Hey hey! I hope you’ve all had a great week. I’ve actually not felt great for a lot of this week, so haven’t gone out to the cinema as much as I’d like; I still have films such as X, The Phantom of the Open, The Outfit, and The Audition on my to-watch list (that’s a lot of “The”s, huh?).
Oh, and of course, the new Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (another “The” there… ) But William, I hear you say, your title says you watched a Fantastic Beasts film this week! That’s right – in preparation for the new film I finally got around to watching The Crimes of Grindelwald, which I’d put off for a long time. I’ll admit I think that the mixed reaction upon release is part of the reason for that – however, did I have a similar reception?
That, and my opinion on the latest Michael Bay action extravaganza Ambulance, are below. Enjoy!
Actually quite enjoyed this! Michael Bay combines his well-known style of frenetic action with a plot that is one part bank heist, one part extended car chase, one part family drama, and one part unsuspecting hero story. Oh, and be warned, one part vertigo-inducing camera, because some of the shots here are strikingly dynamic in how they play with height and tracking.
Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is one of my favourite parts of this film; he is the more empathetic of the two main brothers, only being pulled into brother Danny’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) heist due to needing money for family medical bills. It’s Will and Cam Thompson (Eiza González) who form the heart of the film, the latter being an ambulance worker who is dragged into their escape when they steal an… Well, I’m sure you can work that out!
The first third of the film, before the central car chase, is ironically my favourite portion of the film. We get to know these characters and their situations suitably quickly, and in this case, I mean that as a positive! All the main three leads all do enough to make sure you care enough about them for the action to immediately have stakes. The following bank heist is really competently put together, with suitably self-assured, urgent direction from Bay – and little in the way of excess.
Indeed, it’s actually for the opposite reason that the middle portion of the film – in the ambulance itself – lost me slightly. The creative in-ambulance set-pieces were fun, and as you’d expect, there’s plenty of big action moments. It all just goes on a bit too long, to the point where it loses a bit of energy (and dare I say it, believability!). This film definitely could have done with cutting out 10-20 minutes before getting to the final act.
Still, it’s probably my favourite Bay-directed film, with a lot of imaginative moments. Honestly, it’s kind of worth it just to see Gyllenhaal commit 11/10 to being an over-the-top, out-of-their-mind, yet still charismatic criminal. It’s quite something!
Finally got around to watching this, so that I am ready for the next entry. Sadly, I can see why this got such a mixed response…
I’m convinced there is a good film somewhere in here; the casting is great (I won’t factor in the Depp controversy here because I frankly don’t know enough about it), there’s fantastic CGI, and the set-pieces are, on paper, packed with emotion, stakes, and spectacle.
However, for some reason it just doesn’t really connect. I think it’s partly how it’s shot; it’s not outright bad, but everything feels a bit stop-start; someone does something, cut to shot of other person reacting to it, cut to the next event, and so on. To me, there isn’t that sense of characters being in the same space and interacting with each other emotionally.
Th franchise would do well to shift the focus back a bit more onto the central four characters (Newt and Tina particularly), as that is where much of the charm and chemistry is. There is way too much time spent on exposition and telling us why we should care, instead of showing us why we should care naturally. All this exposition actually takes away time from those aforementioned four characters too, and hurts the justification of a choice one of them makes later on.
There’s definitely a sense of this film setting up for the supposed three more films to come, and whilst world-building can be done well, this is not an example of that – it’s just too much, too soon.
Really hope the third one improves on this – and hey, it’s got a pretty poster, so hopefully that’s a good sign?
It really has got a very pretty poster hasn’t it? The reds/oranges/yellows contrast really well onto the darker background. Hopefully, The Secrets of Dumbledore is the improvement that the Fantastic Beasts series needs! I hope to report back soon…
Have an amazing day!