4 years since we departed J.K Rowling's iconic Harry Potter franchise and all the beloved magic and fun, and we're finally making our return to the iconic Wizarding World in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Set in 1926, magizoologist and aspiring author Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York with only a briefcase full of all sorts of cool, rare and magical creatures - the titular 'fantastic beasts'. However, when he bumps into no-maj (the new term for muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and their cases are swapped, the creatures are set loose in the city. Alongside Kowalski, and Porepentina 'Tina' Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Newt must track down and recapture these creatures before they cause too much chaos. All the while, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), of the Magical Congress of the United States of America, also seeks to put an end to Newt's mayhem.
David Yates - who previously helmed 4 of the 8 Harry Potter films - directs this film, off of an original screenplay penned by Potter author J.K Rowling, and the pair could not be a more perfect match. Fantastic Beasts is an uproaring delight and, as the title suggest, is a fantastic film. Yates manages to recapture the magical and wondrous feel and tone of the original Harry Potter films, whilst managing to keep this new and never retread old material. This is also largely thanks to a brilliantly original script from Rowling; this is a completely new story so there's never a sense of deja-vu or rehash but rather just an expansion of the lore and the universe of the Wizarding World. Yates' direction is impressive and he feels right at home, back in this world. The action is helmed beautifully and it's a truly gorgeous looking film too, with beautiful cinematography and stunning CG - really feeling like a period piece, and as if it these characters all belong in the 1920's. It's also a much darker film than the Harry Potter ones, with much more grit and intensity here - Rowling understands the fans of the novels have grown up and she tailors this accordingly, to give a more mature instalment in the larger HP mythos.

One of the best things about the original franchise was its likeable and memorable characters and they're certainly in abundance here. Like the beloved trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione, we now have Newt, Tina and Jacob here - all 3 who are so charismatic and instantly likeable, you can't help but find yourself rooting for them. Fogler's Jacob, in particular, is the standout  - representing the viewer, asking the questions, so in awe of all the magic and providing all the comedic relief too; he adds a lot of levity to the proceedings. The acting is all great too, from a brilliant Redmayne to a delightful Waterston to a menacing Farrell and even Ezra Miller shines, adding a lot of the emotion and the drama the film's story. The chemistry between this cast is incredible and our lead trio especially all work so brilliantly with one another, with such a great dynamic and believable friendship, grounding their characters further.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them may be not only one of the best prequels of the year but one of the best prequels ever ((when are prequels ever good, though, let's be honest). It has all the ingredients for success and it dishes out something pretty delicious too. This is a dark, magical and thoroughly enjoyable new instalment into the Wizarding World canon. It's not flawless and the CG seems a little incomplete here and there and the middle act definitely struggles with some pacing issues but that doesn't take away the fact that this is a truly incredible and wondrous film. The Wizarding World is back and better than ever! I'm excited to see more.

VERDICT:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is one of the best prequels ever. Our return to the Wizarding World is everything you want it to be: dark, magical and absolutely tons of fun. It's as good as most of the Harry Potter films.




About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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