“Fantastic Beasts:” a heartfelt, exciting return to the “Harry Potter” world

Ian Lack Reporter

Editor’s Note: The grading system used here is similar to the 10-point scale used in SDSU courses.

GRADE: A- 

Magic folk and muggles alike should rejoice.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is an emotional, complex and, most importantly, magical tale with a surprisingly engaging plot and wonderful visuals.

“Fantastic Beasts” is possibly the most nostalgia-heavy film this year. 

The movie capitalizes on the success of the popular “Harry Potter” book series and film franchise that were at the forefront of pop culture in the early 2000s.

If all of the non-original films released in recent years were this good, I wouldn’t complain about the lack of ingenuity in Hollywood.

The story takes place in 1926 when a “magizoologist” by the name of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global study of magical creatures.

The Brit intends to write a textbook with the information gathered during his travels, which will become the same textbook used by Harry Potter decades later.

Scamander travels to New York City for one last magical errand when a No-Maj (the American name for Muggle), named Jacob (Dan Fogler), accidentally unleashes some of Scamander’s creatures on the city.

Tina (Katherine Waterson), a former officer for the Magical Congress of the United States, quickly pursues the case of the missing creatures.

However, it becomes quickly apparent that darker forces are at work when it’s revealed certain characters within the magical administration are misusing power to exploit others for their own gain.

When several No-Maj people are killed and Scamander, his creatures and new friends are blamed, the group is forced to confront the dark side of their secret magical world and the prejudice surrounding them.

While many of the lead actors are still unknown to most audiences, they do a great job of coming into their own as these characters.

“Harry Potter” writer and creator J.K. Rowling does an excellent job as screenwriter for this film, weaving in the same wonder, surprise and danger we’ve come to expect from the franchise. 

Director David Yates, who directed four of the original films, returned to direct “Fantastic Beasts” and did an excellent job selling the idea of magic in North America. 

Yates has successfully created the first “Harry Potter” film that exists without “the boy who lived.”

I had a chance to see the film in 3-D and I must say the film makes excellent use of the technology, pushing the film’s fantastically-designed creatures toward the audience throughout the film.

But, above all, one of the most memorable things about this film is its warmth.

Something about sitting in the theater made me wish I was in front of a fireplace with a hot cup of apple cider — I was grateful to leave the cinema to discover snowfall outside.

“Fantastic Beasts” is the perfect film to see with family during the holiday season.

Ian Lack is an advertising major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]