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Because a franchise like Harry Potter is simply too popular to just stop, J.K. Rowling soon delivered Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, a prequel of sorts following Newt Scamander, a wizard zoologist specialising in the strangest and rarest creatures.

Eddie Redmayne is Scamander, the twitchy introvert with a briefcase packed full of "fantastic beasts" who gets stuck in New York after he accidentally switches bags with a wannabe baker. Scamander is then forced to not only recover every loose creature but deal with the stern Magical Congress plus a secret plot to take him down. There's something genuinely refreshing about a prequel that, not only doesn't just copy the original franchise, but expands its universe and introduces us to a new lead character who is very different. The biggest problem with the Harry Potter movies was always Harry himself: passive, bland and seemingly disinterested, he made Neo from the Matrix movies look like he was having the time of his life! Newt Scamander, on the other hand, is instantly likeable, clever and goofy yet still somewhat mysterious. One scene sees Newt try to charm a rhino-like creature with a mating dance and that alone is funnier than anything you'll see in the Potter movies.

The US setting for this film is certainly welcome as it gives us a good look at how this world of magic functions in other parts of the world so Fantastic Beasts definitely has a unique feel to it. The main villain is Colin Farrell's Percival Graves, a dodgy member of the Magical Congress, but there are other threats like Samantha Morton's anti-wizard and witches "No-Maj" Mary Lou Barebone, her troubled children and a dark parasite called the Obscurus. Although it's stuffed full of CGI, Fantastic Beasts remains a visual treat as you can tell that a lot of effort went into recreating J.K. Rowling's magical world in a detailed and colourful way. The film has its quieter moments but it never stops being entertaining and, if you are not familiar with the story, it offers tons of wonderful weirdness and surprises. Based on this movie, this is likely to become a far more enjoyable franchise than Harry Potter as it's cute yet sophisticated enough to attract fans of all ages.

A very different take on the Harry Potter world, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a fine example of how to do a prequel/spin-off right: Potter fans should enjoy it and non-fans willing to jump in and give it a chance should find themselves pleasantly surprised.


1 comment:

  1. It's not "cute"

    Its whimsical sometimes, but this isn't Star Wars. It isn't trying to attract people of all ages, it's sort of too sophisticated, dark, thematically heavy, and violent for a blockbuster audience


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