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Eddie Redmayne Makes Believers in Fantastical World of ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Eddie Redmayne captures the magic of J.R. Rowling's latest work to hit the big screen, 'Fantastic Beasts.' (Photo: Studio)

Eddie Redmayne captures the magic of J.R. Rowling’s latest work to hit the big screen, ‘Fantastic Beasts.’ (Photo: Studio)

Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston, daughter of “Law & Order’s” Sam Waterston, turn in two extraordinary acting performances in “Fantastic Beasts,” a movie that captures the spirit and the adventure of the entire Harry Potter, J. R. Rowling saga.

Redmayne is just terrific. His almost outworldy look and attitude makes him the perfect actor Rowling’s world.

The fact that he can adapt to a role such as this, not to mention every other role he has undertaken, is nothing short of brilliant.

Colin Farrell, as Percival Graves (where does she get these names?) is perfect as well.

Farrell has aged thanks to a somewhat chaotic lifestyle, but he delivers an intensity here that is perfect.

Tony award winner Dan Fogler, as No-Maj Jacob Kowalski, is spot-on as the befuddled baker who comes into contact with Scamander’s world.

At first you wonder why the character is even there.

But by the end, he has formed a bond with the entire out-worldly cast. His character is essentially us. At first, he’s in total disbelief (like us) at what he has come upon; by the end he is their strongest ally.

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Also on board is Ezra Miller (“Credence”) another foe to vanish. The illuminating Samantha Morton plays Mary Lou Barebobne, who is irresistibly drawn to Fogler.

It all comes together in a finale laced with superlative special effects.

Yet with all the magic and visuals, the human element resonates most strongly, as it did in the Potter series.

The entire Harry Potter saga is just an amazing one. A down-on-her-luck novelist writes one last novel; it literally explodes. Warner Brothers buys the film rights and a No 1 franchise is born.

If nothing else, Rowling’s tale gave hope to many scribes wanting and waiting to hit the big one.

I started reading the first few books (there were seven) and for some reason, couldn’t get into the marvelous world Rowling had created, and believe me, she created a world from top to bottom.

I also saw the first movies and though impressed, still had trouble with the mythology.

The first several had different directors, and hence, didn’t look all that similar, but they latched onto the terrifically talented David Yates, who directed last four, and the movies seemingly came together in a very real way.

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This new work, a prequel, so to speak, introduces Redmayne as a Magizoologist (see, I told you!) Newt Scamander, who arrives in New York City tasked with researching and rescuing new magical creatures.

Don’t fret, he arrives with several himself in a deceptively nondescript leather case.

Of course, there are the usual warring factions, trying to keep their secrets as safe as possible, while a new law prohibiting all magical beasts is about to come into play.

Rowling has created her own world, with references aplenty of the Harry Potter years to come. As a casual fan of the series, I had to wince every once in a while with the wonderful machinations of the plot.

In some cases, they came so fast, it was hard to keep up. Surely, this film (and, the ones that will follow) are made distinctly for their hard-core following.

I’m not saying a new viewer can’t follow it, but it definitely helps to read the Cliff Notes on this one. Still, this will be one of the big ones this season for sure.

The movie opens Friday (Nov. 18).

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