Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

fantastic-beastFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 3.5/5 – Dabbling in the art of the imaginative is one that films do on many occasion.  No matter what kind of fantastical realm is explored, there is always a sense of escape.  This film is one that takes place within the wizardry world made famous by the Harry Potter series.  Essentially a prequel, this film gives us another look of how wizards, magic and the real world collide in a different setting.  For all the comparisons that will be made, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fun adventure that produces that escapism for anyone a fan of this kind of genre.  Even for some cumbersome plot elements, there is enough here to have a good time.

Premise: Following the adventure of Newt Scamander; he travels to New York City with a case of magical beast.  When the case gets open, it is a race against time to save the world from an evil that threatens both the wizard and human worlds.

In the lead role of Newt Scamander is Eddie Redmayne.  A very strong actor; he does a great job in this new role created by J. K. Rowling.  Setting the stage with an interesting background, Redmayne creates a character that is suave, subtle but very eccentric within his own powers and knowledge.  When you see him on screen, you’re drawn in by the awkwardness of his personality and interactions with others (wizards/witches and non-magical people).  He creates a sense of wonder while providing a draw that is realistic for the audience.  The enigmatic combination of witty dialogue, physical prowess and unpredictable use of powers; Newt is a formidable character that is worthy for this world.  With the rest of the cast; you can refer to the film’s IMDb page.  In short, they all do a swell job in creating distinct individuals in a new magical world.  No matter whom you’re talking about (from Colin Farrell’s Graves to Katherine Waterston’s Tina), they all provide an authenticity to their roles.  There isn’t anything that comes across as bombastic or cartoonish; it is a welcomed human dynamic that is layered with the fragile sense of their own position.  From the ideal perspective, the secondary cast do a wonderful job in creating a new uneasy balance of the wizarding world when it comes to the community itself, the era (1920s) and the interactions with the humans (known as Nonmag in America).  You feel the honest approach in all their acting abilities, with not one being cliché from the onset.

The direction is built around two things.  Re-introduction to the world created by the Harry Potter series and ‘world building’ in a prior era.  This creates a mixing of the generalities within story development.  What is done (in the first act) is a new world introduced to the audience through a singular character.  In this new world, we are introduced to a different set of rules when it comes to wizards, magic and interactions with non-wizards.  With the overall context of a ‘fish out of water’ scenario, we are brought into the film through the perspective of Newt Scamander.  He is a wizard with a passion on learning and educating others about magical beast.  Set in the 1920s, his journey takes him to New York City; where he is on a personal mission.  Through some convenient plot devices, his magical suitcase ends up in the hands of a human; whom lets loose a few beasts.  From this point, the story turns into a web of mystery and magic.  What happens (during the second act) is a lot of convoluted plot elements vying for the main focus.  What you have is a mixture of characterized dynamic, the ‘fleshing out’ of the new world of magic and the undertow of some ‘unknown’ evil behind the scenes.  Neither of these threads are brought together cohesively, causes a muddling of high and low moments.  With such an uneven approach to direction, it can be cumbersome for the audience whom is unfamiliar with Harry Potter.  This will cause a drowning out of the importance when it comes to the main character, the magical beast and the interpersonal relationships that are developed.  Even for all that is entailed, there is a lot of fun to be had.  It is found within the interactions of certain characters and a different look when it comes to magical powers.  It is an awe like feeling, creating the sensation that draws you in and grips you on the quest that Newt Scamander is on.  Once you head into the final act, it is great layering of both the magical and real worlds.  All the plot threads come into focus, as a dire situation happens and the wizards must come out of the shadows and save the world from an imminent threat.  This leads into a climax that becomes a confrontation that is poignant and humanly driven.  It is an amazing draw of magical powers, characterized drama and unique twists.  It shows a deeper complexion when it comes to the overall world of wizardry; one that brings into question what is truly evil.  Once the epilogue roles, it ends on a note of no true ending; opening the door to more films within this new era of magic.

The visuals are very strong, visceral and overtly creative.  This description is the best way that can be used to describe the cinematography built around the general aesthetic of New York City in the 1920s.  With a mixing blend of general detail of an era within the imaginative realm of magic, it is an awkward blend that is seamlessly brought together on screen.  No matter if you’re within the suitcase of magical beast, in the main building of the Wizard Council or just walking the streets of New York City; you feel as if you’re a part of this world.  There is an emotional dynamic mixed with colors and focal lighting; creating a sensation that draws a deep connection for the audience to react in very different ways.  The score is very predictable.  It is a mixture of old music from past films, creating a retro like feel with the film.  Even so, the music does help at parts in the film.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a good reintroduction to the world that was made famous by Harry Potter.  With a new story, wonderful characters and some interesting elements of the wizardry world of America, there is enough here to keep you enjoyed.  If you’re a fan of fantasy or Harry Potter, you will have something here to watch.  It is worth going to the theaters to watch, fun for the whole family.

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