Is Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Ok For Kids?
Set in 1920s NY, in a completely different time and place from the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts follows magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he attempts to collect his escaped beasts from the streets of NY while a much darker threat looms in the form of Gellert Grindelwald, a wizard bent on spurring a war between muggles and magic-folk in order to finally put witches and wizards on the top of the food chain. Reportedly Rowling and Co. are signed up for four sequels.
What lets Fantastic Beasts down is the narrative, or lack of.
The film - which is set in 1926 - sees Newt stop in NY after a successful mission to hunt down magical creatures. If you're already seen it and crave more, the publishing industry has you covered. But the film is fine enough to make you forgive, if not forget, the fact that it exists primarily as a corporate enterprise and not as an imaginative tour de force. So if you're looking for an in-depth Potterphile analysis of J.K. Rowling's extension of the "Harry Potter" universe, this isn't going to be that. She could have written another story for children but I appreciate that she expanded the Wizarding World a bit and gave us the perspective of adults stuck in its sometimes rigid systems. The pieces of the film involving Scamander's suitcase and the beasts inside it go a long way towards capturing the magic of the, uh, magic that helped get Harry Potter so many fans in the first place.
The plot reaches much further than that short description, roping in evil magic, abusive parents, Wizarding World politics and a pair of love stories that are very well done. Take away the relationship to the Harry Potter franchise and I'm afraid Fantastic Beasts would be fighting an uphill battle.
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