Thursday, December 01, 2016

Review of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

I can't understand who this film is aimed at. It's too silly to appeal to grown-ups, what with all the magic and the J K Rowling words (but why do Muggles have to become No-Majs), but not really suitable for kids either, because there's a bit too much mild romance. I can only assume that the kids who grew up with Harry Potter, and are now in their early 20s, are the target audience, and it's assumed that they are sufficiently brand-loyal to put up with anything set in the Harry Potter world.

The film is over long. The special effects - lots of banging and crashing and flashing - are rather wearing; there's no feeling of building to a climax, it just starts off banging and crashing and carries on. The music is well crafted but wrong too, in that it provides too many climaxes too often. Despite the intensity of what's happening I was checking my watch after half an hour.

It's a shame because it looks great, and there are vague hints that there might have been a better, more interesting and character-driven story. The anti-magic fundamentalist campaigners are more or less wasted. There's some connection between the leading campaigner and the main female character, because we see her in the memories that are extracted as the latter is about to be executed - but I can't explain what it is. There's a child abuse element (the campaigner woman beat the children in her care) but it's not really explored, and there's a creepy girl child that turns out to be of no significance at all, though it's hinted that she is important. And by the way, why make the leading female character - Tina Goldstein - Jewish (Rowling's first ever Jewish character) and then not have her be Jewish in any way at all?

An eloquent demonstration of the need for "art director's cut" 15-minute versions of films, which show all the sets and clothes but doesn't bother with the plot. Lots of films would benefit from that treatment.

Watched at the Everyman Cinema in Muswell Hill.

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