Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD)

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Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD)

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Review of "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD)"

published 11/04/2017 | Secre
Member since : 23/04/2003
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Excellent
Pro Wonderful inclusion to this world
Cons None really!
exceptional
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"Fantastic Indeed!"

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD)

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD)

Harry Potter is one of my many obsessions and it was therefore no surprise that when the 2016 film came out set in the same world, me and my fiancé were at the cinema within the first week. It is also no surprise that the DVD made its way onto our shelves fairly shortly after release; after all, this is wizarding business! This is the ninth film instalment of J.K. Rowling’s world and is the first in the Fantastic Beasts series which is set to have sequels coming out at some point.

We're going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They're currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet; humans.

Taking us out of the United Kingdom (and indeed out of the present time), fantastic beasts follows Newt Scamander (eventual author of the textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as he travels to Arizona via New York in 1926. As a magizoologist, Newt has a great interest in magical creatures and carries around with him a magically expanded suitcase which houses a variety of magical creatures of varying levels of interest and danger. Surprise, surprise, one of them (thankfully the harmless although greatly aggravating Niffler) escapes from this suitcase while he is not watching and things spiral rather quickly from there.

Jacob Kowalski: I don't think I'm dreaming.
Newt Scamander: What gave it away?
Jacob Kowalski: I ain't got the brains to make this up.

Between Newt, Tina Goldstein, a demoted Auror and Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj (the American term for muggle or non magical person), the plot thickens quickly. Due to a series of magical and non-magical blunders more creatures escape from Newt’s suitcase and Newt has to track them down before they cause outright chaos in New York. In the midst of this however there is a catastrophe and Newt’s lost creatures land up being blamed for it; the fact that Newt has an Obscurus in his suitcase does not do him any favours as they are known to be dark and destructive parasites that reside within magically gifted children who suppress their magic. Suddenly, it is a race against time and indeed against the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) to find out who was really behind the heinous crimes and keep Newt’s rare creatures safe.

I love house elves. My uncle is a house elf.

The differences between American policies and British policies becomes immediately obvious; the American policies are far, far harsher. Witches and wizards are not allowed to socially interact at all with No-Maj’s for fear of exposing their secret world. Any interaction has to be completely wiped from a No-Maj’s mind and there can be no exceptions. Their court system is utterly ruled by the MACUSA and their punishments take into account the American punishment system; after all the muggles still have the death penalty in 2017 in America… Admittedly in 1926 so did the British muggles so you can take that as you wish. All in all, it is a far harsher and stricter world than we are used to seeing but it comes with far larger perils such as witch hunters.

Newt Scamander: [hands Jacob a helmet] Put this on.
Jacob Kowalski: But why would I have to wear something like this?
Newt Scamander: Because your skull is susceptible to breakage under immense force.

It makes for very interesting watching though and I thought that, in light of the fact that no novel has been released for this film, the world-building was done very well and very cleverly. You are immediately thrown into the differences between modern day Britain and 1920’s America; there are obvious similarities, however even the terminology is different, the law is different, the culture is different. Of course, I would have preferred a novel format for this to have been released first, but as far as film world building goes, this makes a darn good stab at it and puts a far more adult, political and complex spin on the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Magical beasts are terrorizing no-majs', when no-majs' are afraid they attack. Contain this, or it'll mean war.

There are, if you are interested, some written pieces on Pottermore by J.K. Rowling detailing the history of magic in North America from the 14th century to the 1920’s if you want additional background reading. The differences make sense without them, but the additional understanding of the religious fundamentalism in American No-Maj’s making them intolerant of any trace of magic, the Scourers who were effectively magical bountry hunters who turned corrupt and the Salem Trials which were led by at least two Scourers and were a tradedy for the wizarding population. Policies are therefore built on the basis of extreme persecution and fear as well as the lingering effects of the Scourer beliefs and dogma.

Porpentina Goldstein: Mr. Scamander, do you know anything about the wizarding community in America?
Newt Scamander: I do know a few things, actually. I know you have rather backwards laws about relations with non-magic people. That you're not meant to befriend them, that you can't marry them, which seems mildly absurd to me.

It's impressive how they have made something new from something so well known and well loved; obviously the use of different characters, a different country and a different time entirely helps with this but it’s still well done. They have brought in enough change whilst leaving some things fundamentally the same to allow those of us with ingrained thoughts about the wizarding world to be inspired and nostalgic in turns. The plot has been criticised for being a little too thin but in honesty, I didn’t find it so. Yes, there isn’t the same sense of a big bad guy lurking behind the wings as you get throughout the Harry Potter chronicles, but the plotline itself is interesting and compelling. Particularly as it hints at all these titbits of American history and politics regarding the wizarding world.

You're an interesting man, Mr. Scamander. You were thrown out of Hogwarts for endangering human life with a beast. Yet one of your teachers argued strongly against your expulsion. Now, what makes Albus Dumbledore... so fond of you?

The acting within the film is wonderful as well and the casting deserves full rounds of applause; Eddie Redmayne makes for a quintessentially British Newt Scamander in the world of Americans; his enthusiasm, character and his mannerisms make him both knowledgeable and yet not actually that good with people. Katherine Waterston plays the grounded and forthright Tina Goldstein well, particularly when it comes to her being let down by the MACUSA and all she holds dear whilst Dan Fogler kind of bumbles along as Jacob Kowalski, a cannery worker and aspiring baker who you can’t help but feel sorry for…who finds himself in a most extraordinary situation.

I've just completed a year in the field. I'm writing a book about magical creatures.
Like-an extermination guide?
No. A guide to help people understand why we should be protecting these creatures instead of killing them.

Other casting is admirable as well; Carmen Ejogo as Seraphina Picquery, the President of MACUSA with all its rigidity and focus on prevention of the Statute of Secrecy works well with Collin Farrell playing Percival Graves, a high ranking and exceptionally severe Auror. As additional sinister backdrop the part of the slightly insane, overwhelmingly malicious and determined to stomp out all magic no matter what the means, Samantha Morton plays a convincing Mary Lou Barebone. The two child actors Ezra Miller and Faith-Wood Blagrove are convincingly portrayed as the whipped and frightened adopted children still with a faint murmur of a backbone. And Johnny Depp has a cameo, although it would be a spoiler to tell you who he is!

Aww, I wanna be a wizard.

On top of this the film looks absolutely fantastic; the attention to detail and the special effects show cased within Newt’s suitcase of creatures are splendid and there were many moments in the cinema that actually caught our breath. The producers here have truly captured the magic and the wonder of these beasts, as well as the splendour and the sublimely ridiculous that comes with furry/fuzzy/horned/squidgy creatures and the fall out. Think mating dance. It sounds wonderful as well, although I wouldn’t have expected anything less. All in all, this is a wonderful re-immersion into the world of J.K. Rowling’s mind.

Do I Recommend?

Of course I do! It’s Harry Potter, it’s magic, it’s awesome, it’s wondrous, it’s… JUST GO AND WATCH IT FOR HEAVENS SAKE!


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Comments on this review

  • missrarr published 30/04/2017
    Great review. Still not remotely tempted though!
  • SirJoseph published 25/04/2017
    Been on the watch list for a while now
  • torr published 19/04/2017
    Fantastic indeed.
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Product Information : Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD)

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Product Details

DVD Region: DVD

Classification: 12 years and over

Video Category: Feature Film

Actor(s): Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Yates, David

Production Year: 2016

EAN: 5051892204156

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Listed on Ciao since: 27/03/2017