The highly awaited Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is finally here! Set in the Harry Potter universe, the film follows Newt Scamander (the “author” of the book Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) as he searches New York for beasts let loose from his suitcase. I grew up with the Harry Potter films and remember seeing Deathly Hallows Part 2 in theater back in 2011, thinking that there wouldn’t be anything else in the franchise. Earlier this year, an eighth “book” called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released, and while it was overall a good continuation, it left a sour taste in my mouth because of the unneeded complexity and sidelining of major characters from the universe.
Fantastic Beasts is a much-needed break from the continuity of the Harry Potter series. While it may take place in the universe of our favorite wizard, it feels refreshing because you can tell how much it’s just a spinoff. While there are no spoilers in this review, I will say that the ending was great because it didn’t feel like it was setting up anything. Even though there will be four more sequels, Fantastic Beasts is one of those films that could definitely work as a standalone entry in the Harry Potter series. One thing I thought was an extremely good part of the film was its evenly developed characters.
While Newt is obviously the main character, he’s given just enough development and screen-time as the others, who are more fully realized because of (a) how well their actors play their parts, and (b) their separate plots are very evenly distributed. There’s a lot going on that may at first not make any sense. But it takes time to go deeper into the intertwining stories that make up the majority of the film, taking breaks from Newt and his crew’s romp around New York looking for his creatures. I also like how the world is designed, giving us a very imaginative adaptation of America’s Roaring 20s era. The food, industrial landscapes, and colors all paint a very lifelike version of a very important time in American history. Another thing I like is that the film doesn’t ambush us with any time-traveling mumbo-jumbo. Everything is very key to the time period, and the cars, buildings, and other details never feel out of place. I absolutely love James Newton Howard’s soundtrack for the movie as well, and while he’s no John Williams, the new main theme is just as good as the original.
I also really enjoy the different beasts, and while they aren’t shown often as a lot of people may like (myself included), they are a welcome addition and since each one has their own silly personality (a platypus-like creature that enjoys stealing coins) they make for a very compelling idea that the film makes use of very well. There’s not much else I can positively say about the film without giving away potential spoilers, but I will talk about my main problem with the movie.
Now my main problem (which is very minor anyway) with Fantastic Beasts is that the characters are constantly teleporting to different places, being whisked away and it just got a bit annoying. It’s kind of like jump scares in horror movies: cool at first, but become so overused it’s not fun anymore. Aside from that, the film is amazing. It’s a well-done prequel/follow-up to an already great series of films. While I had a very minor issue with it, I highly recommend you go see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and I’m going to give it a solid A.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman, and Colin Farrell. Directed by David Yates.