Film Review – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts

Title – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Director – David Yates (The Legend of Tarzan)

Cast – Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Samantha Morton

Plot – In 1920’s New York, wizard, writer and beast capturer Newt Scamander (Redmayne) arrives in the great city with a magical suitcase filled with an array of potentially dangerous creatures. When some of these “beasts” escape, Newt must team up with fellow magically inclined Tina (Waterston) and the muggle Jacob Kowalski (Fogler), but the trio quickly realise the escaped beasts are the least of their worries.

“Mr. Scamander. Just like your suitcase, I think there’s more to you than meets the eye”

Review by Eddie on 18/11/2016

I like so many others around the world grew up around the Harry Potter universe.

At first the wondrous books, then the equally magical movies; author J.K Rowling created an incredible landscape by which we could be encapsulated by and to this day the plight of child wizard Harry Potter and his faithful friends growing up whilst battling the evil forces of Voldemort, remains one of the world’s most enduring pop culture experiences.

It was inevitable that the continued success of this series would lead to further studio experiences centred around the wand filled world of wizards, witches and in this case fantastical beasts and with Harry Potter creator herself Rowling here adapting her very own short story into a fully-fledged franchise starter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will quite simply be a joy to all those who call themselves Potter fans and will offer a fun, often smile inducing adventure for those newcomers to the brand.

To be perfectly blunt, Fantastic Beasts is no Harry Potter, but how could it have ever been?

Harry Potter is a unique creation and one that will likely never be matched for the consistent quality it provided us with over a series of 7 (now 8) captivating books and 8 incredibly well made films, but taking away comparisons to the series laid before it, Fantastic Beasts is one of the most entertaining and original blockbuster films of the year and an often impressive groundwork to what feels like a world filled with possibilities for future instalments.

Directed by David Yates, an old hat when it comes to the Rowling universe, Fantastic Beasts doesn’t bare the initial set up wonders of Harry Potter’s first venture into Hogwarts and suffers slightly from a mildly paced middle section, but when the film clicks into gear it really rockets along as we’re transported into an equally majestic world where suitcases offer portals to animal filled habitations, unique beasts run amok in a visually spectacular recreation of 1920’s New York and muggles threaten to expose those with magical powers.

With the world created here by Yates and his team so lively and energetic, it’s within the films characters that Fantastic Beasts has the most area to grow in with Eddie Redmayne’s bundle of nerves Newt Scamander a relatively forgettable central figure, even if his work with the various animal creations of Rowling’s universe are anything but.

Surrounded by comic relief supplied by Dan Fogler’s non-magical wannabe baker Jacob Kowalski and Katherine Waterston’s hardworking ministry employee Tina, we might not exactly have Harry, Ron and Hermoine but you get the sense there are clear possibilities for this trio to become every bit as endearing as the old gang, even if Redmayne has his work cut out for him.

With solid support provided by the slightly underused Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller (giving of those creepy Kevin vibes) as the films potentially dangerous members, even more so than the escaped beasts of Scamander’s suitcase, the all-round vibe of Yate’s film is one of quality and assurance and you very much get the sense that everyone involved here is in for the long haul, just as we the audience will be to.

A joy to back in the universe that has given so many memories that will last forever, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a worthy extension of the Harry Potter universe and while this first entry into the new franchise may lack certain important ingredients that would’ve made it just as memorable as our first year in Hogwarts, there’s enough here (including an end game reveal likely to either excite or frustrate audiences) to suggest our future journey’s discovering the magical inhabitants of the world are going to be highly entertaining indeed.

3 ½ mating rituals out of 5

23 responses to “Film Review – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

  1. i watched this last night and i was smiling like a kid the moment Warner Bros logo was shown with the distinct HP background music. it wasn’t HP, i agree to that, but how could it be, HP is HP that has been part of the most of us growing up. i enjoyed watching this movie, almost felt like watching the first HP 😉

  2. Was dragged along by the wife to this for a 6pm screening on a Thursday night, luckily, it was in Gold Class and after a hard days work I did enjoy the comfort of a reclining seat. As I never have been into Harry Potter I wasn’t expecting much. By the end credits I found it to be entertaining, and I liked the darker elements (that old lady executioner was creepy happy and unnerving). Not sure about Redmayne yet, though I really enjoyed Dan Fogler, he gets his inner Oliver Hardy cranking and he was utterly charming (which is saying something compared to a lot of his previous roles in dumb comedies). I know I might be in a minority, but the big bad cameo at the end really irked me and it’s got nothing to do with anything other than the fact his face in absolutely every big tentpole franchise and to me just seems like overkill. He is boring me and I really did enjoy him, once.

  3. For me HP has always been about the books with movies as secondary companion pieces of varying quality, but I do love the HP world and there’s a potential for interesting stand-alones there, so I look forward to watching this.

  4. Good review. Like you said, it was great extension of the Wizarding World. While it wasn’t Harry Potter and it have a lot of setup problems, its great prequel spin-off of its predecessor. Can’t wait to see where the franchise goes from here.

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  8. Watched this one with the kids last night, it was entertaining but the main character did annoy me a bit….I think it was the not looking anyone in the eye and the stiffness in his acting….the rest of the cast (bar the end reveal) were great, Ezra Miller was perfect in his role.

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