Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the first film set in J.k Rowlings magical world to be released in nearly six years, so my expectations were unsurprisingly high going in to this film. However as the film is set to be the first of five I was afraid that it might just be an opportunity to cash in on the original series, and that it might not measure up to the high quality we have come to expect. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.
Directed by Harry Potter alum David Yates and adapted by Rowling from her 2001 book of the same name, it is also the authors first stab at screenwriting. It stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who loses a briefcase full of magical creatures in New York City. Although Fantastic Beasts is technically a Harry Potter prequel, it thankfully didn’t rely too heavily on both the previous knowledge of and love for this franchise, though there are a few references that fans will catch. Even if you had never watched any of the previous films or read any of the books you could easily get on board with this film. The costuming, design, and special effects are top notch, and its easy to become immersed in the world they have created.
Redmayne makes a solid “Doctor Who”-esque lead, and paired with Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein they really bring the story to life. Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski very nearly steals every scene that he is in and he has great chemistry with Alison Sudol who plays Queenie Goldstein. Although the film take a while to gain momentum while we get to grips with all the new characters, storylines and locations, once it gets going it really comes into its own. For the most part, it is light hearted with some great laugh out loud moments. The subplot with Colin Farrell as Percival Graves and Ezra Miller as the mawkish Credence Barebone brings a great dark element to the film, and that contrast is something I hope they don’t shy away from with the sequels.
By the end of Fantastic Beasts we have some interesting new revelations to ponder, and it will be interesting to see where the franchise goes from here. Its a great first chapter in what is no doubt going to be a great series.