Fantastic beasts and where to find them

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows – Part 2 was released back in 2011 – that is five years ago. It seems a lot longer than that. But, as they say, patience is a virtue. Now, in November 2016, we have been given the chance once again to travel to Harry Potter’s world of magic. With a few twists, of course. Fans wouldn’t just want a continuation of the old story that was nicely tied up – that has already been provided with the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play. Instead, J.K. Rowling – writer of the screenplay – has used the base of the world she created in the Harry Potter books to create a spin-off with plenty of personal magic and character, with new places, new faces and a completely fresh new plot.

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Newt (Eddie Redmayne) and the rest of the crew

Fantastic beasts and where to find them follows the adventures of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), writer of the Hogwarts school book by the same name. It is set in 1920s New York – so seventy years before Harry learns that he is a wizard and goes to Hogwarts. Newt is travelling the world conducting research on fantastic creatures to write a book about them in hope of making magical folk understand them better and want to protect them. New York is his next destination. When he arrives, some of the beasts he carries around in his suitcase escape causing chaos on the streets of the Big Apple. But the lose creatures aren’t the wizarding communities only problem. There is something haunting the city, a cloud of black smoke destroying buildings and ripping up the cobbled streets.

Newt Scamander (Redmayne) needs to find his creatures before they are attacked by humans. Popertina Goldstein (Katherine Waterstone) – a worker at MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the USA) – and her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) set out to help him. But they are not the only ones. And this brings me to talk about a character that I think was a great addition to the plot – Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a human. His life is changed when he walks into a bank to ask for a loan to open up a bakery and instead stumbles upon a world of magic and joins Newt on his mission. Simultaneously, Colin Farrel’s character who works for MACUSA has Ezra Miller’s looking for the source of the black cloud causing mayhem in the city.

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Newt Scamander and Jacob Kowalski with a bowtruckle

Fantastic beasts is obviously aimed at a more adult viewers but still manages to maintain a fun and upbeat feel despite the fact that danger is lurking in the background. I really enjoyed it and critics seem to be rating it pretty well too. Rotten Tomatoes has given it a rating of 77%. I felt like, even if it was a spin-off, it had lots of new things to give. Sure, it had the same wand-waving spells. Yes, it takes its base features from Harry Potter: they have their own Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts in America, they also hide their existence from humans. David Yates, who had previously directed four of the Harry Potter films, being the director probably contributed greatly to that feeling of familiarity that some people will experience when watching it. The special effects, soundtrack and the tone of the sets will all take Potterheads back to the good all days.

The film did however bring along a load of new material. As the title of the film suggests, we are presented to a vast number of fantastic creatures who live in a paradise stored away in Newt’s suitcase. A human, Kowalski, becomes aware of the wizarding world and actually gets to participate. Sure, the Dudleys knew about magic but did not fully get to experience the wizarding world. Despite it being a spin-off, I thought it was a very original film with a compelling new plot with a new set of characters that are to be developed further in four upcoming sequels – which I personally can’t wait for.

Fantastic beasts and where to find them also gives old Harry Potter fan some moments in which to geek-out. There is mention of one of  Bellatrix Lestrange’s family members, Leta (Zöe Kravitz), who was apparently Newt’s love interest while they were both at Hogwarts. Dumbledore, as is usually the case, was the only professor at Hogwarts who spoke well of Scamander after he was expelled from school. It was announced not long ago that a young Albus Dumbledore would be case in the next installments – probably something to do with his relationship with Gridewald and the events leading up to the famous duel between the two wizards. There is much to look forward to for both Potterheads and people only just joining the legion of fans of the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling.

It is a 4 star review from me. If you haven’t been to see it yet you are still in time. If it has been as succesful as I think it has it will still be on for a while.

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