The cinemas have been jam packed with old Harry Potter fans seeking their next fix this weekend. This is not a new ‘Harry Potter’ film however. It is written by J.K. Rowling and is set in the wizarding world that Harry Potter exists in, however it takes place in 1920’s New York, so long before Harry’s birth and the saga that followed.

The story begins with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) entering New York with a case full of mythical animals, however one escapes causing havoc, which in turn causes other beasts to be set free in a magically ignorant New York. I was slightly concerned before watching the film that the New York setting would make this wizarding world a bit too American, taking away from the Harry Potter feel. It does do this, but I found it more of a pro than a con. Eddie Redmayne keeps us grounded in the British mindset, but America added a whole new experience altogether, I am glad it didn’t feel like another Harry Potter.

These fantastic beasts in question were absolutely incredible, the creativity of J.K Rowling’s mind surpasses me. One of the animals in particular (resembling a platypus) adds a great deal of humour and is one of the most endearing creatures I have ever seen. Then there is another stick insect like creature which adds an emotional element to the story, plus many other wonderful species.

The movie was very funny and not in a cheesy way. It had humour where appropriate, and was not awkward in the slightest. The plot twisted and went up and down throughout the 2 hour duration, keeping you mesmerised. The only criticism to the plot I can muster up, is that I felt the darker elements should have been introduced sooner, as it seemed a bit happy and cheerful for a little too long. Also, the muggles (non-magic folk) would definitely have noticed some fishy, magical goings-on at a few points, but I won’t dwell on that. The plot was almost seamless and intricate, with an incredible surprise that I definitely did not see coming, but I will not spoil it for you.

The shots in this movie were also incredible. There were many scenes where you are flying in point of view style making you feel like you are really there. I did not see this film in 3D but it felt like it anyway, the audience is totally immersed into the action. The CGI is also extremely well done, as expected, with the action duel sequences, but also when Newt interacts with the beasts. But I would expect nothing less from a film with such a budget.

I am stalling now, I cannot continue without commenting on Eddie Redmayne’s performance. He was faultless. There were some Matt Smith Doctor Who vibes a couple of times, but he made the character entirely his own. A shy, British man who cared about the fantastic beasts he carried, and his friends along the way. Even the way he walked in his little lace up boots wowed me, as Newt’s personality shone even before he spoke. Colin Farrell played a darker character and did so very well, but I’m afraid Eddie Redmayne outshone them all, unintentionally I’m sure.

If you are a Harry Potter fan there are some little references in the film that I’m sure will excite you, such as the Lestrange family, Grindelwald and Dumbledore. However you do not have to have seen any of the Potter films to enjoy this movie, but if you have managed to avoid them for this long, I think it’s time to go and immerse yourself into the Harry Potter world.

I would recommend this film to anyone of any age. It is exciting, emotional and heart-warming. It is quite long though, set aside some time. I reward the movie 5/5 stars. ★★★★


First published in Marketplace Magazine, Bourne.