Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Film, Action and adventure
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(32user reviews)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This entertaining first spin-off from the Harry Potter movies is both inventive and familiar – and Eddie Redmayne makes an endearing new wizarding lead

Has JK Rowling been taking divination lessons at Hogwarts? With spooky clairvoyance, the first movie in her new five-film wizarding franchise opens with two factions in America at each other’s throats. No, not Republicans and Democrats. It’s 1926, and wizards and muggles (only in America they call them ‘no majs’) are on the brink of civil war. Oh, and in the non-magical world, a bully-boy heir to a fortune is wooing voters. Top of the class, JK!

‘Fantastic Beasts’ is basically a Harry Potter prequel (though you’ll get a detention for saying that). JK Rowling, writing her first film script, and longtime Harry Potter director David Yates have created an entirely new corner of the wizarding world. They strike a savvy balance between shiny new elements and recognisable ones for Potterheads. I’m not sure which is more adorable, Eddie Redmayne as eccentric magician Newt Scamander or the creatures he smuggles into the US in his battered and bottomless leather briefcase. Redmayne radiates a wet-eyed warm glow as stumbling, bashful Newt – an English wizard in New York. He’s perfect for Rowling’s world, where a kind heart is the most potent magical power of all.

Like a hot young David Attenborough with a wand, Newt is a bit of an eco-warrior, arriving in the US on a conservation mission to release into the wild a creature he’s rescued from captivity. The cutest of his beasties is the naughty Niffler, a kleptomaniaccross between a platypus and a cuddly penguin, with its expressive snout and Gollum-like thing for gleaming trinkets. When the Niffler breaks loose and scampers around New York stealing treasures, Newt goes in search with his new gang – two wizarding sisters (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Dan Fogler), a muggle – sorry, a no maj – who’s possibly more loyal and big-hearted than Ron Weasley. On their trail is Colin Farrell as Percival Graves, the brooding boss of security at the American Ministry of Magic.

It looks like we’ll be spending more time in the no maj world in this franchise than in the Potter films. Rowling cleverly delves into America’s history of witch trials, with Samantha Morton playing Mary Lou Barebone, a religious crazy who preaches hellfire and damnation.

There are not quite enough thrills in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ to keep you always on the edge of your seat, and no film-stealing baddie to dig your teeth into – but then Voldemort didn’t make a proper appearance until ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. Still, Farrell is in possession of some of the most menacing eyebrows in Hollywood, and we know that Johnny Depp is on his way as Dumbledore's nemesis Gellert Grindelwald. And Redmayne’s lovely performance sets up the emotional core of the franchise. So yes, the magic is still there.

By: Cath Clarke

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
12A
Release date:
Friday November 18 2016
Duration:
133 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
David Yates
Screenwriter:
J.K. Rowling
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne
Colin Farrell
Katherine Waterston

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:13
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:8
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|32
2 people listening
Tastemaker

I went in to Fantastic Beasts with some trepidation because hey, haven't they milked this franchise enough already?? But I came out pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the production value of it all was. There's some serious creativity and imagination that went into the design of the fantastic beasts, and it's easy to fall in love with the period costumes and 1920s New York. Redmayne honestly doesn't deliver an oscar worthy performance here, and doesn't have enough of a personality to make me love him, but the supporting cast is fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed Colin Farrell's role as the mysterious and menacing Graves. It's a very fun film that leaves you wanting to explore more of the amazing wizarding world of the Americas, and now I'm actually looking forward to the sequel to see how Rowling tackles the wizarding world in other countries. Just please write Newt as a better character than just a generic socially awkward magizoologgical nerd next time. 

Tastemaker

If you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan, who grew up loving the stories and devouring every detail, you may sorta-kinda enjoy Fantastic Beasts, but really you’ll probably have wished it was better. 


Fantastic Beasts struggle to allow non-Harry Potter fans (let’s call them Muggles, shall we?) understand what is going on. Even me, as a devout and knowledgeable HP fan could see how anyone who didn’t know about the Harry Potter films would be confused. There was no introduction or way in. This role fell to Jacob, but unfortunately, it didn’t play out very well. 

