//Spoiler Free Review//
Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Release Date: November 18, 2016
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston
Director: David Yates
Runtime: 133 minutes
View on IMDB
The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens as Newt Scamander arrives in America for the first time. He's greeted by a rather strict wizarding community and almost immediately finds himself at odds with the rules. Tina, at first intent on bringing him to justice, becomes a friend and ally on his mission to wrangle up the creatures he's accidentally let loose. Other main characters include Jacob Kowalski and Queenie who tag along with Newt and Tina. All four are amazing together and I loved the relationships that were quickly forged between them. Jacob, the no-maj with no clue what was happening, was hilarious! I'm not sure what direction the next film will go in, but I really hope to see more of all of these characters.
I'll admit I had concerns about every aspect of this movie, and the world was no different. I couldn't imagine how the city of New York City could be convincing as a place full of magic. While it was very different from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I did enjoy it. In this world witches and wizards are hidden, just like they are in England. However, there's much more emphasis on that in Fantastic Beasts. Most of the Harry Potter series was based in locations separated from muggles - Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogsmead... But here, the entire movie is smack in the middle of New York City. I had hoped to see more of Ilvermorny, so hopefully that will be more of a focus in future installments... Which brings me to the plot.
I loved the story, but it was nothing like what I was expecting. The most obvious difference between Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter is that all of the focus in this new franchise seems to be on the adults of the Wizarding World as opposed to students. It definitely gives everything a much different feel, but I actually think that's a good thing. It gives us less to compare to the originals. I won't say much about the story itself because I don't want to give anything away, but there are a couple really well-done villains. I think this will end up being similar to Harry Potter in that there will be a smaller villain to defeat in each installment, while one main villain spans the entire series. I can't wait to see where it goes!
If I had to complain about something it would be the CGI goblins, which I found unnecessary. This was the same thing I hated in the new Hobbit trilogy and I still don't understand why it was done. The practical effects in the original eight films were so convincing, I don't know why they'd ever change it. Still, the rest of the CGI was incredible! All of the fantastic beasts were gorgeous and magical (as was the suitcase they lived in).
In case it wasn't clear, I loved this movie! Was it Harry Potter? No, but it was unmistakably the Wizarding World. Although I had serious doubts going in, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them completely blew me away and reignited my love of Harry Potter and his world. I have no idea how this is going end up connecting all the way back to the original series but I have some ideas and I couldn't be more excited to find out if I'm right!