Film Review – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The return to the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling begins with that iconic tune with the Warner Brothers’ logo shrouded in clouds. After that, the film begins with a wizard stand-off scene featuring a violent bang or flash that only lasts about a minute. We are then thrust into the life of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he arrives in New York City with a suitcase of magical creatures.
You may be under the impression that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is about the escape of Newt’s precious creatures and their recovery. There is another story already happening before Newt arrives, one of the dark wizard Grindelwald and the havoc he has released on the wizarding community. This seems familiar, right? Throw in another storyline about dark magic (which I will not spoil for you) and you have all the major storylines of Fantastic Beasts.
In the capable hands of Harry Potter alum, director David Yates, and a screenplay by Rowling herself, Fantastic Beasts is a film that will be loved by the fans and even those not familiar with the Harry Potter films or books. Because this is a prequel of sorts, all the characters are new to the Harry Potter films, and while fans will hear familiar names and surnames, this is not a film dependent on Harry Potter lore or legends.
There is so much going on in Fantastic Beasts. Seeing it on an IMAX Screen (not in 3D), the whole screen is filled with complicated, beautiful imagery. The background of scenes feature so much that I felt like I was missing some of the interesting things. It is so jam-packed and I want to absorb it all. This is a film that demands to be seen twice. Once to understand the story, and then again to pick up the details you missed the first time. I am sure this bodes well for Warner Brothers’ pocketbook.
While other reviews may focus on certain elements of Fantastic Beasts, I would like to single out Newt and his beasts. It is not until I saw the film that I realized how important the overtures about protecting and conserving animals would be to the story, me, and the rest of us in the field of animal care and conservation. So many things that Newt says while in the bowels of his “zoo” resonated with me. He says that these creatures are to be rescued, nurtured, and protected. He has a mission, and he aims to teach other wizards why these animals should exist. They are not frightening and should not be eradicated. If one kid comes away from this film wanting to conserve an animal they may not fully understand, Fantastic Beasts has done more than just entertain, but also educated and inspired. The magical beasts themselves are a delight to see and provide much of the comic relief for the film. The platypus-like animal with a penchant for shiny things and the bulbous rhino-like female animal who is a bit horny are the best ones.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is filled with magic, creative creatures, great characters, and the action one might expect from such a film. It has some important lessons it is trying to convey, and hopefully many audience members will absorb them. This film is a welcome and “fantastic” return to a magical world that fans never thought they would see on the big screen ever again. Brace yourself, non-maj’s, you are in for an incredible film.