The other obstacle was all the storylines and backstories that bled into one another. It was confusing and too much for a first film of what will, apparently, become a trilogy. Grindlewald, an evil Auror, a sacked Auror who’s looking to get back in, Newt Scamander who got expelled and spent a year abroad, Prohibition, apparently it’s illegal for wizards and Muggle’s to marry, there’s a Senator, Obscuris, a muggle who wants to open a bakery (Jacob) and lots and lots of fantastic beasts! 

Grindlewald should’ve been a mention, at best, there was no need for him to play such an important role in this film. I wanted to know more about Newt Scamander, who he was and his past; learn more about his friends and the magical creatures he took care of. 


I have to admit too, I was confused by Tina’s character. I couldn’t quite place it or figure it out… was she strong? Strict? Looking for adventure? I just couldn’t quite place her or her motivations.

The last thing I’m going to say on this is that, the story point of view should have been Newt’s or it should have been Jacobs. It was a bit every where and all over the place, and it made it difficult for HP fans and Muggles, alike to follow. 

tastemaker

Clever film with beautiful imagery and sets. Thought it was a little strange in places and the characters a bit too odd at times, but an entertaining and easy watch.

tastemaker

This movie is a prequal to Harry Potter so it really does not matter if you have not seen Harry Potter at all.

Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) a sort of zoologist owns a mystical briefcase which is a bit like Mary Poppins bag but that holds practically upon everything but instead Newt’s briefcase leads into another world that holds fantastic beasts. When he arrives some beasts escape and need capturing as they are running wild in New York City, circa 1926. So in a style of Pokemon basically he has to go around and recapture all the magical beasts before the xenophobic hate-mongers get hold of them. Newt bumps into Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) due to a briefcase mishap and makes friends with him. Also along his journey he meets Mary Lou Barebone, a non-magical woman who heads the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which claims that witches and wizards are real and dangerous and a magic investigator Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) and her mind-reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol). All together they try to protect Newt's fantastic beasts from wizard cop Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), Credence (Ezra Miller) and the dark master Gellert Grindelwald, whom you don’t see until near the end of the movie. This film is quirky and there is some arrests, chases, comedy and fantasy in this movie and the acting is quite good fun and comical but the real stars of the movie are most definitely the beasts, unique, unusual, supposedly ugly, weird and dangerous, but they all come across so cute and adorable to me and some even very familiar to the living animals on our planet but without the magic powers. Here is some examples of the beasts that he captures.

Erumpents - this is one of the more dangerous magical creatures, they are visually similar to a rhinoceros except they have an explosive horn on its head instead.

Hippocampus - the hippocampus is a cross between a horse and a fish.

Murtlap - a cross between a rat and a sea anemone

Newt notes down all the beasts he captures in his textbook which he entitles Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and this textbook will eventually lead onto be a book that Harry Potter will later study at Hogwarts.

The ending without giving too much away is quite romantic and Newt ends up giving Jacob who he becomes friends with during the movie a case of silver Occamy eggshells to fund his bakery that he so wanted. His breads and pastries are all inspired by the creatures that he encountered with Newt.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone that loves fantasy, magic, comedy and of course beasts/animals.

tastemaker

Nothing like the Harry potter magic. The story was bit boring and very expected. It had a few cute scenes but really not worth paying for a cinema ticket.


"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is a cute, funny, and enchanting film that I had a lot of fun with.

It doesn't cheat itself by using nostalgic or references to win you over. It manages stands on it's own feet and give us a fresh look of the wizarding world. That's the biggest praise I can give to this movie, as you can watch this without any acknowledgment of the Harry Potter films and you still know what's going on. I know fans will embrace this spin-off and rightly so.

