Magic. Adventure. Jazz Age New York. Eddie Redmayne. The wizarding world of J.K. Rowling that bewitched the entire planet with Harry Potter now reopens with promises of a new universe in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the film does deliver.
Redmayne’s Newt Scamander – the author of the textbook the movie title is based on that later becomes required reading for first-year Hogwarts students – has a luggage full of fantastic beasts that accidentally run loose in 1920’s NYC. In his quest to get them back, he is joined by sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterston and singer-songwriter Alison Sudol in her divine acting debut) as well as a no-Maj – what muggles were referred to back in the day – named Jacob Kowalski (humorously played by Dan Fogler).
From the adventurous Newt and determined Tina to the whimsical Queenie and comical yet lovable Jacob, these fantastic four are brilliantly developed. Colin Farrell is also at the top of his game as the menacing Percival Graves. I have a soft spot for Queenie, not just ’cause I’ve been a longtime supporter of Ms. Sudol since her A Fine Frenzy days, but Queenie is a wonderful witch with an equally magnetic, charming personality. Oh, she can also magically conjure a delicious apple strudel in addition to having an amazing mind-reading ability. She and Jacob are the ultimate scene stealers, and the two of them look like those delightfully quirky couples found in Woody Allen movies.
All the film settings help enhance the plot, from the famous Central Park to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), the American equivalent to the UK Ministry of Magic in the Potter-verse.
When it comes to the beasts, the wide variety of magical creatures featured on the big screen add a lot of intrigue. My personal favorite is the Niffler, an adorable duck-like beast that’s attracted to shiny belongings. But other forms of beasts are also introduced like the Thunderbird that Newt rescued from Egypt and plans on returning to its natural habitat in Arizona, which is really the main reason he’s in the States.
Expect Fantastic Beasts to be nothing short of fantastic! Fantastic screenplay (written by Rowling herself), fantastic cast, fantastic beasts, fantastic production, fantastic visual effects, fantastic Roaring 20’s costumes, and fantastic mix of light adventure and the darker, intense aspects portrayed in some scenes. Don’t miss out on the cinematic grandeur this film flawlessly showcases!