The second part of the film’s title cannot be answered in a more succinct manner: only in the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling. After a stupendous 8 films in 11 years (2001-2011), Joanne Rowling decided — for the first time ever — to pen the screenplay for this prequel to the highly successful Harry Potter franchise.
Set in 1926 in New York (but shot in the UK — almost entirely in Liverpool) FB is adapted from a little-known book the famed author had written way back in 2001. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a reticent zoologist and a Ministry of Magic employee who is in New York researching outlandish creatures. An accidental exchange of suitcases with baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Folger) leads to Scamander’s exotic creatures escaping from his baggage. Director David Yates, who’s helmed the last four Harry Potter films too, invests the first of the FB films (four more are slated to follow) with a few colourful — and credible — characters and creatures. We have Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) an ex Security-in-charge of MACUSA (Magical Congress of USA) and sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), besides the No-Maj (belonging to the non-magic people) Kowalski.
While this film suffers from the Harry Potter hangover, the plot and the technical aspects are decent enough. We have dragons, horny rhino-like creatures, lock-picking grasshoppers and the most winsome of all — Nippler, resembling a platypus/ aardvark. In the absence of Daniel Radcliffe, Eddie Redmayne, who had excelled himself in ‘The Theory of Everything’ and more recently, in ‘The Danish Girl’, stays true to form, though his expressions oscillate strictly between looking daft and introverted. Dan Folger provides comic relief along with Nipper the platypus.
Though the film abounds in grandeur, it lacks the cohesiveness of the ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ films — path-breakers of the fantasy genre.