Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them tells the story of 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
Forewarning all readers out there: this is going to be an unpopular opinionated review. If you would like to talk about differing opinions, I’m happy to because I know going into this review, “Potterheads,” as the fandom likes to call themselves, would have really enjoyed this film and that it was a masterpiece. But, and there always is, I just can’t do that. I really can’t. This film was far from a masterpiece though it was hardly far from a failure either. It is a thoroughly entertaining film, there’s no doubt about it, and is right up your alley if you’re yearning for more of the magical wizarding world, though for some like myself, the taste has become sour in my mouth and the whole idea a little stale. My eyes are sore from rolling from hearing about this film.
Let me explain myself before attacking me, if you wish to read.
The only reason why I started reading the Harry Potter novels was because everyone else at school wouldn’t shut up about it. I went through an obsession when I was younger that lasted about a year or so, heightened by the release of the films. At the time, they were like many a girls One Direction or Justin Bieber of nowadays. That soon teetered off just after the Order of the Phoenix book was released and I only went to see the films with my brother because that was thing we always did together. It was a tradition, so to speak. I’m a proud Slytherin and always have been but lately, as may have been seen in recent reviews, I just want something new and fresh. And Fantastic Beasts failed to give all it had.
When I found out that there was a new film to be added as a prequel into the Harry Potter universe based on the short story of the same name, I was hesitantly excited though in saying this, it had only been a few years since the conclusion of the original series. When I found out that there was to be four more films in addition to this? Well, I think my views on unnecessary sequels are pretty obvious if anyone’s been following my reviews for a while. If not, here’s my views plain and simple: J.K. Rowling is milking the Harry Potter universe for all its worth after her failed attempts to break away from her lifeline she created in Harry Potter with the Casual Vacancy.
With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child now performing in London’s West End and almost impossible to get tickets, I have read that addition to the universe and was ultimately disappointed. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I really regret paying the money I did for it and really should’ve just gotten a refund when I could. In Fantastic Beasts, well, I wasn’t as disappointed as I was with The Cursed Child, I just found myself sighing with exasperation at the thought of Rowling milking the universe for all its worth.
I didn’t hate the film, I just thought where the last ended was where it should’ve wrapped up. Fair enough if Rowling wants to keep on working and continue creating new things, but is the Harry Potter franchise really all she has? I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for this film because it wasn’t worth the increasing cinema prices or the effort to find somewhere cheaper.
Eddie Redmayne was a perfect cast as Newt Scamander with his awkwardly introverted personality that prefers animals to actual human beings (something that I can relate to on a personal level though I would change the animals to books or films). He managed to carry the film well enough and really showing his on screen charisma to capture an audience’s hearts and attention. This combined with some entertaining enough writing and always brilliant on screen visuals that we know we’ll always get from the Harry Potter films makes for something almost mindlessly entertaining.
However, this is where its praise ends. There are no doubt issues with Fantastic Beasts. For one, the side characters are beyond count. Yes, the original Harry Potter films did have a large cast of characters but you remembered them and how they aided the progression of the story. They were simply developed. In this latest addition into the Harry Potter universe, many felt way too underdeveloped and unlike its predeceasing films, added nothing to the overall progression of the story. This can be seen especially with Jon Voight’s character who didn’t need to be there at all. A simple story and without an overcrowding amount of characters that we can’t remember or don’t even need to be there in the first place can make all the difference.
The magical threat of the film hardly felt threatening at all as it hardly became relevant until the end of the film. If it was anything that kept me watching it was actually seeing if this new addition could live up to the hype and add anything new to the Harry Potter universe.
These things I’ve mentioned are hardly enough to ruin the film and the experience that comes along with it. I just wanted something more from Rowling as it seems now she’s just known for Harry Potter and that’s it.
I doubt I’ll be seeing the next instalments at the cinemas but we’ll have to see when the times come. Hopefully between now and then, there will be something else to balance out the industry from sequel and prequel-itis. Production companies know films like Harry Potter work and is basically the series that keeps Warner Brothers alive.