(SPOILER WARNING!!! This article does contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the movie, just see the first paragraph to be informed without spoilers!!!)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them may have a lot of similar themes to the Harry Potter movies, but it is a great spectacle to watch!!!
Rating: 4 Stars
When you talk about great franchises you think of Star Wars, James Bond, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, you can’t think of great franchises without thinking of the Harry Potter franchise. I have to admit, I can’t call myself a Harry Potter fan. (Dodges a shoe.) I haven’t read the books, and didn’t see the films either. (Dodges another shoe.) However, I can’t deny the greatness of the franchise, and how iconic it has become not only in the film world, but in nerd culture as well. Once I heard they are making prequels for this franchise, I had to swallow my pride and start getting into this franchise. My brother, Jonathan Martin, is a big fan. I decided to binge watch the Harry Potter films with him while he explained what happened. I do have respect for these films, and the world they created about Wizards and Witches. It is definitely unique, but it is not my cup of tea. It got me ready for this film coming up, and I was ready to take it on.
What I Like: I do believe Harry Potter fans will enjoy this movie. It still has the same themes, creativity, and tone of the past Harry Potter movies. What I really liked is that it expanded the world of Harry Potter outside of Hogwarts and England in general. The film takes place in the US, and to be quite honest, it was a breath of fresh air. Instead of hearing a lot of British accents, I hear more American accents (even if it is New York). J. K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for this film, and she didn’t lose her touch writing these stories and expanding this universe. I liked seeing the US sort of wizard police in MACUSA, and seeing how different the wizard world is in the Roaring 20’s US and their culture and values. I enjoyed the little scuffle of who has the better wizard school, Hogwarts or the US wizard school (the name slipped my mind). The special effects were on point. Seeing all the different beasts, and the magic special effects will delight fans and casual watchers alike. The acting was good as well. Eddie Redmayne played Newt Scamander, a person from England who collects and saves all the magical beasts around the world. His demeanor in this film is appropriate for the story. He was a good new original character that added more depth not only to the story, but to the franchise. His book is a special textbook in the original Harry Potter films, and shows why he is important to the Wizard world. I also enjoyed the character of Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, a human (or No-Maj) who provided the comic relief in the film that definitely lightens the moment in serious times. The biggest twist, which really sets up for the future films is the cameo of Johnny Depp as the villain, Gellert Grindelwald, who was exposed as he was undercover as an officer, Percival Graves played by Colin Farrell. I didn’t know Depp was in it, and him playing a great wizard villain really piqued my interest in the future films. One beast I did enjoy was the first beast called a Niffler. This beast likes to collect shiny things and his trouble and destruction was funny to watch, while Newt tries to capture him. All the special effects and nostalgia put together really made this a fun spectacle to watch for everybody.
The So So: These films brought many different themes that are all too familiar. Even though the themes were well executed, it didn’t really add anything new. The only exception I give is that it expanded on the world of Harry Potter and gave it a unique twist. Some other themes was how the humans (or No-Maj or Muggle or whatever you call it) and Wizards do not get along, and the Wizards have to hide themselves for the sake of the human world. It reminded me of the X-Men and how they try to make humans and mutants get along and be treated as equals. Graves (or Grindelwald) reminded me of the great character, Magneto who takes extreme measures outside of law for the betterment of their people. The whole thing about wiping memories off of humans who witnessed any events with the Wizards using their magic reminded me of Men in Black where they use a neutralizer for humans who witness aliens. They pretty much brainwash them to protect the people from creating an unwanted outrage and to preserve safety. The scene where Newt shows all the beasts in his briefcase, which pretty much shows another world, reminded me of Avatar. Newt believes in protecting and preserving these beasts and using them for good instead of getting rid of them. In the movie Avatar they show their world with their animals in their natural habitat and explain why the Navi want to preserve their land. Heck the whole thing of Newt using his briefcase to capture the escaped beasts reminds me of Pokemon and the whole Pokemon Go craze. (Which I did enjoy). The special effects and new characters made this movie fun to watch, but the story wasn’t anything special.
What I Didn’t Like: The usual things I didn’t like from the Harry Potter movies didn’t escape from this film. How they try to explain everything through either casual conversations which make it boring, or in a middle of a battle which makes it illogical and dumb. I really didn’t enjoy the romance between Newt and Tina Goldstein, played by Katherine Waterston. Their relationship was too awkward for me. I really didn’t like the romantic relationship between Jacob and Queenie Goldstein, played by Alison Sudol. They run the typical forbidden romance thing between a human and a witch, and just made it more complicated and dumb. The whole thing where Jacob knew he had to have his memory erased after developing feelings for her was eye rolling instead of emotional. The fact at the end where he does remember her really made it dumb in my book.
Overall: I believe this movie will satisfy all the hardcore Harry Potter fans, and entertain all the casual movie goers. It starts a new story and expands the world. The special effects are eye candy and just by hearing the music it will bring nostalgia. The little hints they give will make you look forward to the future prequel films, and I have to say, I’m looking forward to see what they have in store!!!