Fantastic Beasts movie review – Eddie Redmayne stars as shy wizard – almost as cute as his monsters

Posted on 22 November 2016
By Andy Johnson
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Gather ye all muggles and mugwumps! Maybe just muggles – it’s a magic time of year and Wizardry is afoot at the cinema with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them now delighting audiences worldwide.

The story is a pre-cursor to the Harry Potter, or as we once heard an annoying child in an American Airport exclaim: “Harreeee Poturrrr!” saga when faced with a pile of J.KRowling’s books. Although this tale started out as a curiosity – created by the author for Comic Relief as a book that Harry would have to read at Hogwarts.

In the movie, we are whisked back in time to the year 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has finished a global excursion to discover and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures.

Stepping off the boat (presumably from Liverpool) to New York – for a brief stopover, Newt might have visited the Big Apple without incident, if he hadn’t bumped into a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob who picked up one of his magical eggs.

We then join the hunt for his misplaced magical case and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the magic and muggle civilisations.

The cynic in you and – before seeing the movie – certainly the cynic in Purple Revolver could be forgiven for thinking this is just a rebooting of the aforementioned wizard saga for his childhood fans – who have now grown up and are in the mid-20s and so need an older Mage to empathise with.

And when Eddie Redmayne first bumbles on to the screen doing a mix between his Stephen Hawking and Norman Wisdom impression, it does leave you wondering what exactly the rest of the 2 hour 15 minute running time holds in store.

But Americans just yum up that shy Brit routine and although it is often jarring as the movie progresses, we’re soon pulled into the world of the increasingly cute and beguiling monsters.

There’s something for everyone in this movie, even those under rock dwellers, uninitiated to the world of Harry Potter.

The magic is often used to great comic effect and once you enter the world of Newt Scamander’s suitcase, you’re emotionally invested for the whole roller coaster ride of a movie.

And many of Hollywood’s most Fantastic Beasts keep popping their heads above the parapet throughout.

Colin Farrel’s performance as baddie Percival Graves is finely balanced, Midnight Cowboy legend Jon Voight clearly enjoys his role as a newspaper mogul and then right at the end, there’s a sudden spell-binding apparition by Johnny Depp, who appears to be doing an impression of David Bowie, surely leaving audiences salivating for the next chapter.

Perhaps the biggest stars of the movie though – are the fantastic beasts. Most cute of all is the demiguise, which resembles a silvery sloth with large, doleful eyes who can see the immediate future and spin his fur into invisibility cloaks.

But also high up in the cute stakes is Pickett, the bowtruckle – an eight-inch tall tree dweller who has set up camp in Newt’s pocket. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, his type are harmless, shy, easily camouflaged.. and expert lock pickers.

For Liverpool cinema-goers, there’s the added fun of keeping your eyes peeled for the city’s architectural gems – used as backdrops to double as 1920s New York, which is hard to find in actual New York according to the film’s producers.

You can spot St George’s Hall during the political rally, the Cunard Building as Macy’s department store and also the lamp-posts and street level architecture surrounding the Liver Buildings was said to inspire the CGI created streets at the movie’s climax.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out now.

PR rating: Wizard! Four wands out of five.