A New York setting and a whole new narrative allows JK Rowling to share her kaleidoscopic imagination and strong moral compass with the world once more — what is to be thought of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?
Harry Potter is injected with the magic of Planet Earth in this new adventure. Eddie Redmayne leads the cast with his expertise in personal nuance, translating his love for magic to audiences in tightly-packed cinemas. There couldn’t really have been a better fit for this character, Redmayne oozes endearment for the mystical creatures that make up this narrative. From a space filling snake-bird (Occamy), to a gold grabbing mole creature (Niffler), we are slowly introduced to the world of magical beasts that reside inside of Newt’s (Redmayne) briefcase.
An example of the value of this film is found in the mystery of creatures such as the invisible Demiguise. His sight is ruled not by what is currently occurring, but by what he predicts to be the most probable circumstance to surround him. JK’s imagination makes a trip to the cinema worthwhile, she explores her creations so deeply it enables them to come to life. Newt’s utterance of ‘worrying being a form of suffering twice’ is another example of JK’s expertise: she is very good at touching on moments of truth that audiences both young and old can relate too. However, the New York setting and simplistic plot line did not match up to the world of Harry Potter.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them misses a detailed introduction such as the one we received from Harry Potter. Specifics such as ‘Muggles’ being named ‘No-Majs’ are indulgences that highlight just how little we know of the tale of magic in America; as we follow Newt around New York we encounter many charismatic and likeable characters, but we are unable to connect these with the magical world hidden below. This made the film seem very two dimensional, the setting appearing as just another scene from another action movie. The audience unable to see past the face of skyscrapers to the world of magic that lies beneath.
This was coupled with two very simplistic plot lines that were tied loosely together by the form of an Obscurus: another new term that in its brilliance, unfortunately accentuated the shallow nature of the narrative. The story of Newt searching for his missing creatures is played out alongside a witch hunt for a child who is suppressing its magical powers. The ending of the latter seemingly resolving without further ramifications, which rendered the narrative more than a little disappointing.
This film is worth viewing in order to once more indulge in the fanatical nature of JK’s imagination. However if you are looking for complexity and depth, it cannot be compared with the deliberate and detailed portrayal of Harry Potter.