Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was the last film we saw about the Wizarding World before the witches and wizards went on hiatus from our screens, and now, after five years, comes a new one inspired by the textbook features different magical features. The film is directed by the man who brought the last four Harry Potter films into life, David Yates, and was produced and written by the one and only JK Rowling.
The biggest question to answer now is: With this film being Rowling’s screenwriting debut, did it do good enough to become a part of the extraordinary, or should I say the fantastic Harry Potter universe?
The greatest thing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is a spin-off/prequel to the Harry Potter film series, is the way it served all the Harry Potter fans. The fans have been hungry for a follow up to arguably one of the greatest film series ever made, and the way the film was delivered managed to give fans something to devour after the long absence of the wizards, witches, muggles (“no-majs” if you’re American), and magical creatures from the film industry. But that’s where the over-packed plot comes in – it felt like the film was giving too much.
The film takes place in 1920s New York where a “magizoologist” and writer named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives to research and rescue new magical beasts. He is joined in his adventure by a “no-maj” named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), an ex-Auror named Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), and Tina’s sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) who is a master mind-reader.
With the Wizarding World under fire in New York because of many unexplained events, our heroes get into trouble, and it gets darker from there as Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) wants to hunt them down. There is also a child with an immeasurable power from a prophecy foreseen by Auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) and tasked Credence (Ezra Miller) to find the child not knowing that Credence is the child in the prophecy. Another plot point is the disappearance of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who happens to be the second dangerous dark wizard of all time. See what I meant by too much?
In my opinion, the film still worked, despite of having an over-packed plot, because of the actors, the effects, and the spells. You can also give it to JK Rowling for extracting something this juicy (and overpacked) from her 2001 Hogwarts Textbook.
Among the great cast of this fantastic film, two stood out for giving life to two new characters that a lot of fans can love. The first one is, of course, Eddie Redmayne because of his charming portrayal of the eccentric Newt Scamander kept me engaged. After portraying characters in films that featured heavy drama, to see him portray a lighter character is refreshing. The other one is Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Credence Barebone. Credence is one of the darker characters, but Ezra Miller’s performance made him shine and stand out especially near the end of the film. The captivating performances of Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton are also worth mentioning.
The visual effects of the film were also very outstanding. The menagerie of the beasts featured on the film, well, they were fantastic, and I have to say that the Platypus-looking Niffler stands out for adding a little comedy to the plot.
My verdict for this film will be based on the way it all came together as the first film of a series. Compared to the other Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is much darker, and I really think it’s not going to pull back from its darkness with its future installments. We do need a lot of backstory, especially Newt’s because it’s truly necessary. I would rate this film with an 8 out of 10 for giving us a satisfying beginning to an entirely new Wizarding era that presented an astounding amount of plot points, well-presented characters, and breathtaking effects.
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Header Image: Warner Bros. via Collider