Just as Game of Thrones is an adult version of Lord of the Rings, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is grown up version of Harry Potter series. Set in the same wizarding world as Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them expands the magical world witnessed in Harry Potter series. While much of the world we saw was filtered through safety nets of Hogwarts, in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, you get real idea about lives of wizards and witches in the magical world of Harry Potter.
Set seventy years prior to the events of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them follows a dedicated Magizoologist Newt Scamander who is touring around the world in search of magical beasts for writing his titled book. He carries with him a seemingly innocent suitcase bag that harbors fantastic beasts of all shapes and size. He arrives in New York with a very specific purpose. However, one thing leads to another and some of the magical creatures escape his suitcase. And now, it’s up to Newt, a loan-needing No-Maj (an american term for Muggles), a disbanded Auror Porpentina Goldstein and her sister Queenie Goldstein to find them before New York is utterly destroyed.
The story moves linearly with no twists and turns until the very end. But if you are an experienced moviegoer like me, you can sense that twist coming from miles. However, it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts. And well, that journey is quite satisfying. Along the way, the film introduces many new terms, concepts and spells that we could have never been able to see in Harry Potter. You get to see a bar of goblins and then there is entirely a new administration Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) that is basically american Ministry of Magic. There is so many interesting world building things going on that you can’t let yourself miss even a single moment of the film. The film has the ability to keep both the first timers and hardcore Harry Potter fans hooked throughout its runtime.
However, this new world establishing comes at expense of screenplay at many places. There are a couple of scenes that doesn’t tie into the overall narrative of the film and is solely for setting up the sequels. Stretched beasts’ introduction is one of them. While they are fun to watch, the film would have done better to reduce their time and devoted that time to enhancing the ongoing MACUSA plot. Such is the poor development of secondary MACUSA plot that you hardly care about the ex-machina reveal of Ginderwald in the climax.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a prime example of 3D conversion done right. This year, after Doctor Strange, undoubtedly, Fantastic Beasts is the best film to watch in 3D. Almost every other action film today are released in 3D to mint few extra bucks. However, only a veery few films like Doctor Strange and Fantastic Beasts get 3D conversion right and are worth watching in the format. Put aside the New York rebuilding scene very similar to that of reversing damage with time gem in Doctor Strange, the varied types of beasts with unique powers and abilities are visual spectacle. You just can’t get your eyes off of them.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is blessed with the diverse actors who individually bring a lot of experience to their characters. The academy awards winner Eddie Redmayne is the perfect match for an awkward but brave Newt Scamander. But it’s Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski who surprised me the most. Dan Fogler as an actor has never been taken seriously in Hollywood and so from the trailer it seemed his character will just be a minor passerby. However, Jacob Kowalski plays a pivotal role in the film and needless to say, Fogler brings his A-game for the same. I hope he gets more opportunities like this in future.
The girls of the film – Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol – do well in their respective roles. Waterston’s Porpentina Goldstein is female version of Newt Scamander and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they are made for each other. Alison Sudol’s mind reading Queenie Goldstein reminded me a lot of Luna Lovegood. Is Queenie a relative of Luna? Commenters, help me out please.
Barring Ezra Miller, other supporting actors too shined in their roles. Before his full-time portrayal of Barry Allen in Justice League, I was eager to see Miller’s acting skills. However, I was sorely disappointed with his Credence Barebone. Whenever he was on screen, I felt like fast-forwarding the film. Like a literal Obscurus, he stole the magic of other great actors on the screen. And now, I am not excited about The Flash (movie, not the TV-series) anymore.
Overall, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a great effort by debutant screenplay writer J. K. Rowling and veteran director David Yates. Probably no one understands Rowling’s magic better than the Yates and the duo has enough talent to make Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them stand on its own feet. If you liked the darker tone of Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, you will absolutely love the political shenanigans in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
- Good Acting
- Mind Blowing Special Effects
- New Wizarding World
- Ezra Miller's Credence Barebone