Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts

Source: Screen Rant

J.K. Rowling isn’t done yet. The author of the Harry Potter books has more magical stories to tell but her latest effort comes in the form of a screenplay that is billed as a prequel to the novels we know and love. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them stars Eddie Redmayne as a “magizoologist”  who needs to recapture all of the magical creatures that have escaped from his briefcase in New York City in 1926. Just go with it.

Four-time Harry Potter director David Yates returns and his presence is noticeable, with lots of references and Easter Eggs from the previous movies and books scattered throughout the two-hour and 13 minute film. But there’s also plenty of new things to digest, most notably the fact that we get to see an American city come under Rowling’s magical influence. The beasts in the film are indeed quite fantastic and strictly from a visual point of view, this is an outstanding movie.

There are some flaws, however, that ultimately keep Fantastic Beasts from becoming an instant classic on par with some of the Potter films. Most notably is that the cast of characters Rowling and Yates have assembled to accompany Redmayne on his journey never really click in the same way that Harry, Ron and Hermione did back in the Hogwarts days. Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol give above average performances as a wizard cop, muggle and a mind-reading sister respectively, but the group’s overall chemistry just never fully comes together. The script itself is also all over the place at times, with much too sharp shifts in tone. One moment, Redmayne is battling an amazing creature that lights up the screen but in the next scene is left dealing with dark issues like child abuse.

That said, Redmayne should be singled out for a performance that single-handedly carries much of the movie. Given that this prequel is a new beginning for Rowling and the Potter franchise, with more movies to come, it is reassuring to know that Redmayne is on board to reprise the awkward Newt Scamander in at least Fantastic Beasts 2, if not additional films as well. Perhaps with a tighter script next time around, this new franchise will one day approach the greatness that Rowling and Harry Potter are known for.

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