When you give a film a name like Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, you’d better make it pretty fantastical and throw in a fair few beasts that require some discovery and in all fairness it does just that. It’s not quite perfect, though, with a fringe element of overacting from Eddy Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), despite a strong performance, and an easy disregard for difficult elements of society, but in general it’s a decent fantasy fiction flick that builds on the J.K. Rowling legendarium.
The story is a rollercoaster adventure through 1920s New York as young wizard Newt Scamander (Redmayne) arrives with a suitcase full of fantastic beasts. It doesn’t take long to get into the swing of the action as a series of unfortunate events lead to a number of the magical creatures escaping into the city. It’s added to by the inclusion of another monstrous entity into the plot that is far scarier than anything in Newt’s case, building things up for the edge of your seat climax.
It’s the finer touches that have gone into the screenplay that make the film so watchable, creating great relationships between the characters as they meet in cute circumstances and get caught up in the whirlwind of it all together. It’s crafted well by J.K. Rowling, who wrote the film based on her book of the same name, and both the cast and director David Yates have clearly worked hard to make it work so well as a film.
Eddie is very good as the wizarding world’s equivalent to Doctor Doolittle, bringing idiosyncratic poise to his performance, which makes you warm to the character easily. There are just a couple of flecks of his mannerisms being overly crafted, in particular his physical interactions with the Thunderbird, but they’re fairly easy to overlook.
Dan Fogler (Free Birds) makes a great accompaniment for Scamander as big-hearted no-maj cannery worker and wannabe baker Jacob, who sort of bumbles into it all before going on to be an integral part of the containment efforts. Catherine Waterstones (Alien Covenant) is well balanced as former Auror Tina Goldstein, and Alison Sudol (Other People’s Children) is brilliant as her mind-reading sister Queenie. John Voight (The Champ) is pretty solid as newspaper magnate Henry Shaw too.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them trailer:
The darker heart of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is delivered well by the incredibly serious Colin Farrell (The Lobster) as Percival Graves, a lead Auror at the Magical Congress of the United States Of America. He’s supported by the cultish presence of Samantha Morton playing Mary Lou Barebone, the leader of a sinister group of no-majs determined to expose the evil of witchcraft and wizardry, and her adopted son Credence, played with great brow-beaten precision by Ezra Miller (Justice League). There’s also a decent cameo from Johnny Depp (Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge) to look forward to.
The visuals for the film are flawless, creating a sumptuously authentic feel to the 1920s New York it’s been set in and a fantastical brilliance to all of the magic that is crammed into it.
It’s hard to pick holes in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and the DVD is one that should easily get a fair few plays over the years. Although, you might want to go for the HD download or Blu-ray if you want to make the most of the special effects on a big screen TV.
It’s a shame it didn’t deal too well with the troubled Credence, but other than that – and Eddie’s few and far between thespian theatrics – it’s a good new addition to fantasy fiction adventures. It looks great, has an absorbing story and introduces some mesmerising new characters, which will go on to spawn four sequels with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them 2 slated for late autumn 2018. Sadly, that won’t include Ezra Miller, but his performance has at least re-instilled an element of hope in the potential of the upcoming Justice League adaptation.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them DVD review 4/5