Casting a new spell: Fantastic Beasts... review by Rashid Irani | movie reviews | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
May 28, 2017-Sunday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Casting a new spell: Fantastic Beasts... review by Rashid Irani

If you’ve been missing Harry Potter, set off on a familiar but all-new journey with JK Rowling.

movie reviews Updated: Dec 08, 2016 11:34 IST
Rashid Irani
Harry Potter

Instead of an orphaned boy wizard, the narrative follows a magi-zoologist named Newt Scamander, the future author of Fantastic Beasts..., a textbook that Harry Potter will read at Hogwarts 70 years later.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Direction: David Yates

Actors: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Potterheads can rejoice as JK Rowling takes another journey into the wondrous world of wizards and witches.

Five years after the final Harry Potter flick, the author makes her screenwriting debut with the first installment of a spin-off.

All the characters are new, as is the time and the place — New York, circa 1926.

Instead of an orphaned boy wizard, the narrative follows a magi-zoologist named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, uncharacteristically bland), the future author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a textbook that Harry Potter will read at Hogwarts 70 years later.

As the hero tries to stop dark forces from sparking Salem-like witch trials in 1920s new York, the movie becomes a timely comment on xenophobia, bigotry and the demonisation of the ‘other’.

Read: Amid Trump’s victory, is Rowling’s screenplay her message to millennials?

In the film, Scamander races across Jazz Age Manhattan trying to recapture a bunch of critters that have escaped from his battered suitcase.

He also finds himself teaming up with an aspiring baker (Dan Fogler), a kind-hearted witch (Katherine Waterston) and her free-spirited sister (singer-songwriter Alison Sudol) to fend off dark forces unleashed in the metropolis by a fanatical group that’s trying to spark another round of Salem-like witch trials.

David Yates, who directed the final four Harry Potter movies, packs the new fantasy-adventure with non-stop whimsy, dazzling period production design and excellent creature effects.

At the same time, the narrative alludes to pertinent contemporary issues such as xenophobia, bigotry and the demonisation of the ‘other’.

Check out the Comic-Con trailer for Fantastic Beasts...

It helps that the ensemble cast includes A-list stars such as Colin Farrell (the US director of magical security), Ron Perlman (a roguish goblin) and Samantha Morton (the leader of the anti-wizard faction). In addition, the redoubtable Johnny Depp fetches up in a cameo as a Lord Voldemort-like villain.

However the sense of wonderment at the outlandish ‘monsters’ and wizardry tricks is somewhat muffled by a sense of déjà vu.

Fantastic Beasts… is the first in a planned five-film series, with the second installment slated for release in November 2018. If you’re a die-hard fan, keep those wands waving!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Official Trailer