The modern fantasy film adventure has come a long way in many respects, and arguably regressed in others.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (FBAWTFT from hereon in), is a dazzling, effects-laden story of good, evil, magic and so on. Much the sort of caper we’ve come to expect from the ever popular wordsmith of wizardry, J.K.Rowling.
Not a Harry Potter aficionado myself, I’m ill equipped to discuss any possible links between – or relevance of – this particular outing and the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, but it’s been loosely marketed as some kind of prequel to the much loved magic and wizardry franchise.
Certainly there’s no shortage of sorcery and spells on display, and barely a moment goes by without something fantastical being flung at the screen with directorial gay abandon, much in the same fashion as we witnessed with another 2016 big budget extravaganza, Alice Through The Looking Glass.
Buried within this frenzied effects-fest is a fairly straightforward though slightly messy, not to mention unconvincing tale of good against evil, and intertwined within that is the ‘human’ element, in this instance represented through an unlikely blossoming romance between a ‘Non-maj’ factory worker, and a mind-reading member of the magic community.
This is essentially a children’s film aimed squarely at the Harry Potter fan base, although admittedly that also seems to be comprised to some extent of a fair smattering of Peter Pan-esque adults, in no hurry to grow up.
And fair enough.
That said, David Yates’ big budget 1920s fantasy tale, when stripped of all of its expensive glitter and illusions, amounts to very little other than a rather unnecessarily convoluted plot line, although it should also be said that Eddie Redmayne adopting the role of Newt, a bashful, mumbling wizard from Britain, along with co-stars Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Colin Farell, all make the most of what fairly limited opportunities they have here to shine.
There’s a sense that this film may have benefited more from a director that could have stripped back the clutter a little and developed a clearer and more concise narrative.
Still, what’s done is done, and as it stands, FBAWTFT, does tick a number of boxes and should keep enough folk happy, providing as it does – if little else – a fantasy world and a sumptuous visual feast for the eyes. That in itself though is never going to guarantee longevity.
FBAWTFT may well kick-start a new franchise – you certainly wouldn’t bet against it. There is after all a tidal wave of goodwill that whisks the good ship J.K.Rowling along it’s merry, magical way, and good luck to the not inconsiderable team that clearly have put in enormous amounts of effort to ensure that this particular outing is as visually impressive as it undoubtedly is.
I remain unconvinced however that FBAWTFT would ever have had enough about it to accomplish any such feat were it an unconnected, stand alone effort.