OUR TOP PICK THIS WEEK:
There are few franchises likely to be welcomed more by theaters and audiences alike than a return to the Harry Potter universe. The Potter franchise is the second most successful of all time with each installment taking just under a billion dollars on average. However, this time around we won’t be following the trials and tribulations at Hogwarts or even hear hushed mentions of He Who Shall Not Be Named since this episode in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world takes place in 1920’s New York and focuses on the escapades of Newt Scamander and his “Fantastic Beasts”.
So, is it really “fantastic”? Early word is positive as Fantastic Beasts… currently holds 75% on rottentomatoes.com but this is the lowest aggregate score for a Potter film on the site. Of course, it isn’t a Harry Potter story and most critics seem to welcome the transition away from the Boy Who Lived with the general consensus being that it is a spectacular exercise in world-building which is a little lacking in personality. And while the marketing for Fantastic Beasts has been doing its utmost to remind us that this belongs in the Potter universe, this does seem to be a clean break for the franchise and, perhaps wisely, there’s not a whiff of a prequel about it.
Fantastic Beasts is guaranteed to be a huge hit and with a proposed four further installments, its studio Warner Brothers will certainly be counting on this being the case. You can find out if it deserves to be so in our full review here.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Heading out on wide release this week is coming-of-age teen dramedy The Edge of Seventeen. Already being mentioned in the same breath as Clueless and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this showcase for Hailee Steinfeld’s (True Grit, Ender’s Game) considerable acting talents is creating quite the buzz with critics as it sits at 96% on rottentomatoes.com. Seems like a perfect piece of counter-programming on a weekend that will no doubt be dominated by Fantastic Beasts for audiences who prefer their entertainment more grounded.
Speaking of keeping it gritty, real-life boxing drama Bleed for This is also out today. It’s currently proving quite divisive among critics with some praising it for its authenticity in the portrayal of the sport, while others don’t seem to be able to forgive it for being mired in cliches. Unfortunately, sometimes telling it like is means telling us what we’ve heard before and Bleed for This certainly seems to find itself in such a position but it is likely to play well with boxing fans.
The mercurial talents of Ang Lee return to theaters today with his first directing job since 2012’s Life of Pi. Lee is one of the great directors of our times but his CV is littered with a few misfires such as Taking Woodstock and the misjudged Hulk, and his latest film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will apparently be joining that list. Following a soldier returning from the Gulf War II in the early 2000’s and recalling his battlefield experiences via flashbacks during the Superbowl Half-Time Show, early word is seemingly unanimous in proclaiming Lee’s latest as a somewhat dull experience where a majority of its scenes don’t gel with its premise.
Want to know how these movies perform over the weekend? Be sure to check out our comprehensive Box Office Report on Cavalcade.news every Monday.