Film Reviews, Short Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

2.5/4

Let no money-spinning franchise go underused, so say the benevolent executives of Hollywood, and thus as the inevitable as the death of capitalism arrives the Harry Potter-universe-set prequels, beginning with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Eddie Redmayne is likeable and charming enough as Newt Scamander, a British wizard in the US carrying around a caseful of beasties in his Tardis-like suitcase. Whilst a lot of imagination and visual appeal has been injected into this magical recreation of mid-20s New York—one particular scene where Newt takes an audience-surrogate muggle on a tour of his suitcase zoo is outstanding in its sense of visual grandstanding and awe—but unfortunately, an excellent supporting cast (Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell) is wasted on shallow characters written by JK Rowling, whose script prioritises whip-bang plot machinations above world-building and characterisation. There’s enough craft in here, with solid direction from Harry Potter regular David Yates to make it worth the while of long-term fans, but it’s difficult to find oneself being won over by it.

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