Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them | Review

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (from now on just being called FANTASTIC BEASTS) sees a return to the universe where Harry Potter was set. A world of magic, a world of simple and successful good versus evil and a world worshiped by most of the muggle world. The movie will make a motza and J.K. Rowling will earn more money than most small countries and you can contribute by seeing it now. Out now from Warner Bros and Roadshow Films in Australia. It is rated M and runs for 133mins.

BY JASON KING

FANTASTIC BEASTS PLOT:

FANTASTIC BEASTS is a starter, an origin story that sees the commencement of a proposed five films. As such it is drowning in plot lines and character introductions from a screenplay written by RowlIng. The movie starts with Newt (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in New York in 1926 with a magical suitcase filled with animals. Simultaneously the wizarding parliament and police are searching for an evil wizard, Grindelwald, who is wreaking havoc and has murdered a few wizards and witches. There is also an anti-witch and wizard movement that wants a second Salem to weed out any magic practitioners. And also an odd magical creature of some description has been spotted causing disaster and murdering a few people in the city. Eventually all these plots collide.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Newt (Eddie Redmayne) image

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS:

It is great being back in the universe, I literally shed an emotional tear as the Harry Potter music played over the opening, much to my guest’s great humour, the black-hearted Sam Rix :). It opened incredibly strong and dark, typical of latter Potter’s. A bunch of wizards, all murdered. It then went to Newt, and things went down hill from there.

These movies will ALWAYS be compared to the Potter’s. They are unnecessary movies, they could be seen as cash cow films where the first one comes off more like THE HOBBIT to the LOTR trilogy. Passable, but in comparison, just dreadful. Sam and I said the same thing following the movie, it has potential but was the most lacking movie in the Potterverse.

The thing that makes Potter movies successful, that makes Star Wars movies successful, is conflict. Basic good versus bad, innocence versus evil. In HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE this is established from the start. You discover the background of Harry, Ron, eventually Hermione, and all the evil in next to no time. It is clear and it is concise. Harry’s trio – pure innocence, dark magic and Voldermort, pure evil – perfect. in FANTASTIC BEASTS by the end of it you know pretty much nothing about Newt at all besides the fact he is a wizard and loves magical beasts, simply call him Wizard Doolittle with a Tardis suitcase.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Newt (Eddie Redmayne) image

 

WHO IS EVIL?

Further to the last, who is the evil? Is it the apparently darker Graves (Colin Farrell)? Is it the odd Barebone’s religious fanatics? Could it be the monster terrifying everyone? Is it the mysterious Grindelwald? It bounces around a bit and the movie has plenty of misdirection but towards the end I started caring less and less. The fault sadly has to lie in J.K Rowling, her screenplay is a mess. For the love of all that is good in the Potterverse why can she not give us the books anymore????? If she writes the marvelous books, she makes twice the money. Then someone skilled at screenplay perfection could polish it down to a marvelous movie.

THE ACTING:

The acting is all AOK but sadly, the lead, my much loved Eddie Redmayne, is the greatest let down of the movie. He plays the character so introverted that we learn nothing about him and quite frankly he is just plain boring. This is where the “potential” bit comes in – if the following movies let us learn something about him, like why he used to date a Lestrange then he may grow on the audience. His suitcase Tardis is the true magic of the movie and I loved it dearly, I wanted to be in his magic world of animals, they were basically not used besides a quick fix reason to solve a problem at the end and for regular comic relief. It is quite sad when you prefer a magical thieving platypus over the lead actor.

Colin Farrell was impressive but I wanted him darker. I loved the darkness of him and Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone, the gay undertones and sexualised emotional blackmail was a strong point. Katherine Waterston was likewise boring portraying Tina and her character had as much depth and development as Newt’s.

Alison Sudol was a breath of fresh air as the only person in the movie that seemed to embrace the flapper generation of the time. Her humour and over the top performance I loved, it grated on Sam though. Her love and her chemistry with Dan Fogler as the scene stealing Kowalski nearly stole the movie. They were brilliant playing off each other and Fogler was the best actor in the movie.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Graves (Colin Farrell) and Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) image

 

WHIMSICAL BUT NOT WONDERFUL:

FANTASTIC BEASTS may be back in the Potterverse and it may have cute creatures and some fantastic scenes that look marvelous on the big screen but it is completely lacking in that jaw dropping wonder we are accustomed to. Every building or set was a wonder in the Potter’s, I remember that first time seeing the inside of Ministry of Magic, the owls all flying around, and the flying memos all had my jaw open. Nothing of the sort in this – besides a clock, walking into the Ministry equivalent in New York was an anti-climax. The suitcase on the other hand provided some much needed wonder, but it was a secondary destination in the movie and not a focus.

Due to the dullness of the screenplay and the scenes it appears to be a safe regularity to head back to the irrelevant characters that appear in the title – you know FANTASTIC BEASTS. Sporadically said animals do something funny. These are cute but not necessary and more fillers. That platypus truly is awesome – could nearly watch an entire movie on him but the elephant thing, while funny was pointless. The invisible beast scene is pretty cool though.

Further to this was the CGI heaviness of the film, it didn’t seem as naturally flowing as the Potters, some of it sublimely brilliant but the rushed ending battle looked a little THE MUMMY-like and lacking in nuance. And the giant bird looked like it pre-dated Buckbeak in CGI development.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Lead Cast image

 

IN CONCLUSION:

While Sam and I weren’t fans my parents caught it on the weekend and they loved it. It could be that the film is either more steered towards an adult audience and I am yet to grow up or it could be that the FANTASTIC BEASTS is a fantastic origin movie that will make more sense when the sequels release. But as it stands now it is a tarnish on the shiny TriWizard Cup that we know as the Potterverse.

 

2 and a Half Pops

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.