“Alien: Covenant” – a Muted Echo of a Once-Great Franchise

The Alien franchise has been limping along since the early ‘90s, and a covenant with God herself can’t save it from the paucity of original thought on display in Ridley Scott’s latest shade of a film.  Alien: Covenant builds a great starting point, but squanders everything near the end of the first act, and it simply isn’t cohesive or confident enough to recover.  Faint echoes suggest that the terrifying magic of the xenomorph may still be alive, but they never stand out above the background noise.

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“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” – a Chimera of Whimsy and Doldrums

Like many of the wondrous animals that inhabit its world, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an amalgamation.  Except, unlike the hippogriff, which capitalizes on the strengths of both the eagle and the horse, David Yates’s film compromises the adventures of Newt Scamander with a plodding police procedural.  The result is less like the streamlined elegance of the hippogriff, and more like whatever happened to Jeff Goldblum at the very end of The Fly.  Every time Newt and his compatriots are on screen, the film is an absolute delight that reminds us why we fell in love with the wizarding world in the first place.  And every time they’re not, we’re reminded that David Yates is responsible for two of the three worst Harry Potter films to date.  Fantastic Beasts ends up somewhere in the middle, with no time-turner available to right the wrong and spare the life of this innocent little hippogriff.

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