Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. 3.5 Stars
This movie was produced and written as a screenplay by the prolific Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling. There was some good moments in this film to make this an overall enjoyable experience.
The problem with the hugely successful Harry Potter franchise; is that a high standard for remarkable magic and wizardry has been set. Hogwarts is mentioned here so this movie is undoubtedly a spinoff; which enable me to make the comparison. The movie will turn a large profit from its association with the Harry Potter franchise; but I feel, in itself it is overrated on its own merits. Overall, Fantastic Beasts is worth seeing. But to be blunt: it is not as good as the adventures of the trio of students from Hogwarts battling their evil nemesis Voldemort.
An English Tourist wizard, Newt Scamander played by Eddie Redmayne, arrives in 1920s New York City and embarks on a release-in-the-wild plan for his magical animals who live in his defective suitcase. The American wizards, governed by a Madam President with her own secret service, track foreign wizard visitors with an NSA type vigilance. It’s not long before the tourist wizard has impinged on his Visa conditions and is on the run. He is pursued and gradually befriended by a wizard-police officer Tina Goldstein played by Katherine Waterston.
The main gist of the story is that the humans can never know of their existence because somehow there would be a ‘war.’
I don’t mind side stories from the main- or minor character back stories or a seemless interwoven tapestry of parallel stories that come together perfectly in the end. In this movie, there are about three stories running side by side that don’t gel as effectively as they should have:
1) There’s the escaping suitcase-creatures causing varying degrees of havoc (I would only describe about 10% of them as beasts) from the Animal –Rights Wizard’s suitcase;
2) There is the homicidal whirlwind that causes massive destruction in 1920s New York City; and
3) There is the foster home for orphan witch children that is despised and severely disciplined by the evangelical ‘I’m not your mother’ guardian.
All the while, a human who crosses the paths with the tourist wizard is brought along for the ride. I found this American interloper Jacob Kowalski (or ‘No-Mag’ an abbreviated form of Non-magician; a bit lazy compared to the clever term: Muggles (humans) played excellently by Dan Fogler. His facial expressions and gestures did most of the speaking and comedy for him. With another minor character and emerging love-interest, Queenie Goldstein played so well by Alison Sudol. Collin Farrell plays the zealous Percival Graves, who appears to have his own agenda with his investigations into the destructive whirlwind. These characters, with the special effects, hold the movie together. Which says a lot about the story and the crucible relationship of the main characters, which frankly, I often found to be in need of development or simply dull.
I saw the movie in 3D and the special effects are impressive; but I never felt riveted. This story is darker in many ways (they have a chamber for executing law-breaking wizards). There is an element of MIB mind wipes, preventing humans remembering the wayward destructive ways of escaping magical animals and careless or maniacal wizards.
This movie is intended to be the start of a new fantasy film franchise. I sincerely hope the sequels are better.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: 3.5 Stars
Take Care & Cheers
Written & Produced by J.K.Rowling
Directed by David Yates (II)
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