“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” takes place in New York in 1926, about 60 years before Harry Potter was born. This is a time when the American wizarding government, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) is more cautious than ever about wizard/No-Maj relations (pro tip: American muggles are called “No-Majs”). As a result, the breeding, raising, selling, and keeping of magical creatures, among other things, is banned as a potential breach of the Statute of Secrecy, the law that mandates the separation of the magical and non-magical community.
During this time, conflicts between wizards and No-Majs has reached a high, mainly due to the “Second Salemers,” a group of No-Majs who suspect the existence of witches and try to start a “Second Salem” to hunt down and kill witches.
Our hero, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), arrives in New York in a dangerous time, armed with only his wand and a mysterious suitcase full of magical creatures. He intends to make only a quick stop, but unforeseen complications (such as a niffler getting loose in a bank, a No-Maj running away with the suitcase, and quite a few creatures escaping) arise that force him to stay much longer than he intended in order to track down his creatures. Along the way he meets former Auror Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), who tries to arrest Newt at first, but ends up helping him later. He also meets Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a lovable No-Maj, under some tumultuous circumstances, and later Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol, a.k.a Fine Frenzy), Tina’s sister and an experienced Legilimens (that means she can read minds).
I was waiting for this for so long, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The characters, the beasts, and even the sets were captivating and had a curious aura. However, I feel the plot was a tad drawn out, as the movie was over two hours long. This doesn’t do much to take away from the suspense though, as the fast pace at which the movie moves definitely keeps the audience interested.
The special effects were amazing; the acting, incredible. Dan Fogler was perfect as Jacob Kowalski, and Ezra Miller nails the complex and tormented inner character of Credence Barebone.
Also, some things that are explained for, say, five seconds in the movie may actually need a slightly longer explanation for some people, so non-Potterheads may want to look over their copy of the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” textbook.