Fantastic Beasts marks the return to the Harry Potter wizard-ing world after half of a decade of hibernation, with writer J. K. Rowling making her first screenplay writing effort and director David Yates of the last 4 Harry Potter movies returning to helm. However, this film takes place in 1926- before Harry Potter was born, before Voldemort became the dark lord, before Dumbledore became headmaster, and before… pretty much everything else too. This film follows Newt Scamander as he enters New York City, and accidentally loses control of his brief case full of Beasts who end up running wild around the city. With the help of a comic relief side-kick, a cute potential love-interest, and the love interest’s sister, we have our new Harry, Ron and Hermione to save the day. I’m just going to be honest right off the bat… this movie let me down a little.
I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in theaters when I was six, and I grew up on the books and films. The character of Harry Potter was as much a part of my childhood as Santa Claus, and I really wanted to love this film. The trailers interested me, but they didn’t impress me, so I went in expecting to have a good time, but not to be blown away… and I was still disappointed by it. I just wrote a blog post yesterday about how prequels can be bad just because they are unnecessary, and I think this is an example of that. Let’s say you watch the Harry Potter films first: you follow the same characters as they grow up for 8 entire films, and then you watch this one which gives you more of the same content, and doesn’t really show you anything that you haven’t already seen, or didn’t care to see in the first place. The characters are all pretty weak, so coming off of the Harry Potter films, this is just a plateau of quality. If you watch this film first as a prequel, then you don’t get the lovely exposition and world-building that The Sorcerer’s Stone gives you… and you wouldn’t get the Dumbledore, Quittich, or Hogwarts references that it makes.
I love me some Eddie Redmayne, but I felt that his lead character was flat- as were the rest of the characters as well. Colin Farrell is one of my favorite actors to date, but I wasn’t even impressed with his character either. My biggest problem is that for all the magic that this film was about… the magic is exactly what it lacked. I did not feel like I was in the Wizarding world again, because it wasn’t ever just the world itself that I loved about the other films: it was what filled that world. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, how they worked together, the things that tore them apart, the people they came in contact with, how they changed overtime, how they learned to be better people, how they fought evil together, how they had something different in each film to improve who they were, etc… and everything else about the films, aside from those three. I didn’t get much of that at all in this film. And the little “twist” at the end? I predicted that within the first three minutes. I was never impressed or surprised; I was actually fairly bored and tired of the film as it went on and on and on. That being said, the content that we did get wasn’t all mediocre!
Since this film is so popular and taking place in a beloved series, I’ve only been focusing on the negative to justify my yellow rating, as I would have assumed and predicted to thoroughly enjoy this; there is a lot to be happy with in this movie as well. First of all, the thing that I loved most about this film was Mr. Kowalski; I think that his “nomag” juxtaposition with Newt, and his romance with Tina’s sister Queenie was funny and charming. The only part that I felt even slight emotion (whether that is tension, happiness, sadness, etc) was at the end of the film with his character. I will not say what happens, but I think that he was easily the strongest plot point of the film- moreso than Newt trying to catch the beasts, or Tina trying to win back the approval of the magic community, or the “Second Salemers” trying to prove the presents of witches and wizards in the City…. I really just couldn’t get behind much of this film at all. Honestly, I’m a little sad about this since 2016 has just continued to be a series of films that let me down in one way or another (I’ve written a blog post about this as well), and I just hope that upon rewatching, I find more to love than I did this time.
Overall, I’d say that Fantastic Beasts is a film that can be skipped… we already have eight great movies in the Harry Potter world, and this one is just more of the same. Sure, “same” is great if you love seeing it over and over again, but I think that this just beats a dead horse with a broom stick. Again, I do not dislike this film, but I don’t really like it, it’s just hanging out in that middle ground. I’d say it’s okay, but I’d also lean more towards good than bad in every aspect of the movie. There are some parts to enjoy, but the rest of the film didn’t impress me much at all, and I can’t say that I’m going to watch this film again any time soon, at least not until the next one comes out (which I’ll still see opening night). I’m going to give this film a solid 5+/10 (okay, not bad, not great), and a yellow recommendation. Have you seen this? What did you think? As always, thanks for reading this review, and I’ll be back soon with more great content! See ya!