Cinema Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

One afternoon in New York, in the dim and distant, Amélie was showing at staggered times on two screens at the same multiplex. I walked into the wrong one and started watching it halfway through. WTF!? I’ve never liked the movie ever since. I arrived for the opening credits of this, but I had the same impression, ie, that I had missed something that I should have been aware of.

It opens in overdrive, with virtually no explanatory preamble. Have audiences been dumbed down to the extent that only the smoke and mirrors matter? That all it takes are collapsing buildings and warp-speed physical transformations to engage the glazed-eye imagination?

It is New York, 1926. Weird stuff is happening and there is a growing mistrust of wizards. Newt (Eddie Redmayne) has sailed from England as a graduate from Hogwarts to sort it out with a case full of fabulous CGI creatures… but honestly, it is SO boring. I couldn’t muster enough interest to pay much attention to the plot. When Colin Farrell turns up as Graves, in a suave black vest with white lapels, I figured that anybody who can’t see that he will be the villain must be part of the numbskull crowd who lap up such tripe. I also decided that if it came down to a stink between Eddie and Colin, I would be barracking for the handsome Irishman big time.

Visually, there is nothing to not be impressed by, but it’s like the ‘super moon’ – can you tell the difference (unless you are told, and led by the nose) between it and a million others?

The streets of the Big Apple of the Twenties are evocative and the grotesque characters in the speakeasy are fabulous, but there is nothing else to intrigue.

The screenplay is by JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, but I would be so much more keen on seeing an adaptation of her recent novel The Casual Vacancy – but that’s about real people, so I won’t hold my breath. 

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