Back in 2011, fans had to say goodbye to Harry Potter but we weren’t ready to say goodbye to the Wizarding World of it. Warner Bros. knew that fans weren’t ready either, so they announced a prequel/spinoff based on J.K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them novel with a film of the same name. Even J.K Rowling signed on to pen the screenplay by herself too. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the 9th movie in the Harry Potter franchise but the first of the prequel series. Directed by David Yates, who did the last four Harry Potter films, and it stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and Colin Farrell. The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.I just want to say that as a regular to the Harry Potter series, I really enjoyed this one. I have some heavy catching up to do, so I can see it again!
When you watch this film, you feel like you’re experiencing an organically fresh new world within the one we’re mostly familiar. You are taken into post-WWI and the film sticks with it. From the production design of New York and the amazing costumes, Yates brings you back to the 1920s. The film is so invested with it’s Jazz Age that it has a Great Gatsby moment but with Trolls, Goblins, and House Elves. The visuals are breathtaking. They introduce creatures with imaginative designs adapted from the art of the 2001 novel and have them interact with the live action world. At times it seems a bit too CG’d with characters touching and petting creatures but it barely seems like they are doing it at all, but at other times it manages to look detailed and realistic. The action pieces in the third act are such a thrill ride but some might consider it to fall under the generic big blockbuster final showdown.
The cast in the film are a ton of fun. Eddie Redmayne takes off his Oscar cap and delivers a fun and incredibly charming performance as Newt Scamander. He’s so charismatic and committed to this character of being a zoologist that there’s a scene where he gets silly. The difference is that for the realms of this film it works when he gets silly. It’s not as silly as his character from Jupiter Ascending, where you’re laughing at him but instead, you’re laughing with him. Collin Farrell does a great job as being the Collin Farrell you don’t wanna mess around with. Dan Fogler is easily my favorite in the film, he is so lovable, you can’t help but not to like him. He is the audience’s avatar where we are experiencing magic like it is the first time through his eyes. He’s tagged along for this journey where he’s both cool and funny. When he’s fascinated by the world within the briefcase so are you. They even set him with this romantic subplot with a wizard that actually works that by the end it catches your heart. I love Katherine Waterston as Tina and Alsion Sudol as Queenie are great as well. Tina is more than a love interest for Newt but she has her own backstory and Queenie is so much fun! They left me wanting more, which is always a good thing. Ezra Miller as the mysterious Credence is good and served his purpose for the film.
I had so much fun with the first and third act but the second act was quite bore. It almost took me out of the film. Also, as much J.K Rowling wrote enough to make you feel as if you’re visualizing a book, the story gets a bit repetitious at times where you go on from set piece to set piece catching these creatures where it follows the same blueprint. Running, mayhem, visual gag, capture, punchline. This occurs nearly 4 times, but the film always attempts to take a different spin with each creature.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a thoroughly fun, innovative, and a crowd pleasing new look at the Wizarding World. As someone who doesn’t know much about Harry Potter, I had a blast with this film. Definitely check it out this weekend!
SuperSam Rating: 8.5/10.