In case you’ve been pining for some more Wizarding World in your life, then Yates, Heyman and Rowling have got you covered with their subtly similar but vastly more mature franchise film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you’re expecting to see some familiar faces though, this isn’t the film for you, as Fantastic Beasts exists entirely in a world of its own, set in 1920s New York. Here, advancements between No-Majs (muggles) and wizards are still practically in the Dark Ages, and if you so much as sneeze in the direction of a wizard, you’ll likely get obliviated.
At the centre of the story is our bumbling protagonist, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a wizard who has as many pronunciations for his last name as he does mischievous creatures in his luggage. Naturally, some of Newt’s creatures get loose and it is up to Newt and ex-Auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) to retrieve them, with some unlikely help from No-Maj Jacob (Dan Fogler) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), before their presence can be used to fuel hatred and war from extremist leader, Mary Lou (Samantha Morton). MACUSA officials such as Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) also feature.
In-keeping with its title, Fantastic Beasts is made all that more beguiling by its creatures. From a kleptomaniac Niffler to a particularly randy Erumpent, these are enchanting creations that dazzle and ensnare even the most apathetic audience (tell me you’re not captivated by the serene, glowing Thunderbird and I’ll give you fice Lunascopes). Indeed, spell-binding visuals and a rich mythological environment ensure that the film exists in a world entirely of its own, one where imagination and creativity run wild and you can get lost in all the vast landscapes squeezed inside Newt’s shabby suitcase.
Whilst the beasts sometimes overshadow the characters, there is plenty here to be excited about. Newt is lovingly dorky and a little inept, but his passion for his wildlife offsets this, whilst Jacob is fun-spirited and vibrant. The entire cast has that spark and memorability that you’d expect from the beginning of a series. This isn’t a coming-of-age story akin to Harry Potter, instead it is an enthusiastic look into the life of a magizoologist and his antics, one where audiences can glimpse inside another dimension of J.K.’s enviable creation. Overall, Fantastic Beasts is a Rowling good time.