Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

It feels as though the Potterheads have been waiting years for this movie (myself included) so its safe to say the anticipation for us has been incredibly high. That being said, lets not delay this review any longer.

In 1926, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a young Magizoologist, arrives in New York City for the first time, carrying with him a briefcase containing a menagerie of magical creatures that he cares for. Unfortunately, Mr Scamander could not have chosen a worse time to arrive in New York: the city is being plagued by an undetermined creature whose powers are beyond any the magical community have seen. Fearing a widespread panic leading to war between Wizards and No-Mages (the American term for ‘Muggles’), the MACUSA (The Magical Congress of the United States of America) begin a hunt for the creature, lead by Percival Graves (Colin Farrell). When some of Scamander’s creatures accidentally escape during an altercation with ‘No-Maj’ Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein (an ex-auror played by Catherine Waterston) believes that Scamander might be behind it all, and becomes determined to bring him in and prove her worth to her superiors. Joined by her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) the group must band together and take back the city before its too late. 

The positives: The acting in this film has to be one of the main standouts. Eddie Redmaynes’ Scamander manages to be both awkward and sufficiently charming enough to immediately begin liking him, and its clear that Redmayne had fun playing this character because it translates to the screen. But the best moments have to be those between Scamander and Jacob. Their chemistry and personalities balance each other out well, and becomes the tale of unlikely friendship by happenstance. This is especially entertaining as it’s the first time we’ve seen proper wizard/muggle interaction that wasn’t negative (after all that time we spent with the Dursleys), but rather get a glimpse at how muggle/wizard communities interact, which for diehard fans will be something to look forward to. Also, Farrell’s Percival Graves was another standout whose character really shone in the (relatively few) scenes he was in. The visuals in this film were also stunning, bringing to life creatures that could only exist in imagination in all shapes and sizes. In short, its one of those epic films that continuously catches your eye and also makes you hope that the merch for this film includes plushies because damn, some of those creatures are really cute!

The negatives: As much as I enjoyed this film, it’s a classic case of a film that cannot make up its mind. As always tends to be the case in Hollywood, the pacing in this film tends to be a let down, as well as the ways that different sections of the story connect to each other. In some points the film seems to be leading one way, only to suddenly take a turn into something completely different. While there are moments where you are able to catch up, I felt that the film seemed somewhat haphazardly pieced together, meaning that too much time was spent in some parts and not enough in others and that ultimately it threw off the flow of the film. Because of this, some of the characters were not given enough time to be properly introduced, the most noteworthy being Tina. Her motivations seem sketchy and don’t really become clear until much later, which leaves the audience questioning her actions rather than jumping on board with her character which is a bit of a let down. In most films these would be only minor flaws, but because this film is such a money-maker, its disappointing to see that more care and effort wasn’t taken in teasing out these aspects. It’s understandable that this is just a setup film for what looks to be a very long running franchise, but that doesn’t excuse the need for coherence just because there is an assumption of a guaranteed audience. 

All in all, this film is definitely going to be a good time for families and fans of the Harry Potter universe. Its got great characters, entertaining creatures and above all, a new setting and new rules for the audience to discover. Although it was enjoyable, it was definitely in need of readjustments, either in the scriptwriting or editing stage, which would’ve dealt with many of the issues described above. On the whole the film was entertaining and certainly going to get audiences excited for the rest of the franchise, which will hopefully only keep getting better from here!

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