It’s 1926 and a wizard carrying a mysterious briefcase arrives in New York City. This briefcase appears to be full of magical creatures, from the tiniest of animals to the most powerful of creatures, and by accident some escape. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), together with Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), embarks on an adventure in New York City to re-capture his fantastical beasts. But their adventure does not go unnoticed, as the magical ministry of America struggles to hide the wizarding world from the human one.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016) is the first spin-off of the original Harry Potter film series and sets the scene for five more installments evolving around Newt Scamander and his newly acquainted friends. Author of the novels J.K. Rowling, who is also screenwriting for this Fantastic Beasts film installments, has been criticized for turning the film into a new five-part series, with people accusing her and production studios for dragging out the original Harry Potter series for financial profits. Via Twitter, the author responded, saying once viewers realize she has another grand narrative to tell, they will realize more films would make infinitely more sense. It’s an excellent argumentation, but is there truth in it?
Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne gives movie-goers a tour around the wizarding world of Harry Potter: that is what the first half of Fantastic Beasts feels like. Magical creatures are popping up everywhere in New York City, from nifflers to erumpents, and they are beautifully life-like and surprisingly funny. Only in the second half of the film, the story really starts to unfold and go beyond the re-introduction to the wizarding world. Although the story is well-written, with a lot of humor and a great love for the characters and the world which they inhabit, it is a little predictable at some points. Without spoiling the entire plot, I can say that the entire plot is relying on our heroes finding a particular someone and for me, it is crystal clear from the beginning who this particular someone is. No matter how cleverly the plot tries to point the metaphorical finger at someone else, it remains obvious who they’re really looking for, which makes the great revelation near the end of the film not that surprising.
Despite the predictable plot, the greatest strength of the film lies at the very core: the return of the audience to the beloved wizarding world of Harry Potter. It’s a return many have been waiting for and they’re rewarded for their patience with Fantastic Beasts. It’s a visually stunning, emotionally gripping and all-round entertaining film. Redmayne’s character is lovable, friendly and slightly socially awkward, which makes Fantastic Beasts feel uplifting, funny and heart-warming. The fantastic beasts escaping Scamander’s briefcase just as lovable and friendly, gorgeously animated with great attention to detail. This attention to detail can also be found in the set design, which is a beautiful replica of 1920s New York City, and the costume design, which is done incredibly creatively and with great love for the story and the characters.
In the end, Fantastic Beasts is a beautiful, heart-warming and incredibly funny return to the beloved wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling. It gives fans the opportunity to re-visit characters, spells and fantastic beasts, and regular movie-goers the opportunity to dream away to the beautiful visuals and lovable characters. Although it doesn’t quite capture the same feeling of the original Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts does end on the same note: it leaves its audience with the feeling that anyone can have a little bit of magic in their lives.