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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Review by CJ

fantastic-beasts

Director:
David Yates

Starring:
Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller

Other notable appearances:
Jon Voight, Johnny Depp, Ron Perlman

Running time:
133 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
The Harry Potter series, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Oz the Great and Powerful, Doctor Strange

Newt Scamander (Redmayne) arrives in New York City with a magical suitcase containing fantastic beasts. When one of his beasts escapes in a crowded bank, Newt is brought to the attention of former Auror Tina (Waterston) who hauls him in for not wiping the memory of a muggle (or no-maj as they’re known in the USA) that witnessed magic (Fogler).

Chaos ensues when Newt and the no-maj Jacob Kowalski (Fogler) mistakenly switch cases and the latter releases several fantastic beasts on Manhattan. Newt, Tina, Jacob and Tina’s sister Queenie (Sudol) must work together not only to recapture Newt’s beasts but to stop a foul plan that is afoot within the magical community.

From the moment the theme music starts playing to Queenie’s last smile at the camera, Fantastic Beasts is a delightful journey.

The plot is masterfully woven together by J.K. Rowling, the creator of this vast universe herself, and it shows. There are small homages to the original Harry Potter series that work perfectly, despite the fact that Fantastic Beasts is set some 70 years before its predecessor. None of these references feel shoehorned in for the sake of pandering to fans nor do they take anything away from Fantastic Beasts for viewers who aren’t familiar with the Harry Potter universe.

Eddie Redmayne is a remarkable actor and his portrayal of Newt Scamander only reinforces this. My favourite cameo in Fantastic Beasts is hands down Ron Perlman but you need to be on your toes to catch it. Colin Farrell is a lot of fun to watch in his role as shady Auror Percival Graves.

The score for Fantastic Beasts is a joy to listen to and is very heavily influenced by the scores from the Harry Potter film series. If music is modern magic then James Newton Howard’s score is swish and flicking at all of the right angles.

The special effects throughout Fantastic Beasts are mesmerising and bring the on-screen world to life in a way that feels truly magical. From the delightful beasts to the magical effects, everything feels like it was just another part of the world that was caught on film.

I highly recommend Fantastic Beasts to not only fans of the Harry Potter series but also fans of fantasy stories told in a way that makes you believe magic could be hiding in our own plain sight.

Rating:
5 Stars

“You’re an interesting man, Mr. Scamander.”

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