While Fantastic Beasts offers a great deal of charm and wonder, the meandering story lets it down a bit. This first entry into the new Fantastic Beast franchise, is bogged down by long points of nothing, and set-up to future installments. It takes a good forty-five minutes, before the meat of the story gets a jump-start. Thankfully, a talented cast, and director David Yates, elevate the film to something else entirely. There's just enough here, to wet the appetite to see where this whole thing goes in the future. Redmayne, is so charming as the kooky Newt, and Dan Fogler, adds some great comic relief. And the titular Fantastic Beasts, are a wonder to watch. It's a miracle that the story was able to hold itself together here, let alone produce a product that came out halfway entertaining. In the end, it's a fun watch.
Arrival is the cinematic equivalent of watching an artist paint his masterpiece. However, it takes the artist 100 years to finish, and in the end, it's still far from his masterpiece. While Arrival offers some unique visuals and ideas, this thing moves at a painfully glacial pace. This would be fine, if any of these characters were remotely interesting, or the story offered more than to just set-up a twist ending. Adams, and Renner, are really good here, which makes up for having to slog through the story. The film will have its supporters, because of its poetic nature. Ultimately though, the super slow pace, uninteresting characters, and twist ending, might not be enough of a reward for others.
While Doctor Strange offers up enough fun to breathe, the dull story and once again, weak villain hurt it. The film is gracefully injected with life, by Benedict Cumberbatch, who makes Stephen Strange, one of the best characters in the MCU. The other main leads, most notably Tilda Swinton, anchor the film with gravitas. Also not to be upstaged, are the film's fantastic visuals, which bring the trippy world of Doctor Strange to life. Where the film suffers, is in its paint-by-numbers origin tale, as well as the incredibly weak villain, played by Mads Mikkelsen. Not even the talents of Mikkelsen, can save the villain this time around. The first act of Doctor Strange, is so rushed, it feels like whiplash, as it tries to cram as much explanation as possible, in such a short amount of time. Despite this, the film makes a wise choice, in focusing as much as it can, on Strange. And opening up the MCU to his mystical world. This, and the visuals, are where the film thrives. Not the best in the MCU, but still a mostly fun ride.