The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just finished a round-the-world trip documenting an array of magical creatures for his upcoming book. Until he landed in New York, his journey had gone without incident, but that all changes when he meets a No-Maj (Americanism for Muggle) named Jacob (Dan Fogler) and misplaces his magical case, unleashing a multitude of his magical beasts upon New York. All of this could spell disaster for the wizarding community in New York as the breach comes at a time when an anti-wizarding faction is growing in influence and there is little understanding about the magical creatures that are now reading havoc.
For someone who grew up as part of the Harry Potter generation, I have always shown a distinct lack of interest in the films after only watching the first three and then only reading the first four books. So you can imagine how sceptical I was when my friend suggested we saw the latest addition to the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts And When To Find Them, at the cinema. I will admit to you right here and now that I am quite happy she persuaded me to go with her as I was pleasantly surprised by the film.
We absolutely have to talk about Eddie Redmayne in the role of Newt Scamander. What a darling he was as the bumbling Englishman in bit of a pickle in New York! I really hope he returns for the sequels that this film is apparently going to spawn as he was tremendous as the lead character. This easily has to have been one of the best-cast roles of 2016 – it would be hard to imagine anyone else as Newt after seeing Redmayne put on such a show here. I think what worked best for him here is the fact that he is so English – the man went to school with Prince William at Eton College; he probably has tea and scones at 3 o’clock every afternoon. Could you really see this role being played so successfully by an anyone else, because I can’t.
Colin Farrell played Graves, a significant figure in New York’s wizard council that I thought was a bit off from the second we were introduced to him right at the beginning of the film. He showed some real potential to be a great villain and I wish we could have seen more of him in that capacity as I don’t feel like I got to see enough of him in this film, and with the way it ended, it is in question whether we may see any more of him. He had some key scenes in the film with Ezra Miller’s character, Creedance, that just made my skin crawl. There was something very odd about the interactions the two of them had that sticks in my mind even now. It was quite a disturbing dynamic that I thought gave the film a more grown-up feeling, but kept it so that the whole family could still enjoy it.
I really liked the beasts that were shown in the film. My favourite was the platypus kleptomaniac thing, and the stick insect type creature was a close second. I really look forward to seeing what creatures come into the franchise in the future films and what little side stories they could introduce to the plots.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. I would credit it as one of the best family films that have come out in a long time, as well as being the film to restore faith in blockbusters after the big films took a huge knock this year with a lot of the summer releases falling on their faces. The story was fairly conventional, but the lead performance and the magical beasts were all very endearing and meant the film was so much more enjoyable than I had anticipated it would be. For these reasons I would recommend the film to so many people, even fellow sceptics of the Harry Potter franchise like myself.