien: Covenant is a prequel to Alien (1979) and a sequel to Prometheus (2012) so it’s got a lot to live up to and being in this sort of in between, doesn’t always help Alien: Covenant. There’s a lot of tropes anyone familiar with the Alien franchise will know so there’s less surprises while it also continues with this mythos that was set up in Prometheus. The mythos is something not everyone will like but I feel it was handled better here, and was more interesting, compared to what was shown in Prometheus.

There are scary moments (though I might be easily scared) and a lot of body horror as creatures burst from people’s bodies. The alien creatures themselves all look pretty great and it’s always great to see the xenomorph on the big screen again.

Alien: Covenant looks great and has a lot of solid performances. It is thrilling and often scary but it does follow a generic sci-fi pattern that makes it lack any real surprises. 3/5.