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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Film Review

Kara Pauley, Journalist

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“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” feels like a college reunion. You return to the place where all your greatest memories were made, but something is different. Not all your friends could make it, so you end up talking to someone you vaguely remember but cannot quite place. Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander is this person.

While talking to a stranger may sound unpleasant, and leave you pining for your old friends (in this case the Potter Golden Trio), “Fantastic Beasts” brings enough to the table to entertain and stimulate even the stodgiest of No-Majs, or muggles as they call non-magic folk in Potter’s world.

The reason “Fantastic Beasts” works so well is because it does not try to reclaim Potter’s enchanting storyline. Instead it takes Rowling’s meticulous and whimsical world and plops us into a completely different era and location.

1920s Manhattan is marvelous enough even without the addition of magic and awe-inspiring creatures. The fusion of magic and post-depression New York provides the perfectly eerie yet dazzling backdrop to introduce our new character’s story.

Newt Scamander is the film’s gawky hero. While his exaggerated awkwardness makes him less intimidating than “The Chosen One,” it is refreshing having an imperfect hero. He’s just an ordinary, albeit talented, wizard with an immense love for magical creatures. Eddie Redmayne plays this role very well, with the perfect balance of hero and geek.

Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski is another bright spot in the film. Fogler plays the keen and astonished No-Maj (non-magical person) serving as the audience’s consciousness. He says what all the viewers are thinking, providing comic relief without ruining the moment.

The special effects and animation are superb. The spells and apparating effects were created seamlessly, providing a realness to what could potentially be a larger-than-life tale.

Of course there could never be a “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” movie without any fantastic beasts. All of Rowling’s imaginative creatures were brought to life so well, that viewers will be adding “niffler” to their Christmas lists. Standout “beasts” include the mischievous niffler, the shy bowtruckle, and the maternal and occasionally invisible demiguise.

“Fantastic Beasts” deserves its PG-13 title and families with younger children should take heed. While the introduction and exposition of the film is innocuous enough, the main conflict and the themes of the story are very dark and violent.

Without giving too much away, viewers should be prepared for depictions of the death penalty, child abuse, religious cults, and death and violence (although it is usually magical violence).

This marks the first out of the intended five “Fantastic Beasts” films. The story is based on an original screenplay and is not adapted from a novel as Rowling’s previous works have been. This proved to be effective. Within two weeks of opening, the film is nearing $500 million worldwide in the box office, according to Forbes.

A hardback copy of the film’s script is available for sale and was released the day the film came out.

While Rowling completed the second screenplay, there is no set release date for the following film.

“Fantastic Beasts” will leave fans yearning for a time turner to speed up time to the next film.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Film Review