Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fantasy film set in the Harry Potter universe starring Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell as well as a slew of other big names.
It is not a sequel, but not quite a prequel either. The film is set in New York City during the 1920s and follows Redmayne’s character Newt Scamander is a magical animal collector and expert. He is, as mentioned in the Harry Potter series, the author of the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Scamander is a British wizard who comes to New York City, but, unfortunately, a few of his creatures escape into the city. He, with a few others, need to find and recapture them before they cause too much trouble.
First off, Eddie Redmayne nails it as the lead character. Newt Scamander is easy to root for and it doesn’t take long to develop a liking for the character. His genuine love for all magical creatures—which others may see as monsters—as well as his lovable awkwardness, caused me to immediately wish for him to succeed. Any misfortune he comes across was met with my genuine dismay.
One thing the movie pulled off extremely well for me is that, while it did capture some of the Harry Potter feel that we all grew up loving; it does not rely on it. It does well to create its own atmosphere and vibe. Many spinoffs and reboots these days try too hard to provide “fan service” and deliberately places Easter eggs and plot points that directly correlate with the original film. Too often this only services as a device to make the audience think “oh wow I remember that!” One example of this is in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, when Legolas is sent to find Aragorn, thus shoehorning the original Lord of the Rings story into the plot of the Hobbit. This is unnecessary and Fantastic Beasts does well to avoid that.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a thoroughly entertaining film that makes audiences feel like they’re back in the magical world J.K. Rowling created. It does not feel redundant or a mere money-making ploy. If I had one criticism of the film I would say that at times the dialogue does feel a bit sappy, but in a magical world like this, it does not seem very out of place. In a score out of ten I give Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them an 8/10.