By: Alex Daum ’20
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was released Friday and is the first installment of a five-movie “Harry Potter” spinoff series. Because of the wild success of the original “Harry Potter” series, many fans were doubtful of how this would compare, but the movie lives up to expectations.
The story takes place in 1926 and follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who carries a briefcase full of magical beasts and suffers from a brief layover in New York. During his trip, a No-Maj (American for not a wizard) named Jacob (Dan Folger) has a similar briefcase and accidentally switches with Newt, releasing Newt’s beasts across New York. Newt and Jacob are assisted by a disgraced Magical Congress of the United States of America (MCUSA) officer Porpentina (Katherine Waterson).
Although this is the main lighthearted plot of the movie, there is also a darker side plot. This part follows Credence (Ezra Miller), an orphan who is adopted and raised by an abusive mother who is the head of an anti-witchcraft movement. After his mother abuses him, he is comforted by a MCUSA Auror named Graves (Colin Farrell). Graves is really looking for information on a certain form of magic called an Obscurius, which is caused when a wizard’s powers are suppressed.
The film has amazingly realistic special effects of each beast. One that stands out is the six-winged thunderbird that creates storms. The action scenes are also very riveting and keep viewers on the edge of their seats, while also differing from the formulaic action scenes in “Harry Potter.” The biggest problem with the film is its attempt to reach out to both adult and children audiences, which in theory was a good idea, but the whimsical scenes such as Newt’s cute niffler stealing shiny things, and dark scenes such as Credence getting beaten, do not blend well.
Overall, the movie has great special effects, engrossing action scenes and although they clashed, two entertaining plots.
Rate: 3.5/5 stars