Film Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an entertaining film, which delivers a fair amount of spectacle. A visually engaging world is let down by poor pacing, however.

Newt Scamander travels to New York with a mysterious suitcase. After a mix up at a bank, Newt finds himself being tracked by New York’s secret community of witches and wizards…

Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them delves back into the world of the successful franchise, albeit with new characters and a different setting. J.K. Rowling also writes the screenplay for this film, based on her earlier book. David Yates, responsible for the later Harry Potter films, takes the helm again.

The narrative begins with suitable level of mystery. Although Newt is not a particularly engaging character, Rowling acknowledges this by giving him a gregarious sidekick in the form of Jacob. This double act injects sufficient comedy into proceedings, aided of course by some magical creatures. The first third of the film is engaging, despite one or two scenes that lack sparkle.

The middle third introduces a certain amount of tension, which works well alongside the fantasy activity. The final third of Fantastic Beasts, however, seems oddly bloated. The climax of the film does not carry the excitement necessary for a film of this genre. Furthermore, when the climactic scene is over, the film continues for a curious length. These loose ends could have been wrapped up much quicker, instead of losing any momentum with scenes that last too long.

The creatures in the film are wonderfully realised. Some of the CGI-effects, particularly in the real-world scenes, appear noticeably artificial. Performances in the film are decent, although it is the supporting actors such as Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, and Dan Fogler who impress. Eddie Redmayne does the awkward Englishman routine rather well.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fun film, that really is hindered only by a bloated final third. Harry Potter fans should be satisfied by this latest addition to the franchise.

Film Review: Take Me Home Tonight

Take Me Home Tonight is a loving homage to eighties teen films. It may not be the smartest or funniest films of the year so far, but it is definitely one of the cutest.

It’s the late 1980s and MIT graduate Matt Franklin is having a life crisis, having given up a well-paid job to work in a video store. When he finds out his high school crush Tori is back in town and attending a Labor Day party that evening. Along with his twin sister Wendy and his recently-fired best friend Barry, Matt attends the party hoping to win the affections of the girl of his dreams…

Take Me Home Tonight is an unpretentious movie that keeps its intentions simple. The movie should be funnier given that it is a comedy. Whilst there is humour to be found, some of the jokes do fall flat. Nevertheless, Take Me Home Tonight works because the central character is lovable and the romantic angle is well executed.

Matt Franklin is given surprising depth, considering the superficial nature of the film. The protagonist is endearing, yet at times frustrating. Matt’s lack of confidence is underscored throughout the movie; some of his exchanges with Tori are truly cringeworthy. Due to this shyness, the film provides the audience with a hero they can really root for. There is a genuine hope that the flawed but affable Matt will get the girl.

Take Me Home Tonight was made a few years ago; it is surprising that it took so long to get released. Perhaps the film was buoyed by the success of last year’s Hot Tub Time Machine, which offered a similar style of 80s nostalgia. Although there are fewer in-jokes, Take Me Home Tonight is an unapologetic homage to teen movies of this decade. The importance of the one social event harks back to films such as Pretty in Pink and Say Anything. The action takes place over the course of a day, reminiscent of others from the John Hughes oeuvre that feature a similarly short time frame, Some Kind of Wonderful and The Breakfast Club for example.

Topher Grace really carries the film with his very genuine portrayal as Matt. Elsewhere, Dan Fogler is makes a fun comedy sidekick as Barry, while Teresa Palmer fulfils her limited brief well as beauty Tori. Anna Faris is slightly less convincing as Cambridge hopeful Wendy.

With its fantastic (and seemingly non-stop) soundtrack of eighties tunes, Take Me Home Tonight is a film for those who revel in nostalgia. It’s almost a film that wonders what has happened to all those John Hughes characters after high school. Not an amazing film, nonetheless Take Me Home Tonight should serve its audience well.