What's worth your time in TV and movies this weekend? EW's critics review the latest releases, including the weird neo-western Outer Range and the très French Paris, 13th District.
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Each Friday, our critics provide a few quick-hit reviews of the titles that have them giddy and groaning — or, to put it another way, the Musts & Misses of the week.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Friday, April 15 (in theaters)

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

What exactly is Fantastic Beasts about? Three films in, J.K. Rowling's sumptuous, inscrutable series remains a mystery, a lacquered box of whimsy that lives just adjacent to Harry Potter and somehow much further from a sensical plot. Though that's hardly for lack of investment: Like the first two installments in the franchise, the latest comes overstuffed with A-list names — can anything be wholly bad when Mads Mikkelsen is there to curl his lip? — opulent CG set pieces, and stray bits of flair, mostly in the form of its slithering, glimmering creatures.

As always, Beasts' visual world is immersive and lavishly built: The costumes, by four-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood, are gorgeously tactile, and production designer Stuart Craig gives everything that isn't entirely CGI a golden Art Deco sheen. Dumbledore feels like an improvement, at least, on the joyless, enervating slog of 2018's Crimes of Grindelwald; it's nimbler and sweeter and more cohesive in its storyline. For a franchise that promised five films before the first was even released, though, Beasts remains a strangely liminal experience: born from a fantastic universe, but still searching for a magic of its own.  Grade: B– — Leah Greenblatt

Outer Range

Friday, April 15 (Netflix)

Outer Range
'Outer Range'
| Credit: Richard Foreman Jr. SMPSP/Amazon Prime

A rather obvious attempt to do Yellowstone But Science Fiction, this moody contempo western stars Josh Brolin as Royal Abbott, a rancher with dynasty problems. His family's land is getting encroached upon by lifelong rival Wayne Tillerson (a delightfully nasty Will Patton). His daughter-in-law has disappeared. His sons are two flavors of handsome bland mess. Oh, and a mysterious spooooky hole has opened up in his estate.

What is the hole? Will things go in or out of it? The answers are only ridiculous, and the hole itself looks silly enough to make you forget all the impressive location shooting. The solid cast includes Lili Taylor as the Abbott matriarch and Imogen Poots as a mysteriously well-funded poet, and Tamara Podemski steals the show as a savvy deputy sheriff. But Outer Range has one of the worst momentum problems I've ever seen in a streaming show, squandering an evocative setting and some fun twists on portentous take-forever storytelling that prioritizes hints over character depth. Grade: CDarren Franich

Paris, 13th District

Friday, April 15 (in theaters)

PARIS 13TH DISTRICT
Credit: IFC Films

A love triangle, or maybe something more like a love polygon, lies at the center of the slight but alluring latest from Parisian writer-director Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone, The Sisters Brothers) — one of those supremely French films in which impossibly chic people fight, come together, and fall apart, all filmed in saturated black and white. (It's an auteur party, actually; Céline Sciamma, who helmed 2019's sensational Portrait of a Lady on Fire, also co-penned the script.)

Lucie Zhang is Émelie, an aimless young millennial and call-center employee looking for a roommate; she lands on a friendly schoolteacher, a man named Camille (Makita Samba), though their relationship turns sexual before the sub-lease is even signed. The inevitable complications of that entanglement don't take long to manifest, and fresh beginnings prove equally fraught for Nora (Portrait star Noémie Merlant), a thirtysomething real-estate agent attempting to start over in law school. Several marathon sessions of explicit, athletic coitus ensue, though Audiard seems as compelled by loneliness as he is by love, a sort of low-key maestro of human sadness and estrangement. Musician Jehnny Beth, of the band Savages, makes a memorable turn as a cam girl with a real brain beneath her platinum-blonde Elvira Hancock wig, and Paris, as always, plays itself: a place of pale stone and dappled light and eternal, enduring mystery. Grade: B — Leah Greenblatt

The Northman

Friday, April 22 (in theaters)

The Northman
Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in 'The Northman'
| Credit: Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features

Made by indie darling Robert Eggers, who also helmed the 2015 Sundance fever dream The Witch and 2019's surreal sea-shanty chamber piece The Lighthouse, The Northman is by far the writer-director's biggest offering to date in both scope and budget, and it looks it: a sprawling summit-of-the-gods epic shot through with rich, hallucinatory set pieces and movie stars in wild Pagan wiggery. What's less clear this time is whether any of it means anything, or is even really supposed to. Beneath the arthouse sheen of A24 and the raft of prestige weirdos — Anya Taylor-JoyWillem DafoeBjörk — on board, Northman is a fairly straightforward genre movie; a blood-soaked revenge saga somewhere between Clint Eastwood, Conan the Barbarian, and The Clan of the Cave Bear, with a heady glaze of metaphysical fantasy.

Alexander Skarsgård at least seems born to play Amleth, the deposed ninth-century warrior-prince whose betrayal as a child at the hands of his uncle Fjölnir (The Square's Claes Bang) leaves him shorn of both his parents (Nicole Kidman and Ethan Hawke) and his North Atlantic kingdom. Deltoids rippling, he infers the damaged soul beneath his marauding slaughter-wolf, while Taylor-Joy deploys the full terror of her unblinking gaze as a ferocious flaxen-haired concubine named (what else?) Olga, and Kidman finds the Shakespearian thunder in her deposed queen. In all that the script, by Eggers and mono-named Icelandic screenwriter Sjón (Lamb), serves mostly as bare scaffolding for the film's ravishing vistas and flamboyant violence, neither profound nor particularly important. Beneath the runes and visions, it's a tale as old as Game of Thrones, and as simple as a story told around a campfire: a ride of the Valkyries spelled out in gore and popcorn. Grade: B
— Leah Greenblatt

Gaslit

Premieres Sunday, April 24 (Starz)

Gaslit
Sean Penn and Julia Roberts in 'Gaslit'.
| Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Starz

For decades, Watergate was raw material for anti-mythic American nightmares, played for corrosive drama in All the President's Men and Nixon. This snazzy but pandering miniseries takes a recognizably post-Trump approach to the Nixon administration's dirty tricks. All the president's men come off (convincingly) as dunderheaded bro-goons, exemplified by Shea Whigham's unhinged G. Gordon Liddy. The chief voice of opposition is Julia Roberts' Martha Mitchell, the famously outspoken wife of Attorney General John Mitchell (Sean Penn in Colin Farrell's Penguin makeup).

Martha's story is a fascinating one — the administration's early effort to keep her quiet led to a brutal imprisonment — and Roberts gamely plays her as an old-fashioned southern matriarch unleashed at the dawn of our age of paranoia. But the show also stretches to tell the way less involving story of White House Counsel John Dean (Dan Stevens) and his romance with liberal flight attendant Mo (Betty Gilpin). Actually, Gaslit wants to tell all the lesser-known Watergate stories, a noble aspiration that leavens the genuine tragedy of the Mitchell saga but shortchanges too many characters (hello, Mark "Deepthroat" Felt!) into glorified cameos. Grade: B-Darren Franich

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