J.K. Rowling once again welcomes us into her magical wizarding world, however this time without the affable Harry Potter. In Potter’s stead we’re taken on a journey with the quirky introvert Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who Potter-aficionados may recognise as the author of a Hogwarts Textbook for first year students.
Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1926 New York when Newt arrives, under the blessing of professor Dumbledore, to research his future book. Things quickly get derailed however as the beasts within Newt’s magical briefcase escape into a city already being ravaged by an unknown threat.
With this film being the start of a new franchise, there is understandably a need to lay new foundations, ranging from the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) and the term no-maj (America’s term for muggles). Due to this fact the film feels like it is moving at break neck pace for the entirety of its over two hour run time.
By having Rowling pen the screenplay herself, Fantastic Beasts certainly captures the spirit of the Harry Potter universe, but perhaps an edit by an unbiased third party could have helped. Unfortunately they had the perfect ending in sight multiple times before increasingly sentimental and unnecessary scenes were tacked on.
The two somewhat compartmentalised plots of the escaped creatures and the dark threat upon New York converge awkwardly in the final act, which detracts slightly. Thankfully the beasts in the film fulfil the lofty claims of the title, I just wish we could spend more time in that briefcase.