Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016)


Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them returns us to the cinematic world inhabited by J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter and casts us back to a time before the epic battles to come between The Boy Who Lived and He Who Shall Not Be Named.


I’m a proud Hufflepuff, avid reader of Harry Potter and skeptic of Harry Potter movies. Fantastic Beasts did not escape my critical eye. We are introduced to Newt Scamander, well played by Eddie Redmayne, Academy Award winner for Theory of Everything. Newt is a Doctor Doolittle type with a deep love for magical animals and a rickety suitcase of mystery. He is fresh off the boat in New York City during a Salem-type witch scare that has the Wizarding World at a tenuous peace with Muggles, or as Americans call them, No-Majs (leave it to Americans to ruin a great name). His suitcase happens to carry fun magical creatures who escape and threaten to blow the cover off of the entire Wizarding World. We’re introduced to young Auror, Tina (Katherine Waterston), and adorable muggle Jacob (Dan Fogler) in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately for Newt, there’s a larger force moving through NYC causing destruction on a grand scale and it’s up to him and his gang to clear his name.

They are setting a magical foundation for a additional movies in the expanded Wizarding Universe. Readers know a little of Dumbledore vs Grindelwald to come, but the flame of excitement is lit to see how the story unfolds. We are finally introduced to a few of the beasts that we have read about but were sadly neglected in prior movies. I found the Bowtruckle particularly charming. Many familiar names are introduced including a LeStrange. The CGI animals could have been executed better, however, I’m also very CGI picky. I’ll leave the final decision to you. The story was family friendly and mostly adorable with a few tense scenes.

Overall, much more positive than the last round of Harry Potter movies. The majority of the cast was charming and well acted. I did eventually warm up to Tina, even though she seemed to always be crying. I am truly pleased to see that the new stories have continued the allegories about magical and non-magical people. It rings well in today’s tense post-election world.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a warm hug from a beloved universe, and I’m looking forward to where this crazy ride takes us. Hopefully it includes much more Newt Scamander and his sense of adventure.