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Film Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them. I wanted to find some eloquent and original way of expressing my feelings, but the only way I can vocalise my feelings is magical; it was completely and utterly magical.

J.K. Rowling has always said that ‘Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home’ and whilst Hogwarts was mentioned, I think, only twice, it is precisely that warm, comforting feeling that I got, sat in the packed, dark cinema. Right from the appearance of the Warner Brothers symbol, in Harry Potter style, accompanied by Hedwig’s Theme, I was back in my childhood, back in the wizarding world: back in my happy place.

Following Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, the delightful mixture of bumblingly awkward, and completely assured in what he was doing, and in how he was achieving it, the film had all the trademarks of the ‘Harry Potter and the…’ franchise. There were a lot of golds, bright colours and opulence. From the vibrant blue of Scamander’s jacket to the deep blacks and greys of the sinister Obscurus everything felt alive, tangible and real. The sets were masterpieces of detail with lovely little nuggets for those paying attention; keep an eye out for the name of the lane shown in the drawings of Jacob Kowalski’s dream bakery …

The beasts were indeed fantastic, although many are undoubtedly based on non-magical creatures: snakes, stick insects, platypuses, hippos and rhinos, they also had so much of a personality and a … quality about them that it didn’t matter. In fact, in a way that familiarity was welcomed. I felt that I could have cared for them, understood them; and trust me, watching that part of the film, inside the magical case, with the different climates and creatures, that’s all I wanted to be doing!

And then, of course, there was the story itself. Drawing inspiration from the Salem Witch trials, the Witches and Wizards of America are forced to live in secret from Nomajs (Muggles – a far more imaginative name). It was so much more than simply (hah) rounding up a few escaped magical beasts. It was about the consequences and tensions of having to hide who you really are and the spread and power of fear. However, it didn’t feel heavy. It was exciting and at moments very tense, the camera angles (which my dad hated) were sometimes a little disorientating, adding to the feeling of confusion-  as did some of the plot twists!

Apparently, there are going to be a total of five films in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ saga, spanning 19 years and maybe taking us on a worldwide safari of magical creatures – the temporary title for the second in the series is rumoured to be ‘Fantastic Beasts in France’. The expected release date is November 2018, this two-year gap being the same for each film. Despite the fact that, as my sister so kindly pointed out, I will be 30 when the final film is released, I have every intention of seeing them all!

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