Yet again I find myself returning to this here blog in the thick of exams – and for better or for worse I have movies I want to talk about damnit! So out of respect for my degree, I have settled on writing a 5-point review on the first official spin off from the Harry Potter franchise – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
- Story. The reason why Harry Potter became such a success was because J.K. Rowling created more than a book, she created a universe that felt real. The characters and the stories (for the most part) feel natural, like Rowling was writing an account of events that happened long ago, not fabricating them. It was clear from the beginning that Fantastic Beasts was simply an excuse for extending the franchise. The plot takes a good while to develop, so much so that a good portion of the film was focused on whimsy. I was straining to construct some sort of storyline, when all of a sudden I got dumped with a heavy plot. Not the most masterfully written script.
- Having said that, Fantastic Beasts is bloody charming. 70% of the movie is delightful and honestly feels like a good kid’s movie. For this reason alone I would say Vmax viewing in 3D is worth it. The other 30% was focused child abuse and repressing one’s true self, complete with audience deception masquerading as a “plot-twist” (my pet peeve). Because of this, my experience of the movie felt much like the swing of a pendulum.
- Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) isn’t likeable. Okay, okay, I suppose he isnt’ UN-likeable but he is very… bland. Scamander’s character is realistic in a sense, but it wasn’t handled well. He is slightly odd, always seems a little bit nervous, and others “find him annoying” – the kind of person who is more at ease around animals. This is all well and good, but his lack of charisma fails to create gumption between the leads. In fact, Newt experienced little-to-no character development through the movie. So instead we are given an obligatory, completely inconsequential love story to make up for it.
- Cast roundup:
- I saw an article titled “Katherine Waterston Never Thought She Had Commercial Appeal“. I love Katherine Waterston, but I don’t think Fantastic Beasts is her “commercial appeal” vehicle. Much like Newt Scamander, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) is not the most charismatic character.
- Dan Fogler’s role as Jacob Kowalski (loveable Mugg- I mean, No-maj) is what you’d expect – bumbling chubby guy that all the characters love. Good comic relief, I suppose.
- Alison Sudol seems nice.
- Colin Farrell in this movie gave me flashbacks to Winter’s Tale.
- Ezra Miller is cast in another “damaged/psychotic child” role.
- Magic has no rules and J.K. Rowling gives no fucks. I can’t go too far into this without spoiling readers, but there is very liberal use of a certain charm throughout the movie. (However, I am well aware that I am complaining about a made-up universe. Harumph.) Another part that annoyed me was the infamous American terminology for Muggles – “No-maj”. (Once again, I am aware that I’m complaining that “Muggle” has been exchanged for a word that actually makes some kind of sense.) Just when I became used to hearing No-maj, we reach the end of the movie and it turns out that Americans still call Squibs, squibs. What was the point of changing Muggle to No-maj, if the word Squib is still in existence?! Sigh.
The bottom line?
Fantastic Beasts is worth watching if you’re on holidays and keen to re-enter the magical world. Otherwise, it adds nothing new to the franchise and at the end of the day is a completely forgettable movie. Well, maybe not forgettable for Eddie Redmayne who I’m sure is suffering from chronic neck pain after portraying Newt as the only wizard with a permanently cricked neck.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016): 6.5/10