Eddie Redmayne leads a brand new cast in this heavy mythological spinoff
Forget sequels! World building is where all the craze is at right now. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the DC Extended Universe to the recently announce Cloverfield Universe, it is no surprise that the widely beloved Harry Potter franchise has now become a cinematic universe. The “wizarding world” is getting an expansion and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them brings the same great elements from the beloved Harry Potter films.
Not set in Hogsworth, Fantastic Beasts visits political tensions in a 1920s New York. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a British fellow visiting America hoping to find new fantastic beasts. Although not totally obedient, his beasts sometimes get him in trouble. With political tensions high, wizards are not to use magics around the No-Majs (Muggles as Harry would call them). Scamander gets himself in trouble when his suitcase full of magical creatures gets misplaced with Jacob Kowalski’s (Dan Fogler) suitcase. When he opens the briefcase, the creatures escape all over town, and Scamander must find them.
Although his job is not so easy as a new group of individuals called the New Salem Philanthropic Society, believe that witches are terrorizing their city. As they strive to return to a time where people could openly burn accused witches, Scamander must find his beasts before they find them and the wizard community.
It does seem like a lot for a movie. However, J. K. Rowling gets the viewers on track. It is an exposition heavy film, and that is to be expected. The writing is the best part of the movie. Rowling created some fascinating characters. Even the characters that get almost no screen time are crafted in a way that the audience will remember them.
The beasts are quirky, and they each get a very likable trait. Just like the human characters, the memorable features are what makes the beasts so likable. The Niffler – a platypus-like creature – will definitely win over the audience’s heart. Also, the Bowtruckle is bound to be another fan favorite as it rides the coat tail of Guardians of the Galaxy’s own baby Groot.
Just like GotG, the creatures are magnificently brought to life. They are beautiful to look at and it works most of the time. Other times, though, it can get a little fake. With the movie’s overuse of blue screens and CGI together, the scenes look more cartoonish than reality.
There is a lot of grounds for Fantastic Beasts to cover and while they do succeed most of the time, sometimes certain plot points are rushed. For all the mythology and expositions this spinoff is trying to achieve, it is incredible that they manage to get so many things right. However, the first Harry Potter movies suffered the same fate as they were mostly exposition movies for later sequels. Fantastic Beasts works more of the same way.
If you are fanatic of the Harry Potter movies, then Fantastic Beasts is sure to please you. It does a lot of fan service, and little hidden easter eggs are sure to make you smile. J. K. Rowling remains the strong point for the franchise going forward, and David Yates makes her imaginative world come true with an ease.