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Recommended age 12-18
133 minutes
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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM cover image Click to play video trailer
It has been fifteen years since Harry Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone was released. Now, 15 years later, we have a film explaining so many parts of the Harry Potter's universe that will be loved by everyone who sees it.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an extraordinary adventure. There are dozens of elements that help make this story so exciting. In some scenes, there are romantic elements between characters and fantastic comedy that will make anyone laugh. To make even picky viewers sit on the edge of their seat, the movie also offers spectacular action scenes.

The story starts when Newt (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoolagist (study of magical creatures), goes to New York looking for a rare animal breeder. While there he accidentally gets all his magical creatures taken by a No-Maj/Muggle (non-magical person). It is now up to him and some new friends to get the creatures back. As they collect his creatures, they discover there is a grave danger to New York City that could threaten the existence of magical world.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is slightly different than the previous Harry Potter movies, although it takes place in the same universe. The story is much more complex than the previous movies. While the previous films all had individual stories, they also continued a continued plot about Harry Potter. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does not have that and instead begins and wraps up the plot in one movie. Since there are so many elements to the plot, things get slightly confusing. At the end, they reveal the bad guy. The problem is, we don't really know he's the bad guy. They don't show at the beginning or throughout the film who the bad guy is and exactly what the he did. Throughout the story you are introduced to several antagonists and it feels like it is up to you to figure out who is the actual villain. The person at the end of the movie seems completely random. Although you can figure out, it is some evil villain based on how the characters are talking and you have no idea who the character is. If you watched the film two or three times, you might easily understand the story and, most likely, enjoy it much more. But, when you watch it one time, you might feel slightly confused and not completely understand what happened.

A big perk about this film is the acting. Eddie Redmayne plays the main character and he is marvelous as Newt. Newt is a very quiet and an enthusiastic genius, which Eddie Redmayne excels at portraying, as always. The whole cast excels in their rolls, even if those with only five minutes of screen time. Something else I love about this film are the costume and set designs. The movie takes place in the 1920s and it truly looks like that time period from the police uniforms, to business men and even the children. Just like in the previous Harry Potter films, the cinematography and special effects are spectacular. There is a huge aerial shot of some sort of giant magical creature that looks so realistic it makes you feel you are in 1920s New York City along with the main characters. One more thing that could have been better is the sound. The sounds of monsters and creatures are spectacular and beautiful to listen to, but the actors' dialogue is hard to hear at times. The actors often give very important information about the plot, but you can't hear it because it is muffled by other sounds.

My favorite scene is when we look inside the suitcase Newt brings with him. Just like many other things in this Harry Potter world, it is much bigger inside then it seems. Inside his suitcase "world" he has dozens of different magical creatures that he nurtures including some that are the last of their kind. His goal in his career is to write a book about magical creatures and the good things about them, since every other magical creature book discussing them focuses on how to defend yourself. That suitcase is his "workshop" of where he learns everything.

There are some scenes that are either too dramatic, too intense or too violent for younger kids and so, I recommend it for ages 10 to 18. I give it 4 out of 5 stars because, despite having some issues with sound and storyline, the phenomenal acting, beautiful cinematography and unique visual effects make this film a very enjoyable one. On top of that, if you have never watched a Harry Potter film, or never read the books, you can still easily enjoy the story and understand the terminology.

Reviewed by Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a magical film that expands the Harry Potter universe and hands down the mantle to a new set of fun, endearing characters. I never took my eyes off the screen because of the twists and turns and its spellbinding special effects.

This film follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a young wizard who arrives in New York with a briefcase full of magical creatures. When his beasts are let loose throughout the city, Newt must gather them up and stop them from causing mayhem. He enlists the help of a baker named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and two sisters, Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol). When New York's wizard congress accuses Newt of being involved in the death of a politician, he must save his friends, prove his innocence and stop the magical threat facing New York.

My favorite part of this film is when Newt and Kowalski are trying to find a missing beast that has escaped to the city zoo. Newt starts making mating calls to get the creature back under control. Seeing Eddie Redmayne jump around and make weird noises is hilarious and fun to watch. My favorite character is Kowalski. Dan Fogler steals the show with his sense of humor and wonder.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them works as an introduction to the Wizarding world for people who aren't familiar with it and as a tour of the fictional magic landscape in New York for people who are. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, makes a successful transition to screenwriter. This is her screenwriting debut. She crafts an entertaining and detailed story out of a book she wrote that was supposed to be a textbook at Hogwarts where Harry Potter studied wizardry. Rowling treats the new cast of characters with the same respect she gave to Harry and his friends but Rowling makes a bold move in giving this film a darker tone.

I recommend this film to ages 12 to 18 because it is much darker than some of the Harry Potter films and has some adult themes and scary scenes involving magic. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars. This is another compelling movie in the Harry Potter franchise that is definitely worth seeing. It is in theaters now so, go check it out.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

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The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
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