PLOT- Set in New York City during the 1920's, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a young British wizard and former Hogwarts Student, who has a passion towards the conservation of magical creatures. Newt has traveled to America to bring a thunderbird, that he had rescued from animal traffickers in Egypt, back to its native habitat of Arizona. Newt has not traveled alone, in his magical briefcase, he has brought all of the animals under his care, and when he lands in New York, several manage to escape. The magical community in America, is very different from the UK; American wizards keep themselves hidden from the "no-mag" ( American term for Muggles) and there are strict rules prohibiting the magical and no-mag from interacting. The import of magical creatures is strictly forbidden. Newt quickly makes a few friends, both magical and no-mag, but will their help be enough to recapture all of his animals before he is caught? Beyond the American magic community, they will also have to contend with the "Second Salemers", an anti-magic protest group with violent tendencies, and the escape of a dark wizard named Grindelwald. Danger is lurking around every corner.
LIKE- First, I must confess that I did not read the book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I also didn't read many reviews, other than getting a general idea that this film had been well-received. I did read that this was JK Rowling's first time as a screen writer, which excited me.
Maybe it's due to my enormous love of animals, but I was utterly delighted by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The creatures make the movie. They are creatively designed and have so much personality. My favorite was the Niffler, a devious, thieving critter that looks to be a cross between a duck-billed platypus and a hedgehog. The creatures are so good, that I forgot that they were all computer generated. Creating this world must have been so much fun.
The story has many different tones that blend surprisingly well. It has comedic moments, and a sweetness, especially with regard to the love story between Newt's new friends, Jacob (Dan Fogler), a no-mag who dreams of opening a bakery, and Queenie (Alison Sudol), a glamorous wizard who can mind-read. It's has fantasy moments with a glimpse into the American wizard community and all of Newt's creatures. But it also has a very dark, sinister side, especially with regard to child abuse and the second-salem plot. JK Rowling does dark and disturbing very well. These moments in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, reminded me of one of her adult novels, The Casual Vacancy. It's upsetting and affecting. When we left the film, Dan and I discussed the appropriate age for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both agreeing that we would not have felt comfortable taking the kids, who are currently seven and nine. We both felt that early teens and up, would be appropriate, due to the intense themes and violence. It is rated PG-13.
DISLIKE- Nothing. I throughly enjoyed the film from start to finish.
RECOMMEND- Yes! See it on the big screen, but there is zero need to see it in 3-D. We rarely splurge for 3-D, yet the showing that fit our schedule happened to be in 3-D, so we went for it. It's just not necessary at all to enjoy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 3-D did not enhance my experience, if anything, it was mildly detracting. Also, know that although the film does make references to the Harry Potter series, it's not necessary to have seen it to understand, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.