REVIEW: “Fantastic Beasts” mixes nostalgia with a complex plot


Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fair Use Image: Warner Bros Pictures

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a far cry from the beloved halls of Hogwarts. Based on the flimsy foundation of a textbook in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the first of the five-book series appeals toward an older audience looking for deeper meanings such as religious tolerance as well as promised (and truly fantastical) beasts.

Fantastic Beasts, unlike Harry Potter’s world, is set in 1926 New York where magical dark forces brush shoulders with pastel petticoats and Model T’s. A strange new allure is brought to the grubby and terror-stricken Manhattan when Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, accidentally lets some “beasts” out of his larger than average briefcase while in the presence of non-mags (non-magical people). Newt, along with former Magical Congress of the United States of America employee Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), embark on a harrowing journey to bring back his beasts only to find that there are much greater evils at stake.

Harry Potter alumnus Director David Yates, Producer Stuart Craig, and of course Screen Writer J. K. Rowling really put to use new technological advances with almost touchable, larger than life beasts that make up for the somewhat generic acting from the adults. While Newt’s quirks are amusing, they follow along with the same mainstream path of a not quite grown up man that just can’t seem to fit in with the rest of the crowd.

At times the already long, 2 hours 13-minute film seems to still not have enough time to cover its extensive bases. From the desperate search for the lost beasts, to upset at the Magical Congress, to secret meetings in Salem witch houses, it seems unsure whether even the creators know where the story is heading. However, the start to this somewhat new series brings back nostalgic memories that have not yet been put to test. The effects are truly amazing, the series seems at no shortage of ideas, and the ending introduces a character that Harry Potter fans have been long waiting to meet.



4 out of 5 stars