‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’ Proves How to Finish a Trilogy

While not exactly a golden rule, it is known fact that if a movie does well in the box office, chances are good that it will be followed by sequel and more often than not, we’ve come to expect that the sequel won’t measure up to the original. Add a third movie to the mix and you’re just asking for trouble. With animated movies, the expectations are often even lower. (Is anyone really surprised that the Ice Age movies keep getting worse?) But sometimes, as is the case with the Disney/Pixar Toy Story movies, we’re pleasantly surprised. Now you can add How to Train Your Dragon to that short list too.

One thing that DreamWorks Animation has understood about this series is that the story comes first, the hijinks come later. The very first Dragon movie proved that way back in 2010 with a strong story and with each chapter that has come after it, that story just keeps getting better. What started out as a cute kid’s story has become a powerful trilogy. We've seen these chara…

Geoffrey Rush Brings Einstein to Life in ‘Genius’

Review of "Genius"
Johnny Flynn and Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein in Genius.
 (National Geographic Channel)


Like the world that it promotes, National Geographic Channel is taking a huge leap this week with the premiere of the network’s first scripted series, Genius telling the life and times of Alfred Einstein. This is no small project. Created by the Fox 21 (who also created the award-winning mini-series, The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and executively produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Genius is pretty incredible. From the opening theme music written by Hans Zimmer, the pilot episode is engaging, if a little off-putting. We quickly learn that Einstein had a way with the ladies and although brief, it was still shocking to see sex being portrayed on the National Geographic Channel. Though it can be argued that Einstein’s affairs are definitely part of his life story, the show could have implied this behavior a little more subtlety. Will that said, this limited series isn’t about sex. It’s about a genius of a man who didn’t quite fit in and yet always did.

Review of "Genius."
Samantha Colley plays Einstein's first wife, Mileva Maric.
Genius tells two stories at the same time going back and forth with a younger and older Einstein. When a young Alfred Einstein (portrayed by Johnny Flynn) was just entering college, he failed most of his studies (probably because they did not interest him) but excelled in the area of physics which was enough to persuade the college dean to bend the rules. We learn that Einstein’s father (Robert Lindsay) was tough on him wanting his son to have a better life while his mother (Claire Rushbrook) tended to want to coddle him.

The older Einstein is expertly portrayed by Geoffrey Rush who while brilliant, doesn’t understand why he can’t have a romantic relationship with both his wife (Emily Watson) and Betty Neumann (Charity Wakefield) the young woman who idolizes him. This half of the story also takes place during the rise of Hitler and the beginning persecution of the Jewish people.

Review of "Genius."
Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.
Much of Einstein's theories that are shared throughout the episode were over my head, but it will appeal to those smarter than me. However, I found Einstein’s behavior and how he related to people to be very interesting. Although he doesn’t mean to be, he is quite self-centered often mentally leaves conversations to focus on a new theory or whatever is troubling his thoughts. When a friend is tragically killed, it is his wife that has to remind him that he needs to take time to mourn. While feeling a little on the long side, Genius is both entertaining and interesting and if the first episode is any indication, this is going to be one show that you won’t want to miss.

The cast of Genius includes an impressive list of co-stars including Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men and also starred in National Geographic's Saints & Strangers) who plays consulate official Raymond Geist, Seth Gabel (Fringe) as close friend Michele Besso and T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy) as J. Edgar Hoover.

Genius premieres on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesday, April 25 at 9:00 p.m.

Related: The Who’s Who of Genius


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