reading

The Potterverse Continues with FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD by Ryan Hill

 
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In 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released. While not as good as most of the eight Harry Potter films, the prequel scratched an itch for more of author J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Audiences may be getting more than they bargained for with four planned sequels, the first of which is The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Revealed to be a pale Johnny Depp with weird eyes and bleached hair, Gellert Grindelwald was Voldemort before, well, Voldemort. Grindelwald was mentioned in the Potter books, but very little of him was seen. Crimes puts the villain front and center as he tries to convert wizards and witches to his cause of ruling the non-magical world.

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Once again, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is recruited into action by Albus Dumbledore (or Dumbledamn, as some have termed the character since Jude Law plays him) to find Credence (Ezra Miller), the Obscurial thought to have died at the end of Fantastic Beasts. Once again, Newt needs to find Credence before Grindelwald. There’s so much more story going on including Newt’s brother, his childhood sweetheart, his current sweetheart, her sister, and lots of other characters old and new, but it’d take the entire review listing everything out.

Take a look at all the characters in this banner. All of them have their own backstories, motivations, etc. It’s a lot to take in.

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Suffice to say, while Rowling (who wrote the screenplays for Fantastic Beasts and Grindelwald) introduces oodles of plot threads, none of them are tied up or pay off. They’re all merely introduced, waiting to be concluded in a future entry. Grindelwald would’ve been a much stronger film if it focused on telling its own story first and the bigger picture second, but that seems like something Rowling might’ve forgotten with the Fantastic Beasts series.

One of the things that made the Potter films so good was that each entry told a story that could stand on its own. It helped to know what came before, but it wasn’t a pre-requisite. Sure, each book/movie built up the bigger story piece by piece, but it wasn’t the main goal. Except for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. That one is basically nothing but set-up for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. An outsider to the Potter-verse could watch Goblet of Fire or Chamber of Secrets without having seen anything else and be fine. The Fantastic Beasts series, to date, hasn’t been so lucky. Especially Grindelwald. The film really is the Half-Blood Prince to the upcoming Beasts films, in that all it does is set up future entries. Viewed outside of the series, a person would go wonky trying to figure out what was going on plot-wise. Instead of a standalone film, Grindelwald feels like the second chapter in a five-chapter story. Without seeing the big picture, it just doesn’t totally work.

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Despite the controversy over his casting, Depp makes for a fine Grindelwald, who’s seductive words are nicely juxtaposed against his intimidating appearance. Despite the wizard’s pale skin and strange eyes – one of which is menacing to the point of distracting – Rowling has written the villain in such a way that it’s easy to see how someone who looks so much like a villain can in people over to his cause. There Voldemort used force and intimidation to build his army, Grindelwald may be even more dangerous. He can talk someone into choosing to join him, a much scarier proposition.

Oscar winner Redmayne is always charming as Newt, who sadly gets pushed to the background so new characters can have the spotlight. Newt and his kind demeanor carried Fantastic Beasts, and its sorely missed among all the plot threads in Grindelwald.

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The Crimes of Grindelwald isn’t vintage Harry Potter. It has some great visuals and good action, but the film is tasked with carrying the load of three upcoming sequels, and the weight is too much for one film, especially one that isn’t three hours long. Grindelwald is fine for what it is and will probably age well as the other Fantastic Beasts films are released, but with nothing else to go on, it’s an enjoyable enough film for Potter fans, but everyone else will probably be bored.

Ask a Demon! by Ryan Hill

 

What makes someone an expert on advice? Experience? Education? Is a former heroin addict more qualified to help a drug addict seeking help than a doctor or psychiatrist? Does the addict's real-life experience make for a better perspective? How about a demon that's existed for thousands upon thousands of years? A demon that's seen and done most everything one could do within the realm of human existence. 

Bash a caveman over the head with a giant bone? Check.

Get crucified? More than once? Check and double check.

Destroy a fragile peace between two warring nations by deflowering a princess betrothed to a prince from another land? Check, check, and check.

In short, don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Have a question for me? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with the subject line ASK A DEMON. Otherwise, the nitwit who owns the email address will answer your question. Trust me, you don't want that happening. He's a boob.

Joshua from Charlotte asks:

My boss is a real jerk. He makes us work Saturdays, but he never shows up. He's making our lives miserable. Any ideas on how to get him back?

