The Harry Potter books and the film series, were both juggernauts in the late 1990s and for the majority of the 00s, with most children aware of them and few able to avoid them. Needless to say when the eighth film was released in 2011, the film franchise had spanned 10 years and was the highest grossing of all time. At this point I thought JK Rowling was done with the Potter universe so it came as a surprise when she announced a new film series partially based off a Hogwarts textbook and its author Newt Scamander.
The resulting film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them, is the first in a five film franchise. I personally feel it is a great achievement; it evokes much of the Potter spirit, whilst standing on its own two feet with only fleeting nods to the previous films.
The film is great fun, it had a lot more humour than the Harry Potter movies, especially with the sequences containing the titular creatures who are, for the most part, wonderful additions to the creatures we met during our time at Hogwarts. The film was also dark in places, focusing on the wizard Grindelwald and a mysterious force stalking the city. However, I felt this element was shoehorned a bit to pad the film out and perhaps as a result the film was 10-15 minutes too long, however this will presumably benefit the sequels in setting the scene well.
Nevertheless, the cast were great; Eddie Redmayne is sure to be a fan favourite whilst Dan Fogler as Jacob provided a lot of laughs and Colin Farrell was suitably menacing as the mysterious Mr Graves. James Newton Howard’s score was also impressive containing elements of the Potter themes whilst incorporating new elements and making it jazzier to fit the time period.
JK Rowling has set things up well for the four sequels, the first of which is confirmed to be set in Paris. The indication is that the new series will be a tour of the wizarding world; a film set in 1930s Berlin has also been hinted at. If this first film is anything to go by, the next four should be great fun, if one or two films too many.