Director: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller
Just in case eight movies weren’t enough for you, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them brings you back into the Harry Potter cinematic universe (otherwise known as the Potterverse), just minus Harry Potter himself. Remember that book that Harry and his fellow Hogwarts students used to take out occasionally during the odd care of magical creatures class (until Hagrid decided to put a book that literally bites them on their reading list)? Well J.K. Rowling has somehow managed to write a script about the author of that book, the rather socially awkward Newt Scamander, and it’s not half bad.
Fantastic Beasts is set in 1920s New York and follows the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). He comes to the big apple armed solely with a Mary Poppins-esque suitcase that just so happens to be full to the brim with magical creatures. Unfortunately, these creatures escape and it’s up to Newt, along with the help of this newfound friends, to find them and put them back in his case before they can cause too much damage. However, there’s something more sinister terrorising New York City, which also requires Newt’s attention.
Yesterday, a wizard entered New York with a case. A case full of magical creatures. And unfortunately, some have escaped.
Let’s start with the positives. As a lifelong Potter fan (I’ve read the books and watched the movies multiple times), it’s a complete joy to delve back into the magical world that J.K. Rowling created. Fantastic Beasts also offers a look at a new time period in magical history, 1920s New York. The best parts of the movie are when we get to see the city in all its magical glory. Up to this point the Harry Potter franchise had been stuck in the UK, but there’s a whole magical world out there that we haven’t seen yet, and the new Fantastic Beasts movies will let us explore Rowling’s wonderful wizarding world even more.
It has to be said that Fantastic Beasts looks amazing. Over the years, David Yates has perfected his craft and this is easily the best looking Harry Potter movie ever made. The magical creatures themselves steal the show – acctually the niffler is the star of the movie, it’s just so adorably cute – and going into Newt Scamander’s TARDIS-esque suitcase is the film’s real highlight.
The cast as a whole is very good, which is to be expected with a movie that boasts such an impressive list of actors. Ezra Miller’s performance in particular seemed to stand above the rest. He’s able to be simultaneously creepy and tragic as Credence. The addition of Dan Fogler as the No-Maj (which is what the Americans wizards call Muggles) Kowalski was very welcome since he offered some much needed levity to a pretty dark movie.
My philosophy is if you worry, you suffer twice.
My biggest problems with Fantastic Beasts were it’s runtime and Eddie Redmayne himself. Clocking in at two hours thirteen minutes, the movie was just far too long and could have benefited from being cut down slightly. It just starts to drag a bit in the middle and there were a few scenes that felt unnecessarily baggy. Sometimes less is more. Then we have Eddie Redmayne. I’m not saying he was bad, because he wasn’t. On the contrary, I think Redmayne was the perfect choice to play Newt. However, he’s starting to become a bit of a one trick poney. His performance is very similar to his work in The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl. He also pulls a few too many pouts for my liking, but I know that’s just a personal gripe I have with him.
On the whole, Fantastic Beasts is a very enjoyable movie with some flaws. There’s a lot of promise here for the next movies in J.W. Rowling’s new revamped ‘Potter’ franchise. She’s already been talking about wanting to make five Fantastic Beasts movies, and if she says that there’s enough story to be told there, then I’m sure there is. If anything, it’ll allow us to see more of the magical world, and with the next movie being set in Paris, I’m looking forward to see what comes next.