Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – movie review

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a spin-off of the well-beloved Harry Potter franchise but it is set in a different country, a different century and with a completely new set of characters (no Voldemort around but Dumbledore is mentioned as he is still a teacher at Hogwarts).

Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) is a collector of magical creatures who are usually hunted and killed by witches and wizards -he collects and cares for them in the hopes of educating the masses of their peacefulness- and he’s on his way to Arizona where he plans on releasing a large hawk-like creature back to its home.

Newt stops off in New York in hopes of finding a particular underground breeder where he becomes involved with a lovable Muggle named Kowalski, a chase between the wizarding government and Voldemort 2, a narrow-minded Muggle organising a Salem against the wizarding community and Graves (Colin Farrell) who’s been assigned to find Newt meanwhile executing unofficial dark doings…

A couple of Newt’s creatures escape from his briefcase, evil is lurking the streets, the government is after the gang, wizardry shenanigans, etc etc etc.

Fantastic Beasts is a huge step up from the Harry Potter franchise technology-wise. The sound is better, the cinematography is better and the special effects are stunningly slick.

Most of the performances are solid but I would like to especially applaud the performances of Katherine Waterston as Tina, Colin Farrell as Graves and the most noticeable of all, Dan Fogler as Kowalski. Kowalski manages to steal every scene he’s in with great comedic timing and a sense of genuine warmth in a story which isn’t so perfect.

Speaking of not so perfect; this film.

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I’m not going to say that it’s bad, but if I had to rank all of the Harry Potter films from best to worst, this would be at the bottom.

It doesn’t capture that (I know it sounds cheesy) “magic” feeling of the cannon seven films and even though it’s set in the same world, it didn’t feel like it, in quality or nostalgia.

There’s also the issue of how this is supposed to be the beginning of a five film series… what? This film has too many endings as it is and it seems like everything’s wrapped up in a neat little bow for the credits but there’s four more films?

This screenplay was written by J.K. Rowling directly for the screen (there is a book titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them however it’s just a guidebook to creatures within the HP universe) and it shows that she should stick to writing the novels. Perhaps if she’d written the novel first, then have someone else adapt it for the screen, it wouldn’t have as many issues.

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Supposedly the main villain of this series is Voldemort 2 (Grindelwald as he’s actually called) who is mentioned in this film but that’s pretty much all he is; a mention.

He’s shown at the beginning, mentioned twice and that’s almost it. Oh how threatening.

Remember the first Harry Potter film which continuously mentioned Voldemort as a force to be reckoned with. Yeah, Fantastic Beasts does the complete opposite of that.

But the main fault with this film is that Newt Scamander, the protagonist, has a personality which would accompany such an interesting character except I know practically nothing about him and not in the cool “oh look how mysterious he is” way, more like the “what was his name again?” way.

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This film can be fun if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series. There are some great performances while the rest are solid, the visuals look great, the film isn’t too challenging (interpret that however you please) and there are some funny moments.

However I was expecting to be brought back into a franchise I hold dearly hopefully either through nostalgia or at least quality, but Fantastic Beasts just didn’t manage to bring me back or compare to the original seven.

Fantastic Beasts isn’t bad so if you want to see it, it’s currently playing in basically every theater but don’t expect something as good as the Harry Potter films.

What did you think of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? How does it compare to the original seven for you?

Whatever your thoughts, leave your comment below, sign up to this blog on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for foreign versions of movie posters.

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