Taken straight from J K Rowling’s imagination and transformed into a thrilling cinematic adventure, Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them will capture your attention and awaken the magic in all of us.
A prequel to the Harry Potter series and correctly predicted to be one of the highest grossing movies of 2016, Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1920’s New York following Newt Scamander a slightly mysterious magizoologist who is bypassing New York on his way to Arizona. But of course, it was never going to be an easy ride for our protagonist. An escaped Niffler, a run-in with a no-maj and a glimpse of the New Salem Philanthropic Society all within the first half hour shows that J K Rowling is not going to let us down with this much-anticipated film.
For those who have never fully immersed themselves in the world of Potter, they may find it hard to comprehend this earlier version of the magic world, but there are plenty of familiar references to the original films that will make you feel comfortable in this new series.
Despite this, the focal characters in this film are very different to our usual school and children formula. Harry Potter has been replaced by Newt Scamander. He is a grown-up wizard, with a grown-up job, making him very relatable to a wider audience.
Eddie Redmayne portrays this relatively unknown character; a wizard who is very intelligent but feels misunderstood by the world around him. Magic must be hidden from non-magic folk and even more so when it comes to magical creatures. However as the film progresses, we find that many witches and wizards are very wary and sometimes frightened of these magical creatures. In short, Scamander is almost as misunderstood as his creatures.
The female leads in this film do justice to typical jazz-age females as well as the feisty, rule-breaking heroines that Rowling writes so well. Tina (Katherine Waterston) conveys a witch with a penchant for being a strong, independent woman trying to stay on the right side of the magical law.
And while you may be expecting Tina’s sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) to be the dizzy blonde of the film, this is certainly not the case. Queenie has a steely nerve and uses her fancy jazz-age style and appearance to disarm her enemies and turn situations in her favour. Through her sweet relationship with no-maj Jacob and her love for her sister, she takes on a surprisingly heroic role and becomes an extremely likeable character.
A highlight of the film is Scamander’s suitcase, which never leaves his side. Bigger on the inside, it is Scamander’s portable zoo where he houses and cares for all of his Fantastic Beasts, before releasing them back into their rightful habitats. While the actual creatures themselves are a treat for the eyes, from cute tiny green Bowtruckles to monstrously big Erumpent’s that are let loose in Central Park. Rowling clearly shows no boundaries or lack of imagination when creating these magical beasts.
Despite this sense of fun-filled adventure, Rowling is still able to incorporate a foreboding sense of danger and threat. This comes from the sinister Graves, brilliantly played by Colin Farrell, the mystery shrouded Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and her son Credence (Ezra Miller). Fans of the Potter world will note the introduction of Gellert Grindlewald – the most dangerous wizard in history. It is clear that Rowling plans on making the most of the character and his story in this new five-film series, but whether or not he will be as memorable as Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort remains to be seen.
However different to other recent blockbusters such as The Legend of Tarzan or Disney’s Moana what is certain is Fantastic Beasts is a wild adventure that is sure to generate a new wave of wizarding fans in the years to come.