Thursday, 4 May 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film directed by David Yates

Subtitled ‘From J K Rowling’s Wizarding World’, Fantastic Beasts evokes the on-screen magic we enjoyed with the Harry Potter movies. Keeping the magic going, this movie is an adaptation of the book by Rowling and the first in the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise. So good news for Potter fans.

The story takes English magizoologist, Newt Scamander, to New York, where he's fresh off the boat on his way to Arizona. It’s all very 1920s and the producers have done a great job of recreating the era with a glimpse of how the wizarding world might work across the Atlantic.

Newt has a suitcase, much like Hermione’s handbag, in that it contains a lot more than its size would suggest. His case is full of magical creatures, of course, and when a niffler escapes he has a run in with the authorities at a bank and meets a no-maj (muggle) with an identical suitcase. You just know there's going to be one of those crazy suitcase mix-ups.

Jacob Kowalski has a case full of doughnut samples and is looking for a loan. What he gets is a load of trouble and an introduction to the magical world. Newt gets bailed up by demoted auror Tina Goldstein over this lapse and the two set out to find his suitcase, capture his missing beasts and erase Kowalski’s memory of it all.

Meanwhile New Yorkers are being terrorized by an Obscurus, an evil parasite that leaves a path of death and destruction in its wake. Newt knows all about these and you can bet his small problems are just stepping stones towards solving the big one, and a further run in with the top brass at MACUSA, the Magical Congress of the USA.

It all makes for a fun-filled and visually engaging hour or two with plenty of action, balanced with quieter moments that show Newt with his menagerie and getting to know his new chums. Eddie Redmayne as Newt is charmingly self-effacing but a dab hand with magic, and the surrounding cast don’t let the side down, either. Look for a glowering Colin Farrell as Director of Magical Security.

Rated M, Fantastic Beasts is good family fodder, though best not for the very young, and can be enjoyed without having read the book. The second film in the series is due for release next year.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue links: 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (book)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander a movie scrapbook

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