The other night I finally got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This is an extension of the Harry Potter universe, going back in time to the 1920s and changing venues to America. It follows the story of Newt Scamander, a protector and collector of magical beasts, as he travels to the USA to deal with some magical creature business on this side of the pond.
Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned, and hijinks and adventures abound. I will keep this review spoiler-free for anyone who may not have yet seen the movie. What I can say though is that I loved the feel of this film. I felt like it captures early America very well, but it didn’t dwell on it. The characters could have been in any time period, and the story would have been just as fun.
I loved Eddie Redmayne as Newt. He played the shy, awkward lover of animals excellently. You can tell that he’s always been a bit socially awkward, but he comes out of shell when talking about his beasts. He has a profound love of these animals, and wants the world to know that they don’t need to fear them. His mission in life is to educate the wizarding world about how to care for these beasts, and as we remember from Harry Potter, his book becomes THE guide on magical creatures.
I know that some people feel like revisiting the Potter world is just a money grab, but I can’t help to disagree. The story of Fantastic Beasts was well written, and care was taken to give a nice glimpse of the wizarding world of America. I felt that Rowling spent time on this story and cared about how well done it was. The Potter world is so vast and large that side stories like this one are great moments in time that can stand on their own and give us an even larger fleshed out universe.
Great film, and I highly recommend it.