Jumping jarveys! Can this be true: a Harry Potter spin-off bested at the box office by a Marvel movie about sorcery?
As it turns out, an appearance from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s most famous bespectacled alumnus is unneeded for the latest magical adventure out of J.K. Rowling’s vastly enchanting Wizarding World to successfully open at number one.
Nonetheless, in comparison to Doctor Strange, Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them played second fiddle (wand perhaps?) to the Disney/Marvel fantasy blockbuster, falling behind by over 10 per cent at last week’s box office with a $74m opening weekend gross.
Lest we succumb to the abominable error of counting out Fantastic Beasts prematurely, let’s not forget, this is a Harry Potter prequel!
Of course, the film was always destined to garner an avalanche of fans. Notwithstanding, Rowling embraces the enviable yet onerous responsibility of satisfying Harry Potter die-hards with greater epic scale to the universally beloved world filled with complex characters and other-worldly conflicts, while at the same time winning over new converts.
The result? Narrative dazzle to rival the best of fantasy prequels — and in the veteran novelist’s debut screenwriting effort no less!
To our relish, Rowling ingeniously charts new magical ground and titillates us with an infinite assortment of fictional animals, each with resonant individuality and charm. If breath-taking magical creatures are what you seek, your search is over.
These endearing pet-like creatures are such scene-stealers, the human stars are relegated to prey status. As a result, great character design, which we’ve come to expect, does little to make up for an apparent lack of character development.
Most nuanced in the main cast is Dan Fogler, whose portrayal of Jacob Kowalski, a no-maj/muggle (otherwise known as non-wizard), is as effervescent as it is heart-warming. Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne’s leading role of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist (or conservationist wizard), on the other hand, is not quite as memorable. Still, his performance is earnest.
Buoyed up by Rowling’s treasure trove of story and plot twists, every last member of the cast is as spectacular as serial Harry Potter director David Yates’ return to the Wizarding World is with a bang.
When you discover Fantastic Beasts, all of your magical yearnings this year will have been satisfied.
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