Dipping back into the world of Harry Potter was never going to be an easy task. The world is already so rich with characters and events that it is hard to see how you could deviate from the known cannon.
A prequel is an obvious route, but making an entire film of of what is essentially a very slim grimoire of beasts from the wizarding world could be seen as an even taller order (just think about what they did with The Hobbit and that was more of a rounded story).
Being a fan of HP in the first place I was always going to be excited about new additions to the universe. And let me say that this did not disappoint!
FB’s keeps the dark overtones of the latter half of the HP stable of films, bringing in the chilling realities of the terror created by Grindelwald during the times in which the film is set.
From the outset we know we are getting something different. Not only a new country, but new terminology to learn mixed in with more familiar things. It keeps you on your toes, but helpfully makes explanations where needed.
The world that is created in New York is as vivid and rounded as Hogwarts and you get drawn in to how life is as a wizard of those times.
The film would not work without the strength of the people within, and there were always going to be questions about some of the casting.
There wouldn’t be the great and the good of British cinema anymore as the story had moved away from our fair shores. So how would the filmmakers do in bringing in a new tranche of actors?
The thing with FB’s is that there wasn’t a lot of character development. There was introductions and glimpses of things to come and lots of snippets of familiar things, but they have left a lot on the table to be able to create more films.
Going back to the casting – Eddie Redmayne was fab as Newt, but then you wouldn’t expect anything else. The female leads, Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol, actually worked well in my eyes. They weren’t big Hollywood starlets, which means you weren’t looking at them as ‘Such and Such as XX’. It makes for more opportunity for them to establish themselves in the role, rather than another, bigger star just chalking it off as an appearance in a franchise. Dan Fogler was good, but then I have been a fan of other stuff he’s done (see Fanboys) and he was a very respectable heel to Redmayne’s lead. The only one I was dubious about was Colin Farrell, but then I’ve not always been the greatest fan of his anyway. He performed admirably, but I didn’t think he quite fit the role. Or in fact, maybe he fit it too well and it was his realism that made it uncomfortable viewing at times.
There were some lovely sequences with the beasts although not as many as you might imagine. Actually I thought that in spite of it being set around the idea of beasts escaping into New York, the fact that they weren’t always there was good because it wasn’t mounds of CGI.
The film is a great addition, it sets up more to come and I can’t wait to see how things develop through future releases.
A solid 3.5/5 Wands.