Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

The most recent film I’ve viewed happens to be Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This is sort of a spinoff series from Harry Potter, both of which take place in the same world where wizards and witches exist. Only this film precedes the timeline of Harry Potter by maybe forty years or so.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Schamander, a wizard traveling to the United States to release some of his magical creatures into the wild. When first arriving to New York, Newt gets himself mixed up with the law and is arrested by Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). But after an incident involving an injured non-magical person named Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), many of Newts magical creatures are accidentally released into New York City. Armed with an awesome magical suitcase, Newt and his new friends find themselves on an adventure to recover all his lost creatures.

There was one plot device being developed throughout the film that I felt was very interesting. It involved a newspaper owner (Jon Voight) who was helping his son run for Senator of New York. The son running for Senator is killed by an obviously magical force, and the newspaper owner seemed determined to find out what happened. I thought that he would join the growing anti-wizard sentiment growing in New York (which is also introduced in the film) and expose the wizards to the outside world. It felt as though this was coming together to build tension between the wizard world and the non-magic world, which would make sense.

Instead, none of this happens. In the end of the movie, everything dealing with this plot point is resolved immediately in the lamest way possible. Which really makes no sense. Why take all that time to develop this plot if it isn’t going to go anywhere?

There are various other scenes that go nowhere as well, but I won’t go into detail about those.

The mythology and lore of the Wizarding World are my favorite aspects of this film. Everything from all the mythical creatures Newt comes across to the wizard community itself is great. As a fan of the Harry Potter series, I love watching how the magic community operates in a world of non-magic people. Like how the wizards use a semi-secret entrance door to a hotel as access to their main headquarters. Very creative and very cool.

My least favorite aspect of the film is the motives of the villian, which was pretty atrocious. I seriously have no idea what was going on with this guy. Even after watching the movie I could not tell you what this guy was trying to accomplish. It all felt very rushed and not thought out well. I actually had no idea if he was really even the ‘bad guy’ until the very final scene he is in.  This wasn’t even done in a clever reveal of the villian kind of way. I think the audience was supposed to know he was the villian from the get go, but I didn’t pick up on it. I just think the execution of this character was overall pretty poor.

Johnny Depp gives a little surprise performance towards the end of the film. Going in, I had no idea Depp would be in this film. So when I saw him I felt nothing but confusion and a little bit of disappointment. I actually awkwardly laughed out loud when I saw Depp in this movie. I usually enjoy Johnny Depp in films, but I did not like seeing him in this role. I guess I just felt his personality and character type didn’t fit this film well. Anymore it seems like Depp just plays the same eccentric character over and over again.

I know there are supposed to be at least three of these Fantastic Beasts films but I’m not sure how they can manage this. As I said, they already wrapped up what I thought was going to be an ongoing series plot device that would have more to play in future films. That being said, I am positive they will pull something out of their asses for two more sequels.

I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who liked Harry Potter, or those who have a knack for science fiction and fantasy. I personally did not find this movie all that great. At least, not as much as everyone else seems to enjoy it. With Fantastic Beasts being ‘certified fresh’ on Rotten tomatoes and people everywhere hailing it a marvelous film, I can’t help but feel its being a little overblown. As if maybe it’s success is nostalgia based.

The creatures are unique and the Wizarding World lore is as great as ever. But the plot seemed a little messy, character motives were off, some (not all) of the CG was pretty bad, a the film itself was just very underwhelming.

So if you find yourself enjoying Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, more power to you. If your like me and don’t enjoy it all that much, thats fine as well. Go ahead and give it a chance, it’s certainly worth it.

-Zachary Flint

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