I absolutely loved the Harry Potter franchise so I was expectedly excited for Fantastic beasts and Where to Find Them. None of the trailers particularly impressed me, but I hoped it would be on-par with the rest of the films set in the Wizarding world. Unfortunately, this film is not fantastic but it still remains a perfectly fine film.
Yesterday, a wizard entered New York with a case
I was worried that this film will rely too much on the past Potter films and be too much of a setup film. Much to my surprise this film felt much more self-contained. There are a few winks and nods to the Potter films of old, but nothing that ever took me out of the current experience. As far as it being a setup film, there is certainly some setup but it also works as its’ own singular film. Eddie Redmayne is the headliner here and he does a, dare I say, fantastic job.
I thoroughly enjoyed his character because he felt like a healthy blend of Neville, Luna, and Harry. He is very quirky but also relatable and charming. Redmayne’s acting certainly elevates the character, but he remains a strong character. I especially love how he does not have a gift at casting spells, but he simply loves magical creatures and will do anything and everything to help them. The rest of the characters are interesting but not enough time is spent to care much about them. I felt like I only connected with Newt which is a little bit of a problem when the film springs a new team on you and wants you to care about them like they are Harry, Ron, and Hermione. From start to finish the film is very entertaining. There is not a lot of action per-se, but there is plenty of excitement to behold. The wizarding world in America is different than what we are used to, but it is no less interesting. The film does a good job of exploring the differences and generates enough wonder that makes me hope they will revisit the American Wizarding Community in future installments.
Was that everything that came out of the case?
This film is written by J.K Rowling herself and ironically enough the writing is the weakest part of the film. Some of the dialogue is pretty bad. The storyline is clunky and I never felt a sense of urgency. The basic plot is pretty much what the trailers have shown: Fantastic creatures have escaped, time to find them. It would be more impactful if the surrounding characters were more fleshed out, but alas that is not the case.
There is a secondary plot that merges into the main plot but all that serves is a setup for future films. The two plotlines merge fairly well, but neither managed to engage me as much as the plots from the original Potter films. There is considerably a lot more CGI in this film and for the most part it is pretty good. There are several scenes where the CGI is a bit spotty but overall I was impressed. Among the mixed writing there are some great scenes sprinkled in. When these scenes hit I remember what a great writer J.K Rowling can be, but I just wish it was more consistent throughout the film. If there are indeed going to be 4 or 5 more films, I hope they raise the stakes and devote some time to the supporting characters because I am sold on Newt. He is a compelling protagonist, now I need to care about his “friends”.
This film is disappointing but it is not bad. Through all of its flaws there is still plenty of magic to behold. I am not particularly excited for the upcoming installments, but I hope J.K Rowling and company realize their missteps and improve them in the future.