Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman.
Director: David Yates
Written for the screen by J. K. Rowling from a 128 page Harry Potter spin off (more correctly, prequel) of the same name, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an exciting action fantasy that remains true to the best-selling author’s intricate, dark vision. Not that fantastic, but still guaranteed to be a hit with Potterheads, the film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, a spaced out wizard and future author of the titular Hogwarts (textbook that Rowling wrote in 2001.
Set in the Roaring Twenties, about 54 years before the birth of Harry Potter; the film’s central character has completed a well-researched tour of the world to catalogue a vast array of bizarre beasts that were mere footnotes in the Potter series During Scamander’s stop-over in (digitally crafted) pre-war New York, stuff happens.
At Ellis Island, his splendiferous briefcase is exchanged with that of factory worker and wannabe baker, a No-Maj (American for no magic Muggle) named Jacob (Dan Folger) Kowalski which results in the escape of some of Newt’s beasties. No surprises, this could cause mayhem in the wizarding and No-Maj universe. Like Roald Dahl who inspired her, Rowling (and four time Potter director Yates) don’t shy away from death and destruction which is magically fixed by the erasure of memory in the No-Maj (“no magic”) folks.
NYC is almost destroyed by CGI malevolent forces and children by abuse, but lighting up the dark of bigotry and paranoia alongside the blazing torches of compassion and courage is the romance between Kowalski and mind reading Queenie (played by Alison Sudol) the sister of paranoid Auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) Samantha Morton is no Voldemort, but a fanatical malcontent named Marylou Barebone who wants a “second Salem” (burning of witches, check out Arthur Miller’s take on it in The Crucible) but hurrah! Love and goodness triumphs. As it always has, always will.
Five more chapters are on the anvil; clearly, Warner Bros. and Rowling want to go laughing all
the way to the bank. Only thing, demonetisation has left very little in the banks for desi Muggles. Some fiscal magic’s sorely needed in these parts.