“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” : Review

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was released on 10 November 2016, directed by David Yates, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. This film is a prequel to the Harry Potter film series, and was produced and written by J. K. Rowling.  The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander with Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell in supporting roles.

The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident…were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

The trouble brewing is due to the already fragile equilibrium of secrecy between the unseen world of wizards and the ordinary or “No-Maj” people who the MACUSA Congress struggles to maintain, is at risk of being unsettled. In the meantime, the voices against wizardry keep growing with daily protests lead by Mary Lou Barebone and fueled by the increasing disasters ascribed to a dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. At the same time, by a twist of fate, Newt’s precious suitcase will be switched with the identical one of an aspiring No-Maj baker, Jacob Kowalski, while demoted Auror, Tina Goldstein, arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard. To make matters worse, with the suitcase in the wrong hands, several creatures manage to escape to unknown directions. Before long, this situation will catch Senior Auror Percival Graves’ attention who will target both Tina and Newt amid panic caused by an invisible, devastating and utterly unpredictable menace that still wreaks havoc in New York’s 5th Avenue.

I have not seen any of the Harry Potter films, nor have I read any of the books, so I went into this film cold and with no expectations.  The film’s largest fault is that three hours of material is squeezed into a two-hour running time. Several elements could have been explored further: the plight of the children recruited into the Second Salemers; the newspaper magnate (Jon Voight) and his two sons; and the romance between Kowalski and Queenie.  Despite the characters being a little underdeveloped, the cast does well bringing them to life.  Overall the film had dazzling effects, truly fantastic beasts, and made me a fan of the franchise.