Based on J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” | Directed by, David Yates | Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Allison Sudoi, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, and Colin Farrell | Runtime: 133 minutes | Rating: PG-13
It’s been nearly five years since the last Harry Potter was released in theaters. Many fans were left wondering if there will ever be a return to the magical world. J.K. Rowling’s would debut as a screenwriter for her return of the wizarding world’s prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Set in 1920s New York City, the film introduces a new set of characters, motives, and circumstances 70 years priors to the events of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”.
A “magizoologist” and budding textbook author, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) travels to America on business concerning a rare magical beast. Once Scamander crosses paths with bakery owner Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a number of magical creatures escape from his enchanted briefcase and wreck havoc on the streets of Manhattan. Scamander teams ups with Kowalski and American witch sisters Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol). As the team begins their search for the magical creatures, an even sinister threat looms over the Big Apple that spells a greater risk for the magical and non-magical world.
There’s arguably one on to this movie as any film will have them, the oversaturation of the subplots. Unfortunately for Fantastic Beast its becomes a little too much for one’s palette to follow at times, but two points appear to be utilized for the next four films in the franchise. Along main conflict there’re several ‘easter eggs’ and introductions broadening up the wizarding world such as, witch hunters known as the Second Salemers, the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA), and a sinister wizard briefly mentioned in the Potter films named Gellert Grindelwald who studied the dark arts of magic before Voldemort earned the nickname “He Who Shall Not Be Named”.
The ensemble cast truly brings the magic to the story as you have Eddie Redmayne starring as Newt Scamander. Redmayne not only tackles on any role he’s given (i.e. The Danish Girl & Jupiter Ascending) but molds it as his own. He manages to look both preppy and professional. Despite some of his mannerisms being overdone a bit he still takes a charming approach as a hero, defending his mystical creatures. It’s good ole relationship like man’s best friend. His partner Katherine Waterston, playing Porpentina Goldstein, an American wizarding investigator maintains her fondness and a strong resolve that at times is bit impatient. Throughout the movie, you’ll have that sense of Porpentina taking on a big sister role with Newt who doesn’t fall for the boyish charms.
There are other treats among the cast that creates a balance. Colin Farrell seems to be having some fun with his classy dressed role serving as the right-hand man to Ejogo’s character. Dan Fogler is the comic-relief New Yorker that barely holds the humor or any relief. Carmen Ejogo brings a bossy mood to the wizards’ presidency; Ezra Miller brings a weird pathos as he plays a wizard-hating orphan.
Harry Potter fans will appreciate the new franchise as Rowling has managed to not damage the legacy left with the Potter films. Despite a forgivingly cramped story in exchange for some interesting characters, amazing action sequences, and some fantastic beasts which aren’t any stretch from the word, this is truly a refreshing take on the franchise and will be another household film for years to come. Die-hards will relish in Rowling’s vision as first-timers will be mesmerized by the magnificence that is the wizarding world.