|Cast:||Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Ron Perlman|
When the young wizard was introduced into the muggle world, a slim book made its way to a mention – ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. J.K. Rowling’s 2001 short monster manual proves to be a portkey back to the wizarding world just as much as it is a free ticket for both the writer and Warner Brothers’ to a realm of possibilities, all of which end in the thought – profits. When the hugely successful Harry Potter franchise came to an end, the company visibly went through some sea-changes including a serious approach to adapting the plethora of offerings from DC comics. However, it was just a matter of time for the executives to jump back to ripping open the proverbial goose. Thus, the viewers found themselves back at the queues, nostalgic and overjoyed, to escape back to flicking wands and muttering incantations. With innumerable possibilities stuffed in a movie, David Yates returns to the magical world and presented a babbling magizoologist who brought his own innumerable creatures, obviously, stuffed in a suitcase.
The movie is set in 1926 and starts with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) standing in line at Ellis Island, seeking a pass to a New York amidst a hide and seek engagement between the wizards and the No-Majs (yes, that what muggles are called across the ocean). Resonating the racial stigmas that plagued the lands of Lady Liberty, a rift is portrayed with an ongoing atmosphere of prohibition and persecution, somehow akin to the ‘no magic in front of the muggles’ rule but exceptionally grim with the pulse of actual history. Newt’s suitcase becomes Doctor Who’s tardis and moves the story forward with plot coincidences that find no limits till the very end. The daffy Brit Newt collects endangered magical creatures by traveling around the world and intends to bring about an awareness in the magical community about the importance of preserving them. By happenstances and owing to the infamous worn-out suitcase, Newt finds himself tangled with a disgraced auror of MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America) named Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterson) and with a hapless baker, Kowalski (Dan Fogler), through a risky inconvenience created by a creature loose from the Carrollesque realm of the suitcase. Quite predictably, for Rowling’s vision, the world is threatened by a looming dark force and here we find the world beyond Potter’s narrative, hard at work, under the strict guidance of a fearsome auror and Director Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) and President of MACUSA, Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejiogo).
The bifurcated plot drags the movie hither and thither, ona quest of entrapping the magical creatures back in one hand and on a separate threat of magical world getting exposed to the xenophobic world on the other through a series of mysterious carnage. The two run parallelly, one undoubtedly and irrelevantly overshadowing its counterpart. The superb cast in Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell and Katherine Waterson hardly embodies the magic that reeled in the viewers in the first place with a tale of camaraderie and wonders, presenting a fascinating take on escapism. The movie surprisingly lacks any incantation – the tongue twisting play of words accompanying the wands.
After a bloated-out rendition of a paper-thin plot with inconsequential running awry behind some magical creatures, as tickling and engaging they may appear, the movie limps its way onto a rushed final act and character bonding that remain inorganic and ambiguous as to the future of the franchise. Whilst many of the individual episodes offer a wondrous cinematic experience, as a whole the movie lacks cohesion and purpose. Through the mess, what arose was an adorable platypus-mole creature with a penchant for stealing all things shiny and an uncharacteristic romance between Tina’s sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol) and the No-Maj, Kowalski.
The movie is undoubtedly targeted at the core fandom, which by now has mostly crossed the barriers of adulthood and thus, reasonably, recognize more with a mature viewpoint, something which was tend to in the original Harry Potter franchise by Yates himself. In doing so, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ ended up pursuing a lost magic.
Acting from Redmayne comes off as bland with only commendation deserved for his interactions with the imaginary creatures that were added later by computer generated graphics. As an antagonist, Farrell plays it tamed and unlike his often-done over-the-top antics. Miller’s take on a tortured youth becomes annoying and not even a pale remembrance of the quality in ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’. However, Sudol and Fogler’s chemistry turns out to be one of the very few redeeming factors of the movie.
The quintessential fall of the attempt fortunately opened up a new doorway. The world created for this venture inarguably steals the show and complements the costume designing helmed by Colleen Atwood. The movie craves more than it offers. While cinematography finds magic in the hands of Phillip Rousselot, it undeniably screamed for a competent screenplay and a memorable score to incite in the fans the same chill which can at least pretend to parallel the nostalgia offered many years ago – one, a generation hummed to. As harshly as it may invite the criticisms, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ somehow proves that in a saturated industry, most of the times it is not the masterpiece that matter in the long run but the necessary mediocrity which does to return back to the origin – entertainment.