There has been a lot of expectation from Fantastic Beasts ever since it was announced that the 2001 book would be made into a 5-part-movie franchise. After the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter movies which totalled $7.7 billion (Making it the second highest grossing film series after Marvel) Potterheads were sceptical of whether the new movie would share the magic of its predecessors.
Academy-award winner Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables, The Theory of Everything) stars as the main character, Newt Scamander, a Magizoologist who checks into New York City with a briefcase full of magical creatures. Unlike previous Potter movies, the film is set in 1926 America. When Newt accidentally reveals magic to a no-maj (American for muggle) during the hunt for an escaped platypus, he is taken to the MACUSA (The Magical Congress for the United States of America) by demoted aura, Tina Goldstein. It is here that the story begins, with the no-maj and Tina being significant to the film’s plot.
The style of the film is very similar to the Harry Potter series with David Yates directing (responsible for directing the last four Harry Potter instalments). The movie also contains plenty of references to terms that only fans of the wizarding world will recognise. The story shares the same amazing visual effects and imagery as the other series. Fantastic CGI of collapsing buildings and burning bridges really make the wizarding power of destruction life-like. Around an hour into the film, the viewer is given an extraordinary insight into the interior of Newt’s bag, which leads to a whole separate world with a variety of mystical creatures. For animal lovers, this part is amazing. The creatures are so carefully created that you have to remind yourself that they are not real at times.
After watching The Theory of Everything and Les Miserable, I had typecast Redmayne and struggled to see him as the comical Newt. However, I was proven wrong. His quirky shyness suited the role (an Englishman lost in New York) and his soft child-like features sort-of add to his ignorant persona.
The rest of the cast should also be congratulated with Colin Farrell showing that he can play just about anyone. Along with spooky teenager Credence played by Ezra Miller, who pulls off the damaged soul brilliantly. SPOILER ALERT… even though I consider myself a massive Harry Potter fan, I was unaware Johnny Depp had a role until he popped up on the screen in front of me. The moment felt ironic especially when his character looked into the camera in a sarcastic way. In spite of this, he played his small part well, and he will reprise the role in future movies.
There’s definitely enough material here for the producers to work with for another few films. However, whether its enough for five is debatable. I hope the series doesn’t follow the Hobbit trilogy which felt forced out and therefore underwhelming. Although if J.K.Rowling continues writing the scripts I’m sure we can expect great things! (apologies for the Olivander’s reference…)
All in all, the movie is definitely worth a watch for Harry Potter fans. The movie had the same wizarding wonder and comedy that the original series presented. The different story and setting, however, made it an original watch.