Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them can be considered both a Harry Potter spin-off film and a prequel to the entire franchaise after this takes place seventy years before the first film. It’s set in 1920’s era New York with writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving from London with a large brown suitcase filled with magical creatures. Due to a faulty lock, a few of the “beasts” escape and Newt scrambles to track them all down.
One such creature runs a muck at the bank in which Newt runs into Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) who is waiting to see if he can get a loan to open his own bakery. He also has a very similar looking brown suitcase and unfortunately they get switched around . Former Aura turned private investigator Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) witnesses the whole ordeal and takes Newt into custody.
Eventually, we meet Mr. Graves (Colin Farrell) who has a very shady and mysterious agenda that’s connected with the dark entity threatening to expose the wizarding community in New York. We also get introduced to Tina’s sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), who has mind reading powers and provides a love interest for the muggle Kowalski.
Directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I and II), this film is once again in very capable hands with a really solid storyline from author J.K. Rowling which expands upon the Harry Potter universe focusing more on how wizards and muggles co-exist. Wizards in the past have had to go underground into hiding in order to protect their identity and prevent a war. There is also a movement against wizards and witches with some people excluding them from society.
The special effects of both the magical creatures living inside of Newt’s suitcase and the battle sequences which involve lots of quick cutting apparitions and spell casting is really impressive and mind blowing. The thing I admired the most is that this film didn’t need to rely heavily on content from the previous Harry Potter films. Instead it made plenty of neat references to it and filled in plenty of gaps. There was also a few twists and surprises toward the end as well.
In the words of Ronald Weasley, this film was bloody brilliant!