Eddie Redmayne was excellent as Newt Scamander. He's likable, engaging, and has a very distinct personality. The same goes to Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski who isn't the annoying sidekick that I thought he was going to be. He added a lot to this film, which is the laughter and heart to the story. Come to my surprise, his character towards the end was the most emotional part of the film.

The rest of the cast were pretty solid and I can easily see fans falling in love with the characters.

Katherine Waterston was good as Tina, who's investigating the strange things that's going on in New York City.

When I said that Fogler brought the laughter and emotion to the story - well Colin Farrell (Percival Graves) and Ezra Miller (Credence) brought the dramatic elements. Both of their scenes I found pretty intense and was more interested in that story-line.

David Yates can be a hit or miss for me. (*COUGH COUGH* "The Legend of Tarzan" *COUGH COUGH*). I did like "Order of the Phoenix" and "Deathly Hallows: Part 2". The other's on the another hand, not so much. But I can say this about Yates, he understands the universe very well and him returning to direct must feel like home to him. While the action scenes are basic and duels aren't that special, but the best part & the main focus are the characters.

My issues with the film are mostly with the effect's, editing mistakes, and the heavy exposition scenes.

I kinda wish there was more practical work with none-effect characters. Like the Goblins or Elves didn't have to be cgi and could've easily had make-up on. Because the effect's for them looked fake and pretty bad which is unfortunate to say. It really did stick out and not in a good way.

Overall rating: There's plenty of room for improvement for "Fantastic Beasts", but the flaws didn't stop me from enjoying the film. And I don't mind that there's gonna be five of these. Seriously, I don't mind at all.

Tastemaker

I was really looking forward to seeing the movie and left the cinema disappointed. The movie is too long and the storyline shallow. Rowling has brought an amazing world to life with her books, but Fantastic Beasts does not life up to the standard.

It had some fun bits in it, don't get me wrong and it had lots of potential to be a great movie, but this seems to be what is happening if you want too much and try to desperately.

It's more a rainy Sunday afternoon at home movie, than full effect cinema type.

tastemaker

An incredible, breathtaking film. Another fantastical, magical, spectacular story by the whimsical J.K. Rowling.

I didn't know what to expect from this film as I truly love Harry Potter from the bottom of my heart. It was very sad to say goodbye at the time.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has blown me away for many reasons and it was immensely captivating throughout.

I was in tears by the end of the film and it was blooming beautiful.

I sensed the feeling of being transported to a glamorous decade of gorgeous vintage designs. It had that traditional, historical feel to the film. It was set in 1926 in New York and I definitely loved it. The effectiveness of the decade is there.

Especially with the costume and the way women and men in that fact styled their hair or even a peculiar detail that only the latter 20s would use.

If I'm not mistaken this all happened about 60 years before Harry Potter, so it's extremely interesting to see what the magical world of wizardry and witchcraft was all these years before.

Eddie Redmayne as 'Newt Scamander' was exciting and his magical creatures were the best part of this film. They were all incredibly special, but some more than others were a disaster and caused mischief.

To me they were adorably created and added the right depth to the story.

The Niffler, a platypus type animal was extremely cute and funny, but loved to steal jewellery and anything shiny.

Other gorgeous looking animals were Demiguise and Occamy.

Two things why I absolutely adore Demiguise is that it can turn invisible.

A power that I would love to have and that his fur can be used to create the infamous invisibility cloaks.

I was in total shock when I found this out.

Reasons why I love Occamy is because of its exquisite qualities of appearance.

This serpent, dragon type bird shrinks or grows in any sort of place. It had the most gorgeous coloured features.

Katherine Waterston was incredible and her companionship with Eddie was memorable.

She too possessed a magical quality to the story.

The cast overall was very strong, there wasn't one actor that I could say that I didn't quite liked. Alison Sudol who plays 'Queenie' was a glorious addition. Everything about her elegant character was dainty.

You'll find a shocking surprise at the end. A very peculiar appearance of an actor that I dearly love.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

tastemaker

It was too long. Rowling has was too much power these days and because she can make money for the Producers they give her free reign to get involved and it genuinely hurts the finished product. The CGI wasn't bad. Some of the acting was excellent, the story was a bit weak in places but with a 30 minute trim it would have been very very watchable, but at over 2 hours it was too thin a script.


