Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - The Answer is "in a Suitcase"

The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Maintaining David Yates as director lends a consistency to the project, and yet, it could have been refreshing to get a completely new take on J.K. Rowling's world with this series. In this new instalment, Jacob is clearly meant as our way into this magical new world. Dan Fogler as Kowalski, this normal no-maj' or muggle who gets caught up in all this, is the audience character and comic relief of the movie. 

He is all of us, he is the guy who is constantly like "Hey what's going on?!" and they explain things to him but they are actually explaining them to us. Dan Fogler is so good, he never gets annoying and he never feels like  a side-kick either, for that I was very happy he was in this film. Moreover, by the end of the movie, he also becomes one of the most important emotional core of the movie as his romantic relationship subplot with Queenie is by far the film's most charming detail. 

Unsurprisingly, Fantastic Beasts amplify both the strength and weaknesses of Rowling's storytelling approach - a cliffhanger-oriented tactic that works well in novels but feels less elegant on screen. Nonetheless, David Yates is a director that understands this world. He is building great set action sequences as well as several slower paced scenes and are not overly relying on our knowledge or love of the Harry Potter universe. The major problem with this movie is that the visual panache comes with a whole lot of plots. In fact, the film has some structural problems and really feels like two movies. On the one hand, you have the beasts plot and on the other hand, the chasing going on with the Obscuro and Grindelwald plot. Finally, this film has Harry Potter-esque magic but the world itself is the muggle world. I'm addressing this point because I believe that the magic in this film is the most awe-inspiring where it shouldn't have been the most magical. Magic is in the details.

Overall, I did enjoy this film but it feels too much like a setup movie for future instalments of the franchise.

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