“Yesterday, a wizard entered New York with a case. A case full of magical creatures. And unfortunately, some have escaped.”
This review will NOT contain spoilers! So you may read ahead if you haven’t seen the film yet.
‘The Wizarding World’ is brought back to life on the big screen with the latest addition to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding franchise; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And despite me not being the biggest nerd when it comes to the world surrounding Harry Potter, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! Fantastic Beasts, with its somewhat all-star cast presents itself as a mixture of genres with comedy, action and even mixes of horror taking front seat throughout the film. It provides a great all round family film that leaves a message to the audience and keeps very ingrained to the lore behind ‘The Wizarding World’ whilst still providing enough new content to keeps fans happy and proving itself as a standalone film.
Fantastic Beasts, set in the mid-1920s follows the character of Newt Scamander (whatever happened to normal names like Phil or Dave in these films??) Who ventures to New York with a mission involving a magical creature, Scamander’s speciality. However he misplaces his suitcase full of mythical creatures with that of a similarly identical one owned by a cannery worker, turned future baker (or at least he wants to be) Jacob. Who we learn is a muggle (or No-Maj if you’re an American apparently… Thanks J.K.) After his run in with Jacob, Newt has to work together with his new friend, to help get the mythical beasts back into his case so he can continue his mission at hand. Newt and Jacob’s endeavours eventually lead to them joining up with two sisters, The Goldsteins (also wizards.) Who help to recapture the beasts, all whilst tackling a larger problem of a mysterious beast who is attacking No-Maj’s (muggles.) This beast threatens to reveal wizards to the real world and increases the already large Anti-Wizard/Magic sentiment felt by a small group in New York. This whole ordeal presents many problems for Newt and his crew who must solve them to save New York.
The film itself manages to pack a lot into its just over 2 hours run time and arguably can be considered too much. 2 main plot lines dominate the film and a small third minor one is also brought up. Despite this being a lot for some people to take in watching the film, it does twist and intertwine the plots well and provides a great and charming adventure. The setting of 1920’s New York provides the ideal backdrop for the film. The mise-en-scene and cinematography work together perfectly in the film giving the audience a real insight into old New York. It even shows us the flashy and rich side of New York, compared to the poor worn down areas and even the wizarding locations are visually gorgeous and packed with details. The CGI in the film adds greatly to the wizarding world created for the film the spells, beasts and even 1920’s New York look decent and are created very well, despite the CGI being obvious and unrealistic (in a fictional sense, i do know they’re not supposed to be real…) in some minor cases. The rich diversity of the locations used in New York also runs parallel to the tone of the film in some scenes. The horror parts of the movie are genuinely scary and keep you on edge throughout, this is resembled with the locations and the character’s actions during the scenes. In contrast to this, the comedy the film includes is often visual but does lighten the tone of the film and at times, genuinely made me laugh out loud. The actors do an excellent job at portraying the characters and their emotions and feeling behind it.
Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and he portrays his character very effectively using his naturally awkward charm that he is known for, Redmayne’s character pairs very well with that of the No-Maj Jacob Kowalski played by Dan Folger, Scamander and Kowalski essentially bounce of each other with hilarity as they trail round New York to capture the escaped beasts and it is both hilarious and pleasing to watch played out on the big screen. Other notable actors include Ezra Miller who expertly plays the character of Credence, a quiet and shy man whom we see quite a lot of during the film. And despite the lack of serious dialogue, Miller gives us a terrific performance just using his face and body language, which helps us sympathise with his character very much. Katherine Waterston is another great actress in this film portraying the second main character Tina Goldstein, who is Newt’ ‘unwilling’ partner in crime throughout the film, and Waterson gives us a character Contrast to Scamander who is much less determined than Goldstein is as she is a feisty wizard who just wants to impress, she too bounces off both Scamander and Kowalski as the film progresses providing a very entertaining watch for all.
Overall fans of Harry Potter and the aforementioned ‘Wizarding World’ will love Fantastic Beasts, it provides plenty of Easter eggs and dialogue for even the most avid of fans, and leaves them salivating over the information and eager for a sequel, with the film itself even teasing the possibility of one towards the end. Fans are not disappointed and even non-fans will still be surprised with a story that is both exciting and enchanting and should leave you wanting more, it certainly did for me.
My Rating: 4/5