‘Fantastic Beasts’ follows Newt Scamander on his trip to New York in the mid-1920’s during a time where there are groups actively seeking out witches and wizards in order to kill them. Newt is supposedly in New York to find a particular magical beast but things go awry when his personal collection is unleashed onto the streets of New York and into the “No-Maj” world. Personally, muggle sounds better but hey ho.
The biggest worry a lot of people had going into the film was if it was going to diminish the world of Harry Potter and the 8 films centred around him, thankfully the answer is no. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ not only stands on its own as a great film filled with a lot of fun, it also enhances the Harry Potter films and retroactively makes slight tweaks that improves them.
‘Fantastic Beasts’ truly does feel like just an extension of this fantastical world that was established in the Harry Potter films and builds on it in very creative ways. One of the biggest strengths of this film is the abundance of magical creatures, all are interesting and brilliantly designed that make them fascinating and truly provide a sense of wonder.
The biggest problem the film has is that the story is very derivative and predictable, antagonists are projected from the beginning so any surprise reveal just feels anti-climactic. What slightly alleviates this though is that there is this sense of whimsy interlaced throughout the film so although it might be predictable, the journey is still enjoyable.
The performances are great, Eddie Redmayne in particular was very impressive, as he always is, the range he has is just brilliant, a couple of years ago, he won an Oscar for playing Stephen Hawking, and now here he is making an absolute fool of himself against a green screen and his joy in doing so is palpable and just makes the film that much more special. It is a shame that Johnny Depp is in this film and assumedly the sequel, especially when it seems like he is sticking to his same old “wacky character” routine that he rarely deviates from since the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film.
The film looks beautiful, Yates isn’t always the most visionary director, but when he tries to make something look magical, it usually works and there are some shots in this film that were exceptionally well done. The CGI varies from looking amazing all the way down to 2006 levels, but thankfully, that isn’t too distracting mainly due to the charm the film has, it’s truly captivating.