h1

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016)

November 28, 2016

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell
Director: David Yates (Harry Potter 5-8, Legend Of Tarzan)

Bottom Line: I thought this Harry Potter spin off film from author J.K. Rowling was… okay. This story takes place seventy years before Harry Potter’s and finds noted wizard author Newt Scamander (Redmayne) and his suitcase of mysterious creatures setting foot on American soil for the first time. There was a huge difference between this story and the one we all know and love – and perhaps this will change as they unveil sequel after sequel – but the characters in Fantastic Beasts aren’t half as memorable as the ones in Harry Potter. Newt is charming and whimsical and the NoMaj/Muggle he befriends, Jacob Kowalski (Fogler), is the heart and soul of the entire film. There’s also Alison Sudo’s Queenie, who seems like she could be Luna Lovegood’s grandmother. The rest of the characters are totally forgettable. There’s no Voldemort here. Not even a Professor Quirrell. I’m not even sure I really understood what the big threat was.

You’d think the American version of the wizarding world might offer up some interesting comparing and contrasting, but the big difference pretty much comes down to calling nonmagical people “NoMaj” instead of “Muggles.” That’s about it. Also, I found it interesting how racially diverse the magical community is in 1920s America. Apparently the wizarding world is about 160 years ahead of its NoMaj contemporaries – not only are minorities integrated, they can be President. I would have liked to see how a witch of such prominence interacted with NoMaj under the guise of her perceived social standing: a segregated black woman. Alas, we don’t get such a sequence despite the fact that prejudice (think “mudbloods”) plays such a huge role in Voldemort’s rise to prominence decades later.

I don’t want to give off the perception that I thought Fantastic Beasts was all bad; in fact, I found it enjoyable. You just can’t help but compare it to the quality of the franchise that spawned it. The creatures in the film are great and unique. It seems as though Rowling spent all her time thinking up fantastic beasts instead of developing interesting characters! The best parts of the film all feature Newt interacting or chasing the creatures in his suitcase.

I think fans of the Harry Potter series mostly won’t be disappointed with Fantastic Beasts, but I felt like it paled in comparison. It’s definitely not as kid friendly as its predecessor – if I was wondering what the heck was going on with the bad guys, there’s no way young kids are going to be able to follow it. Fantastic Beasts was enjoyable, but far from great. There could be hope on the horizon as the first Harry Potter was the worst one in the series, in my opinion. Still, I’d rather see the filmmakers adapt Harry Potter & The Cursed Child than make four more Fantastic Beasts movies.

Replay Value: Not itching to see it again.
Sequel Potential: Four sequels are announced, first one is in development already.
Oscar Potential: The last three Harry Potter movies were nominated for six Oscars total – mostly for Visual Effects, which would be this film’s most likely nomination.

Grade: 5.5/10 (Watchable/Recommended)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: