Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is simply...Fantastic

Grade:  A

Rating:  PG-13, 132 minutes

In a Nutshell:  The beasts are truly fantastic.   J.K. Rowling’s imagination is limitless.  She personally wrote this script, and David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies, shows he clearly understands the Harry Potter universe and is the one director who is uniquely qualified to successfully bring this new spin-off franchise to the Big Screen.  

If you’re a fan, you’ll love it.  If you’re not, you still have to appreciate the child-like wonder of this magical world.  The film is successful as a stand-alone film and you don't have to know anything about the previous Harry Potter films to be entertained. 

That alone is an amazing feat. This is the 9th film in this Harry Potter universe, so I’m especially impressed that we’re still being surprised and introduced to fun, interesting characters and creatures.  Well done!

Uplifting theme: 
  •  Friendship, love, respect, wonder, tolerance.
  • Be yourself. 

Things I liked:
  • Eddie Redmayne is fantastic, as always.  It’s impressive how he changes his posture to appear like a different character in each movie he is in. The audience laughed with delight while watching him do a mating dance with one of the fantastic beasts that looked like a bloated, glowing rhinoceros.
  • "Fantastic special effects and where to find them."  (I saw the movie in 3D.)
  • The musical score was noticeably very good.
  • Ron Perlman as Gnarlak. ha ha
  • There are a lot of little things to see within each screen, such as the shoe shiner who shines wands instead of shoes.
  • I really like the logo on the movie poster.
  • That struedel looked delicious.
  • It’s cute how Newt and Jacob climb in and out of that suitcase.
  • The little bowtruckle creature is ADORABLE!  He's kind of like a miniature Groot on Guardians Of The Galaxy and a sure-fire merchandising hit.
  • Dan Fogler is terrific and never feels like a side-kick character.  He is us.  We muggles have always wanted to enter Harry Potter's world, and now, we get to experience it through Jacob's eyes.  He is the classic "Every man."
  • That little platypus-looking creature thief was adorable and creative.
  • I thought the invisible umbrella was so sweet.
  • SPOILER ALERT:  Johnny Depp!  Yes!
  • I like the origin story that takes place 70 years before Harry Potter is born.  I got a kick out of the idea that the movie was based on a book that later becomes required reading for students at Hogwarts.
  • I thought it was fun to see the wizarding community in America, as compared to England's.  For example, the Brits call humans "muggles", whereas in the USA, they're called "No-maj".  Personally, I think the British name is more creative.
  • If you're a Potterhead fan, you'll get a kick out of brief mention of things from the past films and books, such as erumpents, and nifflers.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The newspaper headlines scrolled so fast in the beginning that I actually got dizzy.  They'll be hard for kids to read quickly too.
  • Even though this time period is around the 1920's, several of the guys had modern-looking haircuts.
  • It’s sometimes hard to understand what people say between the mumbling and the British accents.  Newt Scamander’s personality requires some mumbling, but it makes it difficult for an audience who wants to hear what he’s saying.
  • There are a few bad editing moments.
  •  Samantha Moron’s character was just creepy and disturbing.
  • Sometimes the sound was too loud and distracting.

Easter Eggs:

  • The "Deathly Hallows" necklace that is given to Credence (Ezra Miller).
  • Newt has an old-fashioned Hufflepuff scarf in his suitcase.
  • The Congress clock looks similar to the one the Weasley family has in their house to keep track of everyone's whereabouts.
  • Newt was expelled for the same reason that Hagrid was: they supposedly couldn't control their animals.
  • There is a picture of a man that has reference to the Lastrange family.
  • Newt mentions he worked with Ukranian ironbellies.
  • Obscurus Books is the name of the publisher of the book.
  • Mention of Dumbledore.

Interesting lines:
  • “Are you a seeker after truth?” – Mary Lou (Samantha Morton)
“I'm more of a chaser, really.” – Newt Scamander  (seeker/chaster = clever reference to Quidditch!)
  • “The most vicious creature on the planet…humans.” – Newt
  • “That’s why I want to make pastries…makes people happy.” – Jacob  (I teach classes at the famous Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College and that’s how I feel about baking!)
  • “People are easiest to read when they’re hurting.” – Queenie Goldstein (the lovely Alison Sudol who has a fantastic singing voice!)
  • “She was a taker.  You need a giver.” – Queenie
  • “My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.” – Newt 

Funny lines:
  • “Why do I have to wear this?” – Jacob
“Because your skull is susceptible to breakage under immense force.” – Newt
  • “I don’t think I’m dreaming.  I ain’t got the brains to make this up.” - Jacob

Tips for parents:   

  • There are parts of each Harry Potter movie that would frighten young children.  Fantastic Beasts has similar scary moments.
  • No profanity, sexuality, nudity. 
  • There are some forms of physical and mental parental abuse. 
  • It has some dark themes, peril, and destruction. 

Can't get enough?  Relive the magic and wonder:
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