Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them review
“Where’s my letter for Hogwarts!” I kept thinking to myself as I sat in my seventh grade science class as I wished more interesting things were being taught. Like most twenty-somethings growing up in the early twenty-first century, I became a part of the Harry Potter phenomenon having read the books, bought a bunch of merchandise, and of course, saw the movies. Harry Potter has the distension of where I consider all the movies good. With the exception of maybe Star Wars (if you don’t count the prequels) or Lord of the Rings (if you don’t count the prequels), have you heard of another franchise where the entire series has been consistently good?
When I left the theater after watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2, I thought we were done with that whole world of wizards and witches. But in that short time, the Hollywood industry has made a big change where franchises can build on it’s universe with new characters and different environments. If Disney can do so with their Marvel and new lineup of Star Wars movies, then Harry Potter can do the same thing. Let’s see if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them can continue to bring magic to the wizarding world.
In 1926, wizard zoologist Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) has arrived in New York to study the animals in America. While walking through the streets, a money-stealing creature escapes his suitcase with Newt trying to catch him. He eventually does, but accidentally doing in front of a muggle (or no-maj as their called in the States. The muggle who escapes before his memory can be erased is Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Folger), a WWI vet who is trying to open a bakery. Newt is captured by Tina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston) who reveals herself as an auror who works for the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA).
He taken to MACUSA’s offices where fellow auror Percival Graves (played by Colin Farrell) examines Newt’s suitcase only to discover donuts; Newt had accidentally switched bags with Jacob. Newt and Tina leave to retrieve the proper suitcase only to arrive at Jacobs place too late. With several magical creatures running around New York City, Newt takes Jacob, Tina, and her sister mind reader Queenie (played by Alison Sudol) to retrieve them.
I don’t want to give away all the details of this highly anticipated movie, so I’ll stop there. With a script by author J.K. Rowling, you’d expect Fantastic Beasts to be as strong as the previous Harry Potter movies, right? It does has great moments, but it’s being juggled around in a script that’s having a hard time introducing these new characters. I think part of the problem is that we don’t get enough time before the action takes off to really know Newt Scamander. Eddie Redmayne is perfectly fitting for this eccentric character, though I wish he didn’t mumble half of his lines. Otherwise, I thought that everyone worked great.
The story of capturing the rest of these creatures while balancing along with American prejudice seems fine enough, so what’s wrong? Id say that even though we do get a good look at how American wizards work in this universe, I would have liked to seen more of it. What the Harry Potter movies did was that the muggle world was only featured when it had no choice. Here, were spending it mostly in 1920’s New York (which is designed really well!) which is interesting, but fans really want to see more of the wizards. I’ll also say that the action seems to be bigger then before, which is also fine as this is supposed to be a more adult story.
I’ll give this three and a half nifflers out of five. It’s an good but not great start in a new series. Let’s hope that J.K. Rowling can show off more of how the American wizarding world works in a sequel. Fans of the book will probably be satisfied. Those that weren’t fans of Harry Potter are not going to be swayed with this one. I think Newt Scamander needs to continue searching for more interesting elements in his story, even though he does has some good things to show here.