The Potter fan in yours truly, has been dying a slow, silent death for a while now. The signs became increasingly obvious when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was first announced and were compounded upon the release of the abominable Cursed Child. So, with a phenomenally lackadaisical attitude, I walked into the latest offering from the world of JK Rowling.
A few teething problems aside, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is indeed rather, fantastic.
Delving back into the Potterverse as it has come to be known. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them tells the story of the legendary Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne)the male Jane Goodall of the Wizarding World as he travels the streets of New York hunting for his escaped mythical creatures against the backdrop of a more sinister plan that is currently afoot.
That’s all that can be said about the film’s plot for saying anything more, would spoil the experience for you, the moviegoer.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a treat for both Potter purists and those new to the series. For the Former, it is a wonderful expansion into the lore that we all love so dearly and a visually enchanting treat for the latter. The film is rife with easter eggs galore and also introduces a few new elements that blend perfectly with the old, resulting in some truly beautiful moments.
Flawless CGI work aside, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them strength lies once again in it’s characters. There’s an emotional depth to them and David Yates is so good at portraying those emotions onscreen. In fact, it’s exactly what brought David Yates so much success during his time with the Potter films. Eddie Redmayne here, is excellent as Newt Scamander, exuding charm each time he appears on screen. He is ably backed up by the Non-Magi Jacob Kowalski(Dan Fogler), who just happens to be in for the ride for purely being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller both shine in their respective roles whilst Katherine Waterston can get a tad bit annoying as the shamed Auror, Tina Goldstein. There’s also a ridiculous albeit well publicized cameo towards the fag end of the film, which just does not work at all.
Even the film as a whole stutters a little. It takes a while before it really gets going and that may be a problem for some. It’s towards the latter half when the pacing hits the skids, does the film wobble a little. Too many set pieces find themselves into scenes they really have no business being in. There’s a distinct ROTK vibe prevalent too, by which I mean the film decides to dole out several different endings for each of it’s characters that starts to become tiresome as a whole. Individually, they’re all standout moments but collectively, these endings tend to bog down the film a little.
Those problems aside, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a worthy entrant into what surely is another franchise monster for Warner Bros. As long as the series retains it’s core strengths and does not succumb to studio pressure, we’re in for a lovely ride.
Before I go, there’s this poignant exchange in the film that really hit home for me, emotionally; It involves Newt being asked about the love of his life and the interests she shares. He replies dejectedly that he knows not what she likes anymore, that she’s changed and even “he’s changed, a little.” As a Potter fan who is subconsciously putting the series that he adored so much as a child behind him, it brought a tear to my eye. Thank you JK Rowling, for all you’ve done for us and for bringing this project into our lives. Thank you for reminding us, that the world we truly love has not been lost in the pages of time and that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.