Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them perfectly balances fresh ideas with familiar themes, providing audiences with a whimsical adventure that's full of magic and excitement. The Wizarding World is still very much alive.
Director David Yates re-teams yet again with author J.K. Rowling to revisit the Wizarding World for the first time since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the prequel “series” Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Unlike HP, Fantastic Beasts isn’t based on a series of books and instead a rather small one, only this time brought to the big screen directly by Rowling, who has scripted the film for Yates.
And the result is actually quite extraordinary, with a film that manages to create something that’s distinctly different in both tone and feel, yet still somewhat familiar to the Harry Potter franchise that most have grown to love.
Fans of the Harry Potter series should find more than enough to enjoy in this new film, while newcomers shouldn’t have a problem climbing aboard this new train, created with delicate detail and patience by both Yates and Rowling.
I thoroughly enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and that’s something of a statement, coming from a guy that never bothered with the HP films until home video. I just never saw the magic in the series and while I do admit to liking them now, I will say that my initial encounters left me with nothing more than confusion.
Fantastic Beasts on the other hand, left me with excitement and eagerness. It has been publicly noted that Rowling plans to make this a new franchise and that Yates will most-likely direct them until he can’t direct anymore, which is why my eagerness is a good thing.
It’s not easy establishing an entirely new franchise from the ashes of an already popular one, especially when going in the prequel direction, yet Rowling and Yates have done it.
Partially because Rowling is somewhat of a creative genius that knows how to give audiences what they want, while still teasing them with stuff that they don’t know they want just yet. Fantastic Beasts contains many new creatures and ideas and concepts that will mold and direct this new vision of the Wizarding World.
Fantastic Beasts will serve as an important bridge to help detail the events before the HP films, while also hopefully create new events that we never knew we should have cared about.
There’s a lot more magic on deck this time around, with a film that completely trusts your understanding of the Wizarding World up front or at least your acceptance to learn.
I found that to be one of the most refreshing concepts of the film and one that I had previously felt annoyed with in the HP series. Fantastic Beasts dives right into the magic spells and the entire world without providing you with an endless amount of un-needed information.
It also does so while creating new characters to help the story flow and eventually connect.
Eddie Redmayne‘s Newt Scamander is a shy, yet fearless man that takes risks and lets his bold actions speak for his somewhat softer words. He’s not worried about living in the shadows or of what people think of him and instead simply wants to catch his creatures and stop evil from taking over.
Backing him up is a team of notable characters that help make the film feel fully fleshed out, including Katherine Waterson‘s Tina, Dan Fogler‘s Jacob and Alison Sudol‘s Queenie.
I selfishly must say that one of the best parts of Fantastic Beasts is its ability to finally let the world see Dan Fogler shine as an actor that can provide a hefty amount of both comedic and serious emotional range. Fogler has been a notable high moment in lots of films and now finally he can hopefully achieve mainstream success, because his character is the most likable and most relatable person in the film and his relationship with both Newt and Queenie celebrates Rowling’s ability to write such likable and engaging characters.
That isn’t to say that guys like Colin Farrell or even Ezra Miller go by completely unnoticed, but they definitely don’t hold their own as impressively as those that I’ve listed above.
Most of that is also one of the film’s largest concerns, which is that of a main concern or problem. Farrell’s character Graves is mostly just your predictable slimy bastard, while Miller’s Credence is definitely more complex, yet just as pointless when it comes to film’s bigger aspirations.
I’m sure both will open up the series (well, one for sure), but their presence in the film is mostly just a distraction from the rest of the fun cast and story. Not once did I actually care about what happened to Credence or Graves and yet I feel that I probably should have, especially when one was an innocent boy getting beaten by his adoptive caretaker.
Another one of the film’s problems is how it choses to tackle modern CGI. Some of creatures and magical situations look downright awful, which is kind of surprising when considering the budget of the film and the worldwide reach of the potential franchise.
Would it hurt to use some practical effects when creating these moments and capturing these creatures? It puts a disjointing feeling right down the middle of the film, separating what’s actually on the screen from what is not, which is kind of a problem when your film’s title deals with these fake monsters and creatures that are obviously not real.
And I mean that from a technical standpoint, not a common sense one.
Still, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an entertaining film that gives us a hope for a brand-new series that I very much want to check out. Again, I say this as someone that never really cared one way or another for the Harry Potter films. David Yates and J.K. Rowling have somehow managed to create a film that feels different and new, yet familiar and lived-in.
This is how prequels and spin-offs should be handled.