Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

This whimsical film is a myriad of mess and magic as the new Harry Potter spin off tale tries its best to capture the nostalgia of the original tales. Though it wows in conception and screenplay, it fails to entice viewers with complex story archs and dizzying visual effects, losing much of the raw beauty of the wizarding world portrayed in the Harry Potter films. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them would have suited a 400 page novel more comfortably than a 2hr film.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, written by J.K Rowling and directed by David Yates, follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a young aspiring magizoologist (yes, that’s magic zoologist, the study of magical creatures) and his adventure to New York City. Carrying with him a briefcase filled with magical creatures, Newt finds himself embroiled in matters far more serious than his escaped creatures. Along the way he befriends a non-maji (a.k.a muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and a disgraced Auror Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), and fights against the wicked Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) and misunderstood weirdo Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller).

Already, I know, that you the reader of this review is confused. And don’t worry, as a Harry Potter fanatic I am too. And I have not even begun talking about the MUCUSA, Grindelwald and Leta Lestrange, names that some fans might know. Our introduction into the incredible life and time of Newt Scamander was chaotic, unfulfilling and disappointing. The story pin points an extremely interesting and underdeveloped part of history in the wizarding world, yet disenchants by leaving too many unanswered questions and open ended tid-bits for viewers to have a satisfying movie going experience.

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Furthermore, in all it’s efforts to bring back the nostalgia of magic and wizardry, the film fails to capture the raw beautiful nature so wonderfully displayed in the previous potter films. This comes down to the overuse of special effects that was, though creativley designed, heavily dizzying and confusing. Talk about green screen, this film was full of unbelievable moments as actors tried their best to imagine what creatures were before them, only to come across in their performance as dull and unexcited. And although it was interesting to discover how wizarding worlds work outside of Britain as we are so used to, this was not enough to excite and entice its audience through a few hours of chaotic story confusion.

Though I am excited in where this story will develop and grow, I am disappointed at the introduction I received. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a fun viewing experience, and will make any potterhead like myself happy to revisit a beloved world, however, taking a step back from my bias nature towards the originals, the film was not a cohesive, flowing story as it stumbled upon itself multiple times, confused about what direction to take. You should have just written another book J.K…obliviate.

★★

 

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