If you thought the Harry Potter was over, you are sorely mistaken. With the arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the phenomenon has been reinvigorated. By introducing an older generation of wizards and a new part of the wizarding world, J.K. Rowling expands her beloved universe and pulls her audiences in all over again.
Set in New York during the year 1926, Fantastic Beasts follows British wizard Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne (Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything), as he tries to protect his magical creatures while also protecting the city of New York from a seemingly unstoppable evil. Fans are informed about the customs and ways of the wizarding world of America. They also enter a completely new story with no mention of Harry Potter and Voldemort, due to the fact that the events of this movie take place before the war with Voldemort.
This new cast of wizards and “no-majs” was played by a cast of amazing actors that helped create a separate, stand-alone story apart from the Harry Potter series that everyone knows and loves. Leading the cast Newt, Redmayne brings a fun, quirky, almost adorable nature to the role of the famous Hufflepuff. Being the only British character in the film, he is confused when he first arrives in New York and he begins to learn about the different culture while also interacting with multiple magical creatures. Joining Redmayne is Katherine Waterston (Chrisann Brennan in Steve Jobs) as Tina, an American ex-auror who aid Newt in his adventure. Alison Sudol made her feature film debut in the role of Queenie (Tina’s sister), a free spirited witch with special powers. The one no-maj of the group is Kowalski, played by Dan Folger (the voice of Zeng in Kung Fu Panda). Kowalski is accidentally exposed to magic and is pulled into Newt’s crazy journey and a trusty sidekick. Colin Farrell (Douglas Quaid in Total Recall) plays Graves, a high-ranker auror for the Magical Congress of the United States of America. And in a slightly smaller role is Ezra Miller (Patrick in The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Credence, a troubled young boy whose purpose seems unclear. The entire cast did a wonderful job pulling viewers in and telling a new story that no one knew before.
The cast is not the only thing that makes this movie flow with ease, the special effects add a feeling of majesty. Not only do they create some of the sets, but all of the creatures. The creatures seem almost life-like in nature and fascinating to look at. Some of the creatures are undeniable cute, while others are beautiful and majestic.
The score, like that of all Harry Potter movies is moving and memorable. It does nothing but add to the story.
The story/plot of the film is truly wonderful, but I would expect no less from J.K. Rowling as she wrote it. For a debut screenplay it exceeds expectations and plays her strengths regarding the world she has created. The story was well paced, it never really seemed to lag or move too fast at any given point in time.
The new world the Rowling has created in this film is not only fascinating, but extremely different from that of England. Its customs are different and they have different rules regarding non-magical people. The era also offers many differences from that of the original franchise. While most of the original series was based in an ancient castle, this film takes place in the middle of 1920s New York. This different setting allows more room for freedom and adventure. The costumes are different and true to the era, however unlike the school uniforms of the students in the originals, these wizards dress near the same as normal people.
The film is slightly dark, while being light-hearted and fun with plenty of jokes.
The only thing that really bothered me was that there was one plot point that seemed very obvious. I predicted it at the beginning the first five minutes of the film and was proven right. This point was on that helped set up the other four films in the series.
Overall I would give Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them a 9/10 stars
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was directed by David Yates and written by J.K. Rowling. It came out on November 18, 2016 and is currently in theaters nationwide.