This new addition to the magical world has plenty to delight fans of Harry Potter while ensuring that the film is able to stand on its own two feet to welcome new audiences.
Set decades before the Harry Potter series begins, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find them reveals just how big the wizarding world that J.K. Rowling has created in her mind really is – but it is a world that is still as dangerous with a different enemy threatening the wizarding community and the No-maj (muggles in other words).
When Newt Scamander arrives in New York to discover more about a particular fantastic beast and an unfortunate incident leads to some of the creatures escaping his magical case, forcing him to join up with Jacob (No-maj), Queenie and Tina in attempt to get all the creatures back again. Unfortunately, they are racing against Graves an Auror who believes that it is one of Newt’s creature wrecking havoc on the city. But nothing is as it seems.
Harry Potter veteran David Yates directs and has managed to ensure that Fantastic Beasts while retaining the sense of humour and style of the Harry Potter films also has its own identity to introduce the magical world to a new audience. It is clear that Yates knew and understood what Rowling wanted to achieve with the film and it is certainly a partnership that works.
Of course, the special effects are spectacular – particularly in the last few climatic scenes, with New York being blown up in style. But it is clear a lot of time and thought has gone into breathing life into some of the magical creatures from the original book of Fantastic Beasts (which creators claim they were helped a lot by the illustrations drawn by Rowling herself in the book).
Some might find that this is a film which merely sets up the characters and situations that audiences can expect in the other films to come, laying the groundwork for the future. In this sense it seems slightly all over the place – but hopefully clarification will come in the future films planned and indeeds starts to come in the form of a number of twists and turns that begin to emerge throughout.
But J.K.Rowling has created characters that audiences can relate to – another bunch of misfits who come together to try and save the day. Eddie Redmayne as Newt is suitably awkward, more at home with his creatures than human interaction, Katherine Waterson as Tina abides by rules but tries to do what is right – even if it doesn’t always work, Alsion Sudol as Queenie is likeable and charming that hopefully we will see more of her in the future and Dan Fogler as Jacob is the audience in the film: completely mesmerised, stunned and shocked by what is happening and fits well into the group. Together all of them work well as a group and lead to some hilarious moments.
Yet, among the light hearted moments the film and story is balanced by a darker element of the story: an unseen creature that is tearing up the city which is already on edge because of Grindelwald (the most terrifying wizard of all time – before Voldemort) and the mysterious character Credence who is lonely and isolated apart from his interactions with Graves that is almost sinister at times.
While some (myself included) might have questioned whether Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find them was a film that was really needed, having now watched it – it is in fact a nice addition to the wizarding world and leaves you wondering exactly what is going to happen next.
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them is available on DVD now.