Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
With an original screenplay by J.K. Rowling herself and direction by David Yates (who directed four Harry Potter films), this film is fantastic fun that lives up to the Harry Potter legacy.
Set in the Harry Potter universe, but in New York City of 1926, the film gives us new characters and a different view of the wizarding world. It’s funny, magical, and entertaining.
Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, a wizard tracking and collecting rare magical beasts, but some are inadvertently released on a trip to New York City. As he tries to recapture them, he’s drawn into something larger occurring in the wizarding world.
Redmayne is a thoroughly engaging lead as the eccentric young wizard. He is so perfect for the role. The way he plays it makes me wish he could play the lead role on Doctor Who (ironically, former Doctor Who star Matt Smith was considered for this role).
He’s joined by a sparkling cast that includes Katherine Waterston (daughter of actor Sam) as Tina, an American former Auror; Alison Sudol as Tina’s mind-reading sister Queenie; Dan Fogler as Muggle Jacob Kowalski, who gets caught up in the adventure; Ezra Miller as Credence, the adopted son of a Muggle anti-wizardry campaigner (played by Samantha Morton); Colin Farrell as high-ranking Auror Percival Graves, who seemingly has his own agenda; Ron Perlman as a goblin gangster; and Johnny Depp as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
Filmed in Liverpool and in an English studio, it brings period New York City convincingly to life. Veteran cinematographer Philippe Rousselot does a fantastic job of lighting the sets. The visual effects are top shelf.
I adored it. If you liked the Harry Potter films, you’ll like this one, too.