★★★★☆ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hayday Films
To all Potterheads – this is it. We have been waiting for this moment for 15 years. The ‘prequel’ to the Harry Potter films is finally here.
Directed by David Yates, and yet another story from J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set 70 years or so before Harry Potter even took his first breath into the wonderful wizarding world. Although set in America, what we have come to learn from this film is that magic is not limited to Hogwarts, The Ministry of Magic or number 4 Privet Drive. There’s so much more to the story, and we have only just scratched the surface.
What do we know so far? Newt Scamander, (played by Eddie Redmayne), is a writer in search of his lost beasts who escape the magical briefcase he carries. Whilst on the hunt to make sure all his beloved creatures are back in the case and safe, he stumbles upon Porpentina ‘Tina’ Goldstein, (played by Katherine Waterston) who is an ex Auror for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), and Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler, who is a muggle- or a ‘No-Maj’ as the Americans like to call them.
We also get introduced to Queenie, Tina’s sister (played by Alison Sudol) who is a Legilimens- she has the ability to read people’s minds. She is sweet, utterly gorgeous and perhaps a bit dim witted at first glance.
The start seems slow, with a glance of what potentially could be Gellert Grindelwald, the infamous dark wizard. Before Voldemort, he was the most feared and dangerous wizard. After this brief encounter, the wheels move forward at a slow pace as we come to realise why Newt is in New York and what becomes of the briefcase he is possessively holding all the time.
There is an array of characters that we meet along the way, some intriguing and some downright wonderful- Credence Barebone (played by Ezra Miller) being wonderfully intriguing. His presence at first is confusing. Who is he? Why is he here? What is so important about him? He comes in a pack, well family. His adoptive mother Mary Lou and his sister, Modesty amongst other adoptive sisters and brothers. All of them are part of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which believe that witches and wizards are real, and that they are most definitely dangerous.
As you watch, you wonder how all this can be connected. The beasts within the ever so expanding briefcase as well as curious Credence boy- and we can’t forget about Grindelwald. Who exactly is he and why is he here?
We have come to understand that somehow all these loose ends ties in with each other, but how? As you watch, some things become clear, others don’t. The film itself is rather long, possibly too long- some scenes could most definitely be shorter, or non-existent. But there are a few, the few which are so breathtakingly beautiful that you forget that you are sitting in the cinema and think that you are really there. You are inside Newt’s briefcase and into the magical world itself.
All the beasts come out to play, some, slightly terrifying and others were simply magnificent. You couldn’t believe that such beauty would exist until you saw these creatures for the very first time.
As you unwind in you chairs and think at how this film could possibly end, surprises start to hit you round every corner. Sudden reappearances and shocking emotions makes the hairs stand up on your arms. You simply would not have seen that coming- no sir.
We cannot wait for the next installment, whatever that might consist of. The music with fabulous- each note made your heart skip a beat, and if you listen just carefully, it almost reminds you of a certain film franchise. However, the film was magical through and through.