Bril­liant beastly busi­ness

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

The first non-Harry film in the Pot­ter-verse favours a 1926 New York set­ting that fol­lows char­ac­ters piv­otal to the Harry Pot­ter mythol­ogy.

If you’re not aware that Newt Sca­man­der (Ed­die Red­mayne) was a mag­i­cal zo­ol­o­gist who wrote a text­book or that Gellert Grindel­wald fought Dum­ble­dore in an in­fa­mous bat­tle for some­thing-or-other, Fan­tas­tic Beasts de­fines it­self so well that new­bies can eas­ily fol­low while nerd eyes will soak up all the new de­tails.

JK Rowl­ing feels in­cred­i­bly in-tune with her au­di­ence, the ma­jor­ity of whom grew up with the Hog­warts Class of 2001. Now these grown-ups are treated to a tale star­ring adults, cen­tred on Sca­man­der who en­ters the Big Ap­ple with a (ter­ri­bly un­re­li­able) suit­case full of beasts while the un­der­ground world of wizards deals with an un­sta­ble threat that could ex­pose them all.

Red­mayne makes for a ten­der, unique, heart-warm­ing hero who can some­times seem more Time Lord than wiz­ard (com­plete with Tardis-like lug­gage). Aid­ing him su­perbly is Dan Fogler, as the mug­gle who stum­bles into the world of magic like a pug in a car wash – be­wil­dered, yet as­ton­ished. Ali­son Su­dol also ra­di­ates as one-note charmer Quee­nie.

It’s a damn shame that Gold­stein (Kather­ine Water­ston) isn’t as mem­o­rable. Af­ter be­ing dis­graced, she seeks to prove her­self to the Statute of Se­crecy, but the movie de­nies her a de­cent chance to do some magic badassery.

The cli­max also un­der­whelms – as if they put nuts and bolts in­side a CGI blen­der, threw it in­side a sub­way, and called it a fight scene. But that’s partly be­cause ev­ery­thing you see be­fore that fi­nale is so very vis­ually fan­tas­ti­cal. Spe­cial ef­fects can elicit ex­cite­ment through ex­plo­sions, but Fan­tas­tic Beasts is at its best when it elic­its won­der through ex­plo­ration.

Hope­fully we’ll see more of that in the next four se­quels.

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