When J.K. Rowling first created the universe of “Harry Potter” it reopened, and re-imagined the fantasy genre for a whole new generation of readers and moviegoers alike And like most fans, we knew that “The Deathly Hollows” was the final story. Well, final maybe for Harry Potter. However, the universe, like any fictional universe has many characters, many stories, and many different points of view that create new plot points previously unknown. Fantastic Beasts is one such story.
Set in the 1920’s in New York City, the film follows Newt Scamander, a wizard briefly mentioned in the Harry Potter stories, has arrived from England with a magical suitcase filled with all kinds of magical creatures. Which he hopes to research and eventually write a book in an effort to teach fellow wizards and witches that some of these creatures aren’t actually that bad. Meanwhile, tensions rise as the secrets of the discarding world are close to being discovered by Muggles (called No-Maj) in the film.
The setting of this movies definitely adds a unique quality to not only the Harry Potter universe, but to Fantasy films in general. The American urban landscape creates a world which fans of the previous books and movies are quite unfamiliar with and adds to the claustrophobia of the city and time period. The special effects were nothing short of superb. The computer animation was top notch, and gives an almost Ray Harryhausen like feel to these creatures interacting with humans.
It would be extremely difficult to not fully compare this particular movies to the Harry Potter movies. But what truly makes this film stand out from the others is the unique choice of a hero. Scamander is a bookworm, and a bit of a trickster when it comes to his heroic skills. A polar opposite to that of Potter who shows nothing much more than a sort of arrogant bravery in the face of pure evil. In many ways, how Scamander is portrayed is very much a breath of fresh air from the previous installments.
Overall, this was a terrific movie, great acting, great story.
There’s a lot more room in the Harry Potter universe.
One wonders what will come next………
Final Score: 8 1/2 out of 10
Directed by David Yates
Eddie Redmayne…………..Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston……….Porpentina Goldstein
Colin Ferrell………………..Percival Graves
Dan Fogler……………Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol………..Queenie Goldstein
Jon Voight…………….Henry Shaw Sr.