When the Harry Potter film series ended in 2011, J.K. Rowling was not finished just yet. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a prequel of sorts to the Harry Potter franchise, and follows magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who was recently expelled from Hogwarts.
The film begins with Scamander arriving in New York City, attempting to find more magical creatures to add to his suitcase, which is full of different species he wants to return to their natural habitat. However, he accidentally swaps the wrong suitcase with a non-magical baker named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogel), and that’s when all the fun begins.
While the movie’s focus is on the creatures who escape Scamander’s case, we learn there is also an American school of magic named Ilvermorny. We are also introduced to Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie Goldstein (Allison Sudol), two magical sisters who follow Scamander and Kowalski along the journey.
Redmayne gives charm and wit in his character. While he is no Harry Potter, it is refreshing to follow a main character with different personality traits. There were many other solid performances within the film, such as Colin Farrell as Percival Graves and Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone, whose character you should keep a close eye on.
“Fantastic Beasts” is full of wonderful effects and writing. We see different creatures such as the cute and often scene-stealing Niffler, who steals shiny things and stores them in its bottomless pouch. We also see the Thunderbird, a multi-winged relative of Dumbledore’s Phoenix.
One thing the movie does lack is character development. While the cast brings their A-game on, you don’t fully learn some of their background. This may be due to the film’s two and a half hour running time, but it leaves something to be desired. The second half of the movie also has some dark elements of the film that some viewers might not see coming.
J.K. Rowling plans to make the series into five films, with a sequel coming out every two years. She will continue to write the screenplay while David Yates, who also directed the last four Harry Potter films, will continue to direct. “Fantastic Beasts” is nothing short of fantastic, but it is not perfect either. It is an entertaining film for all ages, but we should expect more the sequels.