FANTASTIC BEASTS – SNAPPY JAWS AND SWANKY AMERICAN ACCENTS

December 12, 2016

Taylor Carre-Riddell

fantasticbeastsposterI had high expectations Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them directed by David Yates who is a veteran director of the Harry Potter productions. I wanted this film to become another cornerstone of my childhood.

It starts with Newt Scamander visits 1920s New York City on a mission for some of many hundreds of magical creatures living inside his briefcase. But he soon learns things are not all swanky in the Big City: amidst tensions between the wizarding and No-Maj (Muggle) worlds, and there have been numerous sightings of the darkest wizard of the time, Gellert Grindelwald. But Scamander has his own issues: Jacob, a humble middle class No-Maj, manages to grab the brief case and release the creatures in Scamander’s care, threatening to throw the city into chaos.

The aesthetic:

The New York roaring 20’s setting is detailed and well researched: the settings are varied across the Magical Congress office, a New York witch’s apartment, the train station to the inside of Newt’s magical case. There is a sense that the magical world is an evolving place: that the wizarding world of the 90’s Britain has organically developed and been influenced by fashions and architectures of magical contemporary history.

At times, it feels like there is too much to absorb, so many places your eye wants to go as the camera sweeps the screen, it can get overwhelming and frustrating if you are trying to spot the subtle Harry Potter references without missing out on the movie. However, the special effects were glossy and rendered well: modern technology has never looked so good.

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The music/soundscape:

If the aesthetic and cinematic approach let me down ever so slightly , the music and soundscape helped saved my confidence in the movie. This is probably where I got the most gushy, excited ohhhh a Harry Potter movie feelings. The soundscape seems to have matured with age, and the strange, quirky background noises that helped to depict life at the Wand Registry office or in a monster enclosure were rich without being distracting, and truly reminiscent of the Harry Potter world. The music score follows the same suit: a few original melodies (both light and dark) cleverly underpin the 20’s jazz numbers that help immerse us in the wizarding trends of the day.

The storyline:

After years of watching movie adaptions of JK Rowling’s novels,  where you knew what was likely to happen and had visual expectations in your mind’s eye, it was ever so slightly disorientating not knowing what was going to happen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

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But on the whole, JK Rowling never fails to amaze. Ever. The storyline that details the events the spur Scamander to write the book has many twists, is complex yet still charmingly whimsical You can still wedge yourself into the nuances of the magical world without needing too much of a refresher on what a Niffler is or the details of International Statue of Secrecy.

4.5 Stars out of 5

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is in cinemas from November 17th

– Taylor Carre-Riddell

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