Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (12A)

Does this Harry Potter prequel live up to the hype, or is it a fantastic flop? Becky van Leeuwan returns to the wizarding world to find out.

Becky van Leeuwan
28th November 2016

Five years after the world saw the end of an era with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, fans can now return to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

This newest addition to this beloved fictional universe is not a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but rather a spin-off created around the 2001 textbook that takes the audience back 70 years before the events in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. However, do not expect Fantastic Beasts to be anything like the Potter series; it is a completely new story that is set far away from the grounds of Hogwarts – albeit with some references to it – and this first part of what is set to become a five-film franchise is building an additional world to the one we’ve come to know and love.

The film follows Newt Scamander, as he arrives in New York City with a magical, bigger-on-the-inside suitcase full of the eponymous fantastic beasts. After bumping into No-Maj/Muggle Jacob Kowalski, who has a suitcase not unlike Newt’s but which is filled with pastries instead of livestock, some of Newt’s beloved creatures escape into the city and chaos ensues. Newt is helped by an understandably astounded Jacob in finding the animals before they get hurt – or discovered by No-Majs – and ex-auror Tina Goldstein, who has been watching Newt suspiciously since his arrival, and her mind-reading sister Queenie join the party. At the same time, MACUSA (America’s Ministry of Magic) is worrying about the disappearance of Grindelwald and the strange destructions happening in New York they fear could be related to this dark wizard.  

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a magical film that lives up to the hype and creates excitement for its sequels

The two plot-lines interweave quite late on in the film, but that isn’t necessarily a problem for the story, as the first half of the film appears to build a world for the sequels in the first place and make the audience fall in love with these new characters and the wonderful beasts in the second.

Eddie Redmayne puts Newt down as an introverted, well-meaning but chaotic scientist who is better with animals than he is with humans. Dan Fogler’s Jacob is a good-hearted fellow who is the source of most of the comic-relief. Katherine Waterston is wonderful as the strong-willed Tina, and Alison Sudol shines on the screen as Queenie. Carmen Ejogo will do everything to protect her people as madam-president Seraphina Picquery, while Colin Farrell sets down a powerful performance as the shifty auror Percival Graves, but Ezra Miller steals the show as the abused and scared son of an anti-magic activist. 

With a strong cast and a fun screenplay penned by J.K. Rowling herself, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a magical film that lives up to the hype and creates excitement for its sequels, which promise to dive deeper into the magical yet dark world set up in this film. Hopefully we will also see more of the titular beasts, as they are fantastic in every way and make everyone wish they knew where to find them.

Rating: 5/5

More like this: The Golden Compass (2008)

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