Director: David Yates
Running Time: 132 minutes
Main Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Farrell, Dan Folger, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller and Jon Voight.
Harry Potter fan or not, if you have read the books or have not touched anything Harry Potter related in your life, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is something that both sides will enjoy.Fantastic Beasts is a spin off that takes inspiration from a textbook of the same name that Harry used back in The Philosophers Stone (2001). Newt Scamander, who is the main character for this spin off film, he wrote that textbook after the events of this film and the more still ahead.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them follows Newt, who is a British wizard who studies the mythical creatures within the world of Harry Potter. This film is however set before the Harry Potter Series in 1920’s New York, where Newt carries with him a suitcase full of magical creatures and unfortunately some are unleashed onto an unsuspecting New York by a No-Maj (American term for muggle or human without magical abilities). But this isn’t the main concern Newt has to deal with, as there have already been strange disturbances occurring in New York. An obscurity, which will be explained further in the film, is wrecking havoc in New York and this forms the main plot line of the film, where Newt must work with the No-Maj Jacob, and the Goldstein sisters Tina and Queenie, who both work for MACUSA (the American version of the ministry for magic).
Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander and is joined by Colin Farrell (Percival Graves), Dan Folger (Jacob Kowalski), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone) and Jon Voight (Shaw Senior). All are perfectly casted and add their individual bits to the movie.
But Eddie Redmayne is the true main attraction of the film, along with his quirky mythical creatures. Redmayne shows us that he truly is the actor of this generation, as he adds another level to his acting stardom. Although this isn’t a role that will get him an Oscar at next year’s awards it shows he is still developing his own style as an actor. He portrays an awkward, self-imposed magical Zoologist perfectly, with a touch of quirkiness that will get a few chuckles out of you. As every mannerism and word spoken has thought behind it, which really adds to his character and the character we receive on screen is believable.
J.K Rowling created the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and it does work well… at times. It is clear that she has put a lot of effort into this screenplay, with a focus on creating and developing this new world and this is where it hits a bump. The narrative does flow well but it feels too much like a thrill ride with everything hitting you in the face at once. The new setting, the time period, the monsters its all a little too much to handle at one point. Now don’t get me wrong, I do like these points, but it seems more like a rollercoaster than a film. You would have to take the ride again to gain all the information that Rowling has squeezed into this film. What I do love however about her screenplay is the characters within, Newt is a puzzle piece that we will eventually put into a bigger puzzle, the Goldstein sisters are perfect as that Ron and Hermione mould and Jacob is our connection to the world, as we share his reactions to what he sees in front of his own eyes, the gaping mouth, the wide eyed astonishment at the magical world, like a hint of nostalgia that goes back to the first Harry Potter when we were introduced to the world of magic and Harry Potter. The monsters are fabulous, they are so diverse and cover all grounds of mythical fauna that we could never imagine and to sit there and see them appear is itself magical.
The man behind these monsters appearing in front of our eyes is David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter films. Instead of taking the gothic approach like he did for the last few films, he takes a lighter approach injecting some fun interactions between Rowling’s characters and her monsters, as well as some less violent acts, like what was in the last few Potter films. However the problem with how Yates has structured the film returns to the thrill ride narrative I spoke about before, as many scenes within the film are filled with things to take in, whether it be people, monsters or both, it feels like we are rolling through on a coaster and we are missing things that our friends may see. It would have been nice to slow down these scenes so we can take everything in, because there is a lot to take in. One particular scene is when we are introduced to the sanctuary inside Newts suitcase, which is filled with all kinds of mythical creatures. There is way to much going on in this scene and we move at too fast a pace to really understand what is in there and what may affect the narrative.
Apart from the thrill ride narrative, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a magical movie that aids in expanding the Potterverse in a direction that is sustainable. Fantastic Beasts is well worth a second watching just to see everything and to pick up those little Easter eggs Rowling has left for us.
The Front Row Opinion