Friday, 18 November 2016

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Film Review

Arriving at Ellis Island in 1926 New York is magizoologist Eddie Redmayne's Newt(on) Scamander. Armed with his Mary Poppins style suitcase containing his fantastic beasts. That will eventually become the subject of a textbook at Hogwarts School. Europe meanwhile is trying and failing to capture dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. And so begins Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. J.K. Rowling's new adventure.

Grey and colourless New York is currently gripped by The Second Salamars and their persecution of witches. Lead witch hunter Mary Lou uses the local kids to get her anti-witch message out. Played by Samantha Morton she rules her Barebone family of adopted kids with a rod of iron, and a few licks of the belt. And MACUSA the Magical Congress of the United States of America is doing all it can to keep magical beings unseen. While it's clear to all that something is happening out there. Not a good time then to have a suitcase mix up with Muggle (or No-Maj), Jacob Kowalski; a would be baker applying for a bank loan. He ends up with the magical beasts. And Newt ends up with a case of pastries.

But witch and now Federal Wand Permit Officer Porpentina Goldstein, played by Katherine Waterston, has spotted Newt. And after seeing him make magical mayhem with Jacob. And a cute kleptomaniac platypus at a New York bank, marches him off to MACUSA. Where she hopes to get her job back as an Auror. But ends up with pastries on her face in front of Director of Magical Security Percival Graves over the swapped cases. Played by Colin Farrell, Graves is also using Mary Lou Barebone's son Credence to help locate a possible 10 year child from among her followers. Who has been prophesied as being very powerful. And could actually be the cause of the New York trouble. Ezra Miller plays the troubled and mistreated son in the Barebone family. Or freaks as they are called by Jon Voight's rich and politically dynastic family.

Meanwhile Jacob also discovers he has the wrong suitcase when the fantastic beasts escape from it into the New York streets. Causing mayhem. Unfortunately Newt didn't have time to obliviate Jacob's mind after the bank antics. And after they find him Tina takes them both to the home she shares with her legilimen sister Queenie for Jacob to recover, as he has been bitten. Played by Alison Sudol glamorous Queenie can reads minds. And Dan Fogler's Jacob sweetly likes what he sees. A magical dinner is prepared (now I know why they don't need ovens in NYC), with Jacob slack jawed at the preparation. And the boys prepare to stay the night. Except Newt has other ideas as he and Jacob exit through the Narniaesque suitcase to his menagerie of fantastic beasts.

The movie really comes into it's own here with the fantastic beasts that Newt is caring for. Jacob is transfixed and knows he cannot be dreaming as his brain couldn't make up these amazing animals. He also meets an Obscurial which Newt tells him not to touch. I think there's trouble ahead with this dark matter.

Having realised the boys are gone Tina manages to catch up with them after they have chased down the missing beasts through New York. And takes them to the MACUSA where the world's wizarding community are meeting to discuss events. This does not go well and the story really gets going.

We know from the press that Warner Bros intend a series of 5 Fantastic Beasts movies through to 2024. J.K. Rowling was credited with writing and producing, and maybe by the final movie she will be directing also. But currently David Yates has the directing gig, and although not as bright and colourful as the earlier Harry Potter movies, I thought the film was well crafted and the stand alone story was packed full of entertainment. It's not clear where the films will visit and where they'll finally end up. But I think that we can expect something pretty special from them.

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