Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Reviewed By Clayton Barnett

The Premise
The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident...were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

The Review
Sitting down for Fantastic Beasts I wasn’t sure what to expect. Alfonso Cuaron’s dark Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favourite and after hearing this series has been expanded to FIVE movies I was seriously worried.

But we’re in safe hands with Rowling regular David Yates back at the helm – this is his fifth Potterverse movie – and with J.K. herself making her screenwriting debut this is magical and thrilling stuff. They’ve also enlisted some fresh wizardry - French cinematographer Philippe Rousselot (Big Fish) captures the spectacle and the intimate, and triple-Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland) recreates 1920’s New York to perfection. Forget about the beasts, where do I find Newt’s blue coat?

Don’t fret that a small guidebook can’t be stretched to five films, the new world Rowling has created in America is rich and spellbinding. Like walking wide-eyed into Hogwarts for the first time, Scamander’s Tardis-like suitcase is a visual feast of beasts. Plus there’s the elaborate U.S. version of the Ministry of Magic - the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MCUSA), and a brief but memorable visit to a criminal underground bar full of goblins, giants and giggle water.

It’s not just the beasts that are fantastic either (boy do the effects department deserve an Oscar nom) the human cast are impressive too. Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) might not have much of a character arc (he’s got five movies to do that) but he’s just so damn endearing. His courtship ritual with one of his escaped beasts is just hilarious. Others have development issues too, like MCUSA agent Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her boss Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), but thankfully the comedy relief of Dan Fogler as the no-mag keeps things light-hearted and moving along.

For the parents out there this is a slightly more adult magical world, while Newt’s search for his lovable critters provides plenty of laughs the malevolent force attacking no-mags and the undercurrents of child abuse might be a little dark for younger kids. 

The Verdict
Fantastic Beasts is a feast of stunning visuals, quirky laughs and all the rich magical world of Rowling’s imagination.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 17th November 2016
Rating:  - Contains violence
Duration: 133 minutes 
Genre:  Fantasy
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol
Director: David Yates (Heaps of Harry Potter…)

The Extras
The name Newt Scamander appears on the Marauder's Map in the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).

Within the Harry Potter universe, Newt Scamander's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was first published in 1927 and became a massive bestseller, as well as an approved textbook at Hogwarts. By the mid-1990s, when the Harry Potter series is set, it was in its 52nd edition. Scamander also has the distinct honor to have his own Chocolate Frog Card.

J.K. Rowling has stated that this film "is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. Newt's story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry gets underway"

J.K. Rowling wrote this book in 2001, with most of the the profits benefiting the charity Comic Relief. Over 80% of the cover price of each book sold goes directly to poor children in various places around the world.

It was revealed in November 2015 that the American wizarding community in the movie does not use the word "Muggles" to refer to non-magic people but instead use their own word "No-maj", short for "no magic".

It has been revealed that "Ilvermorny" will be the name of the American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (referenced, but supposedly not featured in this movie), much like Hogwarts is for the UK.

This film is directed by David Yates, the director of the last four "Harry Potter" films.
162 of 168 found this interesting | Share this
Was originally intended to be a trilogy, but as of October 2016 it has been confirmed as a 5 part movie series.

J.K. Rowling is a pen name. Joanne Rowling has no middle name and the K stands for Kathleen, after her grandmother.

In an interview with Vulture, Alfonso CuarĂ³n, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) expressed interest in directing; "'Azkaban' was fun to make, and when I did it, I was invited to do the next one, but I didn't want to overstay the welcome, because it was such an experience. But now? Why not? I do have stuff that I want to do [next], but a JK thing... They haven't called me yet! They haven't decided to invite me! Looking forward! At least to see it, because nobody's invited me".