Review: “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” – Magical

Written by Caitlin Cooper December 02, 2016

fantastic beasts

Harry Potter has been such a big part of many people’s childhood, mine included. A lot of us grew up with the films, and for a while it was the dominating presence at the theatre every time another sequel came out. It just goes to show the power of books, and the power of film. I admit when I heard about a prequel being in the works, I was a cautiously excited. Excited because it was another taste of the wizarding world we all know, but cautious because I didn’t know what a film without the famous trio would be like. But I didn’t have to worry: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has all the charm and magic of the Harry Potter series, but sets itself apart enough to feel like a new experience.

Fantastic Beasts, an original screenplay written Rowling, follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) on an adventure in New York where his magical suitcase full of creatures has a security breach: the creatures have found a way out and are hitting the streets to wreak some havoc. But what’s more concerning is the powerful magic that’s destroying no-maj (the American word for muggles) buildings and leaving casualties in its wake. With the threat increasing, humans could become aware of the wizard world. And Newt’s beasts are the prime suspects. Together with new American allies, Newt must seek to clear his name, find his beasts, and save the city.

“New York is considerably more interesting than I expected.”

What I wasn’t really expecting from Fantastic Beasts was for it to be so charming. Newt’s a little awkward, and has a bit of a habit of breaking the rules. But his NYC adventures were, for the most part, full of laughs. Some of the creatures are just plain odd, while others are adorable and have been given clear personalities of their own. The Niffler, perhaps my favourite creature in the film, is so obsessed with anything that shines and glitters. He, and some of the other creatures, added a lot to the comedy. And that’s part of what made this film such a magical experience. Of course, Newt befriending the no-maj Kowalski (Dan Fogler) along with witches Tina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) anchored the film and added a more emotional and serious touch to balance it out. There’s one scene where Newt is trying to re-capture one of his bigger creatures that looks a lot like a rhino that was too silly to work. And Queenie’s character starts off with some cliche writing, but it improves vastly by the end.

fantastic beasts

Another high note, however, is the fight scenes at the end. They’re action-packed and full of magic. Exactly what you’d expect. What’s interesting about Fantastic Beasts is that is explores the relationship between wizards and no-majs. It’s partly a tense relationship, and that’s what allows for the dark power to spread. I won’t spoil the film, but let’s just say that when this film goes dark, it really goes dark. The sequel will probably delve even more into the villain and what his presence means for the world.

“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They’re currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet: humans.”

It’s no secret that it takes the right cast to lead such a highly anticipated film as this one. Fantastic Beasts can boast a great, well-rounded cast. Redmayne does well at playing the awkward Newt, though sometimes it felt a bit too much. For the most part, though, he makes the character seem endearing and charming. Waterston has a big role in the film as the one who initially catches on to Newt’s briefcase contents. Her acting is more subtle, but in emotional scenes her talent is clear. Fogler’s character is mainly comedic relief; he has on-point delivery. Colin Farrell as Graves, the lead wizard investigating the magical disturbances, seems an odd fit, and yet he’s fairly good playing the dramatic, serious role (minus some weird scenes with Ezra Miller as Credence).

fantastic beasts

One thing’s for sure, Fantastic Beasts might not be perfect, but it was charming, funny, and magical. It was also action-packed and had a good balance of dark scenes. The creatures are memorable, as are the stunning closing scenes. Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, I think anyone who likes fantasy films should gives this a try. You might be surprised how fantastic you find it.

My Rating: 8.5/10

fantastic beasts

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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