Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them review


Jack Lynch, Online Managing Editor

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is exhilarating, yet unsettling. The Harry Potter films started as a light-hearted children’s series and by the third and fourth films transitioned into young adult territory. Fantastic Beasts isin adult territory but without a clear transition from what we know, it feels abrupt. The characters we grew up with — not just Harry, but Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Neville, the whole lot — are gone.

Instead, we meet Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a 29-year-old wizard who goes to New York as part of his attempt to write a book on magical beasts and creatures. He falls victim to his ignorance of the tumultuous history of wizarding in America. Scamander must locate some of the beasts he loses when he accidentally switches cases with a no-maj.

One of the high points of the film is when the characters venture into Scamander’s case and see the smorgasbord of creatures within. From the cute and greedy Niffler, to the gigantic and thunderous Thunderbird, the beasts steal the show, which is no small act when facing this formidable cast. Eddie Redmayne, Alison Sudol and Dan Fogler turned in great performances, with the latter two delivering in their breakthrough roles.


Fogler is different. If anyone had not seen or read the Harry Potter series Folger would be their surrogate: a no-maj swept up in a strange and fascinating world. Even for those people who have seen or read the series, Folger is still an intriguing character who provides some comic relief and grounds the movie. Folger is a perfect example of why JK Rowling is a brilliant writer. He initially seems like annoying Jack Black-in-a-bad-movie type physical comic relief, but in the end is an accepted and respected member of the small group that forms throughout the film.

Redmayne is a whole other animal. His portrayal of Scamander is perfect for this generation. His awkwardness and his obvious discomfort when with others is relatable for anyone who ever felt anxiety when faced with meeting new people. He is visibly nervous when confronted by the American wizarding authorities but feels at home with his beasts.

The visuals were absolutely stunning. Much like the last few Potter films, Fantastic Beasts’ magic is beautiful, yet believable. Near the end there is a scene that is reminiscent of Doctor Strange. Where Strange goes for unearthly and surreal visuals, Fantastic Beasts’ are elegant and grounded. The computer-generated creatures are even more lifelike than Buckbeak, the hippogriff from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the emotions they convey prove how much this world has advanced since its first film in 2001.

With no returning cast members from the Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts has an entirely unique feel to it. While set in the same world, the new characters and adventures give life to a beautiful story which excels when the cast faces beasts and fights evil. This film not only honors its predecessor but establishes Fantastic Beasts as its own entity that could one day rival Potter.