Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates. Writer: J.K. Rowling. Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterstone, Alison Sudol.
Plot: Wizard and magical creatures scholar Newt Scamander (Redmayne) arrives in 1920s New York with a suitcase full of the titular fantastic beasts. When his suitcase is accidentally switched, some of the creatures escape, bringing mayhem to the streets of the Big Apple. Meanwhile, a group called the New Salemers are on the hunt for modern witches.
This is a spin-off from the enormously successful Harry Potter franchise, though set decades before Potter’s adventures. It is also penned by Rowling, but mercifully without any boy wizards.
Having said that, as the grown-up wizard, Redmayne – channeling his by now familiar ‘thoroughly-nice-chap’ persona, – does not seem very grown-up to me. Perhaps I’m missing something; I was never more than lukewarm about Pottermania.
Given Rowling’s impeccable liberal cultural credentials, the film unsurprisingly wants to be more than a simple magical adventure romp. So there are messages about witch hunts and discrimination, which felt more topical than Rowling might have anticipated. Or perhaps she saw it all coming.
The film – which real Potter enthusiasts might find a little thin – is nevertheless a pleasant way to while away a couple of hours.
Cinema 2016: the films I’ve seen this year, and what I thought of them.