Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Potter Prequel Offers a Dark, Stylish Take on Rowling's World, as Eddie Redmayne's Hero Encounters Beasts of the Magical and Human Variety in a Bigoted New York

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Potter Prequel Offers a Dark, Stylish Take on Rowling's World, as Eddie Redmayne's Hero Encounters Beasts of the Magical and Human Variety in a Bigoted New York

Article excerpt

THE pixie dust may have settled on Harry Potter's cataclysmic battle with Lord Voldemort, but author J.K. Rowling isn't ready to cast an Evanesco vanishing spell on her world of warring wizards just yet.

Inspired by a faux textbook, written in 2001 to benefit Comic Relief, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a rollicking spin-off set several decades before the escapades of the boy wizard, with a lightning bolt-shaped scar.

It's also the first film penned for the screen by Rowling and is a surprisingly bleak affair about tolerance, prejudice and integration that strikes an ominous chord following the racially divisive rhetoric of the US presidential election.

"I know you have rather backwards laws about relations with non-magic people," British magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) tells an American counterpart.

Tensions between No-Majs (the clunky Americanism for Muggles) and spell-casting folk underpin every scene of David Yates' visually sumptuous picture - the opening chapter of a five-film franchise that will be apparating into cinemas until 2024.

The team a host As origin stories go, Fantastic Beasts...

is a crowd-pleasing doozy. Zealots called the Second Salemers, led by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and her adopted son Credence (Ezra Miller), preach hell and damnation in 1926 New York, following a reign of terror perpetrated by dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).

Newt Scamander (Redmayne) arrives in the Big Apple at the height of this paranoia, carrying an enchanted suitcase full of endangered critters.

A No-Maj called Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) accidentally picks up Newt's luggage and releases otherworldly species in breach of the Statute of Secrecy.

Beasties go on the rampage and Newt attempts to recapture them aided by Jacob, a former Auror called Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her mind-reading sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol). …

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