It’s been five years since the last “Harry Potter” movie was released, and now it’s finally time to revisit J.K. Rowling’s expansive wizarding world. In “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” director David Yates, who directed the last four films in the “Harry Potter” franchise, transports the audience into the wizarding world located in America. The film manages to create a unique storyline that expands the wizarding world, while bringing steeping millennials in a wave of nostalgia.
The story follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a wizard from London who is visiting New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures. While walking the streets of New York, one of his magical creatures escapes, causing a chain of events which result in a switch of suitcases with a “no-mag,” or muggle (a non-wizard or witch), who dreams of opening up a bakery. Scamander ends up with a suitcase full of pastries while the “no-mag,” Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) has the case of magical creatures. In his care, even more creatures manage to escape, therefore sending Scamander on a search to retrieve the creatures before anything serious happens.
The pacing is initially very slow, with the first half-hour dedicated to setting up the storyline and introducing a handful of characters. Alongside Scamander and Kowalski, Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) an ex-auror (a wizard who incarcerates dark wizards), joins the search for the magical creatures. Once the movie hits the midway mark, all the characters have been established and the main conflict of the plot is revealed — a dark entity deemed Obscurus.
The Obscurus is powerful and unforgiving, giving the film a much darker tone. Therefore it makes sense that the wizards and witches in this film are adults and are skillfully trained. The wand battles in this film are intense and it actually feels like an action sequence. It’s suspenseful and exciting, making audience members wish magic actually existed.
Another aspect of the film that is enjoyable is the magical creatures themselves. When Scamander goes into his suitcase of magical creatures, he brings along the “no-mag” Kowalski, and through the eyes of Kowalski, the audience is introduced to a world of unique beasts only Rowling can imagine. It’s an aspect that “Harry Potter” never really indulged in. The creatures make the storyline more unique while still contributing to the magical world we all love.
This film has big shoes to fill. Although Rowling wrote the screenplay, it’s no “Harry Potter,” but still is an entertaining movie about the amazing world of magic. Maybe because it’s a little strange watching a film about the wizarding world without hearing those distinct British accents besides Redmayne’s character, but most likely it’s because Harry Potter has established itself as a staple of millions of people’s childhood. Nonetheless, if you love Harry Potter, love magic or you miss the wizarding world, then watch this movie. We muggles still need a little magic every once in awhile.