For many the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part Two back in 2011 was a joyous and sad occasion, marking the end of the beloved franchise cinematically. Well five years have passed since then and wanting to make further use of the franchise the good people at Warner Bros. are expanding on this magical world. Inspired by the companion book of the same name, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them shows a completely new side to the wizard world, being set in the late twenties and in the heart of New York, showing us how the U.S. differ from the more well known British wizard community. Now if I’m being honest, there was a lot about this concept that left me sceptical heading into the cinema, but when I left I couldn’t be more happier with the product we were given.
David Yates helms this bold new direction for the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and having directed the final four instalments of the franchise he’s no stranger to a bit of magic. Giving us a slick and vibrant tone, the director manages to bring back a lot of the atmosphere and spectacle that made Harry Potter a beloved franchise, whilst at the same time making it unique and of itself. The big selling point about this movie, for me heading in, was the fact that J.K. Rowling herself was writing the screenplay, taking control of the world she created. Not disappointing the bestselling author gave us a magical tale that was warm, fun, exciting and a little dark. Naturally it doesn’t quite match the sheer quality of the Harry Potter stories themselves, feeling a little too corny and at times a bit slow, but as far as expansions go this was a successful start.
The talent in front of the camera were just as instrumental as the creators behind it in bringing this new tale to life, and for the better part they did an outstanding job. At the forefront of the action we have Eddie Redmayne with the Oscar winner giving an enchanting performance as creature loving wizard Newt Scamander. Between his awkward timing and innocent nature, Newt becomes a really likeable character, with the talent of Redmayne helping reflect this brilliantly. Joining the English thespian we got some solid acting from Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein) and Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski) with both doing an amazing job of complementing the quirky nature of Newt. Not only do they do this in a way that gives us great character interaction, but they also make their individual characters matter, with their attitude changing completely by the end of the film.
Unlike Harry Potter there isn’t initially a clean cut antagonist in this movie, with certain characters ulterior motives shaping the more disastrous twists in the movie. That said as the story unravels it becomes clear that the two questionable characters in this tale are MACUSA’s Director of Magical Security, Percival Graves, and a troubled youth named Credence with Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller both doing tremendous jobs respectfully in fleshing out emotionally complicated characters. Despite this there were a couple of aspects about their development narratively that were a little too obvious for me, with a major twist involving Farrell‘s character being noticeable in the opening scene of the movie. Nevertheless this didn’t spoil what was an otherwise sensational movie, and with a couple of surprises along the way moviegoers should enjoy the magical world of Harry Potter once more.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an astonishing new entry in the magical world of Harry Potter, proving that there is still a lot of potential within this setting. Introducing us to some new and intriguing characters, whilst expanding on the mythos of this magical world the creators deliver a product that is sure to resonate in the hearts of fans new and old.
(8 / 10)