Last Friday the Harry Potter movie that nobody asked for came out in cinemas nationwide. The film has drawn a lot of favourable reviews, mostly due to the performance of Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. Already far more successful than the summer flop of The Cursed Child, this movie seems to be turning the world of substandard spinoffs on its head, with some people claiming that it is ‘better than Potter’. Heresy.
Starting with a popular time period, the New York jazz age is viewed through what The Guardian calls ‘a Hogwarts lens’. This is a far cry from the early 90s setting of the Harry Potter franchise, and potentially what the film needed to free itself from the iconic series. While there are those that will feel that the Harry Potter universe should always have centred itself around the familiarity of Britain, the American setting allows for overt digs about modern political conditions. This film seeks to dodge the many potholes that The Hobbit prequels fell into, endeavouring to focus on its own story rather than referencing the series that has gone before it. Already a commercial success, the true test of this film is whether or not the screenplay written by J.K. Rowling can stand up to expectations.
Some people would argue that Harry Potter has gone on too long and is now tugging at our nostalgia to extract even more money from our wallets. Indeed the franchise has become somewhat bloated, with Bertie Botts flavoured jelly beans being pushed onto parents at the Harry Potter Wizarding World, and overpriced Gryffindor memorabilia being shoved at children in Hot Topic. But this explosion of merchandise is due to its popularity. Rest assured that if you actually sat through the exceedingly tedious seventh and eighth movies, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them will come as a pleasant surprise.
If you balk at the idea of Harry Potter series without the famous trio, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will not be one for you. There is also a certain amount of commitment required, as plans are already in progress for five more films surrounding the adventures of Newt Scamander. Controversially Johnny Depp has been cast to play the dark wizard of the series (no spoilers for those who haven’t made it to cinema yet), shaking off the allegations of domestic violence quicker than Chris Brown.
However, despite the cynicism surrounding the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them recently scored a solid 8/10 on IMDB’s latest reviews. Furthermore, the cast, not only spearheaded by Eddie Redmayne is comprised of Katherine Waterston as the extravagantly named Porpentina Goldstein, and also includes stars such as Colin Farrell as Percival Graves and Ezra Miller as Credence. If the trailer of this film is anything to go by, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them promises a rollicking adventure in its two hours and thirteen minutes of run time.