The return of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world…
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them simply shouldn’t work. It is not only written by J.K. Rowling – the creator of the hugely popular Harry Potter franchise – but is also set in the same universe as the famous wizard. So, throughout the movie we’re constantly reminded about everything we loved about the Potter franchise without being given Potter himself. It’s like someone saying, “You love chocolate ice cream, don’t you? Well, here’s strawberry!”
When you’re regularly reminding your audience of the beloved characters that they admire so much, you risk making them wish they were watching the Hogwarts gang instead. Luckily there is just about enough here to allow the film to escape from Potter’s shadow – making it one to watch.
In the first of a planned five-film prequel series, gone are the shadowy gothic corridors and dull black robes. Instead, we’re presented with the towering skyscrapers, glitz and glamour of 1920s New York. The story focuses on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the writer of the titular textbook that Harry studies in the first Potter movie (just one of the many references/Easter eggs) who has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures.
Arriving in the Big Apple for a brief stopover, he meets Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), an American witch and former employee for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), and accidentally swaps suitcases with a No-Maj (American for ‘Muggle’) named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler, who steals the show on numerous occasions). Before long, mix-up madness and hilarity ensues as some of Scamander’s creatures escape. Together, the gang try and retrieve them before too much damage is done to the city and the magical community become exposed.
With Fantastic Beasts being the first of a series of films, it’s easy to see all the seeds being planted – waiting to bloom in later instalments. Because of that, the movie can sometimes feel a little overcrowded. I personally would have liked to have seen fewer characters, allowing a select few to be given more screen time – perhaps resulting in them being more compelling than they currently are.
This prequel/spinoff is directed by David Yates, who made the final four Potter films. Much like those movies, Fantastic Beasts is far from perfect, but it’s fast-paced, dark and a lot of fun.
Let’s just say I like chocolate ice cream better, but strawberry will more than suffice.
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Genre: Action & Adventure
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Jon Voight, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton& Colin Farrell.
Running Time: 2hrs 13mins
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Director: David Yates
See Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and much more at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas’.