Review: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
PLOT: Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a young wizard, arrives in 1926 New York City with a suitcase full of magical creatures, which promptly get loose. With a No-Maj (non magic person) in tow by the name of Jacob (Dan Fogler), along with Tina (Katherine Waterston) - a witch working for the American Magical Congress, and her bombshell sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), he sets to out recover his magical beasts, only to stumble onto a dark plot hatched by an early version of the “Deathly Hallows”.
REVIEW: Never let a good franchise go to waste. So seems to be the rationale behind FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, Warner Bros mammoth continuation of the hugely successful Harry Potter series. Banking on the fact that the now grown-up Potter fans will follow a similarly grown-up gang of wizards and witches as they try to fight evil in the wizarding world, this arrives with a lot riding on its success.
Lucky then that FANTASTIC BEASTS is effortlessly successful at drawing the audience into this distinctly American, period version of the Wizarding world, with a screenplay by none other than the woman who started it all, J.K Rowling. Shorter than other Potter films at only 130 minutes, FANTASTIC BEASTS serves as a fun-filled introduction to a new batch of wizards, with Eddie Redmayne ideally cast as our hero, Newt.
Shy and unassuming, with a mischievous streak, he’s an impish hero not too far removed from Harry Potter and a guy we’re going to like following around. He’s matched by the ace casting of Dan Fogler as his sidekick. Now, Fogler is an actor I’ve never warmed to before, but he’s terrific and very likable, working as almost the Oliver Hardy to Redmayne’s Stan Laurel, and this lighthearted approach serves the film well, especially as it gets dark in its second half.
The movie hinges around a plot by dark wizards to recruit a witch with the power to obscure their talents, with Colin Farrell as a dark auror working with the Magic Congress to get it under control. It all revolves around Ezra Miller as the tortured son of an anti-magic crusader (Samantha Morton) who advocates a second Salem. He’s somehow connected to our heroine, played by the charming Katherine Waterston. With this and an upcoming part in ALIEN: COVENANT, Waterson is going to be a big-deal star pretty soon, and her warm performance here shows exactly why studios are investing in her so significantly. She’s terrific and has nice chemistry with Redmayne. Alison Sudol also makes a strong impression as her free-spirited sister, and it’s going to be a joy following this crew around another four movies or so.
While the cynical among us may roll our eyes at Warners being so blatantly bent on establishing a new franchise with this massive-budget tent-pole, one can’t deny it’s smartly assembled. With James Newton Howard contributing a score that peppers in John Williams’s themes but adds some of his own, and an intriguing mythology (including a big name cameo as the new big-bad Gellert Grindelwald), this is franchise film-making done right. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...