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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sean Kelly

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Return for a new adventure in the Wizarding World in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is an eccentric wizard and collector of magical creatures, which he keeps in his enchanted suitcase. Shortly after arriving in 1926 New York on business, Newt comes across a demonstration by "New Salemers," who include Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and her adopted son Credence (Ezra Miller), who warn about the witches among them. While watching the demonstration, one of Newt's creatures escapes and in the ensuring chaos, his case is accidentally switched with that of aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

Teaming up with Jacob, Magical Congress worker Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), Newt goes in search for his escaped creatures. All the while they are pursued by Magical Security director Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), who possibly has his own dark agenda.
Harry Potter may have stopped Lord Voldemort, but that doesn't mean that the adventures in the Wizarding World has to end. David Yates, director of the latter four Harry Potter films, returns to direct Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film is inspired by a fictional textbook of the same name J.K. Rowling wrote and released in 2001. In her first screenwriting credit, Rowling creates a new adventure for the textbook's author Newt Scamander, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them being planned to be the first chapter of an all new prequel franchise.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a film that features all new characters in a familiar world. While both Albus Dumbledore and Hogwarts are alluded to, this is for all intents and purposes an all new story. One interesting thing that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does is show how the Wizarding World in America is much different than that in the UK. Not only is the term "No-Maj" used instead of "Muggle" to describe non-magic folk, but there is a general close-mindedness, where wizards are not allowed to reveal themselves.

Eddie Redmayne leads the cast as the very socially awkward wizard Newt Scamander, who has a better relationship with his creatures than the people around him. His main foil in the film is Katherine Waterston as Porpentina Goldstein, who begins having a somewhat antagonistic relationship with Newt, however they slowly learn to get on the same page. Then there is Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, who has the comedic "fish out of water" role as a "No-Maj" who finds himself caught up in this adventure.

The main conflict of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them involves a highly destructive magical entity terrorizing New York City. Percival Graves blame's Newt's creatures for this destruction, however there may be a much darker force at play. I don't want to say too much more, but I will say that there is plenty of set up for future films, including a cameo by a certain eccentric actor, who we will likely be seeing much more of in the future.

It's hard for me not to judge Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a blatant cash-in to keep the Harry Potter franchise going in one way for an other. However, for a spin-off based on a fictional textbook, this film is completely fine.

7 / 10 stars
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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).