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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Film Review

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published November 24th 2016
Keep Your Luggage With You At All Times - It's Good Advice
fantastic beasts and where to find them, harry potter, jk rowling, david yates, eddie redmayne, fantasy, odeon, cinema, film
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Long before Hagrid terrorised students in his Care of Magical Creatures class there was another animal enthusiast making his mark in history. Both were falsely expelled due to their affinity with what most considered 'dangerous' creatures but, equally, both were supported by Albus Dumbledore, and anyone in Dumbledore's good books must be a good egg - whether that be dragon, acromantula, chimera, or otherwise.

The year is 1926 and magizoologist, Newt Scamander has arrived in New York City with a rather suspicious looking suitcase; a suitcase that really needs a better security lock. For it only takes a glint of gold to cause chaos at the bank as hapless baker, Jacob Kowalski ends up being swooped into a world of magical misadventures.

The laws about interaction between magical and non magic folk (no-majs) are much stricter in America than in Britain, so ex-auroa, Tina Goldstein, is determined to turn Newt in. However, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) have more important matters on their hands. New York is under threat by a malevolent dark cloud, destroying everything in its path. They fear the Dark Wizard, Gellert Grindewald might be responsible.

After a five year wait since the last Harry Potter film, fans will not be wanting by JK Rowling's spin-off to the series. Where as The Cursed Child play, which opened in June, was a disappointment, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is at top form because it was actually written by Rowling herself, rather than merely being approved. While it cannot compare to the Harry Potter books, it does surpass the film adaptations, probably because it was written specifically for the screen.

While completely accessible to someone who has never followed the Harry Potter franchise, fans will have their heartstrings tickled at every subtle in-reference, such as a mention of Dumbledore or the fact that Jacob Kowalski shares the same initials as our beloved author.

Although set decades earlier, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them feels more modern because it is set in the expansive city of New York as opposed to the confines of a medieval castle. After Harry's struggle against the rise of Lord Voldemort, Newt's frolic with his mischievous menagerie is a delightfully light-hearted story, yet it still manages to deal with serious issues about repression and conservation.

Casting Eddie Redmayne as the lead was an inspired decision as he encapsulates all the nuances of Newt's charming lack of social skills, His awkward movements and posture are reminiscent of Redmayne's shy and vulnerable performance of Lily in The Danish Girl, but also captures a cheeky disregard for authority.

The rest of the cast are as well chosen, their performances brought all the more to life through stunning period costumes and the imagined wizarding fashion of the time. From Newt's humble trench coat to MACUSA President's majestic robes and headdress, it shows the creativity of the designers as its best.

The CGI is even more outstanding, making 'Fantastic Beasts' a truly appropriate name. If read on paper, the creatures sound like a comedic mishmash of real animals, but the designs are so spectacular that it feels like an insult that they don't exist in real life. Each is anthropomorphised by unique personalities, but they all act animalistic as opposed to human traits inside animal bodies.

Parched by an absence of recent Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will rehydrate fans with excitement, giddiness, and anticipation for more.
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Why? Enjoyable for all the family
When: Out Now
Where: Cinema
Cost: Cinemas vary
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