The setting for Fantastic Beasts takes us to a different time period right away. Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables), precedes Harry Potter's childhood by about 70 years. The audience is not isolated to the small world of the original films. This is a larger scope of worldly magic, opening the mystic universe to our muggle eyes. The original films never grew stale, but it is nice to move away from that world to explore new wizards and witches. Newt, Kowalski, Tina, and Mary Lou are fun characters to spectate as their lives get flipped upside-down when they collide with each other. Dan Fogler's (Kung Fu Panda, Balls of Fury) safe portrayal of Kowalski is an especially nice mix with Scamander's exploratory attitude.
The writing is familiar, which it should be considering it was done by J.K. Rowling. It appears that this is her world, and she wants to keep it that way. Another familiar face returns to the directing chair to helm the film. David Yates, the director of four other Harry Potter films, brings back the charm and dark reality of the character worlds. When Yates took over in the original films, there was a turn towards a darker story, where Voldemort became more prevalent. Yates perfected this tone and will likely do the same with Fantastic Beasts. For now, IMDB claims that Yates is set to direct all five of the Fantastic Beasts films. While I am not in any way opposed to this idea, we will see if he actually stays on board for all five films.
A lot of my praise for Fantastic Beasts is due to how relatable it is with the original films. The new aspects are mostly praise-worthy as well. The story is decent, the creatures look good, and the new cast is nice to see. My main complaint with the film comes at the very end. As with all Harry Potter films, there is a twist at the end. The twist is not terrible, but I worry about one of the casting choices revealed at the end. I will not spoil who pops up, but if you have seen the film you know who I am talking about. To me, this actor is not a great fit for the new role. However, we will see what happens when he is give the chance to truly act the part. Aside from this, I highly anticipate the next installment. I especially am excited to hear that Jude Law will be joining the franchise as young Dumbledore. I think he will fill those shoes very well!
The Bottom Line: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes an original storyline and places it in the wizarding world that younger audiences were so fond of a few years back.