(I’m on holiday right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)
Does anyone else think perfume adverts are more than a little ridiculous? Perhaps now 4DX screens are becoming a thing they have a place in the world, but has anyone really ever paid much attention to these ads? You’re probably actually wondering what the hell perfume has to do with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Well, at the cinema the other night, right before the featured trailers aired, an advert of sorts was played for what looked like a period drama movie or TV show starring Domhnall Gleeson (AKA General Hux, AKA my favourite grumpy space ginger). I got so excited I did a little dance in my seat, until I realised it was an advert for Burberry perfume. What. The. Frick?! NOT COOL Burberry, not cool. Although I might buy your aftershave for my husband now…damnit. It works.
Anyway! Harry Potter fans will be aware of the book on every Hogwarts first year’s required reading list, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Who’d have thought all these years later it would be adapted into not one, but 5 movies?! I wish I could go back and tell 12 year old me. This movie is the story of the author of said book, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who travels to New York in 1926 to release one of his beasts back into the wild where he/she belongs. Whilst there, several creatures (including the ever adorable Niffler) escape from Newt’s magical suitcase.
Newt gets himself into trouble for involving a no-maj (American muggle) called Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and then not wiping his memory, so gets himself caught by disgraced Auror Tina (Katherine Waterson). Amidst all this, a dark wizard called Gellert Grindelwald is on the loose, an anti-magic cult is throwing their weight around, and a rather dapper Colin Farrell is hunting down a talented young witch. Got it? I sure all hell don’t, there’s so much going on!
Let me first say though how wonderful it is to return to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The sheer excitement at hearing that familiar music with the Warner Brothers logo was enough to make me cry (for the second or third time that night, after so many Christmas adverts), and there are plenty of references for the hardcore fans to spot. Eddie Redmayne is the perfect choice for Newt, confident in his abilities and passionate in his subject, but terribly awkward at the same time. It’s the first time I’ve ever really loved him on screen.
The beasts themselves are indeed fantastic. The Niffler is the real show-stealer, but all the creatures we are shown either bring laughs or a feeling of awe. It’s a lot of CGI to have thrown around, but it works. Almost the entire supporting cast were new to me, but their characters were played so well and even ones that have a high risk of being annoying (I’m looking at you, Queenie) were actually incredibly likable.
Where this movie falls down is largely the messy plot. Considering this franchise is going to be dragged out into 5 movies, there was too much packed into the first installment. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I would have been happy for the entire first movie to be an introduction to Newt and Co, chasing down the beasts across New York. Save the dark wizard stuff for movie number 2! Who is the target audience, anyway? This was far too dark for young children, but the plot was far too obvious for the older fans. It’s a shame.
I’ll always be happy for more Harry Potter movies, but I’d have liked them to go down the Star Wars route with a collection of one-offs instead. Let’s have Fantastic Beasts, then how about a movie for Hagrid and how he got kicked out of Hogwarts? A Marauder’s movie would be amazing too! There are so many stories that could be expanded, without the need of dragging them out.