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There will be more spellbinding action from the Potterverse after Warner Bros. confirmed ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ would be the first part of a trilogy. Warner Bros. is pulling more magic out of its hat. On the same day the studio announced a supersized slate of 10 films based on DC superheroes in the next six years, CEO Kevin Tsujihara also confirmed the Harry Potter prequel, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” would be the first part of a trilogy. The first movie, set 70 years before the Harry was born, is being scripted by J.K. Rowling herself and directed by “Harry Potter” veteran David Yates. It’s scheduled to apparate in theaters Nov. 18, 2016. The new trilogy is based on Rowling’s book, 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. One person not likely to return is Daniel Radcliffe’s heroic wizard, since the trilogy is set in New York City decades before the events of the “Potter” saga. Inspired by a Hogwarts textbook title of the same name, written by the fictional Newt Scamande, the story is billed by Rowling as "neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world.”
Original ‘Harry Potter’ stars Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint likely won’t reprise their roles in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,’ since the new trilogy is set 70 years earlier. The second and third installements of that extension are slated for 2018 and 2020. Old Newt has a tough act to follow. The eight "Harry Potter" films earned $7.7 billion worldwide, making it the most lucrative film franchise in history. Warner Bros.’ will also build a LEGO franchise, including a spinoff starring the toy Batman, voiced by Will Arnett in ‘The LEGO Movie.’ Warner Bros. is also piecing together plans to build three new LEGO-branded films after this year's “The LEGO Movie” earned $468 million worldwide at the box office. First up will be a movie based on popular "Ninjago" toy line in 2016, followed by spinoff "The LEGO Batman Movie" in 2017. A sequel, "The LEGO Movie 2,” will be slotted into Warner Bros.’ 2018 slate. Send a Letter to the Editor
On paper, the title might sound a little crass. A film based entirely around a product? You could even be forgiven for being cynical, seeing the use of a toy brand as little more than a ruse to flog even more play-sets. You could think that, but you’d be so wrong and end up missing out on a truly wonderful film. The LEGO Movie is a lot of things, but cynical is definitely not one of them. It’s positively teeming with life and energy. It’s bizarre, colourful, optimistic, frequently hilarious, and perhaps most surprisingly, genuinely touching. Like the most celebrated of kids' films, though, The LEGO Movie is really about what it means to be a child, and therefore, it has a much wider audience: everyone. It’s an everyman narrative, with Emmet (Chris Pratt), a humble construction worker, being plucked from obscurity and suddenly burdened with the expectation of saving the LEGO universe from an impending apocalypse. He’s an utter nobody. But the film takes him on a a thrilling journey, and along the way he learns something not only about the world he lives in but something more important about himself.
Overall, the story is compelling, well-paced, if perhaps a touch too long. On his plastic pilgrimage, he’s accompanied by Wildstyle – she’s a Master Builder, one of several special mini-figures blessed with ability to build anything from the LEGO around them (think Neo at the end of The Matrix, and you’re somewhere close) and a motley crew of supporting characters. Some are familiar faces, drawing on some of LEGO’s strongest licenses, such as Batman and Superman, while others are entirely original creations like Metal Beard – a gigantic mech topped off with the head of a weary sea dog. (I hope you’re beginning to see just how crazy all of this is.) It's surprising and delightful to see how much latitude co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were given with these iconic characters. They make Batman into a bit of a dick and relish poking fun at Green Lantern, who’s so desperate to make friends with the cool heroes. But it’s really testament to the film’s integrity that such well-known characters never really become the focus of the film.
Batman is the only licensed character with substantial screen time, and that’s still very much in a supporting role. Importantly, it’s the new character that you really invest in and take to heart. Morgan Freeman is excellent as hippy wizard sage Vitruvius, dispensing confused wisdom and plenty of laughs. Elizabeth Banks is inspiring as the kick-ass female lead. Will Ferrel’s Lord Business is maniacal but has depth to stop him from becoming a pantomime villain. But it’s really Chris Pratt who steals the show as the endearing, hapless Emmet. The sweet character development takes place against an ever-changing, increasingly bonkers landscape. It starts pretty differently, firmly in the confines of the straight-laced LEGO City range – a world that emulates our own. As Emmet breaks free, the situations and places he finds himself in become increasingly bizarre. Yet no matter how crazy or eccentric things get – and I’m talking getting saved by Batman in the Old West after tangling with a herd of wild pigs kind of crazy – the world is underpinned by a logic that ingeniously explains how all the distinct LEGO worlds co-exists.
It acknowledges the toy’s long history, but in a way that doesn’t seem forced and crass. I’m saying no more, as that’s a treat you should find out for yourself. I’m actually only really hinting at how weird things really become. It’s also consistently funny – I must’ve laughed out loud a dozen time. Computer graphics perfectly imitate stop-frame animation, magically bringing this world of little plastic people to life. And even with their somewhat restricted bodies, the mini-figures exude life and character. The use of LEGO also gives the film a style of its own and gives the action a distinctive look. Set pieces often involve characters frantically building new vehicles or special items to help them escape. It’s exciting to watch these items appear rapidly before your eyes, and they really give the film some great kinetic sequences. Elsewhere, the solidity of LEGO adds a unique look to environments, especially elements like smoke and water. They swirl and flow as a mass of solid bricks, which I’ve never really seen in a film of this length before.
There’s a jaunty quality to the animation – it’s a bit rough around the edges but intentionally and endearingly so. Right up top, I said The LEGO Movie was wonderful, and meant that in quite a literal way. It isn’t as elegant or refined as something like Frozen. It’s more anarchic, surreal and rambunctious. It is bursting with wonders, like a child on Christmas Day desperately wanting to show you all of their new toys. And it was because of all of this frivolity and humour that I wasn’t expecting the film to have quite such an emotional kick in the final act. There are a couple of scenes towards the end that really got to me. Not only is it a well-judged, heartfelt sequence, it also serves as a great epiphany which changes the way you look at the entire film. It’s in these final moments that The LEGO Movie becomes a little bit special. In the end, it’s heartening that despite all of the licensed characters, The LEGO Movie remembers there’s something much more enduring – and that’s LEGO itself.