Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review


It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been busy. Not only has she shepherded her two-part sequel play to the West End, but she has also written the screenplay for this spin-off prequel, which is set some 70 years before Harry was born. The American setting puts a fresh slant on her elaborately imagined wizarding world, and the film has enough lively humour to keep things entertaining, but the movie itself is thin and derivative, never quite engaging the audience with its magic.

In this alternate reality, 1926 America has forbidden all magical creatures out of fear of terrorist attacks taking place around the world. Then an expert in these beasts, the cheeky nerd Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York with a suitcase full of them. He's on some sort of mission, which is immediately interrupted by three escaped critters, drawing in hapless wannabe baker Jacob (Dan Fogler) and witch detective Tina (Katherine Waterston). Joined by Tina's breathy sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), this rag-tag team is trying to recapture Newt's escaped creatures when they run afoul of aggressive wizard enforcer Graves (Colin Farrell), who's working for American's magical President (Carmen Ejogo). But there's something more seriously nefarious going on in the city.

More: Watch various clips from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Rowling's script borrows heavily from many other franchises, from the formulaic narrative structure to recognisable elements including Newt's Tardis-like case, children who are hiding their superpowers like young X-men, and a hugely destructive climactic battle involving a variety of animated creatures and toppling skyscrapers. Thankfully, the cast is strong enough to hold this together, even if the characters are somewhat underdeveloped.

Redmayne goes for a full-bodied performance that's quirky and cute. He's engaging enough to root for, but Newt has virtually no back-story to help make any sense of what he's up to. Waterston explains a bit about Tina's background, which provides some context, but the character never has much personality. Farrell has little to do but glower angrily. Which leaves Fogler to steal every scene with his goofy reactions. Much more intriguing are the rather vague side characters like Samantha Morton's activist fanatic and her gloomy son, sharply well-played by Ezra Miller.

David Yates directed the last four Harry Potter movies and has already signed on to make the next four films in this series. But he struggles to add much life to Rowling's rather simple script, visualising everything in shades of brown and grey, with the only bright colours provided by Newt's digitally animated beasts. And there's little to discover here. The story's basically a standard blockbuster narrative. Continual witty touches make it easy to watch, but a lot more depth and invention is needed to keep audiences on board for future episodes.

Watch the trailer and a featurette for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them:



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 132 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th November 2016

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Lionel Wigram

Starring: as Newt Scamander, as Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein, as Jacob Kowalski, Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein, as Percival Graves, as Seraphina Picquery, as Mary Lou Barebone, as Credence Barebone, as Gnarlack, as Henry Shaw, Sr, Josh Cowdery as Henry Shaw, Jr, Ronan Raftery as Langdon Shaw, as Gellert Grindelwald, Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty Barebone, Jenn Murray as Chastity Barebone, Sean Cronin as Criminal, as Madame Ya Zou, as Leta Lestrange, Peter Breitmayer as Gilbert Bingley, Kevin Guthrie as Abernathy, Kamil Lemieszewski as Jan Kowalski, Fanny Carbonnel as Mrs. Goldstein, as Exterminator, as Pedestrian, Lucie Pohl as Secretary, Joelle Koissi as New York Citizen, Flor Ferraco as Bank Client, Dino Fazzani as Factory Worker, Jason Newell as Sasquatch, Jorge Leon Martinez as Spaniard Ship Passenger, Cristian Lazar as New York Citizen, Lobna Futers as Witch, Karl Farrer as Banker, Abi Adeyemi as International Royal Dignitar, as Customs Official, Akin Gazi as Auror, Solomon Taiwo Justified as Wizard, Todd Boyce as The Announcer, Chloe de Burgh as Tenement Woman, Andrei Satalov as Wizard, Tim Bentinck as Witness, as Creature Performer, Bart Edwards as New York Chief of Police, Matthew Sim as Photographer, Miroslav Zaruba as Bank Guard, Elizabeth Moynihan as Executioner #1, Gjevat Kelmendi as High Level Wizard, Jason Redshaw as Higher class Gentleman, BF Mulvey as The Watchman, Adam Lazarus as Wizard, Anthony J. Sacco as Gala Guest, Kirsty Grace as Jazz Girl, Ashley Hudson as Young Gentleman, Anne Wittman as Housewife, Daniel Smales as Tenement, Anick Wiget as Criminal on 'Wanted' Poster, as Officer 247, Bernardo Santos as Smart New Yorker, Andreea Paduraru as Aura, Gino Picciano as Gangster

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