Fashionably Late to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Thursday, 6 April 2017

SOURCE: Warner Bros.

There are some films, games and books that I just seem to miss the boat on, and end up watching much later after all the excitement has died down. The Harry Potter series in general was like this after only really getting into it towards the tail end of the movie series. Now with the latest film in the Potterverse franchise -Fantastic Beasts and Where to  Find Them- I feel late to the party again, since most of the fans probably saw the picture with the cinematic release back in November of last year. But I've finally gotten around to watching it, in what I'd like to think is a fashionably late manner. 

Fantastic Beasts is set before the events of the Harry Potter films and takes place in 1920's New York. The story follows the misadventures of magical zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who after a series of misfortunes is forced to team up with "no-maj" Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), after accidentally setting magical creatures loose in the city. Unwillingly helped out by discredited former auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), and her sister Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol). While hot on their collective tail is Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), who wants to arrest them for breaking magical laws. In the background of this main story is the Second Salemers, a fanatical group who are determined to reveal and condemn the wizarding world to the non magical folk, lead by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton). What follows is an action packed romp around New York trying to find the missing creatures, while also keeping a low profile from the muggles and authorities.

SOURCE: Warner Bros. (via. YouTube)

Watching Fantastic beasts gave me that sense of wonder that any good fantasy movie should do, much in the same way Guardians of the Galaxy did. The core of this is the superb art direction of the film, that encapsulates the grubby New York environment along side the fabulous gold plated art deco influences. The costumes were also perfectly adapted for the setting. The story itself really does set itself apart from the Harry Potter films, by showing the lives and incidents of the adults residing in this magical world. As well as giving very British observations on American relationships to things like capital punishment, religion and to a certain degree civil rights. Sometimes these do miss the mark a bit and come across as sententious, and could have been done in a far more subtle manner. 

For me Dan Fogler stole the show as Jacob. His fascination with this wizarding world that he's found himself in is truly infectious. Jacobs sweetness, compassion and likeability is emphasised with his shy romantic interest in Alison Sudol's Queenie. Queenie who also takes a fondness to Jacob, is clearly influenced my Monroe, from the look, to the voice, to that glimmer of wisdom under her eyes. These things make her fascinating for the same reasons they did for Marilyn. While her sister Tina almost fades into the background with her less bombastic personality, and unlike Hermione, doesn't make up for it with super intelligence or a pushy attitude. I feel like there should have been more thought into utilising her, you get little snippets of backstory without them being made clear. Being able to explore her life more would have been a good way to make her more memorable.

Lastly the main protagonist Newt holds all the promise of being a great main character but a lot of the time I found myself gravitating more to the peripheral characters. Newt is a sort of catalyst for moving the story along, much like a tour guide through this world. His quirk is surely a draw for some and his story reminds me of Doctor Who, in the sense of he has the answer for any situation without, worrying about consequences. I will look forward to seeing how this character grows in future films, as I don't think his full potential has been utilised yet. 

Overall If your looking for a fun adventure film you cant go too wrong with this one. Even though it has some flaws and the occasional hint of bad exposition that ruins some twists. This at the end of the day is a blockbuster film and is superb at being one.

~Gary    

3 comments :

  1. I loved this film and as much as I loved the human characters I just wanted to see more of the beasts - especially the darn cute niffler.

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