Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – In 1926, Newt Scamander arrives in New York with a mysterious briefcase which is full of magical creatures. When some of the creatures escape the briefcase, Newt accidentally involves no-maj (non magical), Jacob Kowalski , and witch, Tina Goldstein, in his exploits. At a time when magical people are hiding themselves from exposure, fearing persecution, a powerful dark entity threatens the inhabitants of New York. Having his own, secret agenda is enough to make Newt prime suspect in the case but with his life threatened and that of his animals, he must discover the truth before those he cares for come to harm.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – Director: David Yates
Running Length: 133 mins
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
‘FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM’ REVIEW
Based upon the novel by J.K Rowling of the same name, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is a spin-off of the hugely successful ‘Harry Potter’ and is set decades before the young wizard was born. Making full use of the glamorous Art Deco era of the 1920’s the cinematography indulges in stunning shots that light up the screen, from the simple everyday goings on of the city to the incredible steampunk style of the magical world. Despite the ordinary and the extraordinary being so far apart they connect beautifully so that nothing ever jars, no matter what is happening on-screen.
It is clear the Newt Scamander is an awkward, shy and bumbling Englishman, however it is shame that Eddie Redmayne doesn’t play him with a little more strength, making the character a little ineffectual. Jacob on the other hand is surprisingly stoical and, when this type of character usually goes through the clichés of fighting temptation or facing challenges of loyalty, it is a refreshing change that he is just a genuinely good man. The story itself is compelling and thought-provoking, showing the dangers of greed, fear and prejudice without getting too bogged down in anything too serious or depressing.
‘Fantastic Beasts’ is a beautiful, fascinating and altogether lovely movie which will be a hit with kids, adults, Potter fans and newcomers alike and with the promise of sequels to come, this is one to watch to be a part of a new smash-hit franchise to rival its wizarding predecessor.
IS ‘FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
There are several scenes where an invisible force wreaks havoc through streets or buildings. It knocks cars out of its way and people scream in fear. In one scene, this force enters a room full of people; it targets one man in particular, dragging him into the air, this man is suspended there for a few seconds then falls suddenly and quickly to the floor. There is a two second close-up of his face which has been turned grey and cracked. A short while later, there is another close-up of this man’s face for a longer period which could be a little distressing for younger children.
One of the main themes of the movie is the fear and persecution associated with witchcraft, similar to that of the Salem witch trials. A woman ‘adopts’ children and indoctrinates them with her dangerous views and, in a couple of scenes a young girls chants a rhyme which includes words such as ‘witches gonna die’ and ‘gonna watch her burn’.
The dialogue of the movie explicitly states that a woman is known to beat her children with a belt when the misbehave. One child is said to be punished more than the others, seemingly because the woman likes this child less. There are moments in the movie where the woman takes a reluctant child into another room with a belt or she tells them to remove their belt but nothing graphic is seen and no beatings are shown on-screen.
A woman walks along a street at night by herself, she becomes afraid when the street lights begin to quickly turn off around her, leaving her in darkness.
A man becomes distressed when creatures he has been trying to protect are taken away from him by people he believes will harm them. As he is dragged away, he begs over and over for the animals not to be harmed but those taking them from him ignore his pleas.
A man and a woman are sentenced to death, they are afraid and beg to be spared. They are taken to a room where a woman touches a wand against the condemned woman’s head, she instantly stops talking and goes into a trance. She is shown happy memories from her life in a large pool of water, her executioner tells her to go the memories so she can be with them forever.
A woman is killed by a magical force and one of her children is seen grieving over her body, sobbing and hold her body. Another character approaches the child and becomes annoyed at their grief, this character callously hits the child in the face to get their attention.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM’ FOR KIDS?
Being a feast for the eyes wasn’t good enough for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, so expect great storytelling and excellent characterisation making this a wonderful movie that will stand the test of time, just like its wizarding predecessors. We feel this movie is appropriate for kids aged seven and over.
- Violence: 2/5 (mostly implied violence or death from an invisible force. A young character is killed because others see him as a danger. The death is not graphic but others are upset that they have been killed)
- Emotional Distress: 1/5 (a character says goodbye to some friends, they all cry and a character who has become very close to them kisses them tenderly)
- Fear Factor: 2/5
- Sexual Content: 1/5 (a woman is seen to be wearing lacy lingerie (which isn’t revealing), a man who wasn’t expecting to see her stares at her for a few seconds, this never comes across as sexual and is more about attraction)
- Bad Language: 2/5 (some mild curse words, moderate blasphemy is almost used a couple of times but is never fully spoken)
- Dialogue: 2/5 ( a character talks about a creature that shoots ‘flames out of his anus’)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of witchcraft, protecting vulnerable animals, false accusations, oppression, children being forced to suppress integral parts of their personalities, cruelty to children, accepting people for who they are, ambition, determination and fighting against authority when it is flawed and corrupted.
Words by Laura Record