Hmmmm yeah. Is your boss Bill Lundberg, by any chance? Do you need to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too?

Question. If your boss never shows up to work on Saturday, how will your boss know if you don't? If by some chance your boss can find out if you played hookie, hire a prostitute to seduce your boss, then make a sex tape. Not only will working on Saturdays be a thing of the past, but so will your salary... because methinks a raise is in order.

Jake from Miami asks:

What's Hell like? Are there multiple levels? Is it hot, or is that just an old wives tale? Speaking of old wives, what's the easiest way to dispose of a body? Asking for a friend.

I love Hell. Spent the past million or so years calling that place my home. Hell is also a lot like the Matrix. It can't be described, only seen. Dante got some stuff right in his Inferno, but I can't say what. You'll have to see for yourself!

As for the body, you can do what Walter White did in that one episode of Breaking Bad. If your stomach is too weak to handle melting a human body, find a pig farm. Those porkers will take care of the rest.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

 

So my credit card number got stolen by Ryan Hill

Which is awesome. And a great way to start the weekend. Really. Not just saying that.

Someone, I don't know who, but let's call them Asscheeks McGillicutty, tried to charge $140 worth of mess at a Sears in Virginia to my credit card. Fortunately, the card company caught it.

But I still have to go through the hassle of re-entering that info at places where I pay bills, subscribe to things, etc. 

Clearly, if Asscheeks had met me, things would be different. They'd stand in awe of my classically handsome face. They'd laugh at my jokes until they wet themselves. Not much, just a drop or two. Enough to know they needed to get control of themselves.

I imagine Asscheeks has patchy hair on their head, and what is there looks like cobwebs... maybe even has a fly or two stuck in there. They're probably wearing an old, tattered Hulkamania tank-top that was purchased in 1997 at a garage sale. I'm guessing it was found under a pile of moldy towels someone tried to sell for a dollar. I bet Asscheeks, if Asscheeks is a male, has donated blood and whatnot to places all over the country, so... the future has that to look forward to. As for Asscheeks McGillicutty, I hope their future involves an infuriating bout of PokemonGO where all they find are level 12 Rattata that sends them into a rage that lasts so long, they don't notice the steamroller coming at them from a mile away, despite the driver yelling, "Move! I don't want you to get squished!" repeatedly for thirty minutes to no avail. 

Then, as quickly as Asscheeks McGillicutty entered my life, they were gone. Squished. Flattened like a pancake on the road.

Seems like a fair and just fate.

The Six Stages of Reading George R.R. Martin's A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series by Ryan Hill

 

One doesn't simply sit down to read George R.R. Martin's mammoth A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series. It's an investment in time. LOTS of time. YEARS even. For anyone who reads a lot, each entry in the series (five and counting) is so friggin long, they're the equivalent of three to four "normal length" books. That's not to say the books aren't fantastic, they just require you to give up years of your life to finish them.

So, while you're reading the books, partly for enjoyment and partly because you refuse to let the GAME OF THRONES TV show never, ever, ever rip your heart and your guts out at the same time again, that pile of books sitting on the book shelf waiting to be read only grows larger, adding to the anxiety that your life is spinning out of control because these books are so time-consuming and you'll never reach a point where you can read a book not written by George R.R. Martin in this lifetime. 

Now...

Stage One: Excitement

That's right! Screw you, HBO! You're not going to pull another Red Wedding on THIS guy. I'll already know what's happened! LET'S DO THIS

Stage Two: The crushing blow of reality

Okay, been reading A GAME OF THRONES for a few weeks now, and... shit. Over 600 pages to go. This is really good and all, but damn.

Stage Three: Depression

Three months in. Still 400 pages to go. Most of my relationships never lasted this long. Body shutting down. Tell Mom I love her.

Stage Four: Hope

Only 200 pages to go! Heads are getting lopped off left and right! I can see the finish line!

 

Stage Five: Triumph

Oh yeah! Just finished a 900 page book! It's Miller Time!

One down... wait.

No.

No...

Four to go? At least the ones that have come out? So, after knocking out 900 pages, there's still 4,000 more to go? I WILL NEVER CATCH UP TO THIS DAMN SHOW. 

Stage six: Complete and utter defeat

Just... go on without me. Try to remember the good things we shared. I'm not getting out of Westeros with my head attached to my body.