By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It has been five years since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part Two.
But 54 years before the world’s most popular wizard was born, there was another wizard who had incredible adventures that would take the wizarding world by storm. His name was Newt Scamander. This man wrote one of the most influential textbooks for Hogwarts’ students: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them.
This film follows Mr. Scamander (Eddie Redmayne)’s misadventures in New York City, two years before the Great Depression and even in America, fascism is started to rear its ugly head. Evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald is on the loose and wants to wipe out Muggles, Meanwhile, a sinister organization called the New Salem Philanthropic Society, wants to expose wizards and witches to the public. Scamander turns the Big Apple’s wizarding world upside down when his exquisite collection of magical creatures escapes his suitcase and must team up with No-Maj (an American Muggle) and World War I veteran Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and former Auror Porpetina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) to re-capture these creatures.
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them is the first film that is geared towards the first generation of Harry Potter fans, who are eager to learn more about J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. This movie was the author’s first venture into screenwriting, and it will impress both fans and movie goers. Ms. Rowling’s screenplay included mature topics including child abuse, racism, the seduction of the innocent, and segregation. Longtime Potter fans will also be happy with several Easter eggs that are dropped into the story such as the mentioning of a certain wizarding school and its’ headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, and Scamander’s connection to an ancestor of one of the Potter universe’s greatest villains. In addition to her screenwriting duties, Harry Potter’s creator also served as a co-producer along with Potter veterans David Heyman, Steve Kloves, and Lionel Wigram.
The movie’s success goes to its superb acting ensemble. Redmayne brilliantly makes Scamander a brilliant multi-layered character who is worthy of inheriting of the title of Captain of the USS Potter. Several scenes that showcase Redmayne at his best includes introducing Jacob to his precious creatures who live inside of his large suitcase and tracking down a hippopotamus-like animal at the Central Park Zoo. Both Fogler and Alison Sodel, who portrays Tina’s eccentric younger sister, Queenie Goldstein, who excels as magical telepathy called Legilimency are the breakout performers of the film. Also, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, and Jon Voight perfectly portray some of the sinister characters in this world.
Final thoughts & grade: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them is probably one of the better spin-off films I have ever seen. Thanks to the magic created by Rowling, Redmayne, Heyman, director David Yates, and the rest of the cast and crew, this movie proves that it is worthy to guide this important film franchise into a new generation of excellence. A-