The Magical Beasts of New York
The year is 1926 and British wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City with a plan to travel to Arizona. But there is unrest in New York as a No-Maj, Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), is stirring up hatred towards witches and wizards. On top of that not only does Newt bump into Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), an aspiring baker carrying the same looking case as him, but Newt, a collector of magic creatures, finds himself dealing with one of his creatures escaping. Before long not only does Jacob get a surprising view of magic as he is drawn in to Newt's curious world but the both of them are arrested by Tina (Katherine Waterston) an auror and taken to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) headquarters. But it seems there is someone trying to get their hands on the dark parasite known as an Obscurus and Newt, Jacob, Tina, and her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) find themselves drawn in to this trouble.
I will be honest with you; I rarely buy dvds anymore when they have just come out and tend to wait for them to come down in price. But I made an exception for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" purely because of this being a movie which is connected to the "Harry Potter" franchise. And truth be told whilst on first watch "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was certainly entertaining with high production values I think it may take a few more viewings and probably the follow up movie before I rate this higher.
The good thing about "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is that it very much feels like it is part of the bigger magical world of Harry Potter and not just because it makes reference to Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore. The whole set up of unrest with some stirring things up when it comes to wizards and witches whilst you have the magical community hiding their abilities feels like a nice precursor to what we got in the Harry Potter movies. But then you have the evil power trying to use dark magic to further their purpose, something which feels like it could have been a storyline idea for a Harry Potter movie. Basically despite transferring the story to America in 1926 it feels familiar and that is important.
But where a lot of this movie's focus appears to be on the production and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" certainly is visually impressive. In fact it is quite amusing if you re-watch the Harry Potter movies, especially the first one, before you watch this as you can see the change in production and quality of special effects. For me there are times when the special effects start to over power the storyline and push this to be at times a movie almost about the effects with each scene trying to be bigger than the last.
Now as for the acting, well Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander with this wonderful mix of British bashfulness combined with the eccentricity of say Doctor Who and it makes him, despite of the occasional mumbling, likeable and engaging. But then again pretty much everyone plays their parts well and there is some simple but pleasant chemistry between Redmayne and Katherine Waterston, although Dan Fogler certainly steals many a scene with his skill at visual humour.
What this all boils down to is that at the moment "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a good movie for me, one which I will undoubtedly watch again. And I get a sense that maybe after a few more viewings my rating for it might creep up a little as it is certainly a well made movie, with entertaining characters and a high level when it comes to the production.