‘Fantastic Beasts’ is Nothing Short of Magic

Fantastic Beasts initially struggles to understand itself, yet gradually finds its own among the wizarding world.

fantastic beasts
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

What do you get when you take a world-renowned franchise, revamp it with the style of the early 20th century, and enlist a whole new troupe of wizards in the process? With the magic touch of acclaimed creator J.K. Rowling, you will always end up with something fantastic.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the most recent venture into Harry Potter’s wizarding world, takes a different approach than its otherworldly predecessors. For the first-time on the big screen, Rowling invites fans on a trip outside the confines of Hogwarts, bringing them overseas to the Empire City in the midst of the Roaring 20’s. However, we are not only subjected to new scenery, as we are even put to the test of learning new faces as well.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is new in town. The young, vibrant Brit makes his way to the Big Apple with a suitcase full of mystical creatures from his side of the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, when his magical luggage switches with that of WWII vet Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a set of his charmed beasts are set loose throughout New York City. With the help of demoted auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Scamander must rescue his collection and ensure that no escaped Obscuruses wreak havoc on the city that never sleeps.

The adventure flick is a strong contender in Rowling’s spellbound domain, holding a unique light up to a recognizable storyline. Fantastic Beasts does carry some excess weight in certain respects, whether it is predictable dialogue or exaggerations on certain archetypes. Nevertheless, what keeps its blood coursing is how it acknowledges its heart. It’s the passion and sentiment of it all that carries a chain between this outing and those experienced by Gryffindor.

Fantastic Beasts did an amazing job with keeping my interests using fun characters and dazzling special effects,” said Shannon Zang, an avid fan of big-budget blockbusters. “I almost didn’t realize that the film was almost two-and-a-half hours long! That’s how good it is.”

With this in mind, one should not make the trip with expectations of a Harry Potter sighting. Why? Because Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is (ironically) its own glorious beast, standing out among strong visuals and an even stronger hero’s journey. Withal, this is a fantasy that plays off of its predictable identity with a shiny new polish, while keeping us hooked with the tiniest specks of nostalgic grime.

Talk about fantastic. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is now playing in movie theaters worldwide! Some local venues include AMC Clifton Commons, AMC Essex Greens in West Orange and even Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas in the heart of Upper Montclair. For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com and start planning your next trip to the movies today.

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