This is the movie “that shall be watched!”
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ushers Potter fans back to the wondrous world of wizards and witches, and opens the door for new fans to join in on exploring a truly unique magical journey.
Seventy years before Harry Potter boarded the Hogwarts Express for his life-changing adventure, a young Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) was landing in New York, not looking for any adventure at all. This awkward, quirky and intelligent character, who would rather keep to himself and his collection of creatures than spend anytime with humans, introduces fans to a whole new world of witchcraft and wizardry.
When some of his creatures get loose, Newt must enlist the help of a reluctant No-Maj – the American word for non-magic folk – Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and a disgraced Auror, Tina (Katherine Waterson), to help him save his missing beasts. But there is more at stake than any of them realize; a mysterious new evil grows in the shadows of New York. Percival Graves (Colin Ferrell), Director of Magical Security, is desperate to uncover this dangerous threat before it exposes the magical society and ushers in a new era of war between the wizarding world and the No-Maj.
While this movie does well to stand on its own, if you know what you’re looking for, you will see several links to the original Harry Potter series. Nods, mentioned only in passing, to events from the original story line give the movie a complex but identifiable connection for the truest of fans. There is a particularly quick quip that Quidditch fans should appreciate! In all, the film explains just enough that a new viewer will not be lost, but leaves out superfluous details that have already been established in past films.
Despite not having 8 movies to fully flesh out these new characters, Beasts does a formidable job of making all them enjoyable and relatable. By the end, I was sincerely invested in each them and I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest of their stories play out in the promised sequels. The adventure is fun and fast paced, keeping the flavor of the original series without feeling forced or played out. The film beautifully captures the feel of mid-20s New York with stunning costuming and gorgeous sets. And, the CGI is impressive, making even the most fantastic of beasts feel very real.
Perhaps one of the most wonderful things about this movie is how easily it could be enjoyed by audiences of any age. Although there were bits that pandered to the younger crowd – the incredibly over-the-top mating dance, for instance – most of the humor was garnering chuckles from every person in the theater. There were a few quips thrown in for us die-hard fans, but the laughs were innocent, fun and easy to enjoy.
In all, it was a highly entertaining movie. There is a bit of a twist towards the end if you’re unfamiliar with the canon of the Harry Potter universe, but tried and true Potter-Heads can feel pretty confident in what is coming in the next 4 films. Now to see who they’ll cast as our Dumbledoor….
2018 can’t get here soon enough!