Mary Queen of Scots

SPOILERS AHEAD

I was looking forward to seeing this film, as I have a fascination with the Tudors as well as the rivalry between Mary and Elizabeth !. I find it incredible that during a time when women were oppressed and degraded, two Queens were ruling two great countries at the same time.

While there were some issues that I had with the film, I still enjoyed it and would be happy to watch it again. The acting from both Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie was incredible; I couldn’t imagine two actresses who would play these challenging roles any better.

I had no idea that David Tennant was in this movie, playing John Knox. It was his accent that made me recognise him, not his appearance, as he was wearing a long beard and wig and dark robes throughout the whole film. I know Tennant as Doctor Who and the angry officer in Broadchurch, so this for me was entirely different from his prominent roles. However, I loved his portrayal of Knox, he was aggressive and emotive, thus making it easy to see why the real, charismatic Knox had obtained so many followers.

I love how the way that this film presents these two formidable Queens as merely two women trying to do what is right. This portrayal was more dignified than say, Reign, the American TV show that portrays Mary’s life in a more sensual way (which is still really good though!).

It’s strange to think that, if these two characters were not queens who were pitted together by royals, they would have probably worked together and become great allies, as hinted by Mary naming Elizabeth, her son’s godmother. James went on to be the first King of both England and Scotland, a historic moment and an indication of what could have been, had these two women were not rivals.

Furthermore, this can also be suggested by one, and possibly the most prominent, scene of the whole movie. Most of the rivalry takes place via the course of letters, where each queen has to wait weeks before receiving the next letter. Naturally, this created a challenge for the filmmakers, as a verbal fight is harder when conveying a sense of competition, so they invented a scene near the end of the film in which Mary and Elizabeth meet face to face. The issue with this scene is, while I get what the filmmakers were trying to do, the two queens never met face to face. Knowing this fact kind of ruined this part of the movie for me, as I had heard that it was overall quite historically accurate, but because of this scene, I started to doubt the whole thing together. I also highly doubt that Mary had her ladies rip apart her black dress to reveal a bright red one at her beheading.

Overall, I loved the film, aside from that one meeting scene at the end. There was a lot in terms of plot to squeeze in; you can’t blame the crew for making this film two hours long. However, they managed to tell Mary’s story in a way that had me crying for her, and admiring her even more (and Elizabeth too, of course.)

Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald

The Christmas lights have switched on, and I was cradling a hazelnut and praline hot chocolate from Costa while on my way to consume my body weight in Wagamamas. I then followed this by watching one of the most anticipated films of the year; Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald.

Taking place not long after its predecessor, Grindelwald opens with an aerial chase through the night sky, complete with a carriage led by Thestrals and vicious thunderstorm. This dark and ominous scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, and I’m already excited to see what happens next.

I wasn’t sure what to think when I first heard that Johnny Depp was starring in Fantastic Beasts. I just couldn’t picture him as part of the Harry Potter franchise. To me, he belongs on The Black Pearl or at the tea parties in Wonderland. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Depp’s portrayal of Grindelwald was hauntingly captivating, and he suited the character well. This role was not as out there as say, Jack Sparrow and the Mad Hatter; this was more solemn and serious. Depp did succeed in bringing out his darker side. I really liked his portrayal of the villain, and I look forward to seeing how he goes in the next film.

On the other hand, Jude Law as Dumbledore was nowhere near as convincing in my opinion. I found myself struggling to forget that this man was not the great and powerful wizard that we all know and love, but that famous actor from Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t learn anything new about Dumbledore nor was I taken back by any of his decisions. There was just no connection. Also, the fact that he was playing opposite Depp, who did an incredible job, made it slightly more noticeable.

The relationship between Queenie and Jacob remains one of my favourite parts of the saga. They’re just adorable! They’re delightful characters who offer a light break from the dark storylines, and, even when they are apart, they’re still enjoyable. Jacob and Newt’s friendship is sweet and comedic in places. Newt and Tina’s plotline is also refreshing, and watching Newt trying to make sense of his feelings, with the help of Jacob, is probably one of the cutest things to happen in this film.

As for the supporting cast, I did like them, but a few were standing out for the wrong reasons. I was looking forward to seeing Nagini and learning more about her, but she didn’t do much in the end. She was hanging about in the background, which rendered her completely unnecessary. There was no development, and I know no more than I already did.

I can also say this about Credence, who makes a return in this film. His character was flat. At first, I could understand his emotional state after what he endured in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but after a while, it became boring and repetitive. I felt that there needed to be a change in him somewhere, but I remained disappointed.

Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I’m not sure if I prefer it to the first one yet, I was moved and excited throughout, especially when Hogwarts appeared on the screen! Despite the few negatives, I still highly recommend it, even if its just to see Eddie Redmayne in his cute little bow tie again.