Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

6:14 AM

Welcome Back. 
This review contains Spoilers
 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the 9th entry into the Wizarding World and is directed by David Yates (Harry Potter, The Legend of Tarzan) and is the debut screenplay from J.K. Rowling. The film stars Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl), Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Total Recall), Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice, Steve Jobs), Alison Sudol (Between Us, Other People's Children), Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, DCEU) and Dan Fogler (Kung Fu Panda, Balls of Fury)...oh and a load of fantastic beasts. "The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school". Is J.K. Rowling able to produce something within the wizarding world that is as magnificent as Potter?

Fantastic Beasts is a film I have been quite wary about before its release - however, this film is a satisfying entry into the wizarding world and I think it will please Potter fans. It is also a film that I think will get better the more you watch it, I have some mixed feelings towards certain parts but that could mainly be down to getting used to being back in this magical world. There are some great revelations towards the end of the film but I do feel I was waiting the whole film for said revelation and now I want the sequel right now to see the fall out of the reveal - were the first 2 acts of the film actually worth it? Yes, because they are once again setting up this magical world and introducing some good characters. 

J.K Rowling is an experienced writer who obviously knows this world inside and out. However, with Fantastic Beasts, I feel she has failed to produce a clear and concise narrative - Fantastic Beasts really doesn't have a narrative. The whole first act is basically introducing us back into the world which is nice but goes at a very slow pace - I found myself getting bored and waiting for something interesting to happen a lot during the first half. Like I previously mentioned, I can't help but feel slightly cheated that this film was one big set up for a reveal we all already know from some casting news a few weeks ago. I don't really know how Rowling could have set up a stronger narrative - does she want to make a story about fantastic beasts and where to find them or does she want a story about good vs evil? She doesn't really settle for one which kind of lets the film down. The beasts are introduced but aren't really relevant or necessary to the story other than comic relief and the good vs evil element is pretty sublet and isn't very clear until towards the end. The end result is definitely solid and the script is well written but I just wish Fantastic Beasts was a little more coherent. 

So magic....does The Wizarding World still have that same magical feeling it had many years ago? I would say it does but there are some creative choices that are changed which kind of makes this inferior to the Harry Potter movies. I don't actually think there was enough magic and it didn't really feel like a big part of the story unlike the Potter films. I also didn't like the editing and visuals whenever the characters cast a spell to move them into a different location - it was very choppy and didn't feel as well realised as it could have. So what are the visuals like in general? I thought they were pretty iffy - many of the beasts looked quite cartoony and animated and not very realistic - the big eagle-like beast comes to mind. However, some of the beasts were well realised such as the Niffler who was adorable and I'm sure he's going to become a fan favourite...hopefully they don't kill him off like Dobby. Most of the visuals were ok but a lot of them were just not very believable. I was also disappointed to see the goblins and house elves were no longer practical effects but CGI (think the Star Wars prequels) - Harry Potter felt very realistic, gritty and authentic but Fantastic Beasts lacks that quality. It definitely was not as authentic. Overall, the visual effects are ok -they could be much better but I almost think the universe has taken a step back in terms of the quality of the CGI. 

The are they? They are all of a good quality. Eddie Redmayne is yet to win me over, he was fine and watchable. I just don't think I'm a fan of Redmayne's style. Newt is an introvert so that didn't really help Redmayne to get some really interesting material - he didn't really do anything that wowed me or that I haven't seen before but he was still a likeable lead who led the film well. Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller are also good as the two villain-like characters - however, they are also probably the most muddled characters - it is never really clear what they are up to and whether they are actually bad but the performances were good. Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler was also good. The one problem with Fantastic Beasts is none of these roles are iconic or memorable like Daniel Radcliffe as Potter or Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. However, my favourite character and performance in the film was from Alison Sudol - I thought Queenie was a really fun character and she was by far my favourite. I don't have any problems with the performances in general, they just could have been better and more memorable. 

We are now entering spoiler territory....everyone knew Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald due to the announcement a couple of weeks ago but it wasn't clear whether we would see him in Fantastic Beasts. Depp is in the film and I think Farrell's transformation into Depp as Grindelwald was fantastic and by far, the most memorable and exciting moment in the whole film. I was slightly disappointed with Grindelwald's single line 'are we doing to die?' - I was hoping for something for something a little more twisted and memorable. The twist to do with Ezra Miller's character was also interesting and unexpected. However, the form Miller becomes was really confusing- he literally turned into a black fog. This wasn't like a death eater that has a form that resembles a shape, this was literally smoke making one of the most confusing and choppy finale sequences ever. 

Fantastic Beasts is a solid and fun film that I would happily watch again. However, the film is full of flaws - whether that be it lacking a narrative or the visuals not being as good as they could have been. I am happy to be back in the wizarding world and I did appreciate all of the nods to the Potter characters we know and love. There is a really exciting revelation you wait for the whole film and it really does live up to the anticipation. The performances are fine but we haven't found our next face of YA in Newt. Redmayne just isn't a movie star. Magical and fun and almost fantastic.


What did you think of FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM? Where would you rank it among the other wizarding world films? - COMMENT BELOW

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