It’s been years since we left the magical world of Harry Potter back in 2011, which is a full 5 years of absence from Hogwarts! Damn, how time flies, and now JK Rowling invites us back to a similar world except this time it’s set in New York, America. Truthfully, I do not have a high expectation of this spin-off prequel that takes place decades before Harry Potter timeline. Will this film prove me wrong, gives me surprises and eventually turns out much better than expected? Read on to see if the magic charms still works!
Immediately we are introduced to Newt Scamander, a character that has actually been mentioned in the first Harry Potter book. For avid readers of HP, this character is famous as the author of the book with the same name as the film. So, in this film, he is still young, and, after being expelled from Hogwart due to an incident, comes to New York to en route to Arizona. He meets Jacob in a bank when both of them accidentally took each other’s similar-loooking bags. The magical creatures in Newt’s bag begins to escape and thus he has to find all of them with the help of American witch, Tina. Along the way, they meet other characters and the famous Dark Wizard which fought against Dumbledore, Gellert Grindelwald.
What I love is the way the film ties up some references from the HP world in some scenes. The magical creatures that are seen have in some parts appear or been mentioned in other Harry Potter films. Then there is the fact that Newt’s scarf is of Hufflepuff and he’s proud of his house. There are just so many subtle references to older HP films that it appeals to old-timers like me. It’s a seriously wonderful, magical moments when you discover them by yourself, either by coincidence or not.
The film’s characters are also likeable, such as Newt, Jacob, Tina and her sister, Queenie. All four of them has different personalities but they mesh well together during the adventures. Humours are abound in course of the film, filling the moments with light-hearted magical fun. I love that they know when to interwove comedy into serious scenes. Pacing is spot on, there are never dull moments, not when there are new creatures introduced every few scenes, keeping us interested till the end. One special mention is the opening music, it is so nostalgic to hear it again since 2011. That soundtrack will forever etch in my mind.
As good as the film is, there are some weaknesses that makes them unable to compare to the HP series. Firstly, the antagonist plays a small role, especially that of Credence and Graves. They appear too little, thus unable to have any character growth unlike that of Voldermort. However, this is only the first movie, so I will not be too hasty to judge, especially when there will be four more movies in the franchise.
All in all, I have only one word to describe: FANTASTIC! This is one of the greatest surprises that blew my expectation away. The casts are likable, the creatures are cool and adorable, and those action scenes and visual effects are incredible. Definitely watch this for those who have watched HP series, and for newcomers, this maybe your first step into the Wizarding world!