Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: wonderful return to wizardry

Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them / Screenrant.com

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the first film to grab Harry Potter fans and throw them back into J. K. Rowling’s wonderful world of wizardry since the 2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2. Fantastic Beasts is also the first of five installments in the new spin-off series.

I was surprisingly excited to see this film. J.K. Rowling’s imaginative world has captivated the hearts and minds of many a young reader, and the entire franchise has inspired a fandom rivalling all of the biggest
franchises.

The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt, a British wizard coming to 1920’s New York to finish his educational manuscript for wizards on the various beasts within their magical realm. When he arrives, however, he finds himself hopelessly lost in the American wizard community and America as a whole.

Redmayne’s performance was commendable, although I felt that the role didn’t differ far enough away from his other recent works and had a difficult time seeing him as Newt, instead of just Eddie Redmayne.

The other main characters of the film, Tina, played by Katherine Waterston, Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, and Queenie, played by Alison Sudol, all fit perfectly into their roles. Waterston’s character experiences significant development throughout the film, and she is an excellent casting choice.

Fogler doesn’t disappoint, and his performance is both charming and believable, and the chemistry between his and Sudol’s character is electric. These two characters, as well as the various beasts (magical, kleptomaniac, platypus included), provide the majority of the film’s comedic elements and offer a strong emotional backbone for the movie to play off of.

The film is beautifully put together, and the effects were largely believable with a couple of CGI-based qualms that would have been tough, maybe even impossible, to fix.

Finally, James Newton Howard’s score stayed close to the original themes and ideas of the Harry Potter scores which I found a little disappointing and would like to see something new. Several tracks, however, in keeping with the times, were jazz-based, and those were perfect — more of that would have made for a better score.

The film’s plot is not unexpected it isn’t heavily thought provoking (though there are elements worth meditating on) but it is complete and more or less believable. With four more movies in the works I was worried about gimmick at the end or silly cliffhanger, but there was none. The film could stand up on its own, not as a perfect movie, but certainly a good one.

The franchise is in good hands with Rowling and David Yates who have put together an excellent entry into a new time in a familiar world.

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