Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the first major work in the Potterverse not to feature Harry Potter, and it shows that J.K Rowling’s magical world is bigger than one boy wizard. Fantastic Beasts is not a perfect film by any stretch, but it does move the universe forward in some interesting ways, and it shows us new aspects of the Wizarding World, while still feeling grounded in Rowling’s universe.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he lands in America with a case full of creatures and some unknown purpose. Things quickly get out of control when he looses his case and a few of the creatures escape. Meanwhile something has been terrorizing the streets of New York, and Newt has to prove it is not one of his beasts and save the city.
The story is fairly basic, which is fine, but it gets kind of muddled with the three or four other things going on at the same time. This movie does a lot of world building for being the ninth movie in a franchise. Luckily all that world building is pretty cool and the more we can dig in to the Wizarding World the better, and I was very happy that Fantastic Beasts has a proper ending. It may have put to neat a bow on everything, but it was nice not to have wait until next time get the rest of the story, and with four more Fantastic Beasts movies in the works, there is a lot of story still coming.
Like all Potterverse films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a great cast. Eddie Redmayne is charming and fun, and Colin Farrell is dark and obviously villainous in a wonderful way. Dan Fogler is a perfect stand-in for the audience as the No-Maj (muggle) who is constantly being blown away with everything he is seeing, but loving every second of it. I don’t think there is one bad casting.
Fantastic Beasts is a visual treat. 1920’s New York looked great, and every magical creature was a wonder to behold. The spells all were realized wonderfully. While I don’t think I could ever tell you what David Yates style is, or be able to pick one of his films out of a line-up, he does handle large speciall effects laden films well, and that is a very hard skill to master.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a great film that buckles a little under all of its world building. Hopefully future films are a little more focused. The only other downside I could see is that this Potterverse movie felt a little more grown up, and it may be a little too dark and feature themes (physical abuse for instance) that are hard for younger children to deal with. Though as for me, I had a blast, and I cannot wait to see where Newt and his gang end up next.