Sunday, 20 November 2016

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

  So the Harry Potter universe returns with the expansion of the minor character into a full fledged series.  Will it be able capture the magic of the original source or will the rabid classic fans be proven to be untamable? 

  Newt arrives at New York city amidst a crisis revolving around keeping the world of wizardry secret from the general populace.  He makes trouble for the local sorcerer enforcement agency but makes friends as well as he strives to keep his rogue animals in check and solve a mystery too.

   This film is considered an adult fairy tale.  The theme is decidedly mature with the fashion (Queenie, my goodness!) and the speakeasy setting (check out the singer).  The theme on discrimination and persecution might actually be good timing with the resolution of the US election, in a way.  There's murder and mayhem and even abuse of a sort that would be considered a spoiler but these topics, while could possibly be considered too much for children, are still treated with rose tinted glasses that are synonymous with the projected reality in the world of Harry Potter.  There's a heady, wonder-filled tone that pervades throughout the film that removes the grim harshness of the city. 

   This is assisted most heavily by the astounding special effects, augmented by the use of mystical props, thereby creating a fantasy scenario that is easier to swallow.  The beasts are, yes, quite fantastically brought to life to the big screen, not to mention the effects of spells being cast .  The score is also a huge asset in the proceedings and is quite evident during the drama that unfolds during the climax and denouement.  While more than a tad manipulative in swaying emotion, it is very effective at what it does. 

   Eddie Redmayne as Newt comes off as an odd, unassuming smiler and his carelessness is just a vehicle to start conflicts.  His passion is understated and he fills the blanks in his personality with mannerisms such as not looking a person in the eye and mumbling his words.  His costar Katherine Waterston is an awkward partner-in-crime and a bit cringy in her obvious desperation.  It's Dan Folger and Alison Sudol who shine as the sidekicks.  They may be stereotypes but it's their character arcs that are the most memorable in the film.  Colin Farrell does well as the main enforcer and gets creepy with his treatment of Ezra Miller's character.

   J.K. Rowling tries to get away from the childish trappings of Hogwarts by transporting the cast to America with a criminal case but the storytelling approach still turns simplistic, especially with the heavy focus on the cutesy romance.  America is a European colony and the spells are all familiar standbys from the past/future, which should please diehard fans. The Potter franchise gradually matures the students along with the plot but the players of Fantastic Beasts are adults already so their progression will be different.  As a special effects flick, the magic astounds and amazes.  It does a wonderful job at creating a mystical sub network in a completely urban setting and the foreign land will add a completely new facet to this promising franchise.

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