It has been five years since the last film installment of the “Harry Potter” film series came out. So, one can imagine how excited Potterheads were when it was announced that not only were they getting a play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, but a new film franchise as well, starting with this year’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.
What was even more exciting was the fact that these “Fantastic Beasts” films, according to JK Rowling, will be set in the past and will tackle moments in history within the magical world.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is meant to set up the franchise, and to introduce the viewers to a new group of protagonists, namely Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and a fantastic array of, well, fantastic beasts. However, it also has legitimate ties to the Harry Potter books and films, which will be mentioned below.
The film was directed by David Yates, who also directed the final installments in the “Harry Potter” film franchise, with a screenplay by JK Rowling, and with music composed by James Newton Howard.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND FROM HERE ON OUT.
The film is set in New York City in 1926, and follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a wizard with a penchant for taking care of and discovering fantastic beasts and creatures. However, while there, he bumps into a Muggle or Non Magical (No-maj) man named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who ends up allowing the fantastic beasts in Scamander’s suitcase to roam free.
Because of this, Scamander is assisted by Kowalski, former MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) auror Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and an accomplished Leglimens named Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol).
However, Scamander’s timing could not have been worse as they also end up getting entangled in events that may also affect history.
The film was a delight to watch, and there were moments in which I was just smiling in delight and wonderment, especially when Scamander and Kowalski went inside Scamander’s suitcase.
The acting was well done, as each major player got to showcase their acting chops. Also, the director managed to balance all of them out, as a major problem would be how to balance the acting out in the film, since they, from Redmayne, all the way to Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell, are excellent actors.
The special effects were on point, and I loved the fact that even thought it was a return to the wizarding world, it was refreshing as they are showcasing a different side of the wizarding world.
Of course, there were plenty of shout outs and Easter Eggs that link it to the Harry Potter universe, such as the names of Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts, Gellert Grindlewald, and Leta Lestrange (the last name Lestrange should be familiar to any Potterhead).
Of all the beasts that were showcased, my favorite would have to be Frank, the majestic Thunderbird; and the dangerous Obscurus.
I am also quite interested in the fan theory going around that Ariana Dumbledore might have been an Obscurial, which is what got Gellert interested in them.
I also did not take issue with Depp’s cameo as Grindlewald, who had been using the form of Farrell’s Graves, as I am honestly excited to see what Depp can bring to the table.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the film for what it was, I did feel that there were moments when the pacing was a little bit off. I also would have liked to see a little bit more of the Tina- Scamander romance storyline, and I felt that actors such as Jon Voight were highly underutilized in the film.
I also think that Gellert’s plans were not as fleshed out as I wanted it to be, and only understood things better after reading a couple of other reviews of the film. (Also, is it just me, or are there times when you really could not understand what Redmayne was saying?)
All in all, this film was a great addition to Wizarding World, and I love the attention to detail in the world building that JK Rowling is delving out. I cannot wait to see what happens next!
Rating: 8.5/10 (due to pacing issues)
When Scamander shows Kowalski the contents of his suitcase. I love how Hufflepuff Scamander is.