IMDB Synopsis: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
We are finally going back to the wizarding world of Harry Potter, but this time set in the past in 1920’s Manhattan, NY following the adventures of magical zoologist? Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This movie is inspired by the companion book that J.K. Rowling wrote containing a sort of an encyclopedia of the magical beasts in the wizarding world as well as a few mentions of him in the main Harry Potter novels. We are essentially getting an all new original story created by Rowling but does it live up to the Harry Potter name?
I really liked film’s setting in the US and seeing how the wizarding culture is different from the English in the Harry Potter series we are so accustomed to. We find ourselves following Newt track his beasts down all over New York let loose by an aspiring muggle (called nomaj in America, I prefer muggle) baker Jacob when their cases get switched. This leads them on an adventure that uncovers much more sinister dealings in the magical world of the US. On the surface this movie turned out to be very different from what I was expecting, the fantastic beasts searching was more of a backdrop for setting up a larger story of what would eventually, I’m assuming will lead to the epic Grindelwald vs Dumbledore duel alluded to in the Deathly Hallows novels. All this additional lore proved to be really fun and entertaining from a Potter fan but it did come at the cost of the pacing of the movie. It had a lot of plot lines to accommodate and jumped from scene to scene too quickly and took away time with the new characters that I just fell in love with.
The main leads were incredible but I absolutely fell in love with Kathrine Waterston’s Tina Goldstein. A character that you really sympathize with and relate to. She comes across as very caring but is caught between trying to do the right thing but being held back by so much red tape of the Magical Congress, MACUSA. This leads her to eventually helping and grow a relationship with Newt and their chemistry is cute. Oh and Eddie Redmayne is just awesome! Just his range and skill as an actor is pretty awe inspiring but really what sold it was the Erumpent mating dance, oh my god this was scene was amazing! Colin Ferrall as Graves, a high ranking Auror's AKA magical police, gave one of my favorite performance of his career.
Visually this movie is very beautiful and it’s great to see the 1920’s and it’s recreated very well amazingly. Something that did bother me a bit was how CGI some of the beasts are. They looked great and imaginative but it was apparent that these were CGI characters interacting with the humans. I get why they didn’t do it but it would have been nice to maybe see some animatronics or puppets for some of the animals.
As a diehard Harry Potter fan this movie is really fun especially if you’re up on your Potter knowledge because many of the beasts that appear in this movie are casually mentioned throughout the original 7 novels and films. Also the further exploration of the whole Grindelwald story line mentioned in the Deathly Hallows is exciting, the prospect of seeing a young Dumbledore have one of the most epic magic duels ever mentioned in the series will get anyone jumping for joy. It’s not a perfect movie and I don’t consider it better than any of the previous 8 Harry Potter films I for one can’t wait for the next one in what is supposed to be a five film series.
Should You See It: Yes
Theater Worthy: Yes
Final Grade: B+