Magazine article Screen International

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: David Yates. UK-US. 2016. 133mins

Solidly extending the Harry Potter franchise to a different era with new characters, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them starts slowly before finding its groove, delivering sufficient spectacle alongside a little emotion.

There's a bit of a placeholder feel to this fantasy-adventure - a sense of keeping the risks to a minimum so as to ensure as wide an audience as possible comes out to support a new series of films. But like the wizarding movies to which it's connected, Fantastic Beasts is better the darker it gets, especially in a robust final reel where the film fully hits its stride.

Opening across most of the globe by November 18, this Warner Bros. release will do major business, even with an entirely new cast separate from the Harry Potter series. Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell bring star power, and advance buzz ought to convince viewers to take one more plunge into JK Rowling's world.

Set in New York in 1926, the film kicks offwith Newt Scamander (Redmayne), a Magizoologist (someone who studies magical creatures), visiting the metropolis to complete a worldwide expedition for these fantastical beings. But after Newt crosses paths with Jacob (Dan Fogler), an ordinary human who longs to be a baker, some of the creatures in Newt's suitcase get loose, forcing the two men to go on a citywide chase to retrieve them before the No-Majs (people without magical powers) realise there are powerful beings in their midst.

Directed by David Yates, who helmed the final four Harry Potter movies, Fantastic Beasts shares a visual palette with that earlier series. The film is impeccably crafted, and production designer Stuart Craig has been given free rein to create a dazzling turn-of-the-century Manhattan, complete with terrific Art Deco touches throughout.

Notably, this is the first time that Rowling (whose bestselling books launched the franchise) has written the screenplay, and she not only must introduce several central characters but also establish the reality of 1920s wizarding in America. Perhaps predictably, then, Fantastic Beasts sputters a bit at the beginning as we get our bearings and ascertain the different power structures in play. For instance, when Newt's beasts escape, he draws the attention of Tina (Katherine Waterston), a disgraced former Dark Arts investigator who wants to turn him in. …

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