When Harry Potter first came out I wasn’t really interested. I got into the books right around the time Order of the Phoenix was released in theaters. It was a foregone conclusion that I would go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I really wish the movie’s plot centered around the Beasts as I feel like that would have been a lot more fun. Even so, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them still earned the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has traveled to New York on a secret mission with a suitcase full of magical creatures. However, the tension between magical beings and Nomag are building and when a few of the creatures escape a panic is caused. He makes new friends while trying to prove that the creatures aren’t the real danger that has been terrorizing the city.
The biggest issue of the movie is the direction the story decided to go. It seemed more interested in establishing a big conspiracy theory and the new villain Grindelwald. These movies could all simple be Newt, who is a great character with a perfectly cast Redmayne, trying to educate the magical community about the dangerous beasts. Plenty of opportunity for exploration, magic, and adventure without needing a super villain. Fans of the Harry Potter franchise love the Wizarding World that J.K. Rowling created. It seems she’s stuck on the need of having a clear hero and a clear villain that is reminiscent of Voldemort from the initial eight films.
Fortunately, even though I feel strongly about the story choice, the characters in the film are great. I really loved Dan Fogler’s character, Kowalski, as he was the audience’s in. A non-magic user who gets to be a part of the magical adventure. He sees things that no muggle, I’m sticking with muggle, has seen before without having their memory obliterated. Mary Lou (Katherine Waterston) and Tina (Samantha Morton) were great assistant characters to Newt and Kowalski. The four of them really made the movie enjoyable along with the various beasts and magic encounters.
Do we need a Voldemort replacement?
Ezra Miller was solid, but I had issues with his role in the film. Colin Farrell falls into the same element. He is an antagonist that I don’t think needs to be there for the film to work. He could have simply been a government officer there to foil Newt’s attempts of capturing the beasts. Instead, he’s more of a direct bad guy and it’s pretty predictable even if you only saw the trailer.
That said, Fantastic Beasts is good. It’s got some of the best elements from the other Harry Potter films. Plus, these are full blown wizards and witches so they are using magic much more frequently. The period piece element of the film made for some cool set design and interesting topics. How does the wizarding community handle wars? During prohibition, did they still sell butterbeer? These are things I hope they explore further in the four upcoming films. Yes, there are four more on the schedule already.