This weekend will also bring limited releases of 'Green Book' and Vincent van Gogh biopic 'At Eternity's Gate.'
Reticent magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) will return to theaters this weekend, bringing with him a menagerie of magical beasts.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, along with the comedy Instant Family and Steve McQueen thriller Widows, is set for nationwide release Friday. Green Book, starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, and At Eternity's Gate, starring Willem Dafoe, will hit a limited number of theaters this weekend as well.
Read below to see what critics for The Hollywood Reporter thought about this weekend's offerings.
Willem Dafoe portrays Vincent van Gogh in the last few years of the painter's life, with Oscar Isaac playing the role of his close friend and fellow artist, Paul Gauguin. Director Julian Schnabel, who is a painter himself, previously helmed another biopic depicting the life of a famous artist, Basquiat, in 1996.
In his review of At Eternity's Gate, THR critic David Rooney writes, "Even in its more distancing passages, this is a biographical drama that draws the audience deep into the tormented mind of its subject," adding, "That’s due in large part to the febrile intensity Dafoe brings to the central role."
David Yates directs the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, which picks up six months after the first one ended. In the screenplay written by J.K. Rowling, a young Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law, enlists Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to stop Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) from carrying through with his plan to rule over non-magical humans. THR critic Caryn James critiques Depp's "gimmicky" performance, but writes that "the second in the projected five-movie franchise written by J.K. Rowling, displays enough of the author’s magical formula and Dickensian narrative power to make this sequel a huge step up from the middling Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)."
Green Book follows the true story of African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian-American bouncer-turned-chauffeur Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), who traveled together in the Deep South in the 1960s. The title of the film is based on Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide for safely traveling as a black person during the Jim Crow era.
THR critic Todd McCarthy writes that the relationship between the sophisticated Shirley and more unrefined Tony is "a familiar and conservative creative dynamic that seems pretty old-fashioned at this moment in time, but the human interchange, enlivened as it is by two fine actors in responsive form, make it go down easily and enjoyably."
Sean Andrews directs Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne in a comedy film based partly on his own experiences. The two actors play a couple who unexpectedly find themselves fostering three children, each with their own set of problems.
THR's Jon Frosch sums up the film in his review: "Sloppy but sincere, exasperating but endearing, Instant Family is the cinematic equivalent of a puppy licking your face: Resistance may be futile, even if you’re left wincing at the residual goo on your cheek."
Steve McQueen's follow-up to 12 Years a Slave spotlights Viola Davis as the leader of a group of widows who must fulfill their husband's debts to a crime boss (Brian Tyree Henry). The ensemble cast includes Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Carrie Coon, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya and Colin Farrell.
In his review of the film, THR's Todd McCarthy writes, "As amplified from the original material for today’s political moment and sensibilities, Widows is a solid piece of genre fiction made more resonant by how its creators have bored down into its characters and sociological implications in ways specifically designed to examine some of the rotten underpinnings of business as usual."