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Apostle (2018)

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These people…
they’re blasphemers…
a cult, a disease.
Be careful. Be smart.
Bring her home.

The first thing that came to my mind while watching “Apostle“, was the movie “The Witch“. It takes place in the same time period. Here, too, an old-fashioned sounding English is spoken. And it’s also a religion-tinted theme. The biggest difference with “The Witch” is that I thought that one was rather boring and not a horror at all. It was more a historical costume drama. “Apostle” is, on the other hand, simply sublime. A mysterious film about religious madness. Not only content wise but also visually it all looks perfect And the facet of horror was indeed present. And no, not only because of the bloody and gore scenes. There’s only one thing that puzzled me afterward. What was it that the people of Erisden worshiped?

Bring her back home.

It all starts when Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) is asked by his father to rescue his sister Jennifer (Elen Rhys) from the grasp of an obscure sect. She’s kidnapped. And a large ransom is demanded. Thomas himself was once a sort of missionary spreading God’s word in the land of the rising sun. His experiences there, however, made sure that he got an aversion to everything that has to do with religion. Without further delay, he takes on the assignment to save his sister from the gang of fanatics and bring her back home.

Two hours are gone before you know it.

The running time of “Apostle” is 2 hours. Perhaps this is too much of a good thing for a horror with religion as a central topic. But believe me. Those two hours are over before you know it. Every sense of time is absent when viewing this captivating film. And this because of the excellent way of build up. The first hour you’ll be carried away in the enigmatic life on the island of Erisden. Beautiful images are interspersed with scenes from the daily life of this primitive living commune. Soon it’s clear that this sect developed a peculiar kind of faith with their own rituals (and despotic rules). Just as in any religion, a limited number of individuals rule and decide how to behave in this community. They are also the only ones who know what’s going on there.

Bad harvests mean starvation.

The reason why they abducted the daughter of a rich man is that their provisions are drastically reduced due to bad harvests and they are gradually heading towards a shortage of food. Prophet Malcolm (Michael Sheen) tries to turn the tide in a certain way but finally, he has to realize that he’s helplessly watching how his patiently built community gradually crumbles. Despite the sometimes rather barbaric punishments that have been introduced to keep the community under control, Malcolm seems to be a peaceful man who’s worried about the welfare of the islanders. More peaceful than some of his confidants who show a certain hunger for power and who, if the opportunity presents itself, try to claim leadership without delay.

A lot of interesting characters.

The characters Thomas and Malcolm are played in a brilliant way by Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen. Malcolm isn’t really a cruel despot, though he’s the driving force behind the terrible process of cleansing. And even though Thomas has to be careful while tracking down his sister, he immediately disobeys imposed rules and expresses his doubts about Malcolm towards the prophet’s daughter. Michael Sheen (who played a more funny role in “Passengers” as the robotic butler Arthur) and Dan Stevens were perfectly cast. I especially liked Dan Stevens (“Kill Switch“, “The Ticket” and “Beauty and the Beast“). Even though his grim and furious look started to get boring at a certain moment. There are also a few other characters that are worth mentioning. First, there are Bill Milner and Kristine Froseth who take care of the idyllic part. Then there’s Lucy Boynton as Andrea, the daughter of the Prophet. It’s not the most important role, but her appearance is in sharp contrast with the rest of the film. A dazzling beauty with a refreshing look. She looks like a fragile porcelain doll. And finally Mark Lewis Jones as Quinn, co-founder of this sect and in hindsight also a fanatic. Each and every one was an interesting character.

A bit of suspense and a tad horror.

Apostle” is certainly not for sensitive viewers. Not that it ‘s really frightening (except maybe for the sewer scene). But there are some distasteful scenes that can be quite shocking for some. Especially in the second part of the film. It’s filled with sadistic torture practices where the accompanying sounds cause chills. This in contrast to the first part that you can call atmospheric. It’s difficult to label this movie with a specific film genre. But do you like a bit of suspense? A tad of horror? And pagan religious scenes? Well then, this folk-horror movie is definitely your thing. At least one of the better Netflix productions so far.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore | Breathtaking Visuals, Ensemble Cast and a Masterful Score

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Warner Bros. Pictures Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the newest and third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise that truly recaptures the magic of a globetrotting adventure throughout the Wizarding World.

This magical adventure sends a team of unlikely heroes, led by Newt Scamander, on a mission that could spell their only chance to save both the wizarding and non-magical worlds. Each has a role to play in the covert operation devised by the ultimate wizarding mastermind, Professor Albus Dumbledore.

Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows that powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts in Newt (Eddie Redmayne) to lead this intrepid group of wizards, witches, and one brave muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore focuses on Albus’s past and answers questions we didn’t know during the Harry Potter films such as about himself and his family. Dumbledore has been one of the most major figures and a beloved character in the wizarding world for over twenty years. In the Potter books and films, Albus is charming, knowledgeable, mischievous, and all-knowing. These films showcase Dumbledore in a formative period, a period that will ultimately define the person he will eventually become.

Jude Law reprises the role of the wizard destined to be Headmaster at Hogwarts. He portrays the young professor perfectly and embodies the character and his flaws. With a glint in his eyes, there were a few nods to Harris and Gambon, especially the fatherly mischief each actor brought to the role. With Law, we’re able to unveil more of Dumbledore’s past and delve into his connection with Grindelwald as a young man and at the point where their relationship started to shift. Dumbledore is someone who encourages people to excel in their potential and abilities, but within him, he lives with dark secrets.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Many of the themes throughout the film focus on loyalty and misplaced loyalty, and also the ability to correct the errors one has done in the past and move on.

Grindelwald however is a wanted man due to his radical beliefs and violent tactics. In Secrets of Dumbledore, the powerful dark wizard has emerged from the shadows and is ready to implement his plot to gain control of the entire wizarding world and ultimately wage an all-out war on the Muggles. However this time he is not operating outside the law but within the system while twisting it to his own advantage, which makes him all the more dangerous.

Mikkelsen brings different elements to the table but is able to slip into the role quite naturally. He portrays Grindelwald with suave, charming charisma which certainly would convince viewers that anyone would be seduced by this alluring wizard.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Dumbledore is the one wizard with the power to thwart Grindelwald’s ambitions, however, there remains a physical manifestation of their previous relationship that stops him. The Blood oath is the embodiment of the bond between Gellert and Albus, an oath made through youthful passion and shared beliefs. Both wizards are each having to use others as means to opposite ends. Grindelwald cannot make a move against Dumbledore, but Albus is in the way of Gellert gaining absolute power.

Dumbledore formulates a plan that involves his friend and former student Newt Scamander, reprising the role of the Magizoologist Eddie Redmayne. We get to see Newt where he’s at his best and happiest- out in the wild, tracking beasts. Eddie is such a transformative actor and conveys Newt’s social awkwardness in contrast to his dexterity when he’s in the field.

Newt is joined by some familiar faces, including his older brother, Theseus (Callum Turner), Newt’s long-suffering assistant, Bunty (Victoria Yeates), Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) and Muggle Baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). A new witch to the group is Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, a charming charms professor at the American wizarding school Ilvermorny, played by Jessica Williams. It is Lally who must convince the reluctant Jacob to venture back into the wizarding world. Willams’s charismatic performance as Lally is why her character steals every scene. She is forthright and moral but also funny and honest and really just brilliant, would definitely love to see more of her character.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved)

These five disparate wizards, witches, and Muggle seem no math for Grindelwald and his entourage, which sadly now includes the love of Jacob’s life, Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and the young man known as Credence whose real name was revealed in Crimes of Grindelwald to be Aurelius Dumbledore.

The ensemble also includes Richard Coyle as Albus’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore; Poppy Corby-Tuech as Grindelwald’s loyal acolyte Rosier; Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall; Oliver Masucci as Anton Vogel, the outgoing President of the International Confederation of Wizards; Maria Fernanda Cândido as Vicência Santos, running to replace him; Aleksandr Kuznetsov as Helmut, the head of the German Auror office; and Katherine Waterston, who briefly appears as Tina Goldstein.

The Secrets of Dumbledore also features a variety of magical creatures, both new and familiar such as the all-seeing Qilin, a mythological creature that is deer and Elk inspired. The Manticore is another beast that explores the fine line between comedy and horror. It resembles a cross between a crab, lobster, and a scorpion.

Newt is once again joined on the Adventure by Pickett, his brave and resourceful Bowtruckle, and the incorrigible Niffler, called Teddy is always the scene-stealer.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (© 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Fantastic Beasts continue the series’ tradition with the action taking place throughout new continents in the wizarding world. This globetrotting chase takes Newt and the rest of Dumbledore’s army from Great Britain to China, from New York to Germany, and from the Austrian Alps to Bhutan. We also return to the beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and to the nearby village of Hogsmeade.

My favourite sequence is set aboard a luxury train car with a large interior of a first-class carriage.

The final screenplay was also written by Steve Kloves, who has a long tenure in the Wizarding World, having also written the screenplays for seven of the Harry Potter films. He’s a welcome addition to Fantastic Beasts as he course-corrects this franchise back to its original magical roots. Composer James Newton Howard has once again created a phenomenal soundtrack that underscores each of the characters’ adventures.

VERDICT

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was a FANTASTIC! globetrotting adventure through the Wizarding World. With breathtaking visuals, ensemble cast, & masterful score. Full of heart, humour, & plenty of magnificent creatures all deliver a Magical experience.

 

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Animation

THE SPINE OF NIGHT | An Ultra-Violent, High-Fantasy Epic!

This animated fantasy-horror flick is guaranteed to melt your face off!

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The Spine of Night is an ultra-violent, high-fantasy epic adventure that is reminiscent of sword and sorcery classics. Features mind-bending sequences thanks to its elements of dark magic and the film becomes a visual treat courtesy of its full-on brutality. Within the first moments, The Spine of Night grabs you by surprise as the rotoscope animation is pure artistry. And in the vein of Heavy Metal, the film pushes all the boundaries as it showcases visual storytelling at its best.

The Spine of Night takes the viewer through the centuries and to a medieval hinterland where fantasy fables. The story focuses on the thirst for knowledge, the lust for power, and ultimately the blaze of both. When an earthly dark power- a mysterious blue flower known as “the bloom” is stolen from its rightful caretakers, all of the mankind slip into an unending world of strife and darkness as the flower can create great abundance or be used to destroy. It’s up to a group of heroes from different eras and cultures to stop the one responsible and bring back balance to nature and mankind.

The Spine of Night functions somewhat as an anthology, we see a series of tales tied together by a common thread and told hauntingly and beautifully from the perspective of Tzod, a centuries-old swamp witch voiced by Lucy Lawless, her character naked with barely primitive clothing and gear braves this barbaric high fantasy by climbing through frigid conditions whilst ascending a mountaintop to speak to the flower’s guardian voiced beautifully by Richard E. Grant. What ensues is exchanging tales centred on betrayal, slaughter, and oppression. This gives the audience a deeper understanding of this universe and its capricious gods. Tzod uses the blue flower to perform hallucinatory rituals for her tribe, but its power is stolen by lord Pyrantin (Patton Oswalt), who has an army at his disposal and megalomaniacal ambitions. However, both are screwed over by a scheming necromancer who wants to take over the world until the flower itself begins to drive him mad. what begins as a simple desire for power becomes a genocidal crusade for death and destruction. Directors Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt deliver something spectacular.

The film doesn’t mess around when it comes to its depiction of sex and violence, the film at its best is full-on brutal with full-on nudity and graphic carnage. People are sliced and diced in some visceral sequences. The violence jumps out of the screen thanks to its exceptionally detailed, rotoscope animation. The backdrops are glorious as each sequence switches up its colour palette. Characters are brought to life through the rotoscoping technique with painstaking expressive detail. The filmmakers have achieved in making this world feel like a nightmare and have succeeded in indulging all the tropes such as fantasy, surrealism, imagination to make a fantasy epic, a first in adult animation. 

The Spine of Night is available on Shudder from March 24th.

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fantasy

Brand New Clip for FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE | Reveals a Familiar Room

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Wizards, Witches, and Muggles prepare for the latest and newest adventure in the Wizarding World as Warner Bros Pictures ramps up the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. With just 2 weeks to go, Warner Bros has released a brand new clip from The Secrets of Dumbledore which you can check out below, the clip takes us back to Hogwarts where Dumbledore’s army consisting of Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander, Callum Turner’s Theseus Scamander, Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski, and Jessica Williams’ Professor Eulalie Hicks. All have been gathered together by Dumbledore in the Room of Requirement.

Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?

The film features an ensemble cast, including Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (“Cold Mountain,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, William Nadylam, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Victoria Yeates, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Fiona Glascott, Katherine Waterston, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Richard Coyle, Oliver Masucci, Valerie Pachner, and Mads Mikkelsen.

The Secrets of Dumbledore is coming to cinemas on April 8th, 2022 nationwide and internationally in theatres on April 15th.

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