‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ Lives Up To The ‘Harry Potter’ Name
“Fantastic Beasts” is a fantastical journey for fans of the Harry Potter universe.
Synopsis: The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical, “fantastic beasts.” Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident…were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 3.5
This may not be a Harry Potter film but it’s apparent that it’s in the same universe. The score, color tones, quirkiness, and magic all feel like the “wizarding world.” It’s a transformative journey with mass audience appeal. But with that mass appeal comes a formulaic approach to the plot with elements that may drag for some.
“Fantastic Beasts” mostly remains fluid with the story. A secret, magical world is uncovered throughout New York City as the adventure progresses. This hidden part of the city is where much of the context and character development takes place. The setting carries a classic 1920s, New York feel infused with elements of disbelief. While there was an ample amount of CGI used, it was adequately balanced with practical effects. This made the “disbelief” a lot more believable making me even more engaged. Even the “beasts” themselves seemed to break free from their surreal boundaries at times. Most magical elements felt very nostalgic and reminiscent of the experience I felt watching early Harry Potter films.
There are elements of magic throughout and “Fantastic Beasts” takes its time exploring them. This creates a few stagnant moments throughout the film depending on your perspective. Strong Harry Potter fans will probably appreciate this detailed exploration while newcomers may become slightly disengaged. Being a Harry Potter “inbetweener,” I took notice of a few moments that dragged, but in retrospect appreciated them as part of the entire package. The characters are truly what drove this film for me.
Eddie Redmayne gave an absolutely phenomenal performance. I don’t think I can express how well he fits into this role. From his subtle charisma to his awkward kindness, he’s a character I wish we would have been introduced to a long time ago. The rest of the cast was more than adequate in their performances. Dan Fogler played the perfect juxtaposition to the magical theme of the film as Kowalski. As the only human/muggle within the group, he carries a different demeanor and personality than the focal characters. Katherine Waterston as Tina is more reserved than the other characters, but her reserved nature meshes well with Newt’s personality. Colin Farrell changes the tone of this bond formed between the main characters. The jovial, upbeat nature of the film comes to a halt as Graves (Farrell) is exploring the darker elements. Ultimately, all of these characters meshed together well adding substance to the film.
Overall “Fantastic Beasts” has a nostalgic plot with moments that may halt the experience. The actors and their respective characters were exceptional with Eddie Redmayne being the highlight. It’s on par with some of the better Harry Potter films in the realm of cinematics.
Entertainment Value – 4
“Fantastic Beasts” is a universally fun film with something for the entire family. It’s a constant balancing act between darker themes for the adult fans and magical wonder for the kids. The visuals are stunning and the battles are comprised of fast paced, resourcefulness. It’s not just a power struggle of wands, the creatures within Newt’s suitcase also factor in to the battles. Excitement ensues as these characters are experienced wizards and witches rather than students of Hogwarts learning to harness their power.
As previously mentioned, the in depth exploration of certain themes may hinder the overall experience for some. But if you take this film as a story of discovery, then I think you will appreciate it as I did.
Re-Watchability – 3.5
With a 133 minute run time, a full watch through may be difficult for some. There isn’t as much depth as some of the other J.K. Rowling stories. Nonetheless it is a fun-filled adventure that many will appreciate. I’m not sure if this will be a film I would seek out for my personal collection but I would definitely be open to another viewing.
- Entertainment Value
"Fantastic Beasts" is an adventure for the entire family. It's a first for the Rowling universe exploring a 1920s New York setting and the characters carry an ample amount of intrigue. Eddie Redmayne is absolutely perfect and his story has potential to create an entirely new realm for existing Harry Potter fans.
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