Mittwoch, 30. November 2016


Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Running Time: 133 min
Director: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Collin Farrel, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol

Harry Potter. Even if you've never seen any of the movies or read one of the books that name definitely rings a bell. It is a worldwide pop culture phenomenon and so many super fans claim to be the biggest admirer of the franchise. 2016 marks a special year for its devotees as (nine years after the latest book was published) a large scale stage play premiered in London continuing the story. Not only that, but its script was released as a bound book, and the movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was set to kick off a brand new five film prequel series to expand the universe. And while "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" received rather mixed reviews, the jury is still out on this new franchise revolving around the potterverse's famous magizoologist: Newt Scamander.
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a special new treat for Potterheads, but is also independent enough to be a fun family film for everyone who (somehow) doesn't know the franchise at all. This is probably due to the experience of the creative team. For one, there is David Yates who has spend his fair share in the Harry Potter universe, having directed half of the eight previous films. It is very apparent that Yates knows exactly how to stage, shoot and in general use its magical elements to great effect. He can put you in awe through a perfectly timed pan or wide shot, make you uneasy through fast tracking shots or make you laugh through a classic action/reaction interplay. Furthermore, Yates has always had a special attention to detail and his personal muse, J.K. Rowling (who directly wrote the screenplay this time), has always impressed through thorough world-building. There is a scene for example, where we find ourselves in an official government execution room, and just for a few seconds the camera pans upwards and reveals empty rows of seats on an upper level. Nothing is ever said about this, but it totally implies that it is common to  have spectators at an execution, which says a whole lot about the society in which the movie takes place. It's wonderful.
Rowling, who has always had a sweet spot for political subplots in her books, doesn't pass on the opportunity to do so in this screenplay as well. Although to some this might seem as unresolved or unrealized story-lines, I felt it gave the world a sense of realism and multidimensional nature. The creatress' direct and exclusive involvement in the film's script leaves no room for contradictions or inconsistencies (unlike the stage play) and thus, it fits seamlessly into the overall story. Luckily, she also refrains from making too many references to past films and keeps fan service to reasonable limits. As a result, this franchise very much manages to stand on its own.
There are only a few points where it comes noticeable that this is Rowlings first screenplay: On the one hand, there is the classic Joanne Kathleen cheese and she takes a bit too much time to wrap up her film all nice and happy (resulting in an almost "Return of the King"-Style amount of endings). On the other hand, there is the character of the muggle Kowalski, who is no more than a very obvious screenwriting device. He has absolutely no function to the film's story other than to ask questions and therefore force the other characters to give some exposition. Just when it seems he might actually become useful (and by doing so actually teach a great lesson about how wizard superiority is a delusional construct) he basically disappears for the showdown of the film.
The character benefits, however, from an extremely charming performance by Dan Fogler, who is so sympathetic that the untrained viewer might forget about his insignificance. But he is not the only actor who does a great job in the film. The whole cast does. Leading the way is Eddie Redmayne, who brings the perfect adorable quirkiness to Newt Scamander that has always been the unique forte of this British wizarding world. He especially shines when playing characters with a soft core, which the animal-lover Newt definitely has. And then there is Colin Farrel, who is absolutely fantastic as the grim looking wizard with ambiguous motives. Even though I was not too happy with his character development, I thought he absolutely nailed the part.
I could go on and on about the other actors, the creature designs, the different story arcs or about how it was one of the few movies where I thought the 3D actually enhanced the experience. But in the end, all you need to know is that "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is an enchanting,  charming and magical ride (all puns intended) that everyone can enjoy. A definite recommendation for newbies and a must-see for Potterheads!

For Fans Of: 
The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
King Kong (2005)
Doctor Strange (2016)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Click Here To Watch Trailer!

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