Directed by: David Yates – Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Colin Farrell
To say that Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them is one of the most-hyped films of the year is an understatement. The Harry Potter franchise was – and still is – such a phenomenon, that fans have been eagerly awaiting this offering, which explores another element of the fantastical wizarding world created by JK Rowling.
Oscar-winner, Eddie Redmayne, takes the lead here playing Newt Scamander, who is a kind of conservationist for magical animals. He carries them around in a seemingly innocuous suitcase, that also acts as a gateway to his own private zoo, where the creatures all live in harmony.
Unfortunately, upon arriving in New York, his case gets mixed up with that of a no-maj (No Magic/Human) called Jacob Kowalski (Fogler) and some of his creatures escape. This is a serious issue, as a magical creature is wreaking havoc on the city, and the wizarding world is in danger of exposure.
Newt is wrongly blamed for this, and has a price put on his head by the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). With fellow wizards out to capture him, and his animals on the loose, he must try and clear his name while ensuring that word of their mysterious magical world doesn’t get out.
Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them cleverly draws on the mythology of Harry Potter, but yet manages to be completely different from it. Obviously, the fact that it’s set in 1920s New York, rather than an English boarding school, is a huge difference. It changes the tone from the off.
There is always something extremely captivating about the Big Apple in this era, with all the art deco buildings and period costumes being a feast for the eyes. Redmayne plays Newt as a somewhat bumbling and shy – more comfortable with his creatures than with people. He is ably supported by the rest of the cast, who all embrace the wonderful world of wizadry with gusto. This is except for Colin Farrell, who makes a convincing baddie, but seems to struggle in the ‘fight scenes’ where he is waving a wand rather than his fists. But this is a minor complaint.
The creatures themselves look amazing. While intellectually you know that they are CGI, they look so realistic that you completely forget this, and accept them as real. In fact, some of Redmayne’s most engaging scenes are with the creatures, who obviously weren’t there on set as he performed, which just shows how talented he is.
Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them is a fantastic feast for the senses. Even if you’ve never seen a Harry Potter film or read the books, you will be able to follow this. It is pure escapism at its best. From the very opening scenes, you are invited to park your intellect, and just accept the wonders being presented to you on screen.
It helps that it also has a decent script. Rowling herself penned it, and the characters are beautifully drawn and developed.
You can believe the hype – Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them is wonderful. A fantastic addition to the Harry Potter World, I look forward to seeing what adventures Newt will have in the future planned movies.
In Cinemas Now! See trailer below: