Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: "So You're The Guy With The Case Full Of Monsters"

Director: David Yates
Writer:     J.K. Rowling
Starring: Eddie Redmayne
                Katherine Waterston
                Dan Fogler
                Alison Sudol
                Colin Farrell
                Carmen Ejogo
                Ezra Miller
                Samantha Morton
                Ron Perlman
                Jon Voight
                Johnny Depp
Rating:    ****

Release Date: Out Now 

It has been 5 years since the release of the last Harry Potter film, and with multiple theme parks, a studio tour and now a record breaking Play in London's West End, it is clear that Potter-Mania is still going strong. So it comes with great relief that a brand new film, set in the Potter-verse, has been made; and without tampering with, destroying or damaging it's already magical legacy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a brilliant addition to the spellbinding world.

The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, an English wizard who sets off New York to free one of the magical creatures he keeps in his enchanted briefcase, however things don't necessarily go to plan when a No-Maj (American word for muggle) accidentally acquires his briefcase and frees some of it's inhabitants. Redmayne brings a fresh, boyish excitement to the role of Newt, but there is an underlying arrogance that I couldn't quite shake. It stopped me from fully embracing the character, and with the star of a film, that is not ideal. 

Eddie Redmayne & Katherine Waterston
Redmayne has never been so uncharacteristically arrogant in a role before, so whether it was unintentional or an acting choice, I cannot be sure. What I do know is, is it became distracting in some of the films quieter moments.

The No-Magj that Newt hesitantly befriends is Jacob Kowalski, who Dan Fogler portrays wonderfully. He is the audiences eyes throughout the film, being beguiled and enchanted by the magical sights that he has never and possibly will never get to behold again. Fogler balances Redmayne perfectly, and the two become almost a double act as the film goes on. 

Their friendship has touches of that between Harry and Ron, with one being slightly more hesitant to go on the crazy adventure but still doing all he can to help his friend. It is these subtle parallels that keep the film grounded and familiar, without being repetitive or stale.

Alison Sudol & Dan Fogler
The heroic foursome is rounded out by sisters Tina and Queenie Goldstein, portrayed by Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol respectively. The two characters are polar opposites in the way they act, and like Redmayne and Fogler, the actresses balance each other out, maing their sisterly bond both believable and relatable.

The four characters together are an diverse and interesting group who you want too succeed and instantly feel connected too. There is also a beautiful relationship that begins to build between Queenie and Jacob, a pair who both have often felt misunderstood and left out, who find each other, and both actors portray this with innocence and heart. They are the perfect quartet to start the series, but if rumours are true, the won't be the faces of every film in this 5 film-series; so don't get too attached.

Of course, every film like this needs a character or event to put the protagonists in peril, in Fantastic Beasts they come in the form of Ezra Miller's Credence, Samantha Morton's Mary Lou and Colin Farrell's Percival Graves. Credence and Mary Lou are part of the Salem Philanthropic Society, a group that believes wizards and witches are evil and need to be killed. Percival Graves is an Auror who is set on protecting the wizarding world's secrets and capturing Newt and his beasts. However these two opposing opinions become tangled, and not everything is quite as it seems on the surface.

Colin Farrell & Ezra Miller
J.K. Rowling has written a fantastic film (excuse the pun) which is full of jaw-dropping set pieces, twists and turns and of course more mystical creatures than you can shake a stick at. Her script is clever and witty, retaining the charm of the Harry Potter book series as well as the drama and emotion. David Yates has done a beautiful job at bringing Rowling's script to life, with the scenes inside Newt's briefcase being some of the most beautiful cinematic scenes I have seen in some time. 

With subtle nods to the world of Harry Potter, and familiar creatures appearing here and there,Fantastic Beasts has the feeling of a comfy old jumper you have had for years, as well as the most fashionable coat that you are still trying to figure out if it suits you or not. The mix of old and new gels wonderfully together in this case, almost like a potion mixed to perfection.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them - Trailer