Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Release Date: November 18, 2016
Summary (from IMDB): The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods
Set in 1926 New York City, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them follows soft-spoken, awkward magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he attempts to return all of the escaped magical creatures to the zoo inside his briefcase.
Newt is introverted and a bit clumsy, but he has an earnest passion for weird and potentially dangerous creatures, not unlike Hagrid. Similar to a geeky Dr. Doolittle, Newt Scamander is all battered threads and humble with an old-fashioned charm.
After running into disgraced former auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and no maj/muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a series of daffy events forces them to stick together. The late addition to the group is mind-reading sister Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), with a bright attitude, sugary voice, and a habit of poking into people’s thoughts.
Newt and company get into increasingly large amounts of trouble with the American magical authority known as the MACUSA while trying to round up the beasts, and all the while a much darker, more dreary plot unfolds as esteemed auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) looks into a magic-hating no-maj family that includes a particularly troubled young man named Credence (Ezra Miller).
J.K. Rowling has shown her strength once more by taking ordinary characters and placing them in extraordinary circumstances. This shines through brightest in her no maj/muggle character Jacob Kowalski, who you cannot help but love by the end of the film. This version of heroism is a welcome break from the big-budget superheroes who are currently dominating the movie theaters. J.K. Rowling has also jumped back into the spotlight just in time with the themes of society divided, the persecution of minorities, rising inequality, and a secretive and draconian American Ministry of Magic. The film finds itself to be perfectly timed.
Until you can own a copy of the film for your own collection, enjoy the magic of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with a copy of the original screenplay by J.K. Rowling. Purchase your copy here.