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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Coming Soon

You remember Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) from the Harry Potter franchise, don’t you? The half-giant and half-human was the gamekeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His affinity towards creatures both large and small made him a very likable character. People to tend to really gravitate towards those that outwardly appreciate the various “creatures” of the world…well except spiders. No one should like those! I defy anyone to scroll down their social media pages on any given day and not see a cute or funny post, tweet, etc. that contains an animal. Building on this natural obsession, J.K. Rowling looks poised to have another bank-busting franchise on her hands. Combining the legacy of the Harry Potter universe with a bunch of colorful, mysterious and captivating creatures is genius wizardry at work! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a winner on pedigree and concept alone.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has made the journey from London to New York for the first time and he has his mission all planned out. As many of us have experienced over our personal lifetimes, things don’t always go as planned. Young Newt carries his trusty suitcase by his side at all times. It’s what’s inside this suitcase that would have many running for the hills. Newt believes that there are many magical beasts in this world that don’t get a fair shake. The under-informed are fearful and their first instincts are to lash out at what they perceive as threats. Unfortunately for Newt, things get out of hand pretty quickly when one of his beasts gets loose and goes on a little sticky finger frolic causing some unwanted attention.

There is yet another, more serious issue going on in New York at this same time. There are reports of unexplained events popping up randomly throughout the city. Due to its destructive nature of physical property, the police are investigating. And due to the fact that there’s clearly something going on that can’t be explained away by Muggle (people without magical powers) logic, higher powers are at work to find answers. These answers must be found quickly and discreetly in order to avoid the discovery of this underground world of magical beings.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them brings together the wizarding world, the muggle world and last but not least, the beastly world. The trifecta of chaos mixes together in a cauldron filled with laughs, romance and evil. The bar is high with the start of the new (yet old) prequel. David Yates directed the last four Harry Potter movies so he’s definitely acclimated to what works and what the fans might want. Having said that, this time he gets to tell the story from the start, setting the tone and the vision in his own liking. You may or may not know this but there are four additional movies coming to this new franchise and it’s already decided that Yates will be the man. That also means that the big picture has already been decided as his services have been officially secured.

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl (2015)) has taken the first step towards stardom like he’s never experienced before. Fans of the franchise are passionate which doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. For his part as a totally unique character, it’ll take a little getting use to I’m guessing. Not knowing the full direction of this new chapter makes it hard to know whether his character is in it for the long haul. Still though, he’s interesting for at least one movie.

Since the Fantastic Beasts franchise is new and budding, I will mention a few of the actors’ names but not necessarily the extent of their involvement. I would also suggest steering clear of sites such as IMDb if you prefer a bit more mystery regarding your plots and specific roles actors are playing. Expect to see well-known faces such as Colin Farrell (The Lobster (2015)) and Jon Voight (Showtime’s Ray Donovan). Then there are those some will know but many will not, such as Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice (2014)), Carmen Ejogo (Selma (2014)) and Ezra Miller (Trainwreck (2015)). There’s even a familiar voice, Ron Perlman (Pacific Rim (2013)). The one actor that takes the cake as far as the most entertaining person on screen is definitely Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury (2007)). The majority if the movie’s non-CGI cute or funny moments are because of or at the expense of Fogler.

Fantastic Beasts is set approximately two generations prior to the events that transpired in the Harry Potter stories. Depending on the point of view, this could be considered a prequel or a spin-off. Either way, bridges will be eventually built to the stories we all know and love. Much like the route that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) took, the tone is lighter in the beginning and should pull in a very wide age group. There’s a ton of CGI work (sometimes it was little too much) that will help shape the new direction following these beasts but at the end of the day the acting and story itself will be the main factors in whether this new story can totally make its own identity or not.

Yes, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is worth the price of admission. The mixture of people and beasts allow for a variety of ways to become attached. I now find myself wondering what’s next. I guess we’ll know in a couple of years. For now, however, live in the moment and enjoy what’s in front of you.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler


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