Finally, it’s here!
The much anticipated Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them which is another link in the storyline of JK Rowling’s magical wizarding world and it takes us back in time – without a time-turner!
The fact that the audience was filled with 20-somethings right through to much older people speaks volumes about the wide appeal this world Rowling created has. While the original books were for young adults, they speak to many ages.
When the strains of that familiar tune heralded the start of the movie, the inner fangirl felt butterflies.
Fantastic Beasts kicks off with some straight into-it style action with Gellert Grindelwald seen from behind. Then it’s a fast paced flickering of headlines from The New York Ghost, the US version of The Daily Prophet that sets the tone for the situation as it stands in the wizarding world in relation to the No-Mags; the US term for Muggles. There was at first some hue and cry that these terms had been changed, but given it’s a different country it’s not out of character that some words and phrases will be different, even in the magical world.
The backdrop of 1926 New York serves as a beautiful and timely reminder of issues still relevant in our time and the real world. The film raises racism, bigotry and intolerance and Government control several times without being heavy handed as well as reminding us that immigrants landed in the US from all corners of the globe. Although our hero, Newt Scamander is on a mission of a different kind.
The first thing Scamander discovers is that there is an intolerance of wizards, witches and magic in general. Arriving by boat and things soon go awry when one of his creatures escapes from his suitcase. He also befriends no-maj Jacob Kowalski, Dan Fogler, who has dreams of opening a bakery. The unlikely duo also end up befriending two sisters; Porpentina Goldstein, or Tina played by Katherine Waterston who works for the Government known as the Magical Congress of the United States of America, or MACUSA and her sister Queenie, Alison Sudol, who is a mind-reader.
Tina attempts to abide by the MACUSA laws but only sees her end up in more and more trouble.
The city is in the grips of a strange and unseen terror and even the public warnings from the New Salem Preservation Society (NSPS), who is trying to alert humans to the presence of the Wizards and Witches go unheeded.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is overflowing with strong performances, which enables it to create a world you quite literally lose yourself in.
Eddie Redmayne embodies Newt Scamander with passionate enthusiasm. Scamander is a an eccentric zoologist and Redmayne really does him justice showing us his true love and compassion for the fantastic creatures he looks after. He really does play the light in this dark world.
Ezra Miller as Credence, a young man part of the NSPS, also gives an incredible performance and shows just what a rising star he is. His ability to show the characters inner fear and turmoil was also impressive.
A visually stunning film, Fantastic Beasts not only has incredible effects but the costumes and sets and their thorough attention to detail is mind blowing. It also has a few little eggs dotted about for Potterheads; things and names that pop up in the Harry Potter franchise. There are also a few scenes that are nods to the original series.
The best thing for me is that they didn’t try to overload the audience with who everyone is and their back stories, but enough was shown to allow the plot to develop and also allow the franchise to grow further.
While the film has beautiful contrasts of light and dark, there were some very dark scenes that may be frightening to smaller and more sensitive kids. Also there is no end credit scene that is so common nowadays.
Fantastic Beasts is an absolutely beautiful and well layered companion to the Harry Potter series. I can’t wait for the next installment.