Tony's Take

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM review

fantastic-beasts-posterWelcome to a New Era of the Wizarding World

It’s been over five years since we’ve traveled to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” brings us back to one of our favorite fantasy Worlds; only its 70 years before Harry attends Hogwarts.  Remember the book from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” that Harry uses?  Well, now we are given a backstory to the author as the universe expands.  A dark wizard is reigning terror in America named Gellert Grindelwald.  A young wizard named Newt Scamander visiting from England finds-himself thrust into mayhem as he reaches New York City with the hopes to acquire a rare species.  Newt carries a briefcase with him, one that’s contents include several of his magical creatures.  After an unfortunate mishap, his brief case opens; allowing them to escape and wreak havoc.  As mysterious happenings continue to occur, Newt finds himself as suspect number one as his creatures are the prime suspects for the destruction being caused around the city.  The Magical Congress of the United States of America are on the verge of being uncovered by the No-Maj’s (American Muggles) and they’ll do anything to put an end to it all.  But it’s up to Newt and his new trio of friends to rescue all of his fantastic beasts and clear him from the crimes.

Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander, the focal point of the new film series and an employee at the British Ministry of Magic.  Redmayne nails the soft spoken wizard, who’s both charming and foolish simultaneously.  Katherine Waterston plays a MACUSA officer who intercepts Newt and ultimately ends-up helping him, Porpetina “Tina” Goldstein.  Dan Fogler plays Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj who accidently winds-up with Newt and his witch friends.  Alison Sudol plays Tina’s younger sister, Queenie Goldstein.  Colin Farrell lends his talents as he commands the screen as the Director of Magical Security for the MACUSA, Percival Graves.  Carmen Ejogo plays President Seraphina Picquery.  Samantha Morton plays an extremist who intends to eliminate all witches and wizards, Mary Lou Barebone.  Ezra Miller plays Mary Lou’s adopted and hated son Credence.  Ron Perlman voices a goblin who owns a speakeasy named Gnarlack.  Jon Voight plays Henry Shaw; with Josh Cowdery and Ronan Raftery play his sons Sen. Henry Jr. and Langdon.  A familiar face appears as Gellert Grindelwald.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” manages to capture some of the magic, giving us new, fun characters to love and a fierce villain to fear; creating an entertaining thrill ride that will leave you excited for the future!  One reason the film works so well is its connection to the Harry Potter Universe.  While there may be a few callbacks (such as familiar spells and names) through the film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” follows its own formula to create a new band of characters who are almost as fun and lovable as the original, as well as countless fantastic creatures and interesting villains.  Individual performances lend so much to the film too.  Redmayne absolutely crushes it and will instantly become a fan favorite and Farrell is sly and stylish as the intense wizard Graves.  However, its Fogler who unexpectedly steals the show as Newt’s No-Maj sidekick Jacob, his humor is spot-on and his timing is perfect; creating plenty of laughs from start-to-finish.  The film’s idea of fantastic creatures and beasts only succeeds due to the beautiful CGI; the creatures look incredibly real and their colors and movements effortlessly appear on-screen and add a whole new layer to the story.  One of the aspects of the film that deserves the most attention is its ending, but to discuss now would be a disservice to you.  “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” does struggle to keep a constant pace throughout the film; and while the creatures are interesting, you can only take so much as it does come somewhat repetitive and quite-obviously predictable.  The film has a run time of 133 minutes and it does suffer during its slow introduction.  “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” does well to setup a new story in the universe we all love and even though it’s not perfect, there are plenty of new characters, creatures, and story arcs to love and dive-into!

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” follows the story of a British wizard in America as an evil wizard is on-the-loose; seven decades before Harry Potter even attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The film features new fun-loving characters and villains, beautiful creatures and CGI, and a very interesting story.  If you are ready to return to the World of Harry Potter, go see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” this weekend!!

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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is rated PG-13 for some fantasy action violence, in theaters NOVEMBER 18TH!

 

 

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