Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them                               review by Bobby Blakey

There are few franchises that have had the staying power as that of Harry Potter. When the hit book series was brought to life with the first film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001 it instantly became a worldwide phenomenon. While not all the films hit it out of the park, there is no denying that they managed to dominate the box office through seven sequels leading to a universal sadness as the series finally came to an end. Fans can now rejoice as they are given a chance to return to the wizarding world in a whole new way with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but does it offer up more of the same magic as the original series or will it be a spell not worth casting?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them follows Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in 1926 New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident...were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds. Director of the last four of the Potter films David Yates returns to the director’s chair to lead the charge along with J.K. Rowling herself providing this all–new tale. I was on the fence on the idea of this getting made, but5 with a great cast including Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterson, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman, and Jon Voight involved with Yates and Rowling I had high hopes. While I enjoyed all of the Potter films, I admittedly felt they were never all that strong passed the Prisoner of Azkaban. Going in to this one I kept an open mind in hopes of something that could rekindle the fun of this franchise and I was not disappointed.

This new adventure looks and feels firmly planted in the world of Harry Potter so you never feel like this film is out of place, but taking the journey to America gave it an all new feel and peek inside a new area of the world of magic. The cast are all great with Redmayne delivering an excellent performance bringing an awkward innocence to Newt without making him feel like he doesn’t know what he is doing. It you really notice his mannerisms are clearly that of someone who only deals with animals and rarely people which is a brilliant characteristic. Fogler steps in as somewhat of the straight man and comedy relief providing the perfect counter balance with Redmayne’s Scamander. I am a huge fan of Colin Farrell and seeing him injected into this world sold me on the film right off the bat, but his role here is tailor made for him. He brings a dark swagger to the character that you are never quite sure what he is up to that ends with a pretty awesome twist that shows that this series is all in right away.

Every member of the rest of the cast will cast a spell on the audience, but it is the effects and new worlds that have to work to really sell this film and to no surprise nails it. There are no shortages of the beasts for the film to live up to its title and the sheer creativeness of them alone is a visual treat to watch. The Potter franchise always delivered some great visuals in both the big set pieces and small details and here is no different. It’s those little things that may not be all that important to the story that really makes you believe in this world complete with gangsters wearing wands like a gun in a shoulder holster that was awesome. While this first entry into the next chapter in the wizarding world offers up a lot of set up it showcases plenty of depth and action to keep fans satisfied and ready for more.

I have to admit that I loved this movie way more than any of the Harry Potter films. It could have been the cast or the bigger nature of it all, but there is just something truly magical about this new story and I for one cannot wait for the next installment. If  you haven’t already heard they have announced four more films in the series and if they remain as good as this one then I am all in especially with the cool twist ending. On the flip side I love that they also kind of ended this story for the most part without making it a full cliffhanger like they did early in the Potter films. If you are a fan of other Potter series then you will no doubt be gladly transported back into this world and feel the magic all over again.  

This release not only includes the film, but a magical collection of bonus features including deleted scenes and featurettes that take you further into this latest wizarding world like never before. Join Newt Scamander on his adventure when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them available now on Digital HD and then hits Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on March 28 or Own It Early on Digital HD now!

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