The Harry Potter franchise has been a part of our lives since the first book came out in 1997. The stories slowly became darker and more grown-up in time with the characters. It was as if we were growing up alongside Harry, Hermoine and Ron. However, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is focused on adult characters who are living in an adult world; a world before Voldemort and Harry Potter. Fantastic Beasts is a prequel to the Harry Potter films and takes place in 1920s New York City. The book was written in 2001 by JK Rowling under the guise of magizoologist and was published to look like a fictional textbook for young wizards to study.
The story follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he has just finished a global excursion to document extraordinary magical creatures. Jacob, a muggle – known in America as a No-Maj – is brought into the plot when he accidentally takes home Newt’s mysterious case instead of his own due to a mix up at the bank. The wizards of New York have to come together to deal with the issues that come with misplacing the magical case full of magical beasts. Scamander is a Hufflepuff who was expelled from Hogwarts for endangering the life of a human with beasts.
Four-time Potter director David Yates returns to transition us from Hogwarts to the wider world of magic. 1920s New York was beautifully realised by designer Stuart Craig and James Hambridge, known for Hellboy and The Dark Knight. Rowling made her debut as screenwriter and definitely did not disappoint.
Oscar-winning Eddie Redmayne stars as the awkward British Scamander and is joined by Dan Fogler as No-Maj Jacob Kowalski. The accidental friendship of the wizard and No-Maj is endearing, particularly as you watch them tackle a kleptomaniac duck-type platypus and a rampaging rhino through Central Park Zoo.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a perfectly timed addition to the Harry Potter franchise. I would argue that it is better than some of the Potter films, however, I know that many would disagree. The film was a brilliant twist on New York in the 20s – and, was an eye-opening insight into the adult wizarding world.