Fantastic beasts and where to find them is the latest instalment from J.K Rowling, set in the Harry Potter universe many years before the boy with the lightning scar, follow the tale of Newt Scamander and his endeavour to learn more about magical creatures.
Fantastic beasts and where to find them follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, an eccentric and introverted wizard who is researching all manner of magical creatures for a book he is writing. Newt arrives at New York and literally bumps into a No-Maj name Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and accidentally releases some of the magical beasts. Newt then enlisted the help of an ex- auror named Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and Jacob to help him track down his lost beasts, while evading the Magical Congress of the United States of America. I don’t want to go into much detail about the plot as I don’t wish to spoil anything.
Fantastic beasts and where to find them (simply put) looks stunning, the visual effects left me mesmerised, each of the creatures were unique and beautiful to look at. I happened to see this film in 3D and frankly I was blown away by the 3D effects, regular readers will know I’m not a fan of 3D, but in this case I am 100% wrong. The creatures move in 3D space, not all the time, just enough to make it feel magical and when spells are cast, it just has to be seen to be believed.
There is also a wonderful use of colour in this film, not just the fantastic beasts, (they are beautifully coloured), but the characters clothes and the background scenery. The film was set in probation era New York, and most of the suits were dark and the women’s clothes, while more colourful, were washed out. I felt that the use of vibrant colours was used to draw the eye to something more “magical”, for example Newt’s Blue Jacket.
The characters were all well written and well-acted, each where given a rich and interesting back story, that was touched upon in just the right way. When backgrounds were revealed it felt organic, like a natural conversation, never going into unnecessary detail or spewing exposition at you, just enough to give the characters depth and scope. A fantastic joint effort from the actors and the writers was required to bring these characters to life so well and it really shows.
Eddie Redmayne, especially stood out, he shows us why he is an Oscar winner. He plays the role of a shy introvert well. It was the subtleties that made his performance, for example, whenever he meets someone new for the first time, he doesn’t make eye contact with them, but he has no trouble making eye contact with his animals. It isn’t until he has spent more time with his companions that he starts to look them in the eye.
Colin Farrell delivers a brilliant performance as Percival Graves, the film’s antagonist, I have always believed that in order to create a truly great villain, there must always be a touch of humanity about them, a point where the audience says “okay, I understand why you’re doing that, but could you maybe do it in a less evil way?”.
(actually, I can’t, no)
I feel that I have to make a special mention of Ezra Miller’s performance as Credence Barebone, one of the most interesting characters. He is the troubled, adopted son of a fanatical woman, who runs a children’s home. Credence Suffers abuse at the hands of his “mother”, a vile woman who beats him with his own belt if he is late, or speaks out of turn. Miller’s performance is remarkable, from how he stares at his feet when he walks, or when he lingers on a hug too long because he is desperate for any affection. The moment that stood out for me, was when he was hurt and scared and he let his vulnerability show, by begging for help from the one person he trusted, only to be slapped, his face shifted from fear and pain to a stoic mask. He had been broken, and Miller brought that to life.
Dan Fogler was perfect as the comedy sidekick, Jacob Kowalski, a sweet and loveable man who wants to open a bakery, and instead has his world rocked by the realisation that magic is all around him. Fogler’s performance was hilarious, from the physical comedy to funny one liners.
What Stood out
One thing that stood apart from anything else was the subject of abuse. J.K Rowling has never shied away from uncomfortable subjects in her work, such as the abuse Harry received at the hands of his adoptive family, while toned down for the film, it was still present. It is a central theme in Fantastic beasts and it is treated carefully and with understanding and I think J.K Rowling should be proud of herself.
I found Fantastic beasts and where to find them an absolute joy to watch, while the film itself did have some serious themes and moments, it was always balanced by a light heartedness and some genuinely funny moments. A great story and a great edition to the Harry Potter universe.