Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The characters (specifically the actors portraying the characters) carry this film. Their interactions in smaller scenes, like the strudel-scene followed by the first suitcase-scene, are full of wonder and fun and empathy. It makes me excited for the sequel, purely because it gives me an excuse to hang out with these characters a bit more. Redmayne's Scamander specifically feels like a revolutionary character for these type of films: a sensitive yet confident protagonist, whose social ineptitude is not played as a Hollywood-Does-Autism cliché. Scamander might be on the spectrum, but who gives a fuck. None of it is played as a weakness because Scamander is an adult and he has taught himself how to navigate through the world with his personality. That's what growing up is, essentially. And here we see a much-matured version.

Thank god for these massive qualities, because everything else felt off. I wanted to say that it looks like garbage, but the whole issue is that there's simply not enough on-screen garbage in 1920s New York. All the street scenes seem meticulously crafted to the point of sterility, meaning that, for me, the movie fell in this uncanny valley of theatre backdrop design passed off as a real-life city. I also was unable to spot any reasoning behind this sterility, be it to contrast with Newt's suitcase (which is the height of glossy CGI) or any other criticism or symbolism for that matter. New York felt artificial and hollow, like a cheap theme park waiting line, where even the buildings blasted to bits were clearly composed by hand and yet look untouched. It also didn't help that the image opts for sitcom-style 'everything is lit evenly', taking away any obscurity or ambiguity in the frame. Everything is simply too clear so that Yates can show off his long complex takes, while hardly utilizing the depth of the chosen frame, and while also sacrificing emphasis to give certain moments a bit more weight. I simply could not find any reason why this film was shot the way it was. And I really hope Yates tackles this in the sequel because I'm not sure if these characters can carry another sterile New York for me.

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