“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is directed by David Yates and stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, and Colin Farrell. The film is about Newt Scamander, a writer and adventurer who travels to New York and gets caught up in the issues that the wizarding world is facing there.
The “Harry Potter” film franchise is one of my favorites of all-time, with nearly each film in the series being great on its own. While this may be a different story entirely, and there is less of a base to work with, JK Rowling is the screenwriter and the movie is still in this wonderful universe of wizards and magic, so I was very excited to see what David Yates could do in his fifth attempt at directing in this universe.
Eddie Redmayne is very good as the lead character in this movie, being both quirky and entertaining at the same time. Redmayne is in his element the most with the actual beasts, as it shows the most enjoyable elements of the film along with Redmayne’s charisma. The beasts in the movie are beautifully animated and are each incredibly unique and very fun to watch, and when the film centers in on actually finding these creatures around New York, it is at its best.
Dan Fogler is also very funny as Newt’s non-wizard friend, Kowalski. Fogler portrays the reactions of a regular human very well when faced with magic, and I found that he was often the shining moment in some of the funnier scenes in the film.
The visual effects in the film were as great as ever, and the score by James Newton Howard was very well done. The scenes where magic was in full effect were certainly the standouts, as it made me reminisce in what I loved so much about the original “Harry Potter” series.
There’s a lot of fun to be had in “Fantastic Beasts”, as when Newt and Kowalski are out searching for the various beasts, each more creative than the next, the movie shines which the same glow the eight films in this universe had before.
However, there are long periods of time spread throughout this movie where there is just a stunning lack of this feeling of joy. Whether it be from the absence of magic, or being bogged down in the film’s own story, something about “Fantastic Beasts” felt off, or at least made it feel lesser to the blast of a time that is the old “Harry Potter” franchise.
This issue could have been caused by some of the characters, as there were a few that I just could not find enjoyment from. Katherine Waterston just lacked the charisma and humor to really make me root for her in this movie. She’s in the film quite a bit, but whether it’s the character or her performance, I never really liked her whenever she was on screen. Colin Farrell also fell into this, and while his character may be meant to be more unlikable, he also didn’t bring anything all that interesting to the table, making his performance incredibly forgettable.
There are parts of this movie that just drag on the runtime without all that much purpose, and it interfered with some of the whole experience. There’s also a couple twists and turns that I think are meant to be a surprise when they are revealed, but these moments are almost laughably obvious from the start, so it was just redundant to have such a large buildup to these reveals.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a mildly fun film with a solid lead performance from Eddie Redmayne, as well as glimpses of the joy that were experienced at Hogwarts for eight films previously. While I certainly am not convinced that there is enough here to make four more films after this, “Sorcerer’s Stone” was not a critical home run in 2001, and it wasn’t really until “Prisoner of Azkaban” where Harry Potter took off. So, with that being said, “Fantastic Beasts” is an above average time at the theater, but, hopefully, this new franchise will go nowhere but up from here.
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