Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review, Film Companion

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Colin Farrell 

Director: David Yates

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the most fun I’ve had in a movie theatre in months. The film is soaring, delightful and moving.  J. K. Rowling, who is both producer and writer here, creates a spin-off world, which is as magical as the original.  

That mouthful of a title is the name of a textbook, which is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  The book has been written by the magizoologist Newt Scamander.  The film is about Newt’s journey to New York in 1926.  He arrives with a suitcase brimming with magical creatures, which have names like Niffler, Bowtruckle and Demiguise.  The creatures escape and all hell breaks loose.  But as one character says, the most vicious creatures on the planet are humans.

Director David Yates is a Harry Potter veteran and he creates a sumptuous visual feast.  The creatures have distinct personalities and some are so beautiful that they take your breath away.  Have you ever wondered how a witch cooks dinner – this film provides an inspired answer.  But what made Fantastic Beasts for me was the emotional drama.  Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne has an inherent sweetness of spirit.  He imbues the wizard with warmth and a bumbling sincerity.  Dan Fogler is equally good as Newt’s Muggle friend – in America, they are called No-Maj as in “No Magic.”  Their friendship steers the film.

Fantastic Beasts goes into dark places – the suspicion and unrest between the maj and the no-maj worlds seems to be plucked from current headlines. The film might scare younger children.  But for the rest of us, it’s an exhilarating adventure.  

Rating:   star

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