‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is set in a simpler time, before all the drama with ‘You Know Who’. Where the only magical trouble wreaking havoc on the no maj (muggle) world is a thieving mole, a frisky rhino, and… Oh yeah, a scary black mist destroying New York’s historical landmarks.
Who are these new witches and wizards?
The story kind of jumps straight in, Newt Scamander’s (Eddie Redmayne) creatures, which he has brought in illegally, get loose fairly quickly following a little mix up at the bank. Then we’re off, unlike ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone’, which sets up the entire back story of the protagonist in under an hour.
The audience finds out very little about ‘creature wrangler’ Newt, other than he is loyal and kind, was expelled from Hogwarts for setting a beast loose in the school, and he loves his creatures almost more than people. Maybe he’s Hagrid Senior? After the outbreak of magical animals he does manage to make good friends with former Auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) who can read minds, and no maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Together they help Newt collect all of his lost creatures, because like most Brit’s abroad he’s totally lost within the first five minutes. Basically, the film is just a big game of Pokemon Go, but instead of Pokeballs, Newt collects what he finds in a suitcase, and it’s 1926 so unfortunately there are no phones to help them out.
What’s exciting about this film?
The underdog of the film was Ezra Miller who played weird preacher’s son, Credence. Miller has a true gift for portraying social awkward and pitiful characters, but it is in no way a flaw. He is brilliant. Credence is the child of witch hunting fanatic Mary Lou (Samantha Morton). He’s peculiar, creepy, and a bit of a loner, yet I long to see more of him! Along with his younger sister, they were brought up in a strict home and regularly preach on the city’s streets, warning of the evil doings of the wizarding world. This adds in another exciting angle to the story!
The muggles – sorry no maj’s and wizards do not co-exist well in America, so when a bunch of magical animals started running around New York, the American version of the Ministry of Magic got pretty annoyed about it, resulting in Newt and his new friends getting into some pretty tense situations.
What’s the overall thought?
At the start of the film, my expectations were high. I was convinced that in no way was this going to be able to stand alone away from Harry and his squad. By the end, I loved each character just as they were. The film didn’t need to drop easter eggs or pay homage to its film ancestry, which technically hadn’t even happened yet because it was totally separate. It didn’t add cringe worthy cameos or name drop. Although Albus Dumbledore did get a casual mention but I can let that one slide.
In terms of atmosphere, it went back to the earlier feel of the Harry Potter series. It was bright, light-hearted and whimsical, and although I didn’t get that same warm, Christmas-like nostalgia as I do with any of the Potter films, I didn’t leave feeling disappointed. The new era of J.K Rowling film’s need to be able to stand on their own so that they don’t fall into the trap of becoming another unnecessary spin-off, and so far it’s off to a good start. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ felt more like the ‘Fraiser’ of ‘Cheers’, rather than the ‘Joey’ of ‘Friends’.
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