The new addition to JK Rowling’s repertoire, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, gives Harry Potter fans that much-needed dose of fantasy and magic.
The film, directed by David Yates, is based on the novel of the same name, following the adventures of writer and magizoologist Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne. The story follows Newt on his journey to Arizona with his magical case, stopping off at New York City, when he’s interrupted by the head of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, Mary Lou Barebone.
The New Salem Philanthropic Society is a fanatical anti-magic society with the aim of exposing and destroying all things magical. As Lou confronts Newt, one of the many creatures he’s transporting manages to escape. As Newt runs after it, his bag is accidentally swapped out with that of Jacob Kowalski’s (played by Dan Fogler), a muggle/no-maj who ends up getting dragged into the magic world.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sports a darker tone than most Harry Potter films, touching on mental and physical abuse as well as manipulation of someone who’s faced that abuse on a daily basis. The darker tones of the movie are made lighter by the fun and care-free dialogue between Newt, Jacob and the other supporting characters.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a nostalgic re-entry into the magical world… with a twist
The film does indeed feature cameos from recognisable faces who aren’t strangers to magic, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
The film’s dynamic is a really interesting one, feeling as if you’re watching two separate magical movies — one with comedy and one with really dark undertones. When the two collide, it does tend to feel a bit disjointed.
However, that disjointedness is quickly overcome by the heartfelt moments shared between what is a seemingly evil force and Newt. The film does well to make you care about the characters, except for Jacob. I found it hard to feel for the character whenever he spoke of his dreams of owning his own bakery. It was only closer to the end that I began to feel the weight of what Jacob eventually faces.
The special effects are pretty awesome in this movie and make you feel as though what you’re seeing is actually magical. It’s not really “first time Avatar in 3D” awesome, but when it’s used it really adds to the film, supporting key moments and making them feel dark or whimsical and astounding.
While not much is explained about Newt’s past, particularly about him being expelled from Hogwarts, it was hinted by JK herself in a tweet that we’d have to wait to find out. It has also been confirmed that Newt will continue to be a part of the franchise for the next four films, while not always being the main focus of them, according to Independent.
Overall, the movie is a good watch, especially if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series. If you’re a first-timer to the Potter-verse, it’s still a pretty decent movie – just hold back from asking your friend how it connects to the Potter films until after the movie.