Craig's Movie Reviews

I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

My complicated relationship with Harry Potter was supposed to end in 2011. Hollywood always has to make things awkward!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is based on an original screenplay by JK Rowling. Taking place in 1920s New York, we follow every red mane as its own wizard who carries many fantastical creatures in his luggage.

brooding-eddie

I thought heros stopped brooding on top of rooftops with “Batman Begins”.

I say that my relationship with Harry Potter is complicated with good reason. When I was a kid, I was always under the impression that Tolkienites like myself were irreconcilably at war with Rowling Turds, as I call Harry Potter fans. I also could not get past the fact that The Lord of the Rings is just better than Harry Potter in every single way.

However, there are certain elements I do respect. I like the central friendships. I like Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. I like the magic stuff and parts three and four despite the latter’s ludicrous tournament of death premise. I like the way the story was relatively well paced over the course of eight films if you excuse five through seven. And of course, I respect JK Rowling for getting children into reading, although she pretty much did invent young adult genre and its total dominance of all pop culture.

Fantastic Beasts is better than Harry Potter in almost every way.

We don’t get a cast of inexperienced child actors in the centre, for one. Despite Daniel Radcliffe and the rest getting gradually better over time, the first few HP movies were pretty hard for me to sit through when we got bizarre OTT delivery from some of them. Part of that I blame on Chris Columbus’s lack of patience. There’s a reason Stanley Kubrick did so many takes of Danny in The Shining.

We finally have a wizard movie in the Potter verse not centred around Harry learning in school. That premise was cool to begin with but got old quite quickly.

Furthermore, this feels like a movie. I genuinely think HP should have been a TV series. A show about three friends learning about magic and going on adventures with the constant threat of Voldemort. I would have watched. In fact, they did. Look up U.B.O.S, a cartoon pretty much with that premise.

This movie was written like a movie. The threat of the intact this is therefore the start. The action begins straightaway. Immediately films, the village was almost an afterthought for the majority of runtime. This worked, like many of the things that worked, only part of the time. Like I said, school eventually got boring.

One thing I get major credit for this film is the creativity and the magical creatures. These critters are majestic, funny, awesome, cute and mixtures of each and the magic made me want to be a kid again.

The main character is Eddie Redmayne who delivers once again winning performance putting across some adorable Britishness. The protagonist is however a muggle wannabe baker played by Dan Fogler. He is even more adorable and funny and the finest thing about this picture.

The central theme of the movie seems to be about being proud in yourself. This is a theme I find particularly touching when it comes to its allegorical relationship with sexuality. This is something I give Rowling major props for including a movie for children.

One complaint I have is in the performance of Katherine Waterston. She’s someone I’ve always quite liked, but here, playing our wizard inspector of swords, she always appears to be on the edge of tears which kind of gets annoying after a while, not helped by some of the decisions being inexplicable, though that is a script issue.

My other and more serious concern with this film is it editing. The pace is perfectly fine as I’ve said, but certain moments are lengthened to an uncomfortable degree for supposedly comedic or emotional effect. This is made worse by certain sections of dialogue being not quite right or references being made to something of which I suppose is going to be in one of the upcoming sequels. If these moments were practically done in slow motion I wouldn’t have noticed the emotional car crash.

Speaking of slow motion I do hope that this is not another Batman V Superman type movie, where I think it’s pretty good upon first viewing despite some flaws, only for me to come back and see these cracks as enormous chasms.

From now I can say this. The HP books got so many kids into reading and writing. HP movies got many kids into films and filmmaking. Having just come out of a bookshop where this film’s script featured prominently in hardback form, perhaps JK Rowling will get children into screenwriting. This film may not be perfect but that is a very nice thought.

Recommended Scenario: If you want to see more from JK’s magical world.

P.S. How are wizards an oppressed people in Harry Potter land? Sure, if they weren’t in hiding they would be prejudiced against, but they’re wizards! We can use magic to control and maybe even make the world better! There. Now you know how I felt the first time somebody mentioned Eagles in The Lord of the Rings!

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This entry was posted on November 26, 2016 by in Film Review, Released in 2016.
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