A young man named Newt travels from England to New York in hopes of furthering his research in mystical creatures. But during his stay there he must confront a dark force that is destroying the city and work to defend the creatures he’s recorded and brought with him.
This Harry Potter spin-off broadens the wizarding world long before The Boy Who Lived came to be. Written by J.K. Rowling, this original script successfully manages to capture the magic and fantasy that many grew up with. Right from the opening logo and the famous Harry Potter tune, Beasts provides a massive amount of nostalgia that you felt when visiting the cinema for every Harry Potter film. Only this time we are given a new hero with Newt Scamander. What makes Scamander a hero is that he felt extremely real in his personality and actions. He’s pretty awkward and often shy and quirky. But that doesn’t mean he’s afraid to stand up for what he believes in or help those in need. More than anything however, Rowling once again immerses us into this world and gradually expands the world she created, and throws in many nods to characters and objects in her original series. Along with this we also get the charming characters, the laughs, the admirable relationships that develop amongst our leads, and of course the dark sense of doom and thrills. There is never a dull moment with this film because everything about the story, the visuals, and characters are that engaging, and once again you find yourself feeling like you’re a child again and watching the original Harry Potter for the first time.
Eddie Redmayne provides a very likable and strong performance as Newt. As mentioned above, he perfectly captures the shy and awkward side of the character and gradually shows the strength of his character as the film progresses and showing his care by the film’s end. Colin Farrell turns in a very dark and sinister performance as Percival Graves. Farrell is no stranger to playing sinister roles, and brings it all back here. However, what Farrell manages to pull off is the aspect of whether or not we are to trust his character, and especially whether we side with him or not. Finally, we get the comic relief character in Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski. The best part about Fogler is that he provides much of the heart of the film as much as his laughs, and even better is that his comical moments don’t ever get tired. Jacob is just as awkward a character as Newt, but most especially because he’s this clueless nomaj (non magic) who suddenly finds himself along for the ride and begins to build a desire to help Newt and his new magical friends. The chemistry between Fogler and Alison Sudol (who plays Fogler’s love interest) is endearing and very charming and instantly fall in love with them as a couple.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a spin-off perfectly captures everything you love about Harry Potter and still manages to keep itself original and present its own story and characters. Even if you’ve never seen a Potter film, there’s no doubt you will find yourself a part of the new fan base of J.K. Rowling’s magical world. Backed with Rowling’s immersive writing, lovable characters, and charming performances from its cast, this is easily one of my favorite films of the year.