When J.K. Rowling first announced “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” she said that the film and subsequent franchise would not be a “Harry Potter” sequel/prequel so much as it would be an extension of the same wizarding world. Fast forward three-odd years and we get our first look at the movie, which ultimately seems to be toeing the line between telling a completely new wizarding story and re-entering the world of dark magic we were introduced to in the “Harry Potter” franchise.
Don’t get me wrong, “Fantastic Beasts” is totally separate from the tale of The Boy Who Lived. The film is set seven decades before the infamous Harry Potter was born and follows Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who travels to New York with a briefcase full of magical creatures. There, some of the fantastical beasts escape and it’s up to Newt and his new friends to capture them before they reveal the secrets of the wizarding world to the No-Majs (that’s American for Muggles, by the way).
Eddie Redmayne plays the shy Newt, who is sweet but perhaps not commanding enough to lead a film of such gigantic magnitude. However Redmayne gives a solid performance, as do his cohort of co-stars, and the effects are, well, magical.
From there, though, a second plot line develops which is dark and intriguing and compelling and which will undoubtedly delight “Potter” fans. What’s disappointing is, for three quarters of the film, it takes a backseat to the glorified game of Pokémon GO that Newt plays while searching for his lost magical creatures. Stay tuned though “Potter” fans, because boy does it set up for an exciting franchise!
While “Harry Potter” fans will leave the cinema feeling more anticipation for the upcoming franchise than adoration for the movie they just saw, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a promising introduction to a new franchise. For newcomers to the wizarding world and “Potter” fans alike, the film is enchanting and engaging and well-worth your money. However, by the end of the movie, you just can’t help but feel this is a film more concerned with laying the foundation for a great franchise to come.