Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Plot: In 1920's New York, wizard zoologist Newt (Eddie Redmayne) arrives on a ship from London with a suitcase magically-filled with magic animals/monsters. One animal escapes and while trying to catch it the suitcase ends up with aspiring baker Kowalski (Dan Fogler), and then more animals escape. The chaos attracts the attention of Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Graves (Colin Farrell) who are like magic police, as well as Chastity Barebone, who is a feverish political opponent of magic.  Tina and her sister Queen (Alison Sudol) and Kowalski help Newt capture the animals and satisfy the authorities. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Fantastic Beasts is a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing a  new take on JK Rowling's magical world.

I liked the personalities of all four main actors, Redmayne, Waterston, Sudol and Fogler. Redmayne is full of emotion. Waterston seems serious and coy. Sudol had a great flirting scene and her mind reading scenes were funny. Fogler starts out so stiff, and is lovable by the end.

The basic story is catching the monsters, but it is paced out by the introduction of all the characters and interludes where we get to know the  monsters -- primarily to foreshadow the more lively action later.

At the end there are several subplots planted for the sequels -- if you are already looking forward to the sequels as I am, these are valuable clues. If not, then these are fluff not contributing to the drama.

Rowlings magical universe in the US has different politics than in England. Here the witches are more oppressed and egalitarian, without the class distinctions that were the major theme of Harry Potter.

I liked how the main monster of the story was an incarnation of the repression traumatic events and denying ones identity, so the psychological evil becomes physical evil. Unlike some summer thrillers, there is a clear political and sociological message being sent in the construction of the story. In this season of Trump, the cross-cultural themes may be more timely or more controversial. 

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell

Directed by:
David Yates

Story and screenplay by: JK Rowling

The Music:
Orchestral music by James Newton Howard

The Visuals:
Some top 1920's era visuals, and some of the smaller monsters were cool. The interior of the Magical Congress Building was cool. I did not care for the big monsters.

3.0 stars: Fun to watch. Good acting. Interesting story, but thrilling.

More: This is the first of five Fantastic Beast films.

Even More: There is no novel, but there is a screen-play, which I have not bought because I have a new novel I am working on, but maybe over Christmas.


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