Is my love for the Harry Potter franchise wingardium levi-over? There’s only one way to find out.
The short answer, not one bit.
Here we join the adventures of writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
A fun riveting special effects extravaganza that compliments its predecessors BUT tops them? Not quite.
I’ll own up. I’m a fan of the books. A collection that played a huge part in my childhood. The movies on the other hand were a mixed bag. I won’t open that can of worms BUT to cut a long story short; I actually preferred the earlier efforts as they stayed more faithful in their adaptation. The less we say about the Deathly Hallows the better. Moving on . . .
I always loved the little extracts that HP would read about Newt Scamander’s fantastic beasts. Breaking up the main story line and adding to the ever expanding mythology created by the talented J.K. Rowling.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that HP spin-offs would rear their ugly heads after the unanimous success of the box office franchise and the recent Cursed Child craze.
BUT if they can keep this high level of energy, fun and creativity then I’m happy to keep watching. I felt a little more relieved when I discovered Rowling was penning the screenplay. I mean who better, right?
As soon as the credits rolled and that infamous twinkly John Williams score began, I couldn’t resist a little grin.
You couldn’t have picked a better actor than the Oscar winning Eddie Redmayne. He was perfect. I was a little weary about his interpretation at first. I was worried that Newt was going to come across a little simple. Especially how he mumbled out of the side of his mouth.
“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They’re currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet; humans”.
However once you got used to Newt’s manner and we delved a little more into his past, you soon realised this timid and socially awkward wizard was more in tune with his creatures in his TARDIS-esque suitcase than the Muggle world.
The special effects were fantastic (I know. Original). The 3D is definitely worth an investment with coins, creatures and God knows what else flying out of the screen at ya.
The creatures were excellent. The new additions varied from a jewellery pinching platypus (‘Niffler’), an invisible monkey (‘Demiguise’) to a bizarre looking rhino on heat.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the man (who won an Oscar for depicting one of the world’s greatest minds) flouncing about the place and making weird mating calls.
“Hey! Mr. English Guy! I think your egg is hatched”
Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury) was great as Kowalski. The Muggle unsuspectingly roped into the chaos. He stole the show with his one liners and puzzled expressions.
The thought of a prequel should have incensed the fan boy in me BUT setting it back in 1920s New York allowed Rowling to explore other aspects of the very wizarding universe she created. The jazz bar with gangster house elves and shots of Gigglewater being a particular highlight.
I loved the culture clash between the Brits and the Yanks. It was a nice touch. Right down to the slang and abbreviations. Muggle/No-Maj. Wizarding Senate/The Ministry of Magic.
It was fun and entertaining enough with Scamander and his rag tag team of misfits desperately trying to capture all the beasts. BUT it wasn’t all perfect.
Colin Farrell played the sinister Graves brilliantly. BUT there wasn’t enough of him.
I felt when the film deviated from Scamander, I lost interest. The story got bogged down too much with Ezra Miller’s (The Flash) Credence Barebone and the religious cult. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) played the abusive leader well. BUT it didn’t really go in the direction I expected.
The dark angle had potential and introduced a new menace with the infamous Grindelwald. Hardcore HP fans will already be familiar with that name. For others, the reference might be missed. And to be honest, the whole thing felt like another Voldemort (Sorry, you-know-who) retread.
The mystery Obscura (a dark force harvested within magical folk) certainly freaked me out BUT also flagged a number of questions.
I found Katharine Waterston’s (Inherent Vice) character quite irritating and her delivery was a little flat. BUT once she got caught up in the chaos with Newt and co, she soon grew on me. Her quirky mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), on the other hand, made more of an impression
Jon Voight (Deliverance) was completely unnecessary in his role. Anyone could have played him. In all fairness, there were a lot of faces that popped up in this that were nothing more than flashy cameos.
God knows how they are going to make another FOUR movies?! (That’s right!). It’s best to ignore that little fact before viewing this and take it as a solo effort for now.
BUT as long as they don’t get too bogged down by the dark stuff, I’m happy to take another journey with Newt Scamander and his fantastic beasts.