"Explore a new era of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world", which is the premise of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This fantasy film directed by David Yates and written by J. K. Rowling, inspired by her book of the same name. It is spin-off of the Harry Potter film series. The film explores the adventure of Magizoologist Newt Scamander in 1920's New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Fifteen years after The Sorcerer's Stone (2001), and 5 years after The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011), fans of the wizarding world had been wondering hoping about a possible continuation of the series. Their answers prayers were finally answered in September 2013, when J. K. Rowling announced that she would be making her screenwriting debut with an adaption of fictious textbook of the same name. The textbook itself is mentioned as a school textbook throughout the series, although Scamander himself does not appear in any of the books. The book was first published in 1927 and became a massive bestseller, as well as an approved textbook at Hogwarts. By the mid-1990s, when the Harry Potter series is set, it was in its 52nd edition. In 2001 Rowling published the textbook to raise money for the British charity Comic Relief. Over 80% of the cover price of each book sold went directly to poor children in various places around the world. The book is a directory of magical creatures written with an introduction by its author Newt Scamander; it does not contain a storyline narrative. Veteran Harry Potter producer and writer David Heyman and Steve Kloves, were confirmed to return to the franchise. In addition, veteran Harry Potter director, David Yates, returned to the world that made his career after previous Harry Potter helmer Alfonso Cuarón turned it down. In June 2015, Eddie Redmayne was cast as Scamander. According to Rowling, Redmayne was the first and only choice for the lead role. Redmayne didn't have to audition and he was part of the other casting decisions. In August 2015, principal photography began, with locations that included Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden and Liverpool. Principal photography concluded in January 2016.
The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander with Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogoand Colin Farrell in supporting roles. Despite being not as stellar as the cast in the Harry Potter films, the cast gave solid enough performances that made them come close.
Deviating from its source material is both the movie's strength and weakness. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them unfolds quite differently than what one might expect, so there was plenty of room for surprises or discoveries. For Potter fans, what more can you ask for? Though the film's final act and overlong running time may not be the most magical, the film will definitely enchant even the most cynical of movie goers. For me it's a nice supplement to a book series that I admire.
See my review for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at http://ss-film.blogspot.ca/2011/07/film-review-harry-potter-and-deathly.html