Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review
Director: David Yates
So five years on since Harry Potter left the big screen, director of the last four films David Yates returns to visualise another J.K. Rowling story that isn't strictly a prequel but set well within the Potterverse. This story actually being a book written for charity back in 2001 with a large majority of profits going to Comic Relief, is also Rowling's screenwriting debut.
Predating Potter, we go back to 1926 where a young, slightly bashful and awkward wizard, Newt Scamander sails to New York for what appears to be more than just one reason, harbouring quite a number of exotic creatures in that surprisingly humongous suitcase of his.
But, as one can expect, there's something already loose in the New York which is threatening to expose the wizardry community and in true American stereotype, set off an unwanted war between Nomags (American name for Muggles) and the Wizards.
Eddie Redmayne is nothing short of brilliant, emanating a cunning understanding and love for the creatures he tends for. Like a soft Sir David Attenborough but with the mannerisms of a clumsy Lee Evans. Being a lover of animals and furry companions myself, I could related with Scamander who thinks a little more outside the jurisdiction and the box, or should I say suitcase.
The supporting cast is strong, with a decent Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight and even some amazing hidden gems (don't read the tags at the bottom so not to spoil) but it's Katherine Waterston as the American magical investigator, Tina and quite possibly my favourite muggle of all, Dan Fogler's aspiring baker-extraordinaire wannabe, Jacob Kowalski that makes the story work so well. Other mentions have to go to Ezra Miller, who does quite a performance and the alluring Alison Sudol.
This seems to delve deeper than most of the Potter films I remember, especially with the relationship with muggles, having quite an emotional impact setting aside differences, it reminded me a little of The Hobbit, out of his depth but an unique and lovable friendship is born. Jacob Kowalski is truly magical, providing a lot of the best comedy seen in Potter films. I want some of that Gigglewater!
The beasts themselves are, incredible but quite CGI rich which does ruin it slightly for me, however it's expected and younger audiences and fans won't even think about it as a lot of them are comical and cute if not majestic. Yates does a fine job keeping the darker side just lingering until the epic reveal which is some of the best CGI and destructions I've seen; and like with his previous Potter films, dares to go quite sinister and ferocious with it.
James Newton Howard has a go with the score, and composes something quite magical, reminiscent of Danny Elfman's work of a Tim Burton movie. It's a great score but didn't quite smash it, lacking any recognisable theme. The trailer music had more of an impact.
Is it a Potter film? People are going about saying "going to see the new Potter film" and the answer is yes, all the same elements are there and there's enough connections and mentions to tease Potter fans' interest especially when certain names are dropped.
It's not secret this is the first of many, a multi-picture deal with the next four already in production. Yes, four more to come. It's a good step in the right misdirection, and with Yates at the helm for all of them, if like this, we should hopefully be in for a treat.
Running Time: 10
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 6 for muggle Jacob and Gigglewater.
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes!
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