Welcome back to the World of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Picture the scene; it’s 2001, people have been enjoying the likes of Monsters, Inc. and Donnie Darko. Frank captured our imaginations, then a little adaptation came along to obliviate us all. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone started off a legendary series, that undoubtedly holds a magical place in many people’s hearts. When a spin off was announced, fans everywhere were excited, but is it a worthy return?
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City with a box full of fantastic beasts. When the creatures are accidentally let loose, himself and a No-Maj (Muggle for us norm- eh, Brits) must try to find them.
There’s more to the story then a wild Niffler chase however. Newt and the Muggle, Jacob (Dan Fogler) also have Wizarding officer Tina (Katherine Waterston) alongside them, as well as an ominous, destructive force taking over the city. There’s also lingering dread regarding Grindelwald, “the second most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time”.
It’s important to remember when going in to Fantastic Beasts that this isn’t a Harry Potter film – it takes a much different tone and style that although will resonate with Potter-heads, isn’t what we’re used to.
Pretty much immediately you get a sense of how whimsical the film is. We’re quickly introduced to Newt’s creatures, starting off the best – the pesky Niffler. To give credit where it’s due; Newt’s beasts are an absolute delight. Sometimes cute, other times nasty, they’re a product of pure imagination. However, the various attempts to capture them can drag a bit, especially when other parts of the plot heat up.
The special effects as a whole are dazzling, reminding you why you love the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry so damn much. Some well choreographed wand-play deserves more credit too; who doesn’t want to hold a wand and exclaim “Expelliarmus!”?
Redmayne’s performance as Newt is appropriately awkward, but soon becomes a bit annoying. Introverted, quietly funny and odd, he’s a character that doesn’t really show much development despite the cataclysmic events going on around him. His Muggle sidekick is an outstanding turn from Dan Fogler, consistently making the audience laugh with his – understandably – bewildered response to magic.
A character that really sticks out however is Colin Farrell’s villainous Graves. It’s not as if he’s gifted much screen time, but he’s instantly compelling even to look at, projecting an authoritative and dangerous vibe. Also, his hour-on-hour practice with his wand has certainly paid off, as we see towards the film’s climax.
Structurally, and script-wise, there are a few problems. Often time is spent focusing on plot-lines that aren’t as demanding, such as Fogler’s love interest, or the creatures themselves. Unfortunately, this makes the film eek out considering it’s not terribly long. J.K Rowling penned the script, which on the whole may be good, falls victim to a few rookie errors; mainly blatantly awkward expressions.
There’s a lot on offer in Fantastic Beasts. The plot hasn’t even been covered in its entirety, purely to save some surprises for you later. The majority of Potter-heads are likely to go ga-ga for it, but as a huge fan myself, it didn’t quite meet the rather intense expectations.
To sum it up…
Visually, it’s a marvellous, spellbinding adventure. Some dire issues take away the glory of Fantastic Beasts, but the series could be heading for great things. Rather than casting Avada Kedavra, it’s reinvigorated the franchise.
Rating: No bad
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Author: Cameron Frew