Monday, 28 November 2016

Spoiler Free Mini Review of #FantasticBeastsAndWhereToFindThem #HarryPotter

I don't care how lame it is, I can't exactly become any more uncool with my love of all things geek, but I am definitely a very big Potterhead. Despite the awful acting in the first few films, the deviations from the books and the subsequent and imminent releases even after Rowling categorically announcing seemingly every other week that she'll stop, I adore the intricately designed parallel magical universe which I have often found myself longing to be a part of.

That said, it is always with trepidation that I receive the news of an upcoming Potter release. Much like my nervousness at Disney acquiring the Star Wars license, I'm always very conscious that the team responsible may eventually ruin something which has such a deep place in mine and many other's multi-generation spanning hearts, shamelessly churning out the releases as some kind of cash Hippogriff.

Luckily, as with The Force Awakens, I don't feel this is the case with Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find them.

Fantastic Beasts is a text book about magical creatures in the Potter world, and this film tells the story of the author, Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne from The Theory Of Everything/Les Miserables) as he makes a brief stopover in New York City, in an effort to return a rather fantastic, Fantastic Beast to his natural habitat. On the way, Newt is spotted by a member of the American version of the Ministry of Magic, and as you can imagine, things don't go quite according to his plan.

The cast all make a sterling effort in their performance; in particular I liked Eddie Redmayne's social awkwardness when not dealing with magical creatures, which is just what I would expect for someone preferring the company of animals to humans. Colin Farrell also makes an excellent baddy, with a domineering and scary nature coming through without being unnecessarily loud or irrational.

The story progresses very slowly at first, but I found myself quite happily trundling along through the wizarding world astonished by almost anything and everything on screen. The fact that the story pales in significance because of the sheer believability of the magical America in which Newt finds himself, is a real testament to the design and effects teams. Even the creatures, though definitely fantastic, never seem too outlandish.

As the story progresses, we uncover a secondary and more sinister plot involving the exposure of wizarding kind to the non-maj's (American wizarding slang for muggle) revealing once again a darker side to magical life.

The story then get's very involving very quickly and several times I found myself gawping, as the pace kept ramping up towards an excellent conclusion. There are many feel good, frightening, jumpy and joyful moments throughout the film, and it has enough variety to keep both adults, children; fans and newbies interested for the duration. I also adore the soundtrack, with little motifs paying homage to the original Williams' score, but being an excellent arrangement of compositions in it's own right.

I would therefore highly recommend you go and see Fantastic Beasts either as a Potter fan, or just a fan of good fantasy films.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Red Candle - Mermaids In The East - Play at The Brunel Museum

Mermaids in the East is a production put on at the Brunel Museum by theatre company 'Theatre Lapis' in an attempt to bring reality to their vision of putting on a range of productions where Eastern meets Western cultures.

A Japanese tragedy about mermaids, the first thing you'll appreciate is the beauty of the setting - the venue itself was extremely well presented for the production; dark with ethereal lighting, a small amount of props including sheets and Japanese masks, and a single piano on which the simple yet evocative soundtrack is portrayed, at times clearly drawing on the clashing semi tones of Eastern folk music whilst at other times coming closer to Western pop influences, almost sounding like a Disney musical in parts. Take note, the venue has no heating - so wrap up warm!

The cast were all very talented, with exceptional singing voices and all were very apt at performing the dance like sequences that so effectively conveyed the emotions of particular scenes. I was particularly taken in by the movements of the cast when acting on behalf of one of the intricate masks they were behind, and how they used body language to aid the dialogue so well.

I've seen little Japanese theatre before, but it definitely feels as if Studio Ghibli has crated a play here, which is no bad thing. Full of wonder, fear, happiness and sorrow I really recommend this to anyone who likes to see something different from time to time.

You can find out more about the company, play, cast and more at the Theatre Lapis Facebook page.

Thanks for reading.

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