FILM REVIEW of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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This long-awaited spinoff from the Harry Potter franchise with a screenplay by J.K. Rowling and David Yates, director of four HP films, at the helm has finally hit the screens. And we were in the cinema last Friday at 10 am to see it. Was it worth the anticipation?

fanbeastsOh yes. Rowling made the smart decision to take the time and place well away from Hogwarts and has set this adventure in New York during 1926. So we are treated to wonderful 1920s fashions, vintage cars and New York in its heyday before it became gridlocked by traffic. Into this setting shuffles a very diffident Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander fresh off the boat from England, clearly not comfortable dealing with New Yorkers. He is carrying a rather battered suitcase – and it is when the contents of said suitcase inconveniently escape that it all starts to kick off. At the worst possible time, too. For there are increasing tensions between the Maj and Non-maj communities, forcing Madam President of the US wizarding world to get ever more hardline in dealing with forbidden interactions between the two.

There is much here that is comfortably familiar for HP fans – intriguing settings, quirky characters fanbeasts1both human and otherwise, fantatical/wrong-headed/power-grabbing antagonists and plenty going on. With the cream of British actors appearing in the extensive cast lists over the years, the acting quality has always been very high – and Redmayne’s portrayal of a shy, sensitive soul fascinated by magical creatures and scoured by years of bullying and/or misunderstanding certainly ticks that box. He is ably supported by Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, along with Katherine Waterston as Tina, a witch-policewoman and her memorably beautiful mind-reading sister, Queenie, played by Alison Studol.

fanbeasts2We see the divided nature of the society, with feelings running high as something large and lethal is laying waste to buildings and killing people. The MACUSA, (the Magical Congress of the United States of America) are in a spin with Chief Investigator Percival Graves desperately trying to track down the cause of all the damage. The special effects are amazing – seeing swathes of New York come crashing down in showers of rubble was impressive, but more so was watching them magically go back together again.

All of the above are fabulous – the film wouldn’t be what it is without those components. But for me, the scene stealers were those fantastic beasts. Vicious, naughty, lovelorn or despairing – the creatures look wonderful, the special effects are amazing and I found myself with tears in my eyes over a creature that doesn’t exist at the thought of its extinction… Redmayne’s interaction with them is impressive – he must have spent hours chatting to and stroking green screens, but it was certainly worth it. Halfway through, I recall gripping Himself’s hand and hoping the film wouldn’t end for a very long time and the last time I felt like that about a movie was during The Fellowship of the Ring. Both films took me to another time and place, making me both laugh and cry during the journey and providing me with plenty to think about afterwards. Highly recommended.
10/10

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21 responses »

  1. Wow, nice review. Glad to hear it’s great. To be honest I’m most interested in the creatures, as I’m not up on all the characters, but we so few mythical creatures in films that I’m looking forward to seeing them here.

    • While this is set in the same world as the HP films, it’s another time and place with only the briefest mention of one of the main characters, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t know them well. And the film – especially the beasts – is sufficiently compelling that it stands on its own merits anyway.

  2. I can’t wait to see this movie. 😀 😀 But I have a discounted movie pass that I haven’t used yet (it can be used after a film’s been out for a couple weeks, not like a gift card that you can use at any time), so I’m going to hold out until December to see it. So happy to hear you enjoyed it, though!

    • The reason we were so quick off the mark is that Himself is off work at present and we couldn’t see ourselves being free anytime soon other than last Friday. I look forward to hearing what you think of it:).

  3. I’ve been watching trailers for this one and even though I’m not a hardcore Harry Potter fan (read the books, never seen any movies), it did manage to catch my attention.
    I probably won’t see it in a theater, but I’ll probably get the blu-ray/dvd once it’s out.

    • The nice thing about this one is that although it’s set in the same world, it doesn’t refer to or rely on previous knowledge. I would recommend that if you do get a chance – see it in a cinema. The creatures and special effects look fantastic on the larger screen.

      • Sadly, it’s unlikely we’ll go to the cinema, we didn’t even see Dr. Strange yet and as I wasn’t even counting on going to see Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children, Fantastic Beasts are even less probable. Still, a big tv and a blu-ray gives some of the “epic” feel. 🙂

  4. My family surprised me by taking me to see this yesterday afternoon and we all loved it. I agree with everything you have said here. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again in the theater, and of course will add it to my collection when it comes out on DVD.

  5. Oh this one does sound good! You certainly made me curious about this movie. I hadn’t heard much about it until recently when the movie got released. if I am correct, there’s also a book right? It seems fun to see a bit of the wizard world in the past and away from Hogwarts. Different, but familiar as well as it’s set in the same world. I’ll have to make sure to see this movie eventually! Great review!

    • Thank you, Lola – and you’re exactly right about the different, but familiar vibe:)). It is so much fun – and I do recommend that you make an effort to see this one at the cinema as the special effects and the creatures look fabulous on the big screen.

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