Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

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This review contains mild spoilers

Spinoffs! Worldbuilding! Expanded Universes! Sequels (to come!)!

As is the seeming norm in Hollywood now, a single property is expanded to fill the roles of other, unknown characters and marketed under the brand that became popular in the first place. We have the next Star Wars trilogy and its every-other-year spinoffs, we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the how-to guide for shared universes), DC’s fledgling universe, and now, Harry Potter’s expanded universe. The film was marketed with a series of nostalgic trailers, featuring the famous theme John Williams composed 15 years ago. Was it nostalgic?

Well, yeah. I can’t deny, it was rather fun seeing the flourishing of wands again, complete with the quasi-latin incantations we’ve all come to know and love. This film, however, is fairly tangential to the Harry Potter world, as it takes place in the early 1920s (Harry Potter took place in the 90s). We’re treated to tidbits of information linking us to the main franchise (Dumbledore is alive and well, for example), but the story is mostly original, though it features themes very similar to its parent franchise (Dark Lords and whatnot).

The film stars Eddie Redmayne fresh off his Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his performance in The Danish Girl. The film also stars Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, and Ezra Miller. The film’s trailers, and its title, indicate that the film is about a magical zoologist (magizoologist*), recapturing a host of escaped magical creatures wreak havoc on the city of New York, and threatening to expose the wizarding world. In reality, the film has to tackle quite a bit more than that due to all the world building and setting up for sequels down the road.

The movie is a good time. It is directed by David Yates, the director of The Legend of Tarzan and the last four Harry Potter films. The film, despite having a wide array of actors, does a convincing job in making the audience care for the characters and the emotional stakes. It’s charming, witty, and funny, and even tugs at the heartstrings at times. It’s not Yates’ best film, or even the best film in the Harry Potter series. It suffers a lot from the torpor of being the first in a new series. I feel that the sequels will find their feet and take off running, if the quality of this film is anything to go by.

All in all, a fine flick. Take your family.

Final score 8/10.

For TMN, I am Paul Kirkwood.

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