Plot9Script7.5Directing8Acting8.5Effects9Humour8Reader Rating2 Votes8.35The Magic is Back!A standalone story independent of the Harry Potter franchiseGreat cast!Might actually be better than the Harry Potter moviesWith a Few Cracks...The shifts between the primary and secondary plots can be a little bit jarringI don't think the title is going to work for the sequelWe're not gonna see Emma Watson in this one 8.3Prequels and spin-offs are almost never good terms when used to describe upcoming blockbusters. Especially if the original franchise was something of an epic success. Between The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, we have been trained to prepare ourselves for the worst when it comes to Hollywood greed trying to make the most out of their tentpole features. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, however, is nothing like the others! Set in 1926, a good 54 years before a certain Boy Who Lived is born, and 65 years before his first time at (arguably) the best school of wizardry and witchcraft in the world, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is somewhat inspired by a fictional textbook in the Harry Potter universe and follows the adventures of its author, the famed Magizoologist, Newt Scamander. While the actual textbook (in the form of Harry Potter’s personal copy) was made available to the masses in 2001 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his enrolment at Hogwarts, not much information has been given about the fictional author outside of Pottermore. Which makes this movie all the more better ‘cause even the most diehard of Harry Potter fans can go in expecting nothing more than a great, fresh experience. While Rowling’s first attempt at a screenplay does show its greenness in occasional cracks (mostly when trying her best to integrate a B-plot that is incredibly significant), her use of humour as seen in the Harry Potter novels translates seamlessly to screen with fantastic timing and a cast of endearing characters. If anything, her mesh of humour and emotions here is the very thing that I felt Doctor Strange was lacking, and the difference is obvious given the substantial development that the supporting characters of Fantastic Beasts receive as opposed to the MCU’s latest instalment. Of course, a large part of why the screenplay works so well could also attributed to director David Yates’ involvement. No stranger to the Harry Potter universe, this is somewhat of a homecoming for Yates who also directed the last four Harry Potter movies (Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and both parts of Deathly Hallows). While I’m no fan of Order of the Phoenix (due to its rushed pace and butchered story), I do consider Half-Blood Prince one of, if not the best, film in the series. And with no book to compare Fantastic Beasts against (coupled with a script written by the creator of the universe herself), the movie is not only given space to stand out on its own merit, but also pleasantly reveal new information. And much like its predecessor, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits the jackpot with its casting. While Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston are pretty much actors with their mettle proven, the movie does the impossible by making Dan Fogler’s character not only tolerable, but so endearing that I completely forgot that this was the man who annoyed the crap out of the world in Balls of Fury. More impressively, the movie makes its way without once relying on the star power of Jon Voight and Colin Farrell, keeping them away from the spotlight almost completely. Also, yes, watch it in 3D. Totally worth it. Another factor that contributes to what makes the movie work is its understanding that different stories can occur within one universe without having to force in Legolas. Sorry, I’m still not over The Hobbit atrocity. And, oh, for those who may be wondering, just keep a lookout for Newt Scamander’s scarf to find out which House he belonged to when in Hogwarts. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out in all theatres now! The next page is a little spoiler-y, so I wouldn’t click on it if you haven’t already watched the movie… or don’t really give a damn about spoilers.