The opening sequence of David Yates’ “Fantastic Beasts” hinted on an action-packed two hours and it did not disappoint.
The newest addition to the Potterverse is one enjoyable magical ride.
It was 1926 in New York and there were rising dangers in the wizarding world. For magizoologist Newt Scamander, getting involved in the troubles of the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) is the last thing he needs especially since he’s on the final stretch of his journey. He’s almost finished with his research and rescue of the last magical creatures that live in a dimension found inside his leather case, when he accidentally got his case switched with a No-Maj (the American version of muggles) named Jacob Kowalski, who unwittingly let some of Newt’s creatures loose.
Things take an unexpected turn when a former MACUSA investigator, Tine Goldstein, arrested Newt for risking exposure. It turns out that she’s eager to make the arrest and bring Newt to the council because she hopes of being reinstated to her former position. But things take a turn for the worse when both of them were sentenced to death by Percival Graves.
With the help of his magical creatures, Newt managed to escape with Tine. Considered fugitives, the pair sought the help of the latter’s sister, Queenie, and Jacob. Newt’s priority is to find the magical beasts and contain them but he soon found themselves entangled in the fight against the mysterious dark force that’s wreaking havoc in the city.
“Fantastic Beasts” is a fun film. It’s refreshing to be brought back to the magical world but with new characters, setting, and story. Although you know it’s part of the Harry Potter universe, it’s a movie that can stand alone, which is nice. The awkward Newt is an enjoyable character to watch. The same can be said with the other characters. But what’s notable is how the supporting cast shone, sometimes, more than the leads.
It’s impressive in terms of special effects. The beasts are exceptionally crafted and so was the production design. Stuart Craig was able to capture the authentic look and feel of 1920 America. I liked how everything looked realistically normal despite the movie having a magical theme.
“Fantastic Beasts” was author J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut and it feels so good to know that the movie was penned by someone who understands how it should be written. Just like the perfect magical potion, the script had all the right ingredients from compelling drama to comedy and action.
Despite looking like it’s for an older audience, I feel that “Fantastic Beasts” has a less darker theme than the Harry Potter storyline, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. Obviously there’s going to be a sequel and logic would say that any darker tones will be reserved for future installments.
For now, it’s nice that the precursor of the new magical world is light and fun to watch. The first installment is actually a solid starting point that isn’t overwhelming. This is great especially for those who are not as hardcore fans of Harry Potter because we’re given the chance to get to know Newt Scamander without having to catch up with the last 7 Potter books.
Rowling has managed to create a mythology for the present and future literature fans that possesses the kind of impact Greek and Roman mythology have on our generation. “Fantastic Beasts” has a less darker theme than Harry Potter but is just as magical, compelling, and touching. Definitely a must-see.