Fantastic Beasts Unleashed


No doubt Harry Potter wasn't the only Hogwarts graduate to be so distinctive and famous. Thus, with adventures of Harry halted at a full stop, J.K. Rowling draws a new bizarre young man out of her hat. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them hit the cinema theatres ten days ago making worldwide box office revenues rise to immense heights.

This strangely looking young fellow disembarks the ship in New York of 1926. He's called Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and it's not him who gets the whole attention but his mysterious suitcase. Though the officer of US customs observes just a neat bachelor's kit inside, Newt's careful mumbling with his eyes down gives us a hint of someone eager to escape the suitcase.

Just a couple of moments and here it is - a fantastic beast (half platypus, half mole) striving to stuff itself with everything that shines and glitters (i.e. gold, jewellery and cash). It is so unexpectedly cute that you instantaneously forgive its criminal vice. But soon you learn that this little nipper is not the only one hiding in the suitcase. After suitcases are incidentally switched the whole magic zoo gets loose in New York City. And Newt must get them back before they're not revealed to the no-maj world.

J.K. Rowling never lacks fantasy related to magic things. Her attention to every detail in Harry Potter hasn't diminished in Fantastic Beasts. Though one might consider two stories the pre and the post of the one and the same volume. Obviously Fantastic Beats represent the prehistory with the world divided into magicians and no-majs (an American term for muggles), with the same wizardry schools and even Dumbledore mentioned in one of the dialogues. In addition, the evil haunting the city is more notional than material like Voldemort with an accurate name of Obscurus formed out of the young children's rage.

There's one significant deviation to the tradition: a no-maj or a muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) becoming a full-time Newt's companion in search for fantastic beats and in a battle with evil forces. Even a romance steps into the plot between Jacob and Queenie (Alison Sudol), a sweet mind-reader who is ready to conquer the man's heart via his stomach by producing a delicious strudel with just a stroke of her wand. Jacob Kowalski is one of the loveliest characters of the movie, which you'd like to cuddle like a teddy bear.

If you crossed Eddie Redmayne's Stephen Hawking from The Theory of Everything and Elbe from The Danish Girl, you'd get the wizard Newt Scamander. Despite his brilliant acting, Eddie Redmayne tends to give in to recurrence. His head slightly bent and twitching, his glance cast downwards or aside, his disjointed articulation, especially in the farewell scene with Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), attribute more to the great physicist Stephen Hawking than to the keeper of Fantastic Beasts.

By the way, the farewell is not the right word. As summarized by Anthony Lane (The New Yorker, November 28, 2016 issue), "in all, the movie is a cunning and peppy surprise, dulled only by the news that no less than four sequels await." Oh, well, back to the magic adventures.

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