Monday, November 21, 2016

Movie Review: "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them"

Reminisce and Discover: 
"Fantastic Beasts" Brings Us Back To Rowling's Wizarding World. 

Unlike all eight "Harry Potter" films wherein I was able to read the book first before seeing the movie, the case for "Fantastic Beasts" was different. There is a book that you can read but this of course is still the very same text book that  Harry et al use in their years of study at Hogwarts and it reads as such, just like a textbook. 

I have read the book but have yet to write a review about it (I enjoyed it as it had that classic Rowling humor). I have to hand it to J. K. Rowling, who would have thought that you would be able to create an incredible story from what was supposedly just a textbook?! 

So even if you have read the book, like me, it would just be a sort of encyclopedia on different magical creatures, this was of course written by Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who prefers his "fantastic beasts" over people and hides his (beautiful) eyes under a thick mass of curly soft brown hair. 

The film that shares the same name as the book tells the story of how Newt, after an extensive travel of the world goes to New York in 1926 (70 years before Harry Potter). What Newt thought would be a simple visit turns out to be an adventure he will not easily forget. 

Award Winning actor Eddie Redmayne (OBE) as Newt Scamander. 

The film opens with newspaper clippings (it's 1926!) of the powerful dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald wrecking havoc in Europe and dissapearing without a trace. The whole wizarding community is on the edge with Grindelwald's recent attacks and an unknown threat in New York which could lead to the exposure of wizards and witches. 

As if things couldn't get any more tense, Newt Scamander arrives in New York City with a case full of magical creatures and some of them have escaped! Now an unlikely team, made up of Newt, a good natured No-Maj (Muggle) Jacob Kowalski (who absolutely stole the show), a disgraced (former) Auror, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) and her legilimens (someone who can read minds) quirky Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol - "A Fine Frenzy!") are on a race against time to find Newt's beasts before they are blamed for a series of attacks in New York. 

What starts out as a Pokemon Go Party-err- trying to look for the magical creatures turns out to be more than any of them ever imagined. 

Collin Farrel as Percival Graves

"Fantastic Beasts" was very different from "Harry Potter" in the sense that the setting was different (1920's New York) so there was no school, no "Defense Against The Dark Arts" class, no "Quidditch" so that was definitely something new and refreshing. 

I guess the thing about going into "Fantastic Beasts" is that it could be a little overwhelming in the first few minutes. I have to admit there was pacing problems for me in the first part of the film but the film just brings you right back in Rowling's wizarding world and soon you are caught in the magic. That magic that you have known growing up, the same magic you spent so many hours lost in, seven books, eight movies, a childhood of Rowling's magical world. You are bound to get sentimental and I was. 

What I liked about the film was that it read just like a Harry Potter book, the rising action, the mystery and twist in the end was very satisfying, although how the "antagonist" was "apprehended" was a little underwhelming. 

I will however say that I am completely hooked with the new characters, Redmayne is perfect as Newt, I read somewhere (the book maybe) that Newt is not really fond of people, that he prefers his creatures over them and Redmayne was able to get this across effectively. 

I have to say though that I loved Jacob, every time he's on screen the audience would just laugh, every little twitch of his face just adorable. (More of Jacob please!) and I just loved Queenie, even before I knew that she was played by Alison Sudol who is also known as alternative singer-songwriter "A Fine Frenzy" I've loved her songs for years now! You should really check her out ;) "Almost Lover" and "You Picked Me" are my favorites. 

Sorry, just totally geeking out since my music and movie nerd just had a great cross over! More of Queenie too please! 

Jacob Kowalski (Dan Folger), Newt (Redmayne) and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) 

Despite the pacing problems and the underwhelming wrap up with the antagonists, I'd still watch it again and I am also looking forward to the upcoming films, there is news that Eddie Redmayne won't be the lead in this, which is understandable, given that even the actors did not know about the future films, which is okay, I really, really want to know what happens with those little "easter eggs" they had throughout the movie. 

Some talking points in the movie, don't worry there are no spoilers. 

Newt was expelled from Hogwarts but he was still in his own queer way a hero. Not that I am in favor of leaving school but I appreciated how Rowling made this character a star. Although he was shy around people, he took it upon himself to study these fantastic beasts so that other people could understand them more. He might have not blossomed traditionally in school but he still made his mark, and now all students in Hogwarts read his book and is definitely useful at times. Just ask Hermione. 

Alison Sudol AKA "A Fine Frenzy" as Queenie Goldstein. 
There was a scene where he talks about rescuing a pair of magical creature who is considered the last breeding pair of their kind. They were seen with a baby and I can't help but think of the many endangered species that we have in the planet (also those that have become extinct) all at the hands of man and it made me a little sad as I thought about how greedy mankind really is. I hope that the lesson in the movie is something that kids would pick up on and become aware on the plight of endangered species all over the world. 

The film talks about "suppressing one's nature" which leads to catastrophic consequences and I believe that this is an important talking point, given current events and should also serve as a reminder for us to put away our "persecuting nature" I mean, really it's 2016 already. 

8.5 out of 10. The pacing problem, underwhelming resolution and sometimes Newt was a little hard to understand, not just because of the accent but his shy nature had him whispering and mumbling at times. Maybe seeing it with subtitles would help. 

Grateful that we have more stories coming out, you just can't get enough of a good thing. 

© 2016 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved. 
Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Publishing Rights © JKR.

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