The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
I read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them earlier this year in preparation for the movie. At under 100 pages I closed the book and wondered, how on Earth will they make a two-hour movie out of this. Well my friends, J.K. Rowling has done it again. Fantastic Beasts opens with faded copies of the American Wizarding Newspaper with procumations of Gellert Grindelwald, setting the dark tone for Fantastic Beasts. The film immediately hits the Harry Potter fans with an off-handed nod to “Seekers” and “Chasers” and an adorable Niffler that steals the show.
I really liked the new characters that were brought to the screen. Eddie Redmayne, is Newt, a “monsters are just misunderstood” wizard that any member of PETA would be proud of and shows that he can bring any character to life. Tina and her sister Queenie (Katherine Waterston & Alison Sudol) burst on to the set with personas that show a love of life and need to do what is right that you cannot help but take an instant like to them. Jakob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) was the muggle (or no-maj in the U.S.) I wished Dudley Dursley would have turned into. He was opened to the idea of magic, and sadly missed enrollment at Ilvermorny, the American Wizading School. He is a character you can’t help but like and wish the best for.
The special features are incredible and would please any superhero fan. If Power Rangers and Marvel were to have a love child they would have created the spellbinding duel in the middle of New York City. It was eye catching and really held my attention all the way through. This is saying something as explosions and dramatic fight scenes in the middle of Michigan Avenue are not usually my thing. However, the eloquence in which this was done and the amazing CGI used to bring fantastic beasts to life won a seal of approval.
While Newt Scamander saving misunderstood animals was enjoyable, I really preferred the dark part of the film which featured Colin Farrell and his quest to hunt down Obscurus, witches and wizard who as children are unable to contain their magical powers with things going frightfully wrong. I found the dark aspect thought-provoking and is what really held the movie up.
Speaking of which, Dumbledore is mentioned early on in the film and for the perceptive reader will be able to decipher an unnamed mention later on. I will be very interested to see how this developes in the sequel as there is so much to tell in Dumbledore’s family tree and would be fascinating to see play out.
My one complaint is with the lack of explanation. I went to the movie with my brother and sister-in-law. Neither of whom were familiar with the Harry Potter books and therefore did not get the gravity that is Gellert Grindelwald. I wish the film had showcased this a little better as a few newspaper clippings and Johnny Depp’s sudden appearance didn’t really do it justice.
Overall, my expectations were met and then some. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was an exciting new look at the magical world and look forward to seeing how Newt’s journey unfolds which in my opinion, like the 2020 election cannot come fast enough.