There is no storyline that I could discern. The special effects are spectacular but that is not enough to keep you interested throughout. Also, Eddie seems to have failed to recovered full facial control after his utterly brilliant performance as Stephen Hawking. His blinking and gurning are extremely irritating.


A great film for those old time Harry P fans! I wasn't overly impressed with the story but I loved all the little animated creatures which totally made the film worthwhile.

Tastemaker

It's fair to say that Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has had a lot of expectations resting on its shoulders. The first filmic Harry Potter spin off, written by JK herself, with a $180m budget, it had a lot of potential, but a lot of risk. Potter fans worldwide were both excited and nervous at the thought of their childhood world being ruined for the sake of making a quick buck. Luckily, that wasn't the case. Beasts is a worthy addition to the Potter fold, in many ways surpassing the Harry-centric films. Set in 1920s New York, the Jazz Age is a glamorous and magical backdrop to a new tale of textbook writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). Arriving in the Big Apple with a case full of contraband creatures, Redmayne captivates from the beginning as the shy and cheekily charming Brit. When his creatures escape and are blamed for some dark events in the capital, he teams up with a shamed NYC Auror, her mind-reading sister and a muggle baker to save the day. The plot benefits greatly from the lack of prior source material, as more time is allowed for character development and fun (in the last of the Potters you did get the sense that things were just being crammed in). It was lovely to see the daily life of witches and wizards explored in a little more detail - from magical strudel to the adorable Niffler. It's not without flaws. The 3D filming techniques make it quite dizzying in 2D, and things are constantly out of focus. There's a risk, too, that certain casting choices revealed at the end may have a negative impact on future tales. However, this is a small price to pay for the 2 hours of pure joy it will bring to many a potter fan, and I'm sure the world will eagerly await the next instalment.

Tastemaker

I was so excited to finally go, but to be honest I was a bit let down. I found it full of special effects but lacking in story content. I wanted more and it wasn't forthcoming. Well worth seeing and I can't wait for more!

Staff Writer

Okay, to be completely honest, this is two films stuck together to make one bitty whole. But I don't care. It was beautiful, it was fun, it was magical and I didn't want it to end. The beasts are gorgeous, the sets are amazing and the performances are in keeping with the rest of the franchise. I can't wait until the next film.


For anyone that is concerned about this ruining the Harry Potter franchise for them, fear not!! I was exactly the same. Being set in America separates this new JK Rowling series completely from what we already know and love of the wizarding world, and although there are loose connections, the characters are totally different and its set 70 years prior so there are only indirect mentions of Hogwarts etc. Don't underestimate JK Rowling!! Without giving too much away... Fantastic Beasts has so much imagination and power behind it and this opening movie is without a doubt the start of something truly magical! 

tastemaker

My Goodness!!! What a way to go! I mean ... I knew this would be good. From the cast ,director and storyline HOWEVER, nothing could've prepared me for this level of greatness ... The effects are fantastic and the storyline is terribly engaging !! Without giving much of it away ... I'd just say its a must watch!!!

tastemaker

Absolutely loved the darker side of the Harry Potter world with this sexy new spin –off.

The screenplay, written by J.K Rowling herself, takes us on a journey with Newt Scamander, the Author of Fantastic Beasts and where to find them, a devilishly ‘alive’ book that captures the imagination and causes trouble at Hogwarts.

Early 1920's and, Newt arrives at in New York with a bottomless suitcase full of illegal “livestock,” ranging from a mischievous Niffler (a naughty duck-billed marsupial with a nose for treasure) to a giant storm-causing Thunderbird, whose keeper intends to release it back into the wild somewhere far from people in Arizona. But the United States is notoriously intolerant when it comes to magic. (Remember the Salem witch trials?) As a precaution, all beasts have been outlawed by MACUSA, the Yankee equivalent of the Ministry of Magic, with stiff penalties for any who disobey... Newt, scatterbrained and clumsy but passionate about all magical beings mission is set....

Beautiful, powerful imagination and some eerily close to home history about apartheid, tolerance and cultures makes for an excellent watch.

Tastemaker

It had me at Alohomora! Funny, magical, entertaining, amazing performances (Eddie!) & visual effects, and a wizarding world story away from the UK! Loved the NY setting. These magical creatures are adorable, well, most of them! As a Harry Potter fan I had high expectations which were totally met. Definitely worth going to the cinema for this.

tastemaker

To be honest I had quite high expectations for this movie and I haven't been disappointed!!!

The Harry Potter atmosphere is there, Eddie Redmayne is as sweet and convincing as usually and the visual effects are absolutely amazing.

The whole "world" in the suit case is just mind blowing.

I don't want to say too much but I definitely recommend this movie (and I sincerely think JK Rowling is a genius...)

Tastemaker

Fantastic Beasts and where to find them is a good addition to the line of Harry Potter films.

It has a very strong cast and great special effects. The characters are well written and likeable. It has the added bonus of being a magical historical costume drama - set in 1920s New York City.

I particularly liked the supporting cast of characters. Kowalski and Queenie have a lovely interaction, Colin Farrell is smoothly unpleasant as Graves.

It had lots of wonderfully inventive ideas and many of the fantastic beast are really fantastic. If I were to pick a fault, it would be that some of the set pieces were too big and too monumental because they reminded you of what they were, tableaus to show off their, admittedly very good, special effects.

The 3D was the best I have seen, clever and subtle.

I would recommend going to see this in a big movie theatre and I will certainly be going to see the next one in this franchise.



Funny, great special effects, sustained my interest all the way through.

Good film for all family.


tastemaker

As a long-term Harry Potter fan, I was thrilled to know that there will be more J.K Rowling's creations to continue the journey of her wonderful wizarding world. However, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is everything I could expect from J.K. Rowling. Without the novel, the film itself has a weak storyline but a grand showcase of all the magical creature. It does live up to the title of the film, though. 


The scene was too perfect from my imagination. All the spells seem too strong and powerful compared to the magic of the Harry Potter series. I guess that means we grew from the Hogwarts School and enter the real life of adulthood in the wizarding world.


Having said that, I did not feel I have been let down by it but only letting me want to see more from J.K Rowling. I highly recommend watching this film, in a cinema with the larger screen, ideally an IMAX with 3D effect. You won't regret it. 

Tastemaker

A friend took me to a preview of this film in central London and I admit that I probably wouldn't have watched it myself had it not been for a freebie. I'm not a fan of Harry Potter movies but I am a fan of Eddie Redmayne so was looking forward to watching the film, it also looked pretty entertaining from the trailer. I was captivated throughout the whole film, it's really well made and even though I wasn't that familiar with JK Rowling's work it didn't make much difference when watching Fantastic Beasts. The cinematography and special effects throughout are amazing and I'd recommend anyone to watch it while it's still out at the cinema!

tastemaker

Just when you thought they'd taken the Harry Potter fantasy world as far as they could take it we get the delightful Fantastic Beasts which looks to become more than just a one-off film. The whole world inside Newt Scamander's briefcase is truly fantastic. Eddie Redmayne is delightful as the lead character - an endearing, nervous, dorky Hugh Grant-type character, an Englishman running amok in America with his crazy magical creatures.


Of course, if you're expecting something as gripping as the Harry Potter films then you'll probably be disappointed as it's not quite there. But take it on it's own accord and it's thoroughly enjoyable. There were a few fragmented pieces of storyline that didn't quite fit together and I assume are clumsily introducing future sequels but for what is essentially aimed at children it is really very enjoyable. 

Tastemaker

I'm a huge, sentimental Harry Potter fan. I was really, really looking forward to seeing Fantastic Beasts. But sadly I just didn't connect with the film. I was very tired but, if I am honest, I couldn't quite work out what was going on for a lot of it. I didn't particularly like the characters. I felt the direction was very grown up for what, I believe, is essentially a children's film. What I did love was the period detail and feel of the film.


I can't decide if I went with too high expectations or whether this might grow on me with a second watch (which with a family of Harry Potter fans) is inevitable or whether it just wasn't that good?



Tastemaker

Love it, love it, love it! Fantastically wonderful, this film perfectly hits the spot for your fantasy, period drama, comedy and romance hit all in one. As someone else has described, it's like a more grown up Harry Potter. Follow the journey of writer Newt Scamander (played by the brilliant Eddie Redmayne who was made for this role) as he enters 1920s New York with a case of curious creatures (My personal favourite is the kleptomaniac platypus, but there are some other corkers in there) and gets into some tricky situations with the the undercover magic circles of America. The supporting cast are equally fabulous, from Queenie and Tina to 'no mag' (muggle) Kowalski. A must watch!

tastemaker

My true nerd came out when I ventured to see Fantastic Beasts on a Saturday afternoon in Imax and 3D. There's no better description than to say that the film was magical. It was exciting to see adults at the centre of the Potter universe and I loved the 1920's New York setting. JK Rowling has done a splendid job in her first screenwriting venture and although the film did sometimes feel like it was a vehicle for the further four sequels planned, it was just an absolute joy to watch. I also loved JK's underlying themes of animal conservation and cooperation between races (magic or nomag, different nations). Eddie Redmayne was lovable and born to play Newt. Dan Fogler was endearing as the no mag Kowalski and Alison Sudol sparkled as Queenie and probably could have done with a bigger role. Definitely recommend for Potter fans and non-Potter fans alike!


It’s a rare occasion that I sit in the cinema after a film and consider waiting until the next showing starts to watch it all over again. I very almost did this at the weekend.  Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is a Harry Potter lovers dream.  The main plot line whilst a little confusing in parts is bolstered by Newt Scamander’s (Eddie Redmayne) briefcase of magical creatures ranging from the needy plant like stick insect to a cute little duck billed platypus niffler.  To top it all off, real fans can delight in their geekiness by recognising little hints of Harry Potter plot lines that only true fans will notice.  Go and see this film.

Tastemaker

First disclaimer is that I'm a geek and Harry Potter fan. 

Having said this is easily to say that I absolutely loved this film. Its magical, funny, romantic and action packed.


If you are not a HP fan you can still see this film as it doesn't link to the other stories directly. 

tastemaker

Fantastic Beasts is my great cinema surprise of the year!

Of course, it was one of the most awaited movies of 2016, and was signing the return of JK Rowling wizards world!


I like Harry Potter but I didn't want this spin off to be the same, I wanted a new and different immersion among the wizards world, with new surprises.


Fantastic Beasts is a totally new approach, with loads of humour I didn't find in Harry Potter.

This new saga promises to be different, but as great as the previous ones JK Rowling delighted us with!

Tastemaker

An American-style serving of Potter magic but with more grown-up edge! You’re instantly transported to 1920’s New York where the wizarding world is in hiding. That’s until Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) shows up with a briefcase full of fantastic beast causing chaos. These beasts provide light relief from the underlying political plot. Adults will be roaring with laughter at the Erumpent (a horny rhinoceros) while the kids will chuckle at Niffler (a platypus with serious attitude). With a love story thrown in for good measure, there really is something for everyone. A must-see for 2016!


If you're a Potter fan then you will absolutely love Fantastic Beasts. An incredible cast and production qualities at an all time high - it certainly filled the wizard world hole in my heart that's been present over the last few years. I loved exploring the magical community in a new country and era as well - the 1920's speak easy being a real highlight. My only qualm (and the loss of one star) would be the plot isn't as tight as you'd hope (I won't give specific examples as everyone hates a spoiler), but the story lacked some of the telling that the original Potter tales did so well, but then again.. that was a pretty highly set bar!