Plot: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Review: So I recently had the honor to view the early release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, one of the most anticipated films of the year. As I self-proclaim myself one of the largest Harry Potter fans out there (I read the series about 12 times), I could not wait for the movie to start; so in the meantime, I did my research. The film is directed by David Yates, veteran director of the Harry Potter films from The Order of the Phoenix and onwards. I already knew this was going to be a great film since we had a director who was seasoned in the arts of the magic world, paired with one of my favorite authors and the originator of the entire series, J.K. Rowling.
The premise of the film takes place in New York City, 70 years before the birth of Harry Potter. We follow our main character, Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), off a ship that has just arrived at port from the UK. Things happen and he eventually meets the wizarding community of America. Now, I didn’t realize how used to I was for any wizard or witch to have that signature British accent, but hearing non-British actors play their roles in the wizarding community didn’t feel right at all. In fact, there were several things that I simply could not get past of the American wizarding community. For one, they don’t call non-wizarding folk “Muggles”; instead, they call them “non-maj.” Why would you change that!? This simple and small change in the word not only threw me out of the Harry Potter world I believed to be enveloped in, but just made me angry in general. Secondly, instead of a Minister of Magic, America had an annoyingly uptight Madam President (played by Carmen Ejogo) who I deemed unnecessary to the plot. However, I use the term “plot” lightly.
Now I would love to dive into the plot, dissecting and connecting points so you could have a basis of what the film is about. I would love to, I really would. However, there simply is no real plot. The opening scene of the movie shows us several newspaper articles of Grindelwald, one of the darkest wizards of all time (prior to the upcoming of Lord Voldemort), and the terrors he has invoked upon the wizarding communities in Europe. This leads the audience to believe that the movie will surround Grindelwald, a character so many Harry Potter fans wish to know more about and finally get to see in action. WRONG. The film barely has much to do with Grindelwald so don’t expect to learn anything about him. In fact, it only seems like they added his name in to add to the nostalgia of the Harry Potter series.
Throughout the film, they drop little nostalgia tidbits in order to make sure the audience still remembers that they are in the wizard/Harry Potter world. If not for this, I essentially would have marked Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a completely different series all together.
Apart from no plotline as well as the non-Harry Potter feel, Eddie Redmayne really pulled off his character well. As it seems like they have announced 4 additional Fantastic Beasts films, I look forward to seeing Eddie Redmayne play Newt again. I give it a 7/10.
By: Shiv Saini