Blu Tuesday: Fantastic Beasts and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

As a fan of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” novels and the movies they inspired, it’s hard not to feel disappointed by her highly anticipated return to the Wizarding World. Though “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” serves as an interesting deviation from the typical Potter tale, it lacks the magic that made the previous films so great. None of the new characters are very memorable (save for Alison Sudol’s delightful Queenie), while the dueling narratives cause some minor identity problems, especially because Rowling seems more interested in the “B” story than her main protagonist’s journey. “Fantastic Beasts” isn’t exactly a bad movie – it retains a lot of the series’ charm and shows great promise for future installments – but it’s a rare misfire from a franchise that seemed incapable of doing wrong.

Extras include a making-of featurette, a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s characters, creatures and locations, some deleted scenes and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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New Zealand’s Marlborough Region: A lot more than Sauvignon Blanc

Chances are, if you’ve only had a handful of wines from Marlborough, it’s been Sauvignon Blanc. It’s what hit American soil first and, well, they produce a lot of it. It’s certain you’ll continue to see more of it on our shelves too. I just spent two-plus weeks in New Zealand, and winemakers I spoke with are drilling down to produce wines from Sauvignon Blanc that are more specific to both sites and sub regions.

During the couple of days I spent in Marlborough, one thing was abundantly clear: there’s a lot more than great Sauvignon Blanc being produced there. If you’re looking for red wines, there are many fine examples of Pinot Noir that are distinctly different from those grown in Central Otago. If it’s other whites you’re after, there are a bevy of outstanding selections being produced in New Zealand; aromatic whites are a particular strength. The weather, soils and other conditions lends themselves to these grapes thriving. As you can likely imagine, over two-plus weeks, I tasted an awful lot of great wines. Here is a handful from Marlborough that I’m still thinking about. So keep drinking those Savvies, but try some of these too.

Spy Valley 2015 Gewürztraminer ($18)

The fruit for this wine came from a single vineyard. After pressing the grapes, they were slowly fermented and aged in stainless steel. Lychee and apricot notes are evident on the nose along with a hint of vanilla bean. The fruit-driven palate is led by oodles of roasted peaches, white pepper and a hint of nutmeg. Tension between bright fruit and acid marks the long, pleasing finish. This Gewürztraminer is irresistible on its own and it’ll pair beautifully with spicy cuisine such as Thai or Indian.

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Why do people hate Autotrader NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski?

Why Does Everyone Hate Brad Keselowski?

Every time Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski wins a race, you can feel people (and hear them, depending on where you’re standing at the track) groan.

But why?

Sure, I’m the guy wearing the #2 hat in the above picture, cheering my ass off in Victory Lane with a forward-facing Miller Lite in my hand after Brad’s come-from-behind win in Atlanta, so I’m not as partial as some.

But perhaps I’m even more judgmental considering I’ve hitched my fanboy man-wagon to the BK express since becoming a NASCAR fan three years ago.

It was refreshing and fun to interact with BK and confirm that the reasons I liked him as a driver were the same reasons I liked him upon meeting him. So why does everyone hate Brad Keselowski?

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Why to consider Mozilla as your browser

There is a never-ending battle on the internet with three major competitors, and that is the fight to be the best browser. While Microsoft have been arguably beaten to third place, Edge has made something of a comeback with Windows 10. However, the big two are Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Here is our argument as to why Mozilla Firefox is the best browser.

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Movie Review: “Life”

Starring
Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare
Director
Daniel Espinosa

Daniel Espinosa’s “Life” is a lean, mean studio B-movie that knows how to move. Right from the start, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick don’t waste time. The sci-fi thriller’s simplicity and brevity is one of its many strengths, in addition to some compelling performances, a genuinely nasty alien and a third act that finishes strong.

Calvin is the name given to the film’s antagonist, a deadly little organism (and the first sign of life discovered on Mars) that grows larger and more lethal over the course of the story. The alien wreaks havoc aboard an International Space Station inhabited by a team of scientists, including Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare), Sho Kendo (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Katerine Golovkin (Olga Dihovichnaya). They’re all given personalities at an extremely efficient pace, so once the number of crew members begins to decline, it doesn’t feel like candy being tossed aside. The stakes are monumental in “Life,” and you can definitely feel it as the crew floats around in zero gravity trying to figure out how to kill this thing before it finds a way of reaching (and destroying) Earth.

“Life” is a pretty straightforward genre flick, but it isn’t thin. In fact, the simplicity that Reese and Wernick have achieved with movies like “Zombieland,” “Deadpool” and now “Life” is exhilarating in this day and age of bloated blockbusters. There’s not a single ounce of filler in these three films. They pick up and start running immediately, which Espinosa communicates in a lengthy opening take that is sometimes dazzling and sometimes a little obvious and strained. It’s the only scene where you’re aware of the filmmaker’s hand, but the sequence still has its moments. With the rest of the movie, Espinosa serves up an increasingly tense experience.

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