Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Reviewed
Fantastic Beasts takes place many years before Harry Potter was even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes. Come to think of it, his parents aren’t even alive yet. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is traveling from England to New York City with a suitcase full of magical creatures. Of course nothing goes smoothly and with the help of a No-Maj (American for muggle) named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Newt needs to find his escaped beasts before they do irreparable harm.
Fantastic Beasts is by no means a Harry Potter movie; it’s more a spinoff. There’s a different power structure at play in America, with new bureaucratic obstacles. Newt is also no Chosen One; he’s shy around people, and doesn’t have many friends. But the strokes of the movie feel familiar enough—there are still wands, spells, and the same David Yates look and feel Harry Potter fans have come to know.
Still, Redmayne is at his best here when he’s more subdued with a select few flourishes. When he plays it straight he allows the other characters to shine.
Fantastic Beasts has a great cast, including Colin Farrell, Ron Pearlman, Jon Voight, and Katherine Watterson as a magical government official named Tina who I spent the entire movie convinced was Brie Larson. The movie also includes a creepy performance from Ezra Miller, who is perhaps a bit type-cast, but nails what they asked him to do. My favorite character, though, is the previously mentioned Kowalski, who serves as both the comic relief and our No-Maj guide, asking all the questions the audience may have.
The movie drags a bit in the second act as our heroes navigate one of many subplots. It’s actually kind of incredible that the movie feels overstuffed, considering the series is set to expand from a trilogy to a five-movie series. Luckily there's no, ‘to be continued’ at the end, no cliffhanger; the movie stands on its own and feels like a complete story even though there are hints of what may come in the future.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them suffers a bit from trying to set up too much story, a sin super fans will forgive as a result of the depth J.K. Rowling always creates in her worlds. The casual fan who has only seen each movie once will find enough in the story and production to enjoy the movie as well. In comparison to the other Harry Potter movies I think Fantastic Beasts is above average. Luckily with four more movies to go there will be a lot of room for improvement. B