Review: Fantastic Beasts Restores Our Faith in J.K. Rowling

Graphic by Mel Egan

By Chloe Frantzis

Managing Editor of Arts

Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

After J.K. Rowling’s first installment to the new world Harry Potter, The Cursed Child, received some mixed reviews, all eyes were on her second attempt at a new magical undertaking. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released on Friday and has quickly become a success that redeems and resolidifies Rowling’s amazing world in all of our minds.   

Fantastic Beasts takes place in New York City in the year 1926, way before Harry Potter was even born. The novel follows a man named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a slightly awkward but very loyal magical creature lover and protector. While in a bank, one of Scamander’s curious and adorable creatures escapes, and with the help of a no-maj (the American term for muggle) named Jacob (Dan Fogler), recaptures it. This singular event leads us into a world more intense, terrifying, and entertaining than anything we’ve seen since The Deathly Hallows.

This movie is scheduled to be the first of five new films centered around Scamander and his group of friends. Because of this, a lot of the movie is centered around setting up things for the movies to come. Quite surprisingly, the movie succeeds in doing this while not ruining the viewer’s experience and engagement. To be honest, I’ve never seen a movie manage so many different characters and story lines so well.

Not only were there catchy, memorable one-liners, but there was also plenty of deep, intriguing  interactions as well. The movie subtly hints at discrimination and world problems that are happening today. For an example, the antagonist (who I can’t name, as it will reveal one of the coolest surprises of the movie) believes that destruction of no-majs will ultimately benefit the magical populations of the world. This mirrors some societal conflicts that are happening in our country today that have become especially prominent since the recent election.

The movie’s actors are also superbly cast. Redmayne perfectly embodies Scamander, a character who has trouble with social interactions and fitting in, with a marvelously awkward gate and never completely makes eye contact with the person he’s talking to. Furthermore, we also get a brief cameo from Johnny Depp, who plays Grindelwald in the movie. The character’s visage and body language exemplifies a classic Depp character, and one look into the camera sends chills through the audience.

Besides amazing actors and superb themes, coming to see the movie solely for the visual effects is totally worth it. At one point in the film, we get to visit the inside of Scamander’s briefcase and take a tour of all the magical creatures he is nurturing. What the audience visualizes is almost too extraordinary to be captured in words. Amazing creatures, big and small, daunting and adorable, mystical and memorable, are all portrayed with extreme emotion and life. The effects are perfect, and these creatures are so real they could walk off screen and appear to be living.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts is once-in-a-lifetime cinematic experience, and deserves the praise it will surely receive. Unlike most blockbusters, it balances exciting action scenes with subtle humor, dynamic characters, and a beautiful message– a perfect embodiment of what a J.K. Rowling saga